Look Like a Local: Mastering Swiss Fashion

by Published

Switzerland may not be the fashion capital of the world, but that doesn’t mean you should walk around looking like a schlub. Always keep European fashion trends in mind as you travel the region. It’s not all ski pants and hiking boots in Swiss fashion, even if you’re spending days on the slopes or trekking from one great peak to the next. The Swiss experience hot, muggy summers and cool, snow-filled winters. Since Switzerland is notorious for their Alps and high-altitude cities and towns, dressing in layers is one of the most important things to keep in mind when deciding what to pack for clothes in Switzerland.

Whether you’re a student getting ready to study abroad in Switzerland or an adventurer trekking across the country, knowing Swiss fashion can be extremely beneficial. Like always, it’s important to research the customs and norms of your destination before you arrive for more reasons than just being prepared. Knowing how to “look like a local” will mean you will be prepared to dress appropriately, comfortably, and efficiently, and these are all things that go a long way while spending extended time in a foreign country (it’s more than just about Swiss fashion).

Get the inside scoop! Read these five tips that will help you look like a true Swiss local by the time it’s time to head off to Switzerland.

1. Wear Layers, Upon Layers of Layers

Closeup of a man wearing a grey sweater
Layers, layers, layers! Sweaters are a great way to mix Swiss fashion and comfort into one.

Yes, the word “layers” appears three times in this heading, so you better believe it’s important. Bring clothes that can be easily layered, including T-shirts, light-weight long sleeve shirts, heavier long sleeve shirts or sweatshirts, and a coat. The need for layering clothes in Switzerland isn’t due to a blisteringly cold winter. Layers should be packed because the weather in Switzerland can change throughout the day, especially if you travel from low to high altitude. (Good for all weather situations, like a Swiss army knife!) Plus, Switzerland clothing styles make getting dressed for the day easier because they work as a back-up system.

Too warm? Take off a layer. Too cold? Put on a layer. It’s foolproof.

2. Choose Environmentally Friendly Fabrics

View of Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland
With views like this, environmental friendliness is an absolute must.

Swiss fashion = green fashion. You don’t have to go out and buy clothes in Switzerland that are made of organic cotton, but it might be of interest for you to know that environmentally friendly clothes are trending. So what fabrics are considered environmentally friendly? Alpaca, linen, hemp, and bamboo (yes, bamboo) are a few examples of fabrics that are approved by Mother Nature. The Swiss are proud of their beautiful nation and are very environmentally conscious. If you want to earn cool points with the locals, wear natural fabrics.

3. Dress up in Large Cities

Mountainside view of Interlaken, Switzerland
You can’t go wrong in your favorite hiking outfit.

In general, fashion in Switzerland means that people dress casually. However, in large cities like Geneva and Zurich, it’s almost impossible to dress too nicely. If you’re heading to a larger city, be sure to have at least one (or two!) classy outfit in your wardrobe. The Swiss consider black and darker-colored fabrics to be stylish and classy. So, like so many places around the world, fashion in Switzerland says, “when in doubt, wear black.” A dressy outfit or two is nice to have in case you go out to dinner or go to a concert.

4. Have a Clean Look

Mountains in Martigny, Switzerland
Dressing simply means you’ll have the “cleanest” adventure trip in Switzerland!

Switzerland clothing styles boast clean, simple outfits. Don’t get too messy with accessories and styled layers. When you do layer, do it for comfort, not for looks. People in Switzerland have a tendency to dress in dark colors, such as black, gray, and brown. Remember, neutral is the name of the game here. Most Western styles are perfectly acceptable in Switzerland, but if you want to blend in, don’t go around with boxers hanging out of your pants or extremely colorful, clashing clothing. When it comes to fashion in Switzerland, the saying “less is more” is truly a good motto to stand by.

5. Bring a Coat

Snowy mountains of Parpaner Rothorn, Switzerland
Bring. A. Coat. No neutrality on this one!

If you travel to Switzerland during the winter months, be sure to pack a coat, hat, scarf, and gloves. However, Switzerland isn’t as cold as some people think. On average the temperature is around 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 degrees Celsius) during the winter. You won’t need incredibly warm gear, but you should pack winter accessories to stay comfortable. In most cases, the Swiss only wear sporty ski jackets while skiing. So if you don’t want to stick out with clothes in Switzerland, pack a coat that is made out of a nicer material, such as wool or tweed. Pea coats, car coats, military coats, and trench coats are popular choices throughout all of Europe (not just in Swiss fashion).

Even though the seasonal climates in Switzerland aren’t as extreme as they are in other parts of the world (or even other parts of Europe), it is still advantageous of you to be prepared and to know what to expect. Especially as a student studying abroad in Switzerland, you’ll have enough to focus on (and to explore), so making sure you have the proper attire, both socially and seasonally, shouldn’t make it onto your list of worries. Being immersed in a new culture truly means going “all in,” so take the time to figure out how to dress Swiss-style now and you’ll love every minute of your Swiss adventure later!

Once you’ve mastered Swiss fashion, start finding and comparing programs to fulfill your alpine dreams!