I’m hoping that if you're traveling to Europe, your itinerary is
chock full of the cultural delights the Continent has to offer--
great restaurants, museums, cathedrals and historical sites and maybe
even a great store or ten! I'm hoping you didn't schlep all the way to Oslo, Paris or Prague to check out their version of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Euro Disney.
With such fab places to visit, you should definitely leave the fanny packs behind and dress up in outfits that are
comfortable yet slightly dressy and respectful of the grand places you
will be visiting. I mean, you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb if
you show up at Versailles in a Juicy Couture track suit. Why look
like a wayward Kardashian, when you could look pulled together or suave
and debonair like a Milanese cab driver (I’m not kidding. They look like
they have been pulled from a Loro Piana ad!)?
Odds are you’re going to be doing a great deal of walking. So whether you're looking around the Louvre or putzing around the Parthenon, you’ll want to be wearing comfortable shoes. Yes I said it. But comfortable need not be interpreted as sneakers, flip flops or
those dreaded Crocs.
For men, I recommend a nice driving moc in
leather or suede. They are comfortable, provide protection to the toes
and look great with jeans, khakis (flat front please) or even dress
slacks. For the ladies, try a ballet flat or even a pair of low-heeled
boots. Both work with jeans or even a little black dress should things
take a turn to something more dressy.
If you’re going to be out under the Tuscan sun or anywhere nowadays, thanks
to that dreadful global warming, you have to think about sun protection. A hat is a good idea, but the
ball cap-- which has somehow become appropriate everywhere but churches
and courtrooms in the US--is a fashion don't in my book. Guys, look
for a newsboy cap (the flat woolen one that golf caddy of days gone by
would wear) or a crushable fedora that will spring back into shape if
sat upon or squished in an overhead bin. For the ladies, a men’s fedora can also be
incredibly chic and on trend right now, in more of a Cameron Diaz way
and less of a Britney sort of way. They can even be feminized with a great scarf
tied over the hat band above the brim. Of course more elaborate straw
and felt hats (depending on the season) look great but it’s not fun traveling with a hat box.
In general, avoid all looks that would get you turned down at even a Dairy Queen. You know... no shoes, no socks, no
service. For the ladies, avoid short shorts, tank
tops, flip flops, fanny packs, ball caps, tube tops, and the like. For
the guys, definitely avoid the same things... and jean shorts, cut off
tees, sports jerseys, backpacks. Basically anything that makes you
look like you're headed for a day at the Monster Truck Jam. A time and
place for everything, people.
Now about all that “stuff” we want to carry with us on our sightseeing
excursions...camera, passport, cash, credit cards, sunscreen... well
for the men, a nice pair of cargo shorts or pants might be all you need. A leather or
chic nylon messenger bag could come in handy, if you need to carry more. For the ladies, a
purse that’s easy, secure and lightweight enough to be worn on the
shoulder all day. I love the nylon Longchamp bags. They're light,
durable, water resistant, chic and clean up easily... and they fold up
simply for packing. Best yet, though, leave most of your
valuables in the hotel safe and only take the essentials with you.
Most importantly, remember that you're in Europe, the cultural capital of the world. The last thing you want to do is be an "Ugly American."
Take it from Carson. You'll be glad you did.