Please sign in to post.

Shorts everywhere!

Three weeks in Berlin and (now in the first of ) five in Lyon (along with side trips to Paris and London). Shorts everywhere! Every age - young and old. Most are below the knee. I came with one pair and have bought another. Things have changed over the last 35 years we've traveled in Europe. We spend 8 weeks every summer here and each year more and more are wearing them. The old "no one wears shorts in Europe" is a completely outdated statement. If in doubt, come and look, then just stop in a store and buy some!

Posted by
2193 posts

Thanks for helping debunk these goofy urban myths. Jo typically does a really good job setting everyone straight on this stuff, too. As James said, American culture is everywhere, and people around the world love it. I always wonder about the "I don't want to look like a tourist" posts and specifically wonder if they really mean to say that they don't want to look like an American. Perhaps it comes from the bad reputation we had a few years back over Iraq...who knows. But I think some feel as though Europeans or others in the world don't like Americans. I have the good fortune of being able to meet people from all around the world regularly, and everyone I meet loves America, the American people, and American culture. It really surprises me sometimes. They watch our TV shows, go to our movies, and listen to our music (pay attention during your next taxi ride in Europe). I just met two guys from Madrid last week, and they confirmed what I already know...they love America...love the people...love the culture...and love traveling here. I asked what they didn't like, and the only negative thing they could think of was our government and foreign policy. I know I've been guilty of taking what we have here for granted at times...it helps keep you a bit grounded when you hear from others how much they love what we have. It doesn't matter if they're from Madrid or Beijing...I hear this all the time. BTW, I do realize some people really don't look much like a tourist (American or otherwise) wherever they vacation because of their fashion sense or other variables. Now I'm going to go throw on my Nikes and running shorts and hit the streets for a run with some music on my iPod (but no ball cap...I refuse to wear one here or there...I just feel toddler-ish with one). :)

Posted by
2766 posts

I am a pre-baby boomer who goes to Europe every summer and when it is hot for me I put on shorts and then I am comfortable. I guess I have never been one of those folks who was worried about how I looked to others as long as I stayed decent. Then again, for 7 or 8 months of the year I wear shorts every day so it does become habit forming.

Posted by
683 posts

You wear what is comfy and, hopefully, what looks at least half-decent. If you dont look good in shorts (most men don't) and that doesnt bother you and you are comfortable in them, wear them.

Posted by
13967 posts

That reminded me that I saw a group of French students in Dresden last week and all the boys were wearing long plaid shorts. The long shorts trend in sports started with Michael Jordon , then migrated to other sports (tennis, for instance). What influences a teenage European boy, sports idols or middle-aged Americans? Now to my pet peeve. Mini-skirts. Do women LOOK in the mirror when they get dressed? Minis are so not flattering to women who don't have good legs and most of the women I saw in Europe, yes, the young, attractive ones too, had legs that should be kept under a skirt. Mid-calf is most attractive generally, but even just-below-the-knees hides many flaws.

Posted by
230 posts

Something else has changed. In the US, it used to be a rule that anyone wearing dark socks with sneakers had to be a European tourist. Well now the American kids have caught on and its a trend here. Though (hopefully) not yet with sandals.

Posted by
2347 posts

You can still the who the European tourist are. They have sweaters tied around their shoulders.

Posted by
11738 posts

Are you including "mancapris" as shorts? If so, then yes there are plenty of shorts on Europeans. There are also "manpurses". I bet if you carried a manpurse no one would know you're a tourist. :)

Posted by
2193 posts

Brad: I just refer to it as my messenger bag so as to not generate any gender conflict/confusion. :) But believe me, I have taken a little heat over the Timbuk2 "man purse" from my traveling companions at times. What's that Progressive Insurance commercial on TV..."it's a European shoulder bag." :)

Posted by
3580 posts

Call them "shorts" if you want, but those knee-length pants are more like capris. If you wear them, just tug them low enough to cover your knees and you'll be ok in churches.

Posted by
355 posts

James, I am beginning to believe that the adults shouldn't wear shorts in Europe are really folks who believe adults shouldn't wear shorts anywhere including the US. Rick Steves has stated, "Adults look goofy in shorts everywhere." And they hide behind the idea that 30 years ago not many European wore shorts.

Posted by
931 posts

What does "People 71 and 64" mean? And you really think you'd be "dismissed" in another country for wearing shorts? In a way, I don't really care what others think of me. If someone "dismisses" me in a restaurant or store based on the fact that I'm wearing shorts instead of treating me with respect as all customers should be treated, then I'll move on. If it's hot out in any country, I'll be wearing shorts and I'll be comfortable. Luckily, most European countries aren't as warm as TN, but I'm not going sweat my butt off so a few Europeans will like what I'm wearing.

Posted by
295 posts

checked out the Sartorialist, thanks for the lead! Appears to be people worth photographing rather than most of the people walking down the street (at lest in Paris, Berlin, and especially Lyon this year). Most of us are just common schmoes buying our clothes in the local malls and street shops (biggest mall in Europe here in Lyon). I figure people are looking at my bald head and wrinkles rather than my clothes, but you younger folks are probably a lot more attractive to look at. btw, there's a fantastic frozen food store here in Lyon (les Surgeles) with gourmet (by American standards) frozen foods that are wonderfully delicious. A month in one city really lets you meet people and see areas we normally don't see rushing about. And the wine is cheap!

Posted by
295 posts

Re a note above, in 30 years traveling in Europe I have only seen Europeans wear sweaters tied around their shoulders once or twice. In the past four weeks here, never. And that's in all seasons. Have you been watching TV shows in America, rather than actually seeing this over here in Europe? This sounds like another shorts myth to me.

Posted by
1818 posts

We never wear shorts on journeys overseas, although we always wear them here at home, weather permitting. We have been to the Philippines and India and have always worn long pants or (in wife's case) a skirt. People 71 and 64 don't need to look so informal when visiting another country if they want to be taken seriously. I would not even think about wearing shorts in Europe or Asia unless I was backpacking or just climbing of Jungfrau.

Posted by
2873 posts

The back and forth about shorts amuses me. As does some of the knowledge of "trends" - I am guessing this message board trends a bit older than most of the internet. (Trust me, black socks with shorts is not a "trend" in the US, guys, unless it was at some ironic hipster party.) Some German and French people do wear shorts but in my experience it is not nearly as common as it is in the U.S. People on this board seem to have a problem admitting that in Western Europe people - particularly in the baby-boomer age range but it applies to people in their 30s-40s too - tend to dress just a touch more formally than they do in the US, regardless of weather. I'm not saying tourists abroad shouldn't wear shorts - I do! There are good reasons for wanting to be seen as fashionable or non-touristy and there are good reasons (like comfort!) not to care as much. It's up to the individual. But if you're someone in your mid-50s in Paris and you're wearing shorts and sneakers, you probably aren't going to look like a local because most of the locals wearing shorts there are probably 30 years younger than you. Then again, no matter what you do you probably aren't going to look like a local - so figure out where your individual comfort vs. fashion line lies and go with that. (For women, tho, a nice pair of capris seem fashionable everywhere in hot weather. Just sayin'.)

Posted by
5461 posts

I was hesitant about shorts, until last summer, when my Dutch friends greeted me at the Amsterdam trains station on a very hot Saturday. They were wearing shorts. I was in my capri's. I changed to shorts the next day. ; ) Pam

Posted by
2193 posts

Actually, black socks with Vans, Converse, or Simple shoes and shorts are, indeed, trendy with hipster high school and college-age kids (even ancient 40 year-old hipsters) . Hang out in a popular part of any big city and have a look around.

Posted by
11738 posts

Not just any black socks they must have a white nike swoosh to be trendy. I see mostly elementary to high school kids wearing them with shorts and various types of athletic shoes around DC.

Posted by
689 posts

"If someone "dismisses" me in a restaurant or store based on the fact that I'm wearing shorts instead of treating me with respect as all customers should be treated, then I'll move on." I'm not sure how it helps you to have this attitude. You don't think the "respect" aspect works both ways? Dressing too casually, in a venue where it's not really appropriate, says that you don't respect THEM. I wouldn't wear shorts in a decent restaurant here in Seattleit's too casual. I get better service in boutiques and shops here, too, when I walk in in a dress or skirt, rather than shorts and flip flops. In fact I get better service and treatment just about everywhere when I'm dressed nicely. I find it hard to believe you could walk into a nice restaurant in Nashville looking that casual, and expect great treatment and service. Dennis, I see sweaters over shoulders constantly in France. I don't know where you are traveling, but this isn't a myth.

Posted by
931 posts

Okay, I don't consider wearing shorts "disrespectful" unless I'm somewhere where it's inappropriate like a church/religious building or like you brought up, a nice restaurant. If I went to The Palm in Nashville, I wouldn't be wearing shorts and flip flops. I may like to dress casually, but I'm not an idiot. When I made the comment about being dismissed, I was thinking about a street vendor or a mid-priced restaurant. We don't go to fancy restaurants either here or in Europe not our style, not in our budget. And I also don't shop in "boutiques" or stores that are fancy like that. So that's a non-issue. I guess you thought the women in Pretty Woman had a right to treat Vivian the way that they did? ;) All I'm saying is that if I'm treated poorly, or not waited on because I'm wearing short pants, then that's cool, I'll spend my money elsewhere. Man, if you think wearing shorts is disrespectful (except in the instances I've listed above), we must live in very different cultures. There is no restaurant/store in the town I live in (pop. 100,000) where it would be inappropriate to wear shorts. It's extremely casual here. (In fact, the only time I wear a dress or skirt is when I'm going to church, a funeral or a job interview.) So I'm sure most of the world thinks we're poorly dressed. But I digress... I can't remember ever wearing shorts in Europe mainly because I've never experienced really hot weather where I've been. But we'll be in Dubrovnik in September, and if it's a really hot day, I'm going to don a pair of shorts. And shocker, I may wear my flip flops, too.