Rick B. asks: My wife and I have decided to take a summer trip to France, but I (well really, my wife) refuses to explore another foreign destination with me looking like an “American dude in Paris;” aka, a classic tourist target (“ No dear, you can’t wear a football jersey to the Lourvre”). We are pretty active and make the most of our days visiting museums, wineries, etc. What would be some wardrobe essentials that I would feel comfortable in and also not embarrass my wife in?
Tom: Conformity is usually looked down upon; but if your individual style is a baseball cap and a logoed-tee, then a little conformity may not be a bad idea. Showing up to a Parisian café in leather flip-flops, tan shorts and a blue, short sleeve chambray shirt is tactful, not uniform; and I assure you, she will appreciate it. Don’t have a lot of time to mull over your wardrobe? Two things to keep in mind: weather and occasion. Summertime in France can be warm in the day and cool at night. A lightweight linen blazer and a gingham shirt are the perfect pair for looking casual at the winery and saying cool during the warm summer day. Add a tie to the mix and you’re ready for a stargazing dinner at Lasserre in Paris in cool night air (Quick tip: Linen blazers look good wrinkled, so don’t worry about keeping it pressed).
Leave the backpack at home, or at least in the hotel room. Buy your wife a bigger purse to carry the city map and cash (she’ll love that one). Besides, many travel companies offer pouches designer to hold cash, I.D. cards, and passports that go underneath your clothes in order to avoid theft.
For lighter fare days when museum hopping and sidewalk cafés are on the agenda, patchwork plaid shorts, leather flip-flops and either a linen shirt or summer polo are great. My best advice? Leave all your logo-printed shirts at home, unless you’re planning to sleep in them (or sleep in the other room).