You’re on your way to Berlin and you’re thinking what to pack. You don’t want to stick out on the streets and be treated like a tourist, and you also don’t want to underdress or overdress at cultural places and on the street. You’ll also have to take Berlin’s erratic weather into consideration as well. Here’s a brief list of things to consider when deciding what to wear in Berlin.
Berliners cool off in the park. Image Rafik Berlin via Flickr
There is no single Berlin fashion, and you’ll see pretty much every style as you walk through the streets, from classy businesspeople in dark suits and sunglasses to angelheaded hipsters wearing their grandmother’s boots and smoking a pipe. East Berliners, according to the stereotype, wear dark colors and are more daring in terms of fashion. In the West, people dress more elegantly, with brighter colors, buttoned shirts and quality pullovers. Casual dress is slightly classier in Berlin than it is in the US or England, and shirts tend to have a different cut. Most people dress up to go out to the theater or opera, but even this isn’t universal, and you’ll see students rushing in for last minute tickets wearing jeans and t-shirts. Even the seemingly careless anti-fashion in the hip Mitte district or in Kreuzberg is well thought out and sensitive to trends.
You have to be practical when thinking what to wear in Berlin. Especially during the snowy days in the winter, walking through the streets is very cold, but once you get into a heated museum, a restaurant or a nightclub, you don’t want to feel hot and stuffy. The best advice is to dress in layers, which can be taken off or added to when needed. Summer is different, but even when women go out in a light dress or tank top, they have a jacket on hand for sudden changes in weather.
Again, pretty much everything is acceptable in Berlin, and it’s better to be comfortable in your own clothes than be stressed about not fitting in. If you want to avoid obvious tourist giveaways, stay away from white sneakers, fanny packs, baseball caps and I “heart” Berlin t-shirts…
A last piece of advice is to pack less than you think you’ll need, and buy clothes in Berlin. It’s a good way to fit in, and to renew your wardrobe at the same time. There are lots of great secondhand and vintage clothes stores in Mitte and Friedrichshain, where you’re sure to get a good bargain. All the major department stores and fashion lines also have outlets in Berlin, and if you like shopping, you can happily spend a day stocking up on the latest fashions on the main shopping streets in West Berlin: Ku’damm and Tauentzienstrasse.