clothing not to wear

I recently read an article about how to blend in with the locals when traveling. One of the things it said was that khakis shouldn't be worn in some countries but it didn't say which countries. Does anyone know where khakis are not good?

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
5932 posts

Its hopeless to try to blend in. Maybe go over with no clothes and buy everything at a department store when you land.

Posted by Dennis
Redmond, WA
292 posts

To blend in with the locals, don't go to any areas frequented by tourists - the locals will avoid them unless they work in the tourist industry. Learn the language fluently or don't speak. If you do wear clothes and shoes, buy them all locally, don't bring any from here. Don't carry maps or guidebooks. Walk everywhere with a purpose, not looking up at the sights. Research and stay at the hotels people from that country go to when they're on vacation, not where Americans could possibly stay. And definitely don't relax and enjoy yourself with a sense of humor as a tourist in a foreign land, along with the millions of others who are having a good time all together. But if we do spot you we'll all say hi to you and ask if you're having a good time, anyway!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
14077 posts

This is going to bring out a lot of silly responses. My preference is not to stand out rather than blend in. There is a difference. I may not blend in completely but do not want the first person noticed in the crowd.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11065 posts

If you want to wear khakis... just wear them. Although it is true that some clothes can make you stand out more as a tourist, your choice of wardrobe won't disguise this to anyone who's paying attention. If you truly want to "blend in", follow Dennis' advice, although I doubt that would be a particularly enjoyable vacation.

Posted by June
Edmonton, Alberta
475 posts

I cannot resist.....go with no clothes. My first thought was naked people in the security line @ the airport. Definitely a packing light strategy. Have a great trip regardless of what you wear or not wear.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24137 posts

Judy, I have a standard wardrobe that I take on trips, and I'm not concerned in the least whether I "blend in" or not. The locals can spot tourists easily, regardless of what they're wearing. My suggestion would be to pack a travel wardrobe of items that will be comfortable for you in a variety of conditions, and don't be too concerned about blending in. One important point to mention is that if you're planning on visiting any Churches or similar sites, you'll need to have appropriate clothing to meet the dress code. Happy travels!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
9472 posts

judy,, seriously someone pegged it.. if someone is trying to figure out who is a tourist and who is not,, there is no way you will "pass" unless you are fluent in language and not looking at stuff around you.. good luck with that,, lol Never mind , wear what you want.
Be Comfy

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11065 posts

PS- The "what-clothes-to-wear-so-that-you-can-blend-in-with-the-locals" topic is one that comes up every now and again in travel writing. It's usually a dead giveaway that the author either doesn't have very much overseas travel time under their belt or is a bit delusional about their experiences, or both.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5687 posts

You can wear them, but jeans are much more common. What do you wear at home? Just wear that as you will be the most comfortable. Perhaps leave the flip flops at home as they aren't good for walking miles in the city or when it rains. Recommend to not wear those nylon pants that make noise when you walk, nor jogging pants. Where did you read this article? Have never read anything about khakis not being worn in some countries, though they aren't as popular in Germany as they are in the US.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
9472 posts

jo is right, wear jeans, they are alot more common,, not country farm girl jeans or loose baggy butt jeans, ,but nice darker fitted ones ,,locals wear jeans all the time!

Posted by Judy
49 posts

Thanks to everyone who replied to my post for the tips. I was just curious as to where khakis might be a big no no. Doesn't sound like it matters so I will wear what I like. I always figure being as polite as possible is more important than what I'm wearing anyway.

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
951 posts

Gap has khakis in different colors that are fitted and flattering and rather cool, like the ones that taper by the ankles that you can roll up a notch or two and wear them with ballerina flats or Maryjanes. you still might not look like a Parisian but you will look nice and in fashion.

Posted by Lo
1678 posts

I don't have the travel experience of many who respond on the Helpline, but I must admit that in 5 months in Europe over the past 5 years, from Iceland to Sicily, I have never seen anyone in khakis. Maybe we weren't in the right places or hotels or something. Even back in the 80's when I lived in Germany, I never saw khakis. I wouldn't wear them because they get dirty easily and take a long time to dry. As others have reported, jeans are ubiquitous. You will see them on everyone regardless of age. They are also a washing and drying challenge, but they have the advantage of almost not showing the eating or sitting mishaps of the wearer, so you can spot wash them (or not) and wear them a longer time between washings. In warmer weather, I have seen brightly colored jeans (and maybe khakis but I didn't know it) everywhere on anybody. This year especially I saw printed jeans or other slim fit pants in bright colors. At the beginning of our April trip it was all dark and dismal and winter on the streets in Holland and Belgium, but by the end, it was the exact opposite. The most important thing is to dress comfortably. To me that includes looking somewhat like the people on the street, even though I'm obviously not from there. The biggest help I've found for that is wearing scarves or other accessories. Having not worked in an environment that required dressing up, I had to learn how to do that. I think the best places online for help, especially for coordinated travel capsules, are the Vivienne Files and Inside Out Style. Planning what I'm going to wear on our trips when I take so little is part of the fun for me, so have fun doing it for yours.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8178 posts

I think the French frown on veils. I have some things I don't pack but I wouldn't say you shouldn't wear them: Jeans - Everyone wears them everywhere. I don't pack them because they're heavy, take forever to dry, and get saggy around the knees, waist and butt when they aren't washed and over-dried in a washer/drier. Cargo Pants - I stopped wearing them a) because I never use the pockets and b) they're not flexible. I'd rather pack a slim-fit khaki that can be worn either casual or dressed up a little. Heavy coats - Even in winter, I'll choose an insulated/waterproof coat that doesn't weigh a ton. Outside of winter, I'll go with only a rainshell. Heavy shoes - Next time you're shopping for shoes, notice how some weigh a lot and others don't (true even of sandals). All my shoes are light-weight so they can travel with me when I need them. Clothes that don't mix/match - I'll never pack an item I can only wear one way. Heavy packing starts with thinking, "I need two outfits per day times 14 days, so 28 outfits (plus shoes to match them)." Instead think along the line of five tops and three bottoms that all mix/match gives you fifteen outfit choices.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2193 posts

Nobody wears khakis? I suppose it depends on one's definition, but places like Zara, Bershka, and good ole' H&M (i.e. all European brands) carry tons of slim, skinny, or even classic cut khaki type cotton pants in various styles and lots of colors. Believe me, you'll see tons of people wearing pants like I just described in Europe. If you're talking about baggier, cargo type khakis like the kind that are coomon here, then, no, you probably won't see these anywhere. And, yes, you'll see tons of jeans, too. Again, slim/skinny/dark jeans is what you'll see. But seriously, wear whatever you want. As others have said already, being comfortable in your own style is most important. BTW, I'm starting to wonder how much people actually get out in public here in the U.S. The latest styles being mentioned in this thread aren't somehow unique to Europe.

Posted by Beatrix
2204 posts

Classic khakis are indeed not common but khaki-style cotton pants fit in quite nicely. I don't travel with jeans in the summer because they are just too hot. But the rest of the year they make for great travel pants. I simply don't wash them while travelling. In summer, I have my favourite linen pants. They are light weight and very comfortable, cool during the day, just warm enough on colder evenings. If I have to pack them (I usually wear them on the plane) I roll them up to minimize creasing. Honestly, the obsession with creases in linen is a very American one. You can definitely run around Europe with lightly creased linen pants.

Posted by Donald
Wichita, KS, United States
264 posts

I pick clothes that are comfortable, easy to wash in the sink and will dry over night, and that all match. On one 14 day trip to France I took 3 pairs of pants (2 tan, 1 dark) and 5 long sleeve white shirts that roll up with tabs, I know that sounds strange but by adding a tie to my bag I could go anywhere and it was so easy not having to fret about what I was going to wear each day. The older I get the more I am embracing the "simple life" I read once that Albert Einstein only wore 7 dark Navy blue suits and 7 white shirts, when asked why, he stated that life was to short to waste it on things that were just not that significant!

Posted by Joseph
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
127 posts

I have worn clean, pressed, khakis and cargo pants on every trip I've ever madewithin the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and throughout Europe, behind and in front of the old Iron Curtain: in 4-star hotels, first-class dining rooms, cathedrals, concert halls, and theaters. I was welcome everywhere; nobody cast a critical eye or made or implied a critical comment. The better advice I might offer is not to wear swimming goggles, snorkel, and fins while visiting the Louvre. People will infer that you're American by the way you walk, speak, and use fork, knife, and spoon, among other things.

Posted by Joan
Gettysburg, PA, USA
399 posts

Just keep in mind that there sre no fashion/clothing police in Europe and that no one there cares what you wear.

Posted by Frank II
4844 posts

I think one of the problems is the term "khakis." Do you mean the style that has become "khaki pants" and available in lots of different colors or do you mean khaki color pants? I usually wear Dockers or something similar in black or gray and they can be considered "Khaki style" pants.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
6699 posts

A few years ago I was visiting my parents in Florence. That is where I was born and lived for the first 27 years of my life. I was riding my bike on the Lungarno on the way to the city center when a young Italian woman visiting from some other city started asking me for directions in approximate English. I responded to her in Italian and I gave her directions to the street she wanted to go (I still know Florence like my back hand). She acted totally surprised and she said in Italian: "Wow! You speak Italian pretty well. How long have you been living in Italy? You hardly have any accent." I was about to tell her that I was actually Italian, but after taking a peek at what I was wearing (typical California casual) I gave up and said instead: "I arrived last week, but I've always been good with foreign languages" and left it at that.