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A College Student in Need of Sartorial Help

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Let me begin by saying I am sure this has been covered multiple times. I ran a couple searches and found some good advice, but nothing that seemed to directly address both of my issues.

A brief bit of background for you lads. I am from a rather small town and grew up with JC Penney and The Buckle as the only source of clothing. Unfortunately these choices have left lasting effects on my sartorial collection.

To be quite frank, I am sick and tired of the cookie-cutter Abercrombie look I've seen (and been guilty of myself) here at the University. I would like to think that my additions of Egyptian cotton shirts, high-end jeans, and a few blazers has set me a bit apart from the others, but it's a small step at best.

I have recently acquired a substantial desire to upgrade my wardrobe. But this desire has been (and I say must be) tempered by a worry about remaining fashionable within the college atmosphere. So, question number one: how is a college boy to dress sophisticated without appearing fresh out of The Hamptons, and on the typical college budget? I would describe my style as preppy, though after viewing a few Cary Grant films, I have realized the preppy style is really my way of repressing an urge to clothe myself in pure bespoke goodness every day. Not exactly practical or proper for the college atmosphere, I realize, but then again we all have dreams.

Question number two is somewhat related. I will be studying abroad in Europe this summer, and would prefer to not stick out like the typical American tourist. I will be in France, Germany, and the Czech Republic if that matters. My present summer wardrobe consists almost exclusively of cargo shorts and polo shirts combined with flip-flops. Something tells me this is not typical of the European wardrobe.

Again, keep in mind this is on a rather tempered budget. I have around $500 of disposable monthly income, and leave at the end of May. Any advice is much appreciated.
post #2 of 16
Eat lots of cheese, drink lots of beer and finish it off with strong like grappa - I am sure you'll blend in.
post #3 of 16
I'd avoid the shorts and flip flops in the summer in favor of linen or cotton trousers and loafers. Why don't you save up some money to shop a bit while you're away?

Right now, one clear way to upgrade your wardrobe would be to focus on fit. So many A&F clothes are terribly sloppy looking.
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_economy
Question number two is somewhat related. I will be studying abroad in Europe this summer, and would prefer to not stick out like the typical American tourist. I will be in France, Germany, and the Czech Republic if that matters. My present summer wardrobe consists almost exclusively of cargo shorts and polo shirts combined with flip-flops. Something tells me this is not typical of the European wardrobe.

Wearing that, you'll be spotted as an American tourist from around corners. You may very well get away with it in the UK and Scandinavia,though.
post #5 of 16
New shoes sound like a next step. What new style do you have in mind? Blazers, high-end jeans, etc. are already edgy for college wear.

For summer in Europe, try some colorful button-downs. And have fun.
post #6 of 16
Step 1: Burn everything from A&F and anything from "The Buckle" that does not go on a belt.

Step 2: Go to ebay and Sierra Trading Post. On ebay, look for Ralph Lauren slacks (the ones that are "Made in Italy). Pick up a pair of blue, grey and one or two in lighter summer colors. You could go the linen route, but you will wrinkle fast and easy. Some summer colored cords will also work. On STP, pick up a pair of the Mantellasi bluchers that are there for $199. Also, look through their collection of long sleeved Italian shirts in colorful patterns. Maybe pick up a sweater vest or two. If the Mantellasi's dont work for you, go to Tywhitt and pick up two pairs of Loakes at the 50% off. A pair of monkstraps and either suede laceups or a Chelsea boot. You'll come in under $500 and you still have your April $500 disposable income to play with.
post #7 of 16
I'm afraid to say following about Europe:

Germans are infamous for wearing white tennis socks with sandals, shorts are common in the cities even among older people (of course all except business people). You shouldn't have much of a problem here. Following is what can be used for the "american-litmus-test":
- avoid white tennis shoes- only americans wear them
- avoid A&F-style baggy pants/ shorts- no one around here has that many pockets on his pants
- avoid sweaters/t-shits that say GAP in capital letters or other stuff- plain or striped is the way to go
- no cowboy hat (you actually see those from time to time), ever
- put your camera in your pocket

You should be fine with BD's, polos and the like. Get some Teva's for walking around: at least in Germany no one will mind. I was in the Czech Republinc last summer and they dress a lot worse than the Germans- won't have any prolems there. At least in France you should wear some lightweight pants when walking around in Paris- then again Paris is full of germans and americans.

Where are you going to? I might be able to give you some local insight (also about the party scene as I'm your age...).
post #8 of 16
What if you have a Nikon manual SLR? How am I supposed to fit that into my pocket?

Jon.
post #9 of 16
In that case display it proudly.

It's just that I've noticed how americans wear their crappy cameras (lots of kodak's or even small analogue cameras) around the neck or shoulder...
Especially when you're wearing cargo pants putting the camera in your pocket (-> not looking like a tourist) is just a smart thing to do.
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice guys, I'll be keeping my eye out for some good pieces of clothing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hanseat
Where are you going to? I might be able to give you some local insight (also about the party scene as I'm your age...).

We're starting by spending a week between Berlin, Germany and Prague, Czech Republic. The second week will be spent in Brussels, Belgium; and we finish with a trip to Strasbourg and Paris.
post #11 of 16
Why not Budapest instead of Prague? Also cheap, very pretty and you can buy Vass!
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
It's for a summer study abroad program, so sadly I did not have much of a choice in where we will be going. Regardless, it beats the hell out of spending another summer baking in Kansas
post #13 of 16
I'm an "Ami" (what the German's call Americans) and lived for years in Germany and Strasbourg, France. Let me tell you, you will have to go out of your way not to stick out as an American tourist, especially if with a summer study abroad group.

Prague in the summer is overrun with tourists. Mostly American and European. Paris is the same, but the tourists are mostly American and Japanese.

Here's some first-hand advice on how not to look like the typical American:

Don't wear sneakers. Only Americans and Japenese tourists wear them...or if you do, Converse Chucks are about the only accepted sneaker IMO.

Don't wear any university t-shirts or GAP etc. shirts.

Don't wear baseball caps.

Don't wear the typical pleated khaki shorts with some USA polo shirt tucked in...I can't tell you how many American tourists with exactly that look I saw last time I was in Paris. On top of it, they wore white sneakers, ugh!

Wear comfortable and light shoes, anything but sneakers unless Chucks.

Leave money and space in your luggage for clothing purchases in Europe.

Bring a nice light sweater instead of the usual university sweatshirt.

Bring a pair or two of light cotton or linen pants...in some of the more conservative places you can't enter in shorts, such as some cathedrals (though in Strasbourg, Paris and Berlin you can) and clubs.

You won't be able to avoid being spotted as an American because you will be with other English speakers and they will probably look like typical American tourists. Keep your eyes open in Prague and Paris for pickpockets, they prey on clueless tourists, especially in the metro. Also, make sure you take a walk around "la petite france" area of Strasbourg, where the canals are.
post #14 of 16
Synthetic man-pris, Tevas; socks optional. Horizontal bengal striped T shirts, blue on blue. Kayak-style baseball cap. Fanny pack or summit pack.

Look like a German tourist instead of an American one!
post #15 of 16
This thread is hillarious (just rediscovered it)- Todd, you're right on.

As you'll leave in a couple of days this might be of some relevance to you:

In Berlin exit at the S-Bahn station Savigniyplatz for food (there's a ton of restuarants around that area- in case you get to take a trip to Hamburg go to the Sternschanze). It's one station away from Bahnhof Zoo.

You definitely will be cruising the governmernment quarters of the city- you'll be amazed how they look now. I was there last weekend for an airshow and everytime I am there something happens. You might be able to catch the Red Bull Airshow at the Wannsee- must see if it's in your timeframe. (http://www.redbullairrace.com/race.php?id=11)

For discotheques you just have to go with the flow and ask some students what they recommend (there are always clubs opening and closing- I found one in a door that goes off from a subway station...).

Prague is definitely overrun with tourists (and unfortunately you won't be able to see the Hradschin because they found they have to close it for some immediate preservation). Get a beer for lunch, have dumplings, red cabbage and some meat with it. I actually found the sportsbar by some czech icehockey player in the US to be a good value- it's right at the carls square.
There's central europe's biggest discotheque close to the Carlsbridge (coming from the city to the right on the city side). You will see the stream of people, however do not go into one of the 'discotheques' at your right that are restaurants by day but to the end of the 'hallway' (you'll know what I mean) and turn right at the end. There you are at a pretty cool disco - at least when it's filled with people. Don't ever drink Hill's absinth- it's some bad alcohol smart businessmen put green color into, not absinthe. Resist that urge and don't buy any in disco's because that's what you're getting. Buy your own bottle instead and do the whole sugar cube trick.

In any of those places, sit in a nice cafe by the street and watch people.

Do yourself the favor and splurge on a nice 3-course menue in a small restaurant in Paris that only has a french menue. (Dead giveaway it's a tourist place, not so much in Berlin but in Prague is the english menue).
See the little shops around Montmatre/ Sacre Coer in Paris. That's real flair, I don't like the Champs too much....

Don't ever drink '1664' beer in France- there's a reason France is known for wine not for beer.
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