Dressing to be comfortable

There are many things that the Netherlands is famous for. Water management, cheese, XTC, cycling, the red light district, and of course tolerantie. These are all well and good (except for the tolerance part, which is a bit of a myth if you ask me), but there’s one thing that the Dutch, well, actually Dutch women are the world leaders in, dressing to be comfortable. This brings me to the subject of today’s post.

No matter where I go in the world, I can spot a Dutch woman immediately. Once I was standing in a queue to enter a chic nightclub in Paris. Everyone was dressed up for a night out, but in front of me were some ladies in denim and sneakers who were quite rightly refused entry. Even before I heard shouts of “dat is ongelooflijk” and “doe maar normaal” I knew that the ladies could only be Dutch.

No matter where in the world Dutch women go, they put a lot of effort into dressing to be so comfortable that local women look at them and say, “I wish I were brave enough to leave the house looking like that.”

Fear, not expat women, the Shallow Man will provide you with absolutely essential tips on how to dress so comfortably that you’ll be able to curl up and fall asleep anywhere. When people see you, they’ll say,  “is that a pile of rags? Oh no, it’s just a lady dressed to be comfortable. She must be Dutch.”

So here’s some expert advice on how to dress to be comfortable, just like Dutch women.

The things I do for my readers!


Dear reader, now you might be thinking ‘attitude? you can’t wear attitude.’ Well, just like a Dutch person justifying not stopping at a zebra crossing while cycling, let me tell you that you’re wrong. Dressing to be comfortable is all about attitude. It’s the willingness to leave the house looking like you’ve slept in your clothes and not given a damn! You need to adopt the perfectly timed shrug of the shoulders, the contemptuous sneer when you see other women actually making an effort not to look like shipwrecked refugees that just got off a boat with their last pair of ripped jeans and well-worn sneakers.

ripped jeans

The just escaped the boat alive look

Practice your excuses

Be prepared for people that might ask why you dress with the elegance of a sack of potatoes. Practice the following excuses:

  1. We dress like this because we cycle a lot (even if you’re on holiday in Paris or New York)
  2. Everyone dresses like this in Amsterdam (doe maar gewoon, individuality is not allowed)
  3. Dressing up is a waste of time. It’s so superficial. We like to keep it real (we look down on Americans but love using their phrases)

Look in the mirror, and once you can repeat the excuses above until you can say them with a straight face and without any trace of embarrassment, you’ll be ready to move on to actually dressing to be comfortable.

Comfort is King

Whatever your background, dressing to be comfortable requires you to renounce all other gods and worship only the Lord of comfort. Nothing else matters. From this moment onwards, no matter which occasion you’ll be attending, you should only think about how comfortable you’ll be when choosing an outfit.

You should dress as if you're sleeping on the sofa with your dog

You should dress as if you’re sleeping on the sofa with your dog

Footwear heaven

Your feet are a temple and should be worshipped with the kind of passion usually reserved by Dutch women for shouting, smoking, and telling people how emancipated they are. In the religion of dressing to be comfortable, there’s a heaven and a hell.

Wear shoes flatter than the surface of a table tennis bat. Choose footwear that, on sunny days, allows toes to roam freely in the wind, displaying one’s unmanicured feet. Don’t whatever you do; apply nail varnish. You may as well stick a sign on your back saying “ik ben een buitenlander.”

Sneakers, preferably white, are mandatory! They should keep your feet as snug as a group of illegal immigrants packed together in the back of a lorry going through the channel tunnel.

Marilyn Monroe sang diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But hey, that was a long time ago. In the Netherlands, Birkenstocks, or any other kind of sandals, now take the role of diamonds. They are so comfortable; women practically have orgasms when they put them on. They are irresistible and should be worn as much as possible on the ten to twelve days a year that the sun shines in the Netherlands.

Footwear hell

Avoid wearing heels at all costs. The Dutch meisjes (girls) refer to high heels (high being anything that elevates the wearer more than two centimetres off the ground) as porno heels. Heels are only acceptable if you dress as if you’re the sheriff of a town in the wild west. Despite constant denials, cowboy boots are still worn in the Netherlands without any shame or embarrassment.

cowboy boots

This is not the boot collection of the average Dutch woman

Denim the true religion of the Netherlands

Jeans are a kind of national obsession here. They’re so practical, you can wear them anywhere, and the best thing is that you’ll look just like everyone else. You can go straight from working in the garden to a one-night stand, then onto work the next day in your trusty, well-worn jeans. Skirts and dresses are really not very practical or comfortable. There’s currently only one exception to this rule.

The Tyranny of the striped dress

Usually, if you’re an expat lady who wears heels and, god forbid, a dress and makeup, you might get asked questions such as. “I don’t understand why you bother; you’re in a relationship already; why do you need to dress up?” However, the exception to this is if you wear an item that is more prominent in Amsterdam than morons cycling while sexting. The striped dress.


Anouk looked just like 100,000 other ladies in Amsterdam who had all bought the same striped dress and white sneakers.


Those Dutch ladies are ripping us off. I’m going to call a lawyer


Another way of being ‘lekker comfortable’ is to squeeze into a pair of leggings so tight that you have to leave the house with a portable oxygen tank and use vaseline and the help of several close friends to take them off again. As Amsterdam is below water level, it’s important that the leggings are three-quarter length. You never know when there might be a flood.


VPL (visible panty line) a common (and much denied) sight in the Netherlands


Anouk found this combination so comfortable that she has put her sex toys for sale on Marktplaats

Dressing to be comfortable final tips

So remember that when it comes to dressing to be comfortable, you must do the following:

  • Love your feet by only wearing sneakers, sandals or slippers
  • If an employer has a problem with this, tell them, “you’re in Holland, not Saudi Arabia!!”
  • Leggings are fine, but they should always be white and tight enough to cause a phantom pregnancy
  • Dresses are for ‘makeup girls’ unless they’re striped, then that’s fine
  • Always have an excuse handy to lecture any silly foreigner that dares to question why you’d enter a Michelin star restaurant wearing white Nikes, three-quarter length leggings and a mismatching top. Shout the excuses at them as if you’re selling fish at the Albert Cuyp Market

So remember, the universe revolves around you, and regardless of the occasion, doe maar gewoon en doe je gek genoeg!

dressing to be comfortable

Doe maar gewoon!

No ladies in striped dresses were hurt during the writing of this post

Till next time, remember that black people once kept slaves too, so there you go