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By Audrey Sykes in Amsterdam—
Maybe it’s because I’m American, but I can spot our style from a mile away. I see it all over Amsterdam: The baseball cap, the oh-so handy cargo pants, and a sporty, all weather and near fluorescent wind breaker. We stick out like sore thumbs in Euroland.
Of course, standing out is not necessarily a bad thing and it’s certainly a practical way of dressing. But it’s also nice to blend in with the locals and not be automatically treated as a tourist.
So, if you’ll excuse some blatant stereotyping, here are seven sensible tips to help Americans blend in a bit better in Northern European countries like the Netherlands:
1. Women: Pack some tights
Black, medium thick tights that end at the ankle are a staple here for ladies’ fashion. And when packing, they’re lighter and take up less space than a pair of dress pants. Women wear them under dresses, skirts and sometimes shorts. Tights dry faster than pants, make your legs look slim and still cover your lower torso when bicycling.
2. Men: Your college sweatshirts do not impress anyone
Look, I know college sweatshirts are comfortable, and many of us have lived in them for years. But leave those stinky and stained pieces of thick cotton with bold letter embroidery behind. They take up a lot of room when packing, and men here usually wear sweatshirts only when going to/coming from sports.
Instead, a zip-up hoodie with a solid color or cool pattern works just as well, is easier to roll up and is more practical for traveling.
3. Men: Ditch the white sneakers
European men wear sneakers, but not chunky, white basketball shoes that engulf your feet to the ankles. Colors are good, comfort is important, and try on a pair that’s roomy and low cut. From Converse to Puma, Adidas to Nike, men here love their sporty brands, especially if it resembles a soccer shoe. And go for the ankle socks (what are you afraid of anyway with those high cotton socks, scratching your lower calves?).
4. Women: These boots are made for walking
Chances are you won’t need a pair of hiking boots in Europe unless you plan to spend a good week trekking the Alps. Even a day trip can be easily achieved with a normal pair of sneakers with good soles on a walking trail. Land is flat in much of Europe, and filled with hand-laid cobblestone. So stay away from thin Stilettos, leave the expensive hiking shoes at the shop, and go for a comfortable boot with a thick heel that can handle the streets (and bad weather, like fake leather).
Slap on a pair of those tights and a short skirt with a slinky top and you’re ready for a night out. A good, cheap buy is a thin sole insert that can make any shore supportive.
5. Both: Baseball caps and golf visors are a giveaway
I’m just saying, again. I know they’re practical, but no other culture over-wears them quite like we do. There are many cool and fun hats in Europe that are affordable, just as useful on bad hair days and make for great souvenirs.
6. Both: Don’t flip-flop
While we’re at it, save the flip-flops for beachwear only. If it’s hot, find some sturdy sandals.
7. Both: Shhhh…
Think before you decide to yell across the bar/restaurant/train car/street for your friend’s attention. You could just walk over there. That’s what the locals would do. Or they would wait until their friend approaches them, avoiding any attention-drawing actions altogether. The last thing you want to be is that stereotypical loud-mouth American whose call out leads to a lot of rolling eyeballs.
Have any tips for acting more like a local? Don’t care at all if you don’t look like a local? Share your thoughts in our comments section!