Changing cultures, changing styles

Megan Maher

We are all guilty of doing it, and yes even I am too. So what exactly are we guilty of? One word: sweatpants. Let’s just say is something that has defined the American college students’ wardrobe. So, whether the excuse is that your 8 a.m. class was too early or you wanted to be comfortable for a three-hour lab, sweatpants have become every college student’s best friend at one point or another.

College students have come up with a number of ways to wear the comfortable style: there is the classic yoga pants and a Northface look that Quinnipiac students love to brag about, or the baggy sweatshirt and sweatpants combination that seems to be popular on Sunday mornings. But as I was looking up information for my study abroad program, I came across a pamphlet describing what to wear while in Europe. One of the first things it explained was how European college students do not wear sweatpants, pajamas or even gym clothes when going to class.

So as my dreams of perfecting my yoga pants and sweatshirt combination while in France were crumbling, I realized how different American and European fashion is. Even though fashion may not be the first thing on many people’s minds when going abroad, it can mean the difference between becoming the victim of pickpocketing or blending in and getting on the good side of the locals.

Many travel sites will tell you that thieves look for clothing with American sayings, and people wearing very casual outfits. They look for the typical tourists, and pickpockets aren’t the only people that notice your sweats and brand new Nike sneakers. Employees, waiters and even regular people on the street will probably judge you and your American accent.

It will probably be hard at first to wake up early everyday to make an effort to look nicer than the “just rolled out of bed” look we love to hate, but it’s a step in the right direction in getting rid of that loud and boisterous American stereotype. Even though it may be a part of your personality, gaining a little European energy or their obsession with espresso and cute shoes couldn’t hurt, right?

Finally, after reading what seemed like hundreds of “What kind of clothes do girls wear in Europe?” articles, I finally realized it’s not about being the most fashionable American in France. It’s about immersing yourself in a new culture and learning about life outside America. Although it may be a rough few days (or weeks) to get used to switching from sweatpants into a nice pair of jeans or pants, it will definitely be worth it. Plus, the locals will probably like you better this way, and you might too.