GO Blog | EF United States
The latest on travel, languages and culture by EF Education First
MenuFree Brochure

The 5 top fashion mistakes to avoid when traveling

The 5 top fashion mistakes to avoid when traveling

When planning for your travels, it can be a challenge to decide what to pack. Questions like what do people wear when it snows? When will I need comfortable shoes? And where will I wear this floral dress? buzz around like fashion flies. And, while there are many clothing scenarios you will never be able to predict, there ARE five fashion mistakes you should try to avoid if you want to look like a local when you’re traveling.

1. Baring is too daring

Situation: In this day and age, baring skin is common, it’s fashionable, and especially during summer it can be very comfortable. But, before you plan to don that spaghetti strap top, flip flops, or short shorts around the city, look around you to see what the locals are wearing on a warm summer day. In more conservative countries, showing too much skin outside of the pool area, the house, or sports center, might be seen as inappropriate.
Solution: Wear a light linen shirt over your summer top or dress, this allows you to easily adjust your look according to what the situation requires. If there is simply no compromise for you, go to places like Costa Rica where flip flops and shorts are all you need.

2. Avoid traditional clothing

Situation: Even though the idea of embracing local traditions in the country you are visiting by wearing their traditional clothing is full of good intentions, it might be perceived as disrespectful. Many cultures around the world place great significance in the colors and patterns of traditional clothing, and, in some cases, specific styles are designed to only be worn for certain holidays or celebrations. By not acknowledging the importance of the clothes you are wearing to the local culture, your effort to be respectful or integrate, may be seen as offensive.
Solution: Before putting on a mantilla in Spain, a beret in France, a Saree in Mumbai, a Yankees cap in Boston, a kilt in Dublin, or lederhosen in Berlin, check with the locals to see what is appropriate for what situation.

3. Footwear – where?

Situation: In some places around the world, like Sweden, Finland, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Japan, and even parts of Canada, it is common courtesy to take your shoes off before entering someone’s house. In fact, in many of these places, the custom is so ingrained in cultural norms that doing anything differently would be considered strange, and potentially quite rude. Nevertheless, in other countries, such as the USA and UK, as long as your shoes are dry, you can often wear them in the house.
Solution: A good tip – check to see if there is a shoe rack outside or in the entry to the home. If there is and it’s full of shoes, that is a good sign you should take your shoes off too.

4. The Fanny pack is back

Situation: Well, this is a subjective statement and largely a matter of taste, but, to many people, wearing a fanny pack is a clear signal that you are a tourist. It may also be a target for thieves who assume you are carrying valuables, such as your wallet, phone, or passport in it. That said, for many fashionistas, the fanny pack IS back, and wearing one around the waist or over the shoulder may be one of the most functional styles you can rock.
Solution: For those who dare to combine practicality with personality – the fanny pack is the way to go. For the rest of us, maybe it’s best we keep to the shoulder bag. There’s no shame in staying with the classics.

5. Smart, casual, or smasual?

Situation: While arriving at the party overdressed might feel uncomfortable, I assure you, being the one in sweatpants while everyone else is wearing suits and dresses is much worse. Whether it’s for an office, school, or house party, if you’re not sure about the dress code, I have one simple rule for you: overdress for success.
Solution: It’s much easier to dress down a fancy outfit than to dress up a casual one. Here’s how to do it:
– Roll up your long sleeves
– Fold up the legs of your pants
– Take off your socks and show some ankle
– Fold up the maxi dress in the waist so that it becomes shorter and more dance-friendly
– Loosen up your shirt a couple of buttons (not too much though!)

To dress like a local, shop like a local

While you’re mingling with locals in cafés or out at social events, ask around for their favorite places to shop. It is always fun to explore trendy stores in new parts of the world. Who knows? You might end up coming home with a whole new and inspiring wardrobe to remind you of the amazing (and stylish) adventures you’ve had.

So, who’s ready for the runway?

Plan your own adventureStart packing
Get the latest on travel, languages and culture in the GO newsletterSign me up