Shorts & White Tennis shoes.

I've followed several discussions on this subject over at the forums. Some are totally against it while say just wear what's comfortable.

What's your feeling on wearing shorts & white tennis shoes for daytime sightseeing in Europe?

Posted by JT
los angeles
3 posts

Some are totally against it while say just wear what's comfortable.

That should read: Some are totally against it while others say just wear what's comfortable.

Posted by Helen
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
705 posts

You will get a range of opinions. I'm sure I'll be one of many. If you do wear shorts and tennis shoes you will "stand out" as a tourist which is fine if you are comfortable with that. If you want to blend in a bit with the locals then don't wear them. Also depends where you are going. Really there are no hard or fast rules.

Posted by Debra
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1001 posts

I don't think wearing stuff other than shorts and white tennis shoes and being comfortable are mutually exclusive. There's plenty of stuff out there that's just as comfy and not that expensive but much classier (and in my opinion even more comfortable, I'm not much of a shorts fan - even in hot weather - and the one time I walked a lot in my white sneakers, my arches hurt for weeks, but that's another conversation). I've found lots of cute clothes for my trip that are easy to take care of and very comfy and much cuter than white shoes and shorts. I think the biggest problem with shorts especially is that it might prevent you from getting into some churches, if that's your thing. As for shoes, I think the absolute most important thing is comfort, because if you get blisters and your feet hurt and all that, you won't enjoy your trip at all (at least I wouldn't)...

Posted by Kelly
Plano, TX, USA
82 posts

If you are just hiking ruins, you're probably fine like that -- although you'll be marked as an American. However, if my traveling takes me into a city -- or if I plan to walk into a real restaurant -- I'd change my attire. I've worn black cropped pants with either GREAT Clarks or Merrill sandals or Ecco Walking shoes and felt VERY comfortable. Or, my husband takes a pair of travel-weight khakis with a city-hiker style shoe and fits in almost anywhere.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12678 posts

The other posters are on target. If you dress out of the norm you have a tendency to stand out and only you can decided if that is to your advantage or not. I, personally, donot think there is ever a good reason to draw attention to yourself. My advice is, "You cannot avoid looking like a tourist. Just don't look like a stupid American tourist." By stupid I mean someone who is not atune to their surroundings. We always dress a touch better than the average tourist and it has served us well. No problems with pickpockets or other theft problems in nearly 300 days of travel.

Posted by Andreas
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2676 posts

From a European point of view there are two no-goes that we usually find Americans doing. 1) They wear white sox with sandals. Europeans would never do that. No sox with sandals! 2) They wear white sox with dark shoes. We would wear black sox with dark sneakers, white sox with bright or even white sneakers.

Posted by bluedenim
vancouver, bc, canada
421 posts

Also I think it depends on where you are
For example we are going to Sitges...where shorts would be the norm as it is resort like.

Last time we went to Paris I wore shorts with pumas during the day when it was hot. It was fine. In fact saw lots of parsians wearing shorts, especially in the marais. But other areas of town I noticed less shorts.

Will I wear shorts next time. yes I will but I will wear nice pumas a nice shirt or t shirt something stylish.

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1545 posts

You don't say if you are a man or a woman, or where you are going. For any major European city, I would not wear shorts -- man or woman, and never wear white tennis shoes. An exception could be made for people in good shape, wearing a nice pair of bermudas of something (not cut-offs!)on a very hot day, just strolling around town -- but don't expect to go into any decent restaurant or church looking like this.

If you are hiking the Swiss Alps, or trekking through Pompeii on a hot day, I am sure this will be fine. Comfort, being yourself and getting buy on being polite are all fine ideas as far as they go -- but adult travelers should dress appropriately for the venue, and not look like they are taking a day at Disneyland.

Posted by karen
131 posts

Do you wear shorts and white tennis shoes at home for comfort? If so, then the only decision is whether you care what the Europeans think. Or other vacationing Americans. It's YOUR vacation! That said, if you are planning on entering cathedrals you should have pants/skirt that cover your knees. I would also add that since that is typically American attire, make sure you have a money belt, especially at the big attractions where lots of tourists from everywhere congregate. Lastly, people tend to forget that, especially in summer, a lot of Europe will be on vacation with you- people from all over the world waiting in line with you, also wearing their "native" costume. (The only thing that makes sense for sure to leave home is obvious stuff like Old Navy American flag t-shirts and anything else with a political interpetation- army fatigues even in pink, for example!)

Posted by JT
los angeles
3 posts

I posted a response but it disappeared. I started this thread because I've followed some other threads on other boards (Fodors), and this topic usually gets very heated.

I am a 51 year old man. I have traveled to Europe many times and usually do wear shorts & tennis shoes in the hot weather...but normally change into trousers if we're going to a decent restaurant in the evening...unless we're out all day and not able to make it back to the hotel.

My wife usually wears sun dresses or shorts or capri-type pants with sandals or tennis shoes.

We've never had a problem, but it seems to be a real issue for some folks. I just wanted to get a general feeling on how others dress. Basically, do you feel shorts are acceptable?

We're always polite & easy going to those that we encounter on our travels, never demanding, and just go with the to speak.

Posted by BG
Albany, CA, USA
1545 posts

JT I think it depends on what you look like in your shorts, tennies, sundresses, etc. If you are slim and fit, you can usually look presentable in anything. I see you are from Los Angeles, and I have lived there and know how they dress there. but I now live in San Francisco and am not nearly as casual, but then the weather is cooler too. I realize that Europe can get very hot in the summer, which is why I never go then and do not have to worry about weather to wear shorts or not!
But that said, I would encourage people to wear the best clothes they can, in the big cities of Europe and blend in a bit with the surroundings. Many people don't care if they stand out as tourists, but I do. It's not the way I roll.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2648 posts

Your right, this topic always seems to get more attention than deserved. I think it seems to be an affront to some's independence to be told "no, don't do that"; and they take it personally. Add in the crowd that cautions that "looking American" sets you up as a target, mix in a little cultural bias; and you have a pretty good argument. Yes, it depends greatly on where you will be (Italy vs England vs a resort Beach) What you are doing (Good restaurant, church, walking the town, swimming) and What the regional bias is (Small town vs Large City vs Tourist Center) All have accepted norms for dress, both in Europe and the US. Myself, I am likely to hit many of those over the course of a trip, or even a day. I also pack ultra-light, therefore, multiple shoes/sandals; pants, shorts, shirts, t-shirts, etc all add up in weight, making it not an option. I go for what works best in the most instances, and that is lightweight, comfortable, nuetral colored clothing and sturdy shoes.

Posted by Darla
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, U.S.A.
397 posts

JT, Go for the shorts and tennis shoe's. I have traveled many times to Europe and I wear shorts if it's hot. I feel comfortable and have never felt out of place. ( I do not wear shorts when sight seeing in a city, especially if I intend to go into church's). I agree with the other's posted on this sight, it depends on what you are doing that day. Have a great trip.

Posted by Sally
26 posts

I dress in Europe they way I would in a large US city such as New York or Chicago. I would not wear shorts or white tennis shoes in New York City and I will not wear them in Paris. However, if your going to a beach resort in Europe or hiking in the mountains then wear shorts and it will be fine.

Posted by Natasha
Concord, California
138 posts

Guess what. I just watched several episodes of Rick's videos, and almost in every one of them men were wearing shorts! And the shorts were tight, VERY short, and white! Looked like underwear. My guess is the films were made in the 80s. Was it acceptable then and not acceptable now? Not one woman in shorts, but lots of men. I have to say, not a very pretty sight.