How to dress for Europe and Not Get Sold Into The Paris Sex Trade.

...or how not to get mugged for being an American while in Europe.
...or how to not look like a complete American idiot while on vacation in Europe.


Daddy, they're in the room!
It was about three years ago when Shan and I boarded that plane for Europe for the first time. While we were under the false precept that our previous domestic travels would give us some sort of preparedness others might not have, we made one one fatal mistake; we had thought nothing of clothing and dress. I was naive as are most Americans first traveling abroad. While I consider the faux pas a simple first time mistake, at least I can laugh about it. I've seen the movie "Taken" where the young girl is kidnapped and put into Paris's sex trade because she was obviously "clocked" as an American. That crap is scary, I was lucky I made it out of London alive looking like I did.

Looking back, dying my hair a golden beach blond like a Los Angeles surfer girl wasn't the best idea. Buying bright, white NIKE running shoes (trainers), and packing bright colorful clothing probably wasn't the best of ideas either. I'm sure I looked like Coco the clown had just stepped out of the circus and into London the day I landed at Heathrow.

Okay, Lessons learned, wisdom has been gained and noted. You can all now peel yourselves off of the floor and stop laughing. On the other hand, if you're reading this and wondering, "what's wrong with white sneakers in Europe?", well then, definitely you're American.

She scares me, no really, she does.
I'm now so aware of this atrocity that I habitually cringe when I see the Lutheran lady pick up the day-care kids from school, with her bright white shoes. (She's 90, she ain't going to play tennis people.) The kind of shoes that require a bottle of shoe lacquer applied daily and can signal helicopters to land for miles around in case of an emergency. Really when you put it into that sort of context, you've got to ask for the country collectively as a whole, "what the hell were we thinking?"

Last year we traveled better, we learned from our mistakes. Scarfs we picked up in London, arm warmers, and dark clothing. The experience was dramatic in comparison to our first attempt, when ever we went to the counter. Often treated as a local, without the preemptive eye-roll, till we spoke with our rather obnoxious American accents.

When it came time to buy the shoes for that trip, we knew we still wanted athletic shoes that could be worn when we arrived back stateside, to walk the dog, run, or shop. The difference this time was that we made a plan. We found dark colored, and often non-synthetic choices for us to choose from. After scouring the web for European brands like Ecco, Bensimon, and Munro, we ended up at a local shoe store where we purchased some nondescript and sensible, tan athletic shoes. Perfect for walking miles upon end in Paris, or London and they blend in enough to not get us mugged for being American. (Or sold to some Parisian)

I don't want to suggest we succeeded at trying to dress like a European, because such nuances of culture is much more difficult than these silly rules; more that we we're trying to tone down our ingrained American appetite for hideous patterns, bright colors, and brand name clothing. Our plan was simple: dark colors, preferably black or brown, and nothing brighter than dark reds and gray. Simple usable outfits that work, but won't leave us feeling tired or out of place.

Repeat after me everyone... "I will not be the obvious American."

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