I don't like the way the typical American is dressed when I run into several of my countrymen in Europe. The truth is, actually, I'm not the only one who thinks Americans look unsightly when they travel.
Last year, The Titanic Awards, a web site that is "celebrating the dubious achievements of travel," posted some results from a "worst of" travel survey. Officially, you can still take the survey, but the results were posted in June 2009, including "worst-dressed tourists."
Yep, someone has actually looked into this. When the results were posted last summer, more than 1,000 people, from more than 70 countries, had responded (out of the more than 6 Billion people living on the planet, mind you).
The results show that Americans ran away with the win (47.2 percent of the votes cast), like we're trying to win a gold medal at the Olympics, or something. In a VERRRRRY distant second, were the Germans, at 13.9 percent, and the British came in third, with 9.5 percent of the votes cast.
Honestly, having been overseas a few times, I can attest that Americans truly do offend the fashion gods when they travel to Europe. I mean, think about the stereotypical American tourist in Europe (it's more than just a stereotype, I promise).
They're all duded up in their cheap polo shirts/T-shirts that have a picture of a kitten, or the phrase "I'm with stupid -->" on them, with a fanny pack, and cheap jeans (or, even more hideous and offensive -- JEAN SHORTS!).
I want to point out that I did not do this. I had the good sense to read up on travel etiquette for Europe, before going over there, and was informed that Europeans dress more fashionably, and will gawk at you, if you do not follow suit.
When you dress like you're going shopping at the local "BIG BOX MART," in a country where that is not part of the culture (it really shouldn't even be part of the culture in this country, actually), then, you deserve all the gawking and ridicule that you receive.
Plus, if you dress like a tourist, then you attract pickpockets. That is why many travel books recommend that you try to blend in to the culture you're visiting (the pickpockets reportedly won't bother people who look like they live in the area).
Since my travel expertise is limited to Europe, I'm going to give you the basic rules of how to dress in Europe. Pants on the ground can only be gotten away with (and not even really on the ground, more like slightly below the hips, because they don't like seeing butts hanging out) if you are under 20 years old.
Between 20 and 30, you are expected to be chic, stylish, or at least after-hours business casual. Over 30, you are expected to adopt a mature business casual look (perhaps a light-weight, light-colored sports blazer, with an open-collar, button-down shirt).
Also, in Italy, you will be barred from entering a church if your shoulders are bare (they may give you a covering that you have to wear, and then return when you leave). People in Italy are very religious, so it is considered extremely offensive, if you dress like a hoochie in a church.
Now, as I said before, you can still have your own voice heard in The Titanic Awards' survey, because it is still online and taking responses. A link to the survey can be found at (sorry, but this is going to be a long URL address) www.titanicawards.com/2009/06/03/worst-dressed-tourists/.
Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.