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Rick Steve's recommends wearing neutral colors. As such, I've opted to bring a lot of blacks and greys on my trip this winter. However, my rain jacket is a BRIGHT green -- it's brighter than the circle of the Travel Answers logo, except a bit more yellow. But it's a quality rain jacket and I don't want to spend a few hundred dollars just to get one that's black. However, I really don't want to stand out as traveling in a foreign country makes me feel self conscious already.

So my question is, do Europeans wear bright colors? If they do, is it only during warmer seasons?

Update: Some of the countries I will be traveling to during November/December include France, Italy, and Germany. I will mostly be in cities. (As a side note, I also don't want to stand out so as to avoid drawing attention of pick pocketers.)

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Birght colours are very common, you will be fine. –  user7907 Aug 11 '13 at 11:24
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Fashions vary. Where are you traveling? Which country? Which kind of environment (city, country, mountain, …)? That being said wherever you'll be going the locals probably have jackets from the same factory sold under a different brand. –  Gilles Aug 11 '13 at 11:25
    
Wearing a big rucksack will make you almost impossible to avoid drawing attention of pickpocketers –  Donaudampfschifffreizeitfahrt Aug 11 '13 at 19:14
    
Regarding your other question: in Abisko you will look like a tourist regardless of your clothes ;) (but there are no pickpockets there) –  gerrit Aug 12 '13 at 11:41
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Maps, travel guides, lack of language skills, a big camera would give you away as a tourist much more so then your fashion sense. –  Karlson Aug 12 '13 at 23:14

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Nah, you should be fine in Europe.

Fashion change all the time. In winter I often wear waterproof jacket, that has some bright colors, and don't think that is something, that stand out. It depends on the jacket itself, but especially in autumn and winter, in cities, wearing bright colored hiking or skiing jackets would be something completely normal.

Thus said, jacket will be probably least of your concern. Big backpack, travel guide and foreign language are more common giveaways.

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Whenever I go to Europe I am struck by how differently the European men dress than North American ones. First and foremost, their feet. They almost never wear running shoes. Their shoes are small and fit close to the foot. They are never white, and if you see the same man on several different days he may very well wear a different pair of shoes each day, to go with his pants for example. The socks are also never white and typically go with the pants. My first few days in Europe I think every man I meet is gay until I recalibrate :-)

Tourists, especially American ones, sport tourist accessories (backpacks, camera on strap, phone in hand being used as camera or map, paper map, guidebook) but also:

  • wear a baseball cap
  • wear a Tshirt, especially a Tshirt with a logo of a sports or clothing company or of a place they have been
  • wear shorts
  • talk really loudly to each other as though no-one else is there

To avoid being thought of as a tourist, worry about what you are wearing from the ground up. Most important is your shoes, then your socks, your pants (jeans are ok though not a first choice, sweats are not ok) and finally your shirt. Don't worry much about your coat.

For more see this 2001 article on the Ugly American and this fashion advice from SavvyBackpacker.

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That's good advice, but seeing I'll be going in the Winter, it's hard to wear fashionable waterproof shoes that are fashionable. What do Europeans do? –  MarkE Aug 13 '13 at 19:15
    
In Berlin in November the shoes were thin and close-fitting, possibly leather. I saw no boots. I don't think I've ever seen boots within a city. –  Kate Gregory Aug 13 '13 at 19:18
    
Thin shoes in 0 degree Celsius weather? How is that possible... –  MarkE Aug 13 '13 at 19:19
    
I wore women's dress pumps and a light jacket I didn't zip up. Cold is relative –  Kate Gregory Aug 13 '13 at 19:28
    
Men wearing a different pair of shoes every day? I assure you, having different pairs of shoes is as much of a female stereotype in Europe as in North America. –  Gilles Aug 14 '13 at 17:43

My recommendation - dress like you normally would.

What matters most is being comfortable - if you want to avoid drawing attention to yourself as to avoid pickpocketers...don't scream at everyone in English and keep your head up! Always be aware of your surroundings - pay attention to a map and know where you are at all times.

Not "acting" like a tourist, in my experience, is more important than not looking like one :)

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Don't worry too much about the bright jacket. I've traveled and lived in Europe and you see all kinds of clothes — everything from sleek and modern to huge puffy coats. And a lot of the countries you're going to visit will be pretty rainy during that time of year so a good rain jacket is a must.

I recommend that you just enjoy your time in Europe!

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