American travelers are often too busy gawking at the fashions of our European counterparts (guys in skintight jeans with ridiculous mullets or magenta-haired girls with questionable piercings) to notice their reciprocated slack-jawed stares at our own ridiculous wardrobe. Europeans can spot an American from a mile away based solely on our clothing choices. We have unlocked the mysteries of those judgmental European looks to bring you OTP's What NOT to Wear While Traveling Europe tutorial.
Listen, we know they’re comfy (magical almost). More versatile than the wheel, more genius than sliced bread, hoodies are basically the Chuck Norris of college clothing. Throw it on for a quick ciggie dash, burrow into its majestic warmth during Arctic temperatures and use it to hide from inquiring eyes after an awkward walk of shame. While hoodies are slowly starting to creep into European culture, they're not exactly catwalk ready. Sporting that hoodie with the name of your university across the front screams “U - S - A! U - S - A! U - S – A!” and if you prefer not to be instantly pegged as American, leave that sexy gray hoodie for the gym.
Maybe Europeans are against comfort as a concept but, if at any time, you have the audacity to leave your apartment, hostel, hotel or tent (or that of your evening companion) in pajama pants, be prepared for every pair of eyes on the street to be unabashedly fixated on you, judging your unfortunate morning wardrobe decision. If the words aren’t uttered aloud (though it’s probable they will be) use your imagination to visualize a speech bubble that says, “How on earth are they not yet dressed yet?” Then wait for a look of recognition to cross their face when they suddenly understand. “Oh, it’s because they’re Americans.” The horror. The shame.
Headwear Choices: Baseball hats and the "messy bun"
So there was no time to fix your hair this morning, huh? You were out last night partying and stumbled out of bed with just enough time to slap on a baseball cap or throw back your hair into a messy bun. How could you have possibly thought it was okay to get that half hour of sleep instead of meticulously gelling, styling, hair-spraying, blowdrying, and straightening every last strand into place? In countries where guys wear more hair product than an entire late-90’s boy band, it’s no wonder hair straighteners are the norm, along with other gadgets that leave us in the dust. Your baseball hat and lazy bun will not cut it in Europe as those are both reserved for hobos.
The Hoodie- and/or Fleece-with-Shorts Combo Look
Most people find their arms get colder than their legs. So it would only be logical to team up your shorts with long-sleeved sweaters when the days turn chilly. No, that's ridiculous. If one part of you is cold, well, the rest of you should be just as cold. Point is, Europeans aren’t interested in seeing your knees between October and April, and sweaters don't fly in the summer months. This half-assed look often happens circumstantially as it's just what’s left in the backpack (in which case, it's time-to-do-the-laundry-so-you-don't-look-like-a-loser day.)
And the #1 Sign that You’re American...
No matter which brand your prefer, from Reefs to Rainbows; sexy Havaianas to clumpy Crocs; or even the great American stand-by, Old Navy; understand that in Europe, these belong precisely where they were designed to reside: in the house as slippers or on the beach (maybe grimy hostel showers). In countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal, any type of sandal, flip-flop or open-toed footwear worn outside of season is met with disapproving looks, akin to wearing a Snuggie to a black-tie ball. Forget no white after Labor Day, this is about exposed toes, and it’s serious warfare. Verbal comments will be made as everyone you encounter will not possibly understand how you aren’t cold, feels terribly sorry at how sick you’re going to get and becomes suddenly overcome by cold just by looking at you.
If you prefer to avoid the label, try not to subconsciously fly the American flag by wearing our signature threads. We know that passing up comfort for aesthetics is rough but Europeans take time to look decent and expect everyone to do the same. This doesn't mean you should wear Friday night club gear to breakfast but it does mean that your hoodies, PJ's and flip flops will need to take a back seat to real sweaters, pants and shoes in Europe.