I learned the hard way about sticking out as an American tourist
in England, particularly in London, which is a very diverse yet
cosmopolitan city. I brought my baggy, torn jeans and beat up Doc
Marten boots, only to discover that the women in London were wearing
very chic and stylish feminine clothes. For summer, I would recommend
classic, well-fitted black or grey pants (modern cut, like boot-cut
or slight flare) or a nice, modern skirt, plus a well-fitted, chic/hip
short sleeved shirt (any color is okay, but black seems to rule).
Wear stylish yet comfy sandals (lots of walking) or nicer athletic
or walking shoes (the types that are rather shapely and not too
bulky). Dress nicer than just "American casual"...avoid the white
sneakers and DO NOT wear Doc Martens! The Docs store in London was
filled only with Americans. When I was in London, I went straight
to the market on Portobello Road and bought a load of cheap, more
stylin' clothes. London was quite warm when I was there in July,
but the weather was a bit more unpredictable as I went farther north.
Prepare for rain with a light rain jacket and have a comfy, nice-looking
Patricia, Chicago, USA
My biggest advice is to wear comfortable shoes. We traveled for
seven days throughout London almost exclusively by walking and riding
the underground and bus system. Most people wore dark clothes --
either pants or blue jeans. Women wore various types of shoes, but
very few impractical high heels. The shoes I wore have always been
comfortable for me back home, but hurt through all the walking in
the U.K. Next time I go I will wear either a hiking boot, a dark
colored athletic shoe, or a shoe with an athletic shoe insert.
Stefani, Phoenix, USA
Tight clothing is very "in" now, in particular, tight leather garments,
eg leather trousers. Bright colours are fine.
Chris, Birmingham, England
Ed. note: Yes, but remember that
"too tight" worn anywhere will bring you lots of unwanted attention.
In London, wearing black is always appropriate -- for dress or
casual wear. I've also discovered that you can wear trimly tailored
black pants with just about any top and always look appropriately
Yvonne, Kansas City, USA
Pack black slacks, comfortable shoes, raincoat and these basics
will take you anywhere.
In Manchester women tend to dress fairly modestly whatever the
season. Very short skirts, knee high boots, etc tend to attract
catcalls and remarks. Most women here from about 15-35 wear long
skirts and long coats and platform/heeled shoes or boots. Black
and other dark colours are most fashionable. Denim is okay but darker
denim is what is in fashion at the moment. It gets really rainy
up here so I would advise packing a raincoat and strong umbrella.
In the summer, however, it can get really hot and unpleasantly humid
so its best to wear cotton and other natural fibers then.
Sophie, Manchester, England
When packing for England think conservative, no loud colors, no
clunky track shoes in white.
Dodi, De Funiak Springs, USA
I travelled in London, England. Ladies of size will want to know
about Evans, in Oxford St. near London's Marble Arch. They sells
medium-priced clothing for ladies of size (up to size 34, if I remember
Ellen, Sydney, Australia
If you decide to check out chic and expensive Harrods while in
London you should probably do so before a night at the theatre when
you're well-dressed. When I was there a few years ago (others have
told me this rule is still in place) you couldn't go in wearing
any kind of denim. I got turned away as did a very well-dressed
woman who happened to be wearing one of those sleeveless denim blouses
that used to be popular. Shorts and sleeveless shirts were forbidden
as well. Something tells me that Princess Diana never got turned
away but she probably spent more money than I did!
Kristin, Moncton, Canada
I traveled in London, England and I found skirts and blouses to
be most comfortable to pack. Knowing I was going to the theater
I did take a dressy (black) dress. I ended up wearing my walking
shoes everywhere but the theater. Next time I am going to take 2
skirts, 2 blouses, one dress and one jacket plus undies, even if
I go for three weeks. I will take only easy wash, quick drying clothes.
My sister took three suitcases. The one I took was too big and way
too heavy. I want to only have a small carry-on next time and I
plan to put it in the overhead compartment.
Carol, Urbana, USA
Coordinate your clothes around two main colors like black and
tan. In London, as in NYC, black is almost the color of choice.
If you travel in the Fall and Winter, the dry heat in the hotels
will dry most anything you wash overnight.
England is so blustery that an umbrella doesn't work very well.
A 3/4 length raincoat with hood (Eddie Bauer style) is great to
have. Make sure you can wear it over a heavy sweater or a wool blazer
in the cooler months.
My favorite purchase for my last trip to England and the stone
circles of Avebury, Stonehenge and Cornwall was a pair of waterproof
leather boots. Yes, they are heavy but once you trudge through mud
you are delighted to have had the insight to have brought them along.
And you really can get along with the boots and just one other pair
of comfortable, "dressy" shoes.
TRisha, Atlanta, USA
Don't wear your tennis shoes a.k.a. "trainers" in England unless
you're going to the gym. This is quite a "no, no." Most good bars
and restaurants will refuse admission to anyone wearing them! Also,
jeans are acceptable for casual wear as long as you have a nice
blazer -- I wear a double breasted navy blazer and I fit right in.
Lynn, Winterhaven, Florida
If you want to be properly treated in London's exclusive restaurants
and shops, avoid wearing tourist attire--it's considered to be unspeakably
"naff" or tacky.
Jane Hess, Special to the Toronto Star, Canada
I travel to London in the winter months to go to the theatre--air
fares are lower after Nov. 1st. I find that London theatres are
casual, especially at matinees and that they are often overheated
in the winter. Wear layers. I was too hot in a cashmere turtleneck
sweater. A blouse and cardigan or blazer are better.
Trisha, Atlanta, USA
In London, wear black, black, and more black. To avoid looking
too much like a tourist, bring a raincoat rather than a windbreaker.
Julie, Ottawa, Canada
In seaside towns, such as the one where I live (outside Hastings,
East Sussex), we find that during the summer it is not uncommon
to see even older men and women in shorts and skimpy T-shirts etc.
To us it screams 'tourist' but we are used to it and most of us
take no notice. In fact, on the rare occasions it gets really hot,
we have been known to dress that way ourselves! You will, however,
be refused service in most shops, bars and cafes, even on the seafront,
if you are wearing swimwear, your male companion is shirtless or
if you are barefoot. Be ladies, ladies!
Kat, St. Leonarsa-On-Sea, UK
I lived, studied and worked in Quito for 4 years. I also worked
in a rural area of the coast and have traveled extensively throughout
the country. Here are my suggestions.
When visiting Ecuador, it is important to consider where you will
travel in the country and what sorts of activities you will engage
in. Dressing for Quito and the central cordillera cities (highlands)
is quite different from dressing on the coast or in the rainforest.
Quito is a relatively cosmopolitan capital city and has a cool,
spring-like climate every day of the year (Cuenca, Loja, and Ambato
are similar environments). Zip-off trekking pants, sandals, shorts,
large backpacks and hiking attire of any sort will stand out sorely
here. You won't be going on safari in Quito, so don't dress for
it! Even if the majority of your trip will be adventure travel,
it would be wise to have a pair of nice dark pants or jeans and
some non-athletic shoes for any stopovers in cities. While you will
see some Ecuadorian women in casual or sporting clothes, a foreigner
wearing sneakers, a sweatshirt, jogging pants, a windbreaker-type
jacket, etc. will be seen as a typical (read: unsavvy, pickpocket-target)
tourist. Neat, business-casual dress will go a long way toward helping
you navigate smoothly in Quito. A light jacket and/or sweater is
a must since the city is cool in the mornings and evenings and can
be downright chilly when it rains. Dresses and skirts are far less
common for casual wear in Quito than in North America and Europe
and even long or conservative styles are likely to garner "piropos"
(comments and come-ons from men) on the street. Others might disagree
with me on this point, but I don't recommend packing a dress or
skirt unless you plan to attend a special event (wedding or the
like). Muster up your self-esteem and bring well-fitting tops, pants
and jeans; baggy clothes, particularly baggy pants, are not a common
style in Quito.
On the warm and steamy pacific coast, tight-fitting clothes go
to a whole other level! Dressing in Guayaquil and in other warm
parts of the country is far less conservative than in Quito. Here
sleeveless and strappy tops, leg-baring skirts and shorts, sandals
and other tropical styles are common. That said, a particularly
light-haired, light-skinned woman might prefer to bare a little
less skin to reduce unwanted attention.
If you are bound for the Oriente (Amazonía, rainforest),
serious hiking in the Andes, Galapagos island-hopping or mucky adventures
on the coast, then some more technical gear is appropriate (but
I repeat, PLEASE don't wear it around in Quito). Solid footwear,
reliable raingear and quick-drying breathable clothing will help
you to be comfortable. Keep in mind, though, that your Ecuadorian
guides will likely be wearing simple jeans, t-shirts and rubber
boots, so no need to impress. In fact, sticking to basics is a good
idea everywhere. The key to dressing well as a foreigner in Ecuador
is to look good without a lot of opulence: inexpensive jewelry,
simple accessories. A basic handbag or shopping bag will blend in
well in the city. Save the daypack for rural excursions and leave
the Gucci at home.
Ecuador is a beautiful and welcoming country for visitors. While
not all of us can blend in as ecuatorianas, dressing like them can
help us to be taken seriously, avoid being targeted for manipulation
or unwanted attention and enjoy all of the wonderful things the
country has to offer.
Cheri, Worcester, United States