Do Europeans Wear Shorts?

young woman in summer with colorful shopping bags, round straw hat, checkered shirt, and shorts on a white wall background

If you’re planning a trip to Europe and don’t want to stand out as a tourist, you have to pay attention to your dressing and overall appearance. To look like the locals, you have to dress like them. Now, do Europeans wear shorts, and if so, should you throw some shorts into your bag?

Europeans wear shorts but only sparingly. The fashion scene on the continent has changed in recent years, but it’s still largely conservative. So, you’re only likely to see shorts on young people taking part in outdoor events. Locals won’t wear shorts to museums, restaurants, or places of worship. 

The rest of this article will cover all you need to know about Europeans and their disposition towards shorts.

Shorts Are Too Casual for Most Europeans

The average European would frown at shorts a decade or two ago because the culture didn’t favor any dressing regarded as crass or too casual. Men and women on the continent dressed formally everywhere, from the grocery store to the church.

Today, the culture on this front is changing gradually as more Europeans are loosening up and letting their legs out. However, compared to American culture, they’re still well behind. While an American can wear shorts on a first date, the average European will only wear shorts while hiking or at the beach. They still see shorts as too revealing and too casual.

If you run into people wearing shorts in Europe, there’s a high probability that they’re not locals. Even if you’re South African, wearing American-style khaki cargo shorts will get you grouped with American tourists.

Where Do Europeans Wear Shorts?

Europeans wear shorts at outdoor events where most participants are dressed the same way. They may also wear shorts for informal indoor events like family get-togethers or birthday parties. Outside of such settings, most Europeans typically dress formally. 

young girl in shorts and sunglasses on the head on sunny summer hot day
Girl sitting on a bench in a park and sunbathe legs on the sun. Young girl in shorts and sunglasses on the head on sunny summer hot day. Relaxation and summer concept. Close up, selective focus

Some religious places, restaurants, museums, and retail businesses may turn away people dressed in shorts for being too casual, including children. As a result, some Europeans always keep scarves handy.

Should You Pack Shorts as a Tourist in Europe?

You can pack shorts as a tourist to Europe if you don’t intend to wear them outdoors a lot. If you’re visiting most tourist areas, you may get away with wearing shorts without drawing any scornful glances from the locals.

However, if you intend to travel off the beaten path while in Europe, it’s best to stick to formal dressing and blend in with the locals as much as you can. While some towns are more welcoming than others, you don’t want to put yourself in the limelight in a bad way.

Avoid Wearing Shorts When Sightseeing in Europe

You shouldn’t wear shorts in Europe for the following reasons:

  • You’ll stand out as a tourist. As mentioned above, the average European automatically assumes you’re a tourist if you’re dressed in shorts. It instantly exposes you to a wide range of situations that may be as harmless as trying to speak to you in funny accents or dangerous situations like getting mugged. You may also get sold stuff with hefty markups.
  • You may be refused entrance to tourist attractions. If you want to visit everywhere you’ve written down on your bucket list, you should avoid wearing shorts. While some locations won’t mind having a tourist wearing shorts on their grounds, others may send you away, like the Vatican and other places of worship. Restaurants and museums may also have a dress code.
  • You’ll come off as disrespectful. The locals expect people to respect their culture and traditions, so waltzing into an upscale restaurant in shorts will get you some dirty looks—don’t dress that way to a church.

How Do Women Dress for Summer in Europe?

European women wear skirts and dresses in the summer. The dresses provide more comfort and are generally airier. When the weather cools down, they add leggings and a sweater to the mix.

beautiful girls dressed in retro vintage style, chatting and enjoying the old European city lifestyle

Some European women also wear capri pants like these Champion Jersey Capris. They’re the perfect middle ground between shorts and trousers. These slim-fitting capri pants are made of cotton, and they look great, especially when worn with sandals or flats. With a pair of dark-colored capris and neutral-colored tops, you can look classy enough for almost any location while staying comfortable.

How Do Men Dress for Summer in Europe?

European men dress in denim and collared shirts in the summer. They may also wear the male version of Capri pants on really hot days. Shorts are rare, even among very young people. 

Young men on the outskirts of big cities may wear shorts, but you’re likely to see the average European man wearing loose-fitting denim and a collared shirt. Summer dressing like khaki shorts with socks on sandals is a dead giveaway for tourists.

The male version of Capris is catching on across Europe and has quickly become a way to distinguish locals from tourists—but it won’t be for long!

Final Thoughts

Many people believe Europeans don’t wear shorts, and they’re right for large parts of the continent. However, times have changed, and the conservative appearance of the quintessential European has been watered down, albeit ever so slightly.

If you’re traveling to Europe and don’t mind standing out as a tourist or getting refused entrance to some places, you can wear shorts—as long as your “buns” aren’t out in the fresh air.

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