Young tourist with backpack walking in tropical forest

How NOT to Look Like A Tourist

When traveling to a new U.S. City it’s hard not to remember all that you were taught in grade school, and probably all you know about the place. While the west is still Western and the south still southern, U.S. cities all generally have a unique style going on by its inhabitants. Below I talk about 5 U.S. hot spots and how to make sure you don’t stand out as a tourist.

New York
New Yorkers have a bad rep for how they treat and view tourists. Make sure you don’t feel their wrath by doing your best to fit in. This means shedding the sneakers (literally no one wears sneakers outside of the gym in NYC), leaving the graphic tees at home, and owning your look. Local New Yorkers understand style, and aren’t afraid to show it. But they also know that leaving the house is entering the Fashion Capital of the world so they need to be on their A-game. Casual wear is a no-go and heels are preferred but if you’re doing a lot of walking opt for cozy yet pretty flats. I’m a big fan of Life Stride, as well as Dr Scholl’s inserts.
New Yorkers are always in a rush to get somewhere, so when you’re in NY embrace it. See as much as you can in your little time there by maximizing time on foot. Do NOT, I repeat do not, stand in the middle of the sidewalk to street to take the perfect photo of Times Square or 1WTC. Step to the side and wait for a lull in foot traffic before snapping your gram, and people will think you a respectful regular.
Ah, the windy city. Chicago-ans are a unique breed. They wear their sneakers for commuting and carry many bags (which is great when you’re a tourist stocking up on as many souvenirs as you can). Style isn’t so much a factor in their daily dressing quite so much as functionality. If traveling in summer you’ll be fine to dress as you please (so long as you have a solid hoodie to keep you warm once the sun disappears) but if you’re traveling in winter you best come prepared. I’m talking double layers, corduroys, and the puffiest down jacket you can find. My recommendations are to bring as many UniQlo HeatTech socks as you can no matter when you travel to Chicago.

Los Angeles
The city of lights is a haven for people wanting to get a bit of everything and then some while on the west coast. Locals have a very laid back style. It’s totally socially acceptable to go out to dinner in yoga pants and a sports bra, or in leather pants and platform shoes. In the land of anything goes the only way you can go wrong is by not looking put together. LA style is cohesive. If you’re wearing sneakers, you should be wearing them with workout gear. If you’re wearing sandals, you better have a bikini top poking out underneath whatever else you have on. Oversized tee shirts should be appropriated by undersized bottoms (i.e.: short shorts). Flat shoes are more appropriate than heels in this city. Last but not least, you cannot forget your sunglasses, and even better if they’re oversized.
Also, don’t stare and gawk at celebrities. You’re invading their homeland of LA and they are rampant and do not need to be stalked and interrupted for you to fan-girl out.
Washington, DC
While most people assume DC is all about box suits and sensible style, there are definite taste makers in the Nation’s Capital. Locals tend to dress conservative, yet smartly. Think flirty sun dresses (A-line or fit and flare), pointed flats, and serious accessories. If you want to not look like a tourist, just go to your closet and pick out all of your J. Crew and Ann Taylor. Pack that and you’ll be fitting in in a jiffy. Seriously, these DC girls adore their mid-level basics. Just don’t get caught donning your New Balance sneakers or anything too boldly on-trend.

Texas’ newly claimed hipster haven is fastly becoming a budget destination for millennial travelers. Given that it’s in the south, and still Texas after all, cowboy boots are a definite must-wear. Pair them with a flowy sun dress or jeans and a top (dressed up with a blouse or down with a tee, it doesn’t matter) for fitting-in style. Leather accessories like belts, bags, and even sandals also add a punch of southern charm to your look. Steer clear of too-conservative basics; this city is all about the ruff and rumble style, but with an added sense of flirt.
Up the ante on any look with a pink or red lipstick to dote your femininity amidst your raw fabrics.

Have you been to any of these cities and found these styles to be true? What makes a tourist stand out in YOUR home city?

Be sure to check back soon for what to wear to 5 international cities!

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Sahra S

Sahra is a blogger, journalist, and fashion freelancer currently living in Washington, DC by way of The Big Apple. She enjoys her free time brunching on veganish dishes, hanging out with her boyfriend, dog and cat , shopping with friends, or planning her next great adventure.