You’re heading off to a new city, and your empty suitcase is staring at you. You don’t want everyone to know you’re a tourist, after all. But there are a few things you can do to make sure your clothes are culturally -- and fashionably-- appropriate wherever you’re visiting.
If you’re wondering if Parisians really do mostly wear black, or whether it would be a faux pas to have a bare head at a London wedding, social media can help you out. Check out some stylish Instagrammers from your destination of choice to get a feel for what street style is like there. There are also plenty of street style blogs from cities all over the world.
There’s no point blending in perfectly with the fashionable locals if your feet are so sore from new shoes that you can’t finish your walking tour. Make sure you keep your own agenda in mind when you pack: the city you’re in isn’t just about the local culture, it’s about what you’re going to
There are some countries where showing your knees or having your head uncovered is either illegal or very offensive. Take the time to research your location’s religious traditions in your area. The CIA World Factbook, Wiki Travel and other internet forums can be great places to go for location-specific tips about appropriate dress. Also be mindful that observance of religious traditions can vary significantly between cities, and between city and rural areas: what’s ok in the city might be very unacceptable once you’re a little further away.
It’s important to understand not just the temperature of where you’ll be visiting, but the city’s usual weather patterns at that time of year. Some cities have truly weird weather, like San Francisco, where when the wind picks up, the temperature can drop rapidly and unexpectedly. Be well prepared not only by looking at the forecast for your visit, but take the step further so you have the right clothes for the most likely weather scenarios.
There are a few items that are useful almost everywhere you go. A pair of navy blue cotton trousers, or long skirt, can be versatile: appropriate in for both the cosmopolitan and conservative. Pack accessories to help you adjust outfits to the conditions: things like scarves, jewellery and different shoe options can help you change an outfit from drab to fab.
You might not need them, but you probably will.