How to Pack Light, Be Comfortable, and Look Cool in Europe
There is something about the effortlessly cool vibe one finds throughout Europe. Somehow everyone seems to look a little more put together than they do in the states. While there is no rulebook on how to dress like a European, here are a few tips on how you can fit in on the world’s most fashionable continent.
Be Prepared for Rain
Europe has a very similar climate to that of the Northeast–meaning you can expect wet weather at any time. If you’re traveling for more than just a weekend, you’re probably going to be hit with a few showers. This does not mean you need to pack your tall, brightly patterned rain boots and poncho. In fact, to many Europeans, rain boots or wellies are reserved for weekends in the muddy and rainy country side. Instead, pack a black travel-friendly umbrella, waterproof Chelsea boots in a neutral color, and a raincoat that can be worn as a jacket, like this one from L.L. Bean with a zip-out liner. It’s one of the best travel jackets for Europe.
Layer, Layer, Layer
No matter the climate or time of year, you’ll probably be hit with some unexpected temperatures, so it’s always best to be prepared for a range. For mild weather, I always pack two jackets (a rain jacket and a lightweight suede jacket), two to three light to mid-weight sweaters for warmth, an oversized scarf, a chambray button down shirt, and a solid long sleeve and short sleeve shirt as my key layering pieces. This obviously will vary if you’re traveling for business or if you’re traveling during the height of summer or winter, but these items universally work well.
Stick to Neutral Colors
If you’re trying to blend in, sticking to neutral colors is your best bet. That isn’t to say you can’t wear color–just stick to a more muted palette and softer tones versus bright colors to make yourself look as European chic as possible. Having clothes that all match each other will also help you pack light for Europe.
Invest in Classic Pieces
It’s important to invest in a few comfortable key pieces that you will be able to wear multiple times on your trip. I recommend investing in a cross body bag, a comfortable pair of jeans, and a dress that can go from day to night.
Leave the Fussy Accessories at Home
Loud jewelry and tons of clunky chained necklaces don’t go over well in Europe. Stick to your favorite, everyday jewelry and just leave the rest at home. It’s all about that minimal lifestyle … and it’s one less thing to pack and worry about misplacing in your hotel room.
Pick the Right Luggage
Unlike many other tourists, Europeans arrive and travel in style. This means you have to step up your luggage game if you’re crossing the pond. While expensive, I personally love a line called Bric’s for its sleek design, leather details, and pockets.
Only Pack It If You Can Wear More Than Twice
This is the golden rule if you want to avoid overpacking. While you don’t need to plan out every single outfit you’re going to wear, it’s a good idea to mentally envision a few outfits in your head. If you can’t see yourself wearing a certain item at least twice (or going from day to night), then don’t bother bringing it. After all, you’ll be thankful later on for that extra room after some shopping.
Stick to Two or Three Pairs of Shoes
Unless you’re going backpacking or hiking, you should be able to stick to three pairs of shoes for women and two pairs of shoes for men when going to a European city. For men and women, TOMS has some great causal yet chic sneaker options for walking and travel days. For men, look at the Paseo Casual Shoe, and for women the Del Rey Sneaker Casual Shoe will go with almost any outfit. For your other two pairs of shoes, ladies can bring a neutral colored short boot, unless you’re traveling in summer–in which case sandals or a pair of flats will be better options–and a pair of broken in heels in a neutral color. Men, the only other pair you’ll need is a nice pair of dress shoes that are also comfortable for walking but dressier than sneakers.
When in Doubt, Dress Up
Europeans tend to dress up more than they dress down, so going out to dinner might not be as casual an affair as it is at home. Of course this doesn’t go for every restaurant or venue, just be mindful that some environments will be dressier than in the U.S. Keep this in mind when you’re packing–bring a few black staple items as they will instantly look more elegant.