[Another re-post of my writing at Sidelines. Enjoy!]
You have your plans set, your tickets are in hand, and the excitement of your coming trip is so deliciously thick you can cut it up into slices. You are heading to some new place full of brand new sights, scents, and scenery. You have never been there before! You’ve read the brochures, talked to your buddies, seen the reviews and the panoramas online, reserved your room and your transportation is arranged. Now for the matter of what to wear. What, then, will you wear?
OK, you don’t want to look like a tourist. That’s a given. No one wants to look like a tourist, but not many succeed in avoiding that picture. You know which one that is: Totally out of place, either in style or in formality. I am not even talking about that stereotype of the big Hawaiian shirt-wearing Dad and Mama with her khaki skirt and sneakers. A little forethought all by yourself should help you shy away from that picture. I’m talking about just about blending in, if that’s at all possible for you.
Some examples of touristy wardrobe choices: You go to a farmers market in a poorer part of a new town wearing too much expensive jewelry and your best Jimmy Choo boots. You show up at Chianti’s in Tokyo wearing sweatpants and a pair of well-worn sneakers, expecting the best treatment (you’ll get it, but you’ll also get “the look.”) You shop in Rockefeller Plaza wearing your Hawaiian shirt. Do it if you want to, and more power to you. You’ll just look like a tourist.
Here is my main piece of advice: Go online and search for recent photos of locals who live and work in the areas in which you are going to travel. Going multiple places? Pack accordingly. Don’t try so hard to blend in that you overdo it (i.e. start wearing saris to the market in Sri Lanka unless you know how to drape them), but a little common sense goes a long way.
Are you conservative? What are more conservative, professional people of your gender and age wearing at the cafes and restaurants at your destination? Are you more artsy or individual? Check out the range of “what’s acceptable in public” where you are going, and then express yourself. Just be sure you are not wearing something that may be culturally offensive or mark you negatively. If you have no idea what might be offensive where you are going (and you are slightly worried), a simple and clean pair of nicely-cut jeans and a flattering, conservative shirt with a few pieces of jewelry might be just right. At the very least, checking out the locals online may give you a helpful perspective.
Personal style is so personal. If it doesn’t bother you to stick out as a tourist, go for it. Just for those who want to blend in a bit more – which might afford you a broader experience of a new locale than a “tourist”might experience, I just gave you my advice. Hope it helps.
What other pieces of advice are out there?
How Not to Dress Like a Tourist