Maybe Just Skip This Year’s 'European Summer' Travel Trend
Because sometimes, embracing your inner tourist isn't all that bad.
In case you haven’t heard, “European summer” is in full swing. TikTokers are embracing a purported state of mind called “Europecore,” and its offshoot, “tomato girl summer,” in myriad ways. They’re filming their Mediterranean-inspired, backyard dinner parties, posting montages cut from Eric Rohmer movies set in the South of France, and most notably, sharing what they’re packing to strut along the Amalfi Coast. These “what to pack for European summer” videos tend to follow a certain formula: neutral colored linens, airy, puffy-sleeved blouses, and, somewhat abstractly, the tenet that one must strive to blend in or—horrifying—face sticking out as a lowly tourist.
It might be part of a 21st century social media trope, but the caution that one must change up their usual style when traveling abroad is an idea as old as time. Flip through any old-school guide book and you’re bound to find tips for avoiding looking like a tourist. Of course, there’s something to be said about dressing conspicuously if you’re exploring an unfamiliar place and not sure what you’ll encounter, but TikTok’s suggestions for dressing the part—completing your outfit with a scarf in Paris, or wearing black in NYC—read as dated as those physical guide books.
The truth is, fashion norms around the world are a lot more nuanced than any neatly curated TikTok video can hope to shed light upon. And not just that, but these videos show that there’s quite a disparity between what Americans think Europeans wear and what they actually wear. So perhaps the best thing to do on your next trip to Venice is simply wear what feels most comfortable, because the act of travel in itself is going to pull you out of your comfort zone (contrary to popular belief, athleisure is okay!). Aside from obvious exceptions— wearing (or not wearing) anything that violates local laws or could be deemed offensive and respecting religious and cultural sites that require a dress code—you’re rarely hurting anyone, including yourself, by rocking a t-shirt and yoga pants while sipping Negroni Sbagliatos in the late August Milanese sun.
So don’t sweat it. At the end of the day, those scrollable European summer mood boards come to life are mostly just a fantasy, anyhow. The majority of Americans aren’t actually traveling to Europe this summer, and while there’s nothing wrong with channeling a certain vibe at home, there’s a danger in using “Europe” as a short-hand for coastal Italy or France. European summer can look like a lot of different things, so if you are headed across the pond in the coming weeks, consider the fact that each of the continent’s 50 countries might call for something unique clothing-wise. What about making sure to pack your windbreaker for the Scottish highlands? Or your not-so-sexy water shoes for the lakes of Slovenia?
There’s a tendency to think that we have to buy a whole new wardrobe before a trip. And while it can be fun to show off a whole new you overseas, it’s even more fun to allow yourself to be inspired once you get there. An alternative TikTok trend, loosely titled “What people are wearing in XYZ,” showcases real life fashion in cities across the world. It harnesses the unbridled delight that comes from people-watching, arguably one of the best parts of travel, while also encouraging us to rid ourselves of media-informed assumptions and witness street style with our very own eyes. So the next time you see a certain silhouette you admire on your travels, try to replicate it by stopping into a local thrift store. Just think of how much of a flex it’ll be to say, “Oh this old thing? I picked it up at a vintage store in Amsterdam.”