Backpacking and Being Fashionable—Is it Possible?

One of my main concerns while abroad was being so blatantly a tourist because my clothes weren’t fashionable. We’ve all heard about Europeans and their condescension at American tourists and minimizing that could only ease your travels. However, my family decided that we would also be psuedo-backpacking during this trip, forcing me into a dilemma: how was I supposed to stay fashionable as a backpacker?


After browsing my wardrobe, I decided on two light stylish tees, a light longer blouse, a sundress, jeans, and various shorts. I had forgone the athletic clothes because I knew that I’d be too tired to consider exercise. However, to my great dismay, even my dressiest clothes (ok, they weren’t that dressy…) fell far short of fitting in fashionably in every city we visited—except the Swiss Alps because no one’s there to impress anyone. Except cows. But they’re impressed as long you have grass in your hands. My point? We fed Swiss cows! (And they are happy)

But seriously. Everyone, including the men and children, looked like they were candidates for a catwalk. I even got myself into a conversation with a Pizzeria owner in Rome in which he said that during the Fashion Shows, anorexic girls would parade themselves around the area, in delusional, Cinderella-esque hopes that they’d be noticed and chosen to model.

So, here I was, with no acceptably fashionable clothes for 2 weeks in Europe. And I abhor when people unnecessarily buy things.

Surprisingly, a simple accessory that I stumbled across—unique to Burano, so I wouldn’t feel guilty about purchasing just for fashion’s sake—upped my outfits from simple American tourist to barely-fashionable-yet-acceptable European.

 It was this silk, embroidered scarf—a simple-enough accessory in a neutral shade that I could pair with all of the shirts I brought! Wearing it immediately dressed up my outfit.

And it didn’t take up too much space in my full backpack and it was colder in Europe than we all thought it would be. What a perfect solution to all of my problems!

Not every scarf would have had this effect, however; due to the intricate embroidery on the scarf, it became a rather elegant, stylish item.

I wore it so many ways that I got my money’s worth many times over: as a shawl and a scarf. And now I have something to remember my trip to Venice with as well as an everlasting fashion accessory.

Victory is pretty sweet.


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