Is it still considered a no no to wear jeans or running shoes in Paris? We will be travelling to France June 9 for 11 days. I am assuming the weather will be warm, but my husband may want to wear jeans and running shoes for some of the heavy walking days. Also, is it acceptable to for a woman to wear shorts, or must I wear skirts or nice slacks to not look like a tourist?
People all over Europe wear jeans. And if the running shoes are comfortable for walking, your husband will be fine wearing them. As for shorts for women, I'm not sure about that. Maybe if you are young and they are longer shorts. Personally I would choose a skirt, skort or dress for warmer weather. You are going to look like tourists either way, but I think you'll get treated better if you dress respectfully.
Your husband will be fine, jeans are worn by everyone . As for shorts, well its a city vacation not a beach one, and I doubt it will be that hot, so I personally wouldn't pack any. I can suggest you stick a pair of capris in your suitcase if you don't like to wear skirts or dresses( I actually prefer them in the heat myself). I don't think it has much to do with looking like a tourist, we all look like tourists, but also think about this, you are going to be sitting on park benches, metro and bus seats, and they can all be a bit dusty ,,,, city grime so to speak, I wouldn't want to wear short shorts and be touching that stuff myself. Shorts are however worn by the young local girls, very short shorts, with leggings or tights under them, its a certain look, it would look strange on a middle aged woman though ( jmo, I actually think it looks strange on 20 yr olds but heck they can get away with anything!) And I have seen them wear their shorts like that even when its hot out, yech.. I wouldn't count on heat being a real issue though.. you can check the weather just before you leave to be sure.
I would not worry about wearing jeans, I have not found this to be an issue anywhere in Europe over the last thirteen years visiting multiple countries including Paris four times. Jeans have gradually become more prevalent. Likewise sneakers, but personally I would still shy away from wearing the ones that are obviously running shoes. I wear nondescript black New Balance walking shoes. As the name implies, these are great for walking, but they don't stick out like a sore thumb. You will be recognized as a tourist no matter what but it's more respectful to not be to too obvious about it. I used to try and avoid wearing a cap too, but I have to have something to shade my balding head. Plus direct sun on the head tends to wear down my energy. So I go with a nondescript green baseball style cap (rather than say a hat from a U.S. baseball team). I think most of these articles of clothing have gone more or less mainstream in Europe, more so for younger people. We saw the trend of women wearing shorts with tights as far back as 2010; it was a real style trend back then and sounds like it still is. This did indeed to be more common with younger women. I am male, and the only time I wore shorts was in Barcelona during a hot and humid September. Did not bring shorts on the trip but broke down and bought some because it was so hot. We generally travel shoulder season, so shorts would not make sense so not much more to add on that.
Tourists never blend in. Subtle cues will give you away, along with your presence atm tourist sites with tour books, etc. Focus on comfort and on learning enough of the language (if you don't already) to say hello to people in shops. The French are friendly, especially if you make that effort to speak to them in French. Contrary to popular belief, Parisians are not waiting to sit in judgment on our clothing choices!
You have to understand that you'll be among tour groups wearing umbrella hats. I doubt you'll be the one who causes notice.
ha ha,,, I haven't seen those umbrella hats on anyone yet, just on tv , usually while watching American sports games and drinking beer from plastic cups, this seems to include the painting of ones face team colors, ,, thinking you won't be doing that anyways, lol As said, don't worry so much about looking like a tourist, you are a tourist, but what is really important is learning a few cultural differences and customs , those really can make a difference in how you are treated, way more then anything you could possibly wear. The number one tip I can give that's easy to do is to remember to ALWAYS start absolutely any interaction with any French person is to start with "bonjour madame, or bonjour monsieur" .This means before you ask for any directions, for a ticket from a ticket seller, from the metro worker, from the admission cashier at the museum, the bakery worker, the desk clerk, anyone. If you don't they think you are being rude and may seem cold to you. Its because its considered rude to demand attention without first greeting a person. So, entering the bakery its simply " bonjour madame" , then you can stumble and point to what you want.. its nice to learn to ask if they can speak any English, but its not mandatory. Blending in is not important, being nice is.
Tour groups wearing umbrella hats? Where, where? Sounds like something from the 60's.
Wear a fasionable scarf at all times and maybe you'll fool them for about ten seconds.
This perpetual debate about dressing like a local is crazy. Can you imagine if The Castro district in SF attracted mainstream tourists? It would put a whole new spin on what to wear in order to blend in like a local. Answer: nothing. Although, I think this may have just recently changed. BTW, James' and Ed's replies were funny.
I mainly tell people to wear what they want in France (this questions comes up about France and Paris most) because I don't like to perpetuate the stereotype that the French are snooty. It puts people off visiting there at times. After I went, I had a friend who has traveled a bit and is a smart woman ask me "but weren't they rude?" Parisians are a bit reserved by American standards, but not rude by and large, and in Bretagne people were downright chatty with us. To be fair, my husband is fairly fluent, and I know the language well (fairly fluent in reading, but less so in talking) and I had boutique owners chatting away to me after my clumsy comments about the weather. If you want to feel more French while you are there, Shawn, well, there is nothing wrong with that. I love French style and try to emulate it a bit myself. Pop into some boutiques and buy some fabulous scarves to wear and take home! Men in Paris also wear scarves much as women do, but I doubt your husband will go for it. You never know, though...
The French might be offended if they see "Mom jeans" http://www.hulu.com/watch/10333
Here's how to blend in and make certain to hide the fact that your a tourist. Wear business appropriate clothing. Wake up early and ride the metro during rush hour. Don't visit the Eifel Tower, Louvre, Arc de Triomph, Notre Dame, Sacre Couer etc. but instead, hang out in business districts like La Defense. When walking down the street, look straight ahead without admiring the surroundings, and move with a sense of purpose. Don't take any pictures, or even carry a camera. And if you don't speak fluent French, don't say a word. You'll certainly blend in for the most part, but I'm guessing this probably isn't the type of vacation you wanted to experience in Paris. Now, it is possible to dress stylishly while traveling, but you will inevitably need to make some compromises with comfort and convenience. Others who have a better sense of style than I can comment more. If you want to look presentable on vacation, by all means, go ahead. Just don't expect that this will conceal your identity as a tourist.
Wearing shorts made me chuckle. Hopefully you'll bring a heat wave with you, because right now, everyone has their winter coats (still) on. I have a jacket on inside my house because I refuse to run the heat this late in the year. But it could shift drastically in a month I guess. (And you'll be a tourist. Why worry about what anyone else thinks about your clothes?)
Just pop onto Google Streetview for various parts of where you're travelling and check what people are wearing. You'll see just about everything that you're asking about being worn.
Have a great trip!
Hear, here - James!
It never ceases to amaze me in these threads that some people just say wear whatever you want because you'll look like a tourist anyway. Sure every local will know you're a tourist, but maybe the point is to at least look nice and presentable when going out to dinner, visiting churches or going through museums of amazing art. Looking nice is about respect for yourself and for where you are. So having ranted, jeans are very common, though we all know there are jeans and there are stylish jeans. Personally I find jeans to be very hot and they do not dry quickly if you need to wash them during your trip. I leave mine at home and wear looser Docker type pants that look nice, are cooler and dry faster. Skirts or slacks will have the same effect for women compared to capris. I wear comfortable, quality walking shoes but not sneakers that look like I've just come back from the gym. I wear light-weight shirts without my favorite sports team logos. Shorts are ok if it's hot and you're out in the sun all day. But I'd never wear them to dinner. Like any part of life, if you dress the part, you will get more respect. Will a restaurant seat and serve you wearing shorts and T-shirts? Yes, but you might get a nicer dining experience looking like you are out for dinner.
Okay, I get it, shorts are out. We are also going to be visiting Nice where I think that shorts will be fine. I really just wanted to know if jeans were ok as I have heard from people that you shouldn't wear jeans. Since that doesn't seem to be a problem and I plan to pack several skirts and a sheath dress I think we will be all set.
Thanks all for your input.
Beats me how a Parisian wearing a 5-year-old pair of jeans, a 20-year-old wool jacket, and a pair of cheap slip-on shoes (sans socks) manages to command "more" respect than someone wearing a pair of tailored shorts (11" or 12" inseam) with a quality polo shirt and high-end running shoes. Beats me.
'look nice and presentable .....going through museums of amazing art' Along the same lines, one should wear a bomber jacket in aviation museums, a peg leg in maritime museums, and a dinosaur suit in natural history museums. Stripping down to the altogether when passing a nude painting might be carrying it a bit too far.
But Ed, if you go nude you'll be all set to go through airport security.
Seriously, I no longer worry about making the slightest attempt to fit in when traveling in France, just about being comfortable. I usually have 2 pairs of pants a pair of blue jeans and a pair of khaki jeans and causal shirts. That being said, I try to dress presentably. And we don't go to restaurants where attire matters much. Years ago we went to a Michelin-class restaurant in a French village in which we stayed. All week long I saw business people arrive for lunch, generally very well-dressed. We made reservations for dinner our last night in town, a Friday, and I was worried that I'd stand out like a sore thumb. I had a choice between blue jeans that were comfortable or my khakis, which were clean but had amazingly seemed to have "shrunk" during our weeks in France, and were tight. But I wore the khakis anyway, and as the diners arrived, I saw that every man was wearing jeans.
George that outfit sounds fine, hardly doubt that you would be wearing shorts in the same weather that a local would be wearing a wool coat though, so lets compare apples to apples. Also the outfit you describe sounds nice, but what about we put you in jean cut off shorts and a wife beater t shirt, is that the same thing? lol Its not the same "look" here where I live s... one looks neat and tidy , one looks er,, hillbilly sloppy.
And since this thread is more about Shawn ( who is a woman , not a man) wearing shorts it does make a tad of difference...if Shawn decides she wants to blend in more then she will have to start wearing nylons or leggings under short shorts, and if she is over 30,, well its not really a good look in any place , north Canton , or Paris !
How does the art in the museum know what I'm wearing? I would rather show respect for the art by seeing it, experiencing it, learning about the artist, and encouraging others to see it, too. I wore jeans and a Boston Red Sox hat all over Paris and London a couple of years ago. Nobody blinked. I actually had people stop me on the street from both the U.S., France, and oter places to ask if I was from Boston or make a coment about the Sox. A couple of weeks ago, I wore jeans and a different Red Sox hat to Italy. Going through passport control in Germany, the guy checking my passport asked me about the Sox. In Venice, 2 Italian guys who had travelled in the U.S. a little bit bought me a beer when they saw my hat. In Rome, walking down the street near St. Peter's, somebody yelled out "Go, Sox!" How you are treated has nothing to do with how you are dressed and everything to do with how you comport yourself If you are polite, friendly, and respectful, you will receive the same. Even if you wear a Yankess hat . . .
I always look at my trips to Paris as a chance to wear the most fashionable clothes I own and not look out of place. It's not about what the French think about what I wear, it's about what I think and how I feel. Yes... really shallow, I care about fashion and it's just one of the reasons I love going to Europe. I have huge issues with my clothing being comfortable, but I am very comfortable wearing natural fabric clothing, skirts or dresses and neutral colors that mix and match, lots of scarves and costume jewelry, and of course my cool fake 'expensive' sunglasses. Have fun with your fashion in Europe and try out looks you might not wear at home.
"Even if you wear a Yankess hat . . ." Funny you mention that. I see young people in Germany and Belgium wearing Yankees hats quite frequently. I'm pretty sure it's just a fashion thing, and they're not actually close followers of the Bronx Bombers. As far as I know, the Netherlands is just about the only country in Europe where anyone plays baseball regularly. PS- Likewise, my brother visited a couple of months ago. He was wearing his Phillies hat and Notre Dame jacket most of the time. What provoked the most substantial and meaningful conversation he had with a native German? It wasn't his clumsy attempts at speaking German. It definately wasn't through a misguided attempt to disguise his nationality by trying to "dress German". It was the Notre Dame jacket, because he ran into a German who had spent time in the US and once attended a Notre Dame football game. He was even familiar with my brother's favorite South Bend bar. Moral of the story here, folks? Sometimes, just be yourself. You may get a better response than by indulging too far into this "become a temporary local" fantasy.
You will probably scream tourist. Get used to that right now. You'll see. "Beats me how a Parisian wearing a 5-year-old pair of jeans, a 20-year-old wool jacket, and a pair of cheap (me: filthy) slip-on shoes (sans socks) manages to command "more" respect than someone wearing a pair of tailored shorts (11" or 12" inseam) with a quality polo shirt and high-end running shoes. Beats me." George...I love you. There - I've said it. And that ugly 20-year-old wool jacket is being worn IN JULY. With an equally ugly knitted muffler tied in the same stupid knot at the neck that EVERYBODY wears. The days of the beautifully polished Grand Dames are quickly fading into history... Shawn, here's a short YouTube people-watching video. The majority of people look local, but there are some tourists, too. Nothing to get too excited about, unfortunately. If you'd like to wear shorts, do it. I get the impression you aren't talking about high school gym shorts; a Bermuda-type, tailored short would be fine. I think most of us here get the same effect with a capri-length pant, though - it's a little bit closer to a dressier pant look. And your husband will be fine in jeans and athletic shoes. As a couple have suggested, do look at Google Maps Streetview to see what the street scene looks like. PM me if you need instructions to see Streetview. On a related note, the women of Paris are finally allowed to wear pants...in 2013 ;-) Go crazy, Women of Paris, go crazy.
Want to see exactly what is being worn ? Go to google maps, then directions, then enter a location from and to. When that comes up, go to an area listed on the left index of directions with the little "google man" icon, and go to "street view" on the map...you can "go" up and down the street, hitting the transparent square on the photos, to enlarge any pedestrian and check out what they are wearing. This is also a fun way to look at any area you're considering going to such as, say, Rue Claire, in Paris
Shawn and everyone, One of the things I've noticed about these posts on what to wear is that mostly someone on vacation is trying to be like someone going to work. I think we should try to be more like those in that country on vacation. Someone from a small town a couple of hours from a large city would probably not wear "gardening grungies" to the city. So I think if we were to choose our normal city vacation clothing we would be better off. By that I mean closer to "business casual" or "dressy summer casual" than "summer grungie." I'm just trying to compare apples to apples not apples to oranges. Or whatever other two not necessarily compatible things we sometimes try to compare with each other.
I think this topic has gone slightly off track. I simply was wondering what was appropriate attire for my trip to France. Since I won't be travelling to Germany or any of the other European countries, those bits of advice are not what I am searching for. I think I will bring some comfortable shoes and some casual and hopefully fashionable clothing. I never intended to dress "grungie" in the first place. I don't do that at home, so why would I do that while visiting?
Shawn, the reason Paris "fashion" topics go off the rails is because there are those that still believe that Paris holds a certain cachet, not known anywhere else in the world, and it doesn't.
The defensive and sometimes downright hostile answers someone receives just from the pleated-pants-and-polo-shirts set is far more annoying than someone asking a harmless question about wanting to look nice and appropriate when they travel. Paris is a very fashionable city. And I'm with Terry Kathryn - when visiting places that are full of smartly-dressed people, I like to be smartly-dressed too. I'm far from a fashion plate (don't have the figure or the budget for it) but I dress nicer in NYC and LA and Paris than I do in my rural hometown in Central California. Note that I don't run around telling people who are advocating buying ugly shoes in those shoe question threads that they must wear fashionable shoes in an attempt to blend in. But people who are totally OK looking like midwestern grandpa in Paris feel the need to tell people who are concerned with not looking that way that they shouldn't be. It's silly. If you're not concerned about fashion, good for you - I'm not passing judgement on that (well, maybe a little if you're actually wearing sansabelt slacks). Some people are, obviously, concerned about what they wear, so either give actual advice that relates to the question or don't bother answering.
Shawn, I'm with Sarah. You can go and look smart and fashionable. I am one of the under 60 (actually, under 30...) crowd and when I go to Europe I like to look nice. Like Sarah said, the midwestern Grandpa look isn't for everyone. Usually when I go I am a student and generally everyone looks fairly nice at French universities. I do not stick out more than anyone else but I certainly don't look like a bum with comfortable shoes. I'd say go with what you think is right. Power to you for wanting to look nice. Something many Americans no longer try to do.
Meanwhile over on a french travel board someone is suggesting that a French couple wear Aloha shirts, board shorts, Birkenstocks and Muumuus on that trip to Honolulu they're planning.
I'm going out on a limb and I'm going to try to read into people's intentions. It seems the objection isn't so much to travelers trying to look presentable on vacation (more power to you if you can manage it), it's this persistent idea that if you only wear the right clothes, you can disguise the fact that you're a tourist. Hence the comments, "Wear what you want". If you're comfortable dressing to the 9's, you want to wear it, and you can manage the inconvenience of assembling such an outfit on vacation, then by all means do it. But if you want to wear comfortable shoes and slacks, or even shorts, rest assured that this is fine in all but the most expensive restaurants (and some places of worship in certain countries).
Not everyone "screams" tourist, or at any rate American. I've been to Europe many times, and for some reason the general assumption is often that I am German. To the best of my knowledge I don't have an ounce of German blood. I do try to dress a little better in Paris than I would in some other cities. It takes no more effort to put on a pair of khakis and a button-down than it does a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
Tom, I'm coming to the conclusion that it's less of a concern about being judged, and more about having perhaps read in several articles in recent years in mainstream 'Travel' sections in U.S. newspapers and magazines that Europeans believe stereotypes about all American tourists wearing shorts, fanny packs, baseball caps, and blinding white track shoes. The same articles have advised against these things as being 'un-European' or at least not well regarded by Europeans. The articles also imply (or state outright) that Americans who avoid these things might diminish their exposure to being targeted as 'rich' unaware American sitting ducks for petty theft. My shield is up, folks, so save the tirade for a less beaten-to-death thread than this one, please. :)
I think Tom sums it up pretty well, and Sarah's reply is instructional, too, because it underscores the fact that many of the "fashion tips" being provided are from older folks here...probably retirement age or above. Now, if that advice is being given to another older person...that's awesome. Often, however, someone will say that they are in their 20s or early 30s, yet people ignore it and give all manner of suggestion for 65 year-olds. I wonder how many of you would still wrestle with this idea of fitting in like a local if you were going to visit Tokyo, Seoul, or someplace where you definitely will not look like a local no matter what you do with your wardrobe (because you're a suburban white person)? Some Americans in Europe will not look like stereotypical Americans, ever. That's cool. Many will. Who cares? Some Europeans will look just like Americans when vacationing here, and some won't. Who cares? Just go on vacation and be done with it. BTW, if you were going to Seoul or Tokyo, you could ditch all of the debate about which money belt to use, how to avoid pickpockets, how to avoid becoming a crime statistic, what to do if hubby gets mugged by three 11 year-olds, etc. Those are European problems.
Rose makes an excellent point. When they ask questions like the OP's, most people are not really trying to look French, German, Italian or whatever; they just want to fit in enough to avoid being stereotyped, targeted and taken advantage of by con artists, pickpockets and unscrupulous merchants (stereotypes, as well, but they do exist). Just because someone asks a question does not mean they are scared; sometimes they just want information, not opinions, including this one.
Shawn, the reason Paris "fashion" topics go off the rails is because there are those that still believe that Paris holds a certain cachet, not known anywhere else in the world, and it doesn't. No, actually, it's not the reason at all. I probably speak for more than just myself that my dress code attitudes applies to all of Europe, not just Paris. The OP question just happened to be about Paris. Shawn - your type of question comes up all the time and it almost always results in this kind of no-win bickering between those who like to dress nicer and those than don't. You can click to disengage the email notifications for each new post, since it's unlikely to end anytime soon. Sorry...
Everyone seems to think it is important to blend in and not appear to be a tourist (especially in France). Do you think the French have access to a blog or website to blend in when visiting the US? I think not.
I would second the advice about bringing/buying a scarf. Obviously not with the shorts, but it should work with the rest of your wardrobe. Not only does almost everyone wear them (even in summer), but they are amazingly versatile for temperature changes. I usually get inexpensive ones at Forever 21, H&M, Charming Charlie's or wherever young people in your area shop.
Really Douglas - funny we never see anyone posing the what should I wear question about London, Warsaw, Madrid, Berlin, Prague, or Frankfurt. Nope it's always about the over-rated fashion (dress) in Paris. Those days have passed Paris by a long, long time ago.
The assumption that my objections about blending in is correct. I see lots of tourists whe I live, and even the user fashionable ones don't blend in. If the concern is safety, well, I am sure pickpockets and con artists are attuned to subtler clues than just fanny packs. For the record, I like to travel as stylishly as possible, especially in cities like Paris and London! But if that's not people's bag, then I don't think it will detract much. My husband wears a fanny pack (sigh) and we get treated the same when traveling. We are in our 30's, by the way. On a related note, I once saw Italian tourists near me (I live near some hostels) and one guy had bright white sneakers on. Maybe there ARE blogs about fitting in when visiting the US....
Fashion is pretty universal in the western world anymore. It appears that it is also generational. Just as I would not wear sheer black pantyhose with leather hot pants in Rome, it is also popular in Atlanta at the club scene here. Darn! A few years too late! Personally, I'm a dress-up type, but fashion really doesn't change much in the west. Wear the nicest stuff you can stand to wear and be done with it. I recently returned from Rome with my 64 year old father and all he wanted to do was see stuff and not feel bad so I get that too. Hideous shoes and 'breathable' shirts where overlooked. I just wanted the poor man to enjoy himself!
Do you think the French have access to a blog or website to blend in when visiting the US? I think not. They don't need to - they get all their style tips from seeing how American tourists dress while in Paris. ;) And from their fascination with watching American TV shows. I found this interesting in Wikipedia: London claimed the Fashion Capital crown from New York (the 2010 Fashion Capital) in 2011 and repeated in 2012. The ascendance of Kate Middleton and the London Olympics were frequently cited as being instrumental in London's rise. In 2009, Milan claimed the title of top fashion capital for the media. Both Milan and Paris have longstanding traditions of excellence and creativity in design. Milanese fashion is regarded as the most sophisticated and admired, concentrating equally on ready-to-wear clothes as well as haute couture, while Paris' focus lies mostly in "Haute Couture". Personally, I think the elegant boulevards and promenades of Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Tuileries were more interesting when people took greater care about their appearance. Today, everyone just looks the same, in the ubiquitous uniform of jeans, T-shirt, and sneakers of one kind or another. At least the scarves - on both men and women - add a dash of elegance. My opinion, and only my opinion.
Why do Americans want to look like slobs whether its New York or Rome - Los Angeles or Paris? But that being said, dress the way you feel comfortable and enjoy your trip. I for one, enjoy getting dressed up and going out on the town, especially when going somewhere special like Paris!
Shawn, if you haven't given up yet on ever getting your questions answered, google Paris Street Fashion, and you will find links to lots of pictures showing what people are wearing on the streets of Paris. You are not likely to find the answers here. This discussion went off the deep end a while back. I don't want to be too serious about it, since this thread is kind of fun to read. But some of the discussion seems directed at the Griswold family instead Shawn's.
From what I observed in Italy (sorry, have not been to France, but Italy is similarly fashionable) all I can generalize is that the clothes "fit right" on the person and complement their figure - they don't do sweatshirts or baggy stuff (I think that's what contributes to the sloppy look). So that's probably why they look more elegant and put together. The women wore fitted jackets, big Jackie O sunglasses (also popular here), and very nice tall heels and boots - although that may be a bit much for a regular tourist and would look silly at the tourist sites. I cannot see many men here getting away with the types of slim fitted jeans European men wear - for one thing, you cannot have a gut/muffin top hanging over your jeans. Sorry, I know that's not PC to say... I don't think the OP's question is odd at all. You may get treated differently (i.e. better) if you look put together. And for better or worse, France has developed a reputation for elegance - that's their number one export it seems. By the way, I don't understand the Rick's idea of devising a whole new wardrobe attachment (i.e. moneybelt) to travel in Europe or anywhere else. If you have your wallet in a purse here, I don't know why doing anything different is warranted. I think the whole thievery business is overstated - be alert - yes - but holding your money practically in your knickers seems kinda weird to me. Do Europeans bring moneybelts to the US or other European countries?
True as observed above ...why is this particular concern about the way one dresses on vacation focused on Paris than in other cities, say in Warsaw, Munich, Vienna, or London? I dress the same regardless if I am in Vienna. London, etc., ie, neatly , decently, appropriately. But no baseball caps and polo shirts. Whether I stand out as a tourist is irrelevant, that's why I am over there. Your clothing style and mannerisms will betray you as such. @ Shawn...A lot of local women do wear skirts.
So, I wear clothes that are clean, quality, in good repair, muted colors, tiny if any logos present and considered activewear as we do much hiking and biking in Europe. The last time we were in Paris, no one seemed to give a fig.