Last Updated on June 3, 2021
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
By Marjorie Kean
I remember when travel was a pleasurable experience from flight to finish. Then we were transported like guests, not herded like cattle, and children – and also adults, for that matter – were expected to be on their best behavior on a plane. I even remember – and I know I’m dating myself – when we had to wear our best clothes (and sometimes even white gloves) when we traveled on a plane.
As the years passed though, much of that experience has changed, and other things along with it.
It was really not that long ago, for example, that when we traveled overseas we could easily spot another American by how they dressed – tennis shoes instead of leather, tee shirts instead of something dressier, etc. When we traveled many of us would try hard not to stand out as Americans. We wanted to meld into the foreign crowd, to look local when we were abroad. We adapted our wardrobe to the destination as much as possible.
So when I went to Europe recently I planned my wardrobe so I would not stand out. All those summer dresses that were sleeveless and flowy, the newest styles, the “peasant look” – I was going to avoid them all to look more European. Before I left I spent many hours finding just the right outfits to take.
I was careful to consider both pack-ability (non-wrinkle) and sophistication so I wouldn’t look like a provincial American. On my pre-trip shopping spree(s) I rejected several options because I was sure that the items were too American, and would make me stand out on the chic streets of Europe. Ditto with shoes and handbags.
But to my amazement when I arrived, the streets were filled with young and older women who looked like they could have come from New York, Miami or Los Angeles. The “peasant” skirts that I was afraid to buy were all over, as were the short-shorts that I would never have bought anyway. T-shirts with English writing, frilly tops and revealing shirts were all the rage. Even the “Roman sandals” that I thought were so American, were on all the young feet, with toenails painted blue. All the men had baseball caps, shorts and sandals. The women, too, had flip-flops and sandals.
There was a time when I could look at the clothes of someone on a European street and just by their attire say they were German, French or American. Not so anymore. Movies, television and social networking have brought about such a fusion of fashion that we all look alike. Fashion has become universal and omnipotent.
There is no American, Italian or French style anymore, just an international look that travels everywhere with young people and older people wanting to look young. Now, the “look” that plays well in LA, works just as well on the Champs Elyse. We’ve all become citizens of Banana Republic.
So if you are planning to travel abroad, buy what you like to wear at home, or better yet, just go into your closet and find your favorite outfit. More than likely it will probably be just perfect and blend in.