When in Rome… do you dress like the Romans used to? Of course not, but just like the ancient Romans are easily recognisable through togas, the culture of tourism has led to a homogeneous style that is all too familiar and easy to spot in our historic streets.
Having had the opportunity to visit Rome this past vacation (and be a tourist myself), it was interesting to see the differences between the styles of the tons of tourists compared to the locals. Italians have always been fashion-forward and this is no different even in a city rattled with visitors. Locals tended to be very dressed up: a well put-together outfit with extravagant t-shirts and matching shoes. The juxtaposition of the brand new, branded ensembles paired with the rich cultural history of the city was welcomed; it showed we aren’t stuck in the past, but allow multiculturalism and globalization to flourish.
Learning about history and culture makes us a more open-minded, tolerant and understanding individual.
On the other hand, the key for tourists is in the accessories. Clutching a bottle of water, a small bag on your shoulders, and a camera around your neck (or a selfie-stick nowadays) is a sure way to blend in with your fellow sightseers. After all, you visit a place to see the sights, not to walk a fashion show. Comfort is the ultimate basis for an outfit when being a tourist and this was evident in the footwear. Worn down trainers and boots seemed most popular, and rightly so.
Undeniably, this cross-cultural style is echoed in the tourists we find along Broad Street and High Street: many grasping selfie sticks and backpacks, wandering tantalizingly slowly along the streets and clogging up the pathways when all we want to do is walk past with our Tesco shopping. Nonetheless, we must not forget the importance that tourism brings to our economy. According to Oxford City Council, the historic buildings and sights “attract approximately 7 million day time and staying visitors per year, generating £780 million of income for local Oxford businesses”. As annoying as they may be, we should be pleased that tourists decide to explore the beautiful city we live in – learning about history and culture makes us a more open-minded, tolerant and understanding individual.
Whether through your accessories, your bag, or your jacket, make sure to show your personality in your outfit.
So how can you be a stylish tourist? If you are lucky enough to explore somewhere new, it is firstly important to dress for the weather. Whether you are in Budapest, Paris, New York or Tokyo, you will not be chic or comfortable if you don’t dress for the city you’re in. This means either carrying a light rain jacket if it will rain, or sunscreen to prevent nasty burns – nothing too heavy though, as chances are you will be walking a lot.
Secondly, be respectful to the place you are visiting. For example, if visiting the Vatican City, you will not be allowed to enter St. Peter’s Basilica unless your shoulders and knees are both covered. Do your research and plan ahead – it would be unfortunate (and highly annoying!) to have to turn back once you have reached your destination and miss discovering a beautiful place.
Thirdly, and most importantly, be yourself. Whether through your accessories, your bag, or your jacket, make sure to show your personality in your outfit. Nothing too complicated since comfort is key, but a pop of colour or a personalised necklace never hurt anyone. Leather jackets are great for both repelling the wind and looking fashionable, and cross-body bags are useful for keeping your hands free to take pictures.
Wherever you go, be prepared and be sensible.