Belgrade Style Tips – What you Need to Know
It’s not just the French or Italians who have style
I am not a fashion blogger by any means. But I do notice great style when I see it, and you can definitely find it in Belgrade.
Before I visited Belgrade for the first time in 1999, I had preconceived ideas about the city’s sense of style probably based on a combination of my own ignorance and watching Dad’s old Serbian movies ad nauseum. Belgrade, for me, must have been a town stuck in the 70s and 80s, or where olive green Partisan uniforms were popular! But it was my Australian style which was in fact outdated. I turned up wearing the Aussie fashion at the time, bootleg jeans and platform heels, only to be told that skinnies have been in for some time now, and platforms were akin to committing a fashion faux pas…didn’t you know?! I looked provincial to say the least. I was immediately taken shopping to get back up to speed.
So, whilst Belgrade may not be as well known in the West for fashion as is say France or Italy, Beogradjanke (or Belgrade women) know how to rock both the trends and the classics with that famous Balkan confidence!
So, what did I learn from Belgrade women, and what can you expect when you visit this city of the beautiful people?
Golden Rule: Always leave the house looking your best
It has been said that Serbian women are among the most beautiful in the world. Think Jelena Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic to name a couple famous Serbian women. Although the French and Italians are probably the most well known around the world for their chic style, Serbian woman have genetically gifted beauty. It isn’t just me saying that. From the hipster girls to classic chic and “turbo-folk” wannabes, Belgrade women know how to excel in the style department.
One thing I have learned is that women in Belgrade are similar to their French and Italian sisters when it comes to leaving the house looking presentable, at all times. Never would they leave the house without making sure that they looked their best – similar to the Italian concept of “bella figura“. So, whilst clogs or slip on shoes, track suits are acceptable house shoewear, I didn’t see them worn in public. Not by native Belgraders anyway. Regardless of budget, Serbian women are too proud to leave the house in yoga pants or tracksuits…well, unless they are a deliberate style choice, in which case they won’t look like they’ve been pulled off a K mart rack and worn to death around the house.
Belgrade Style Tip: If you don’t want to look like a tourist, make sure that you always look your best in public, whether it’s day or night. Put your look together and don’t forget some make-up. I don’t think I know a single woman who has gone outside – even for a walk – without make-up. It isn’t about buying expensive designer clothes or comparing labels. It is about wearing well fitted clothes and caring that you look well presented and well shod.
I recall when I stayed in Belgrade with my 70 something year old Aunt Gordana. She wouldn’t dream of leaving her apartment to go buy bread and groceries without her signature red lipstick, her perfectly dyed black hair up styled, nails painted, and stylish boots. She never looked like a frumpy aunt; she took pride in her appearance, and looked stunning in public, always.
Havaianas or bare feet (!) are a No No
Just don’t do it. I know in Australia our beach lifestyle can compel some to go barefoot – even in a big city like Sydney – or in thongs (flip flops). But even during scorching heat waves, Belgrade women would never, ever go barefoot nor wear Havaianas as street wear.
Belgrade Style Tip : Opt instead for a comfy pair of stylish sandals, low heels or ballet flats or a cool sneaker.
Visiting in Autumn or Winter? Belgrade women love their boots. Short heeled boots, half leg or knee high quality leather boots are to be found everywhere at that time of the year. Don’t buy them until you get there – so much to choose from!
Jeans, Jeans and Jeans – a Belgrade fashion staple
Jeans, especially skinny jeans, are never out of style in Belgrade and Belgrade is the place to buy your next favourite pair of jeans. There are all types and styles available at low cost. With a locally made pair costing as little as 25 euro, you can buy to your denim heart’s content! I bought a few pairs, in black and denim, and they have lasted me years. the quality is quite high because they are made locally in Novi Pazar, South Serbia. During the 20th century, this city became a strong manufacturing centre for the textiles industry, exporting denim and jeans to the Balkan region as well as Europe. So if you are in the market for some jeans, look no further than Belgrade!
I found this video by Courtney Scott and I think she captures Belgrade style, and Serbian women’s natural beauty perfectly!
Where to go Shopping for Fashion in Belgrade
This could be blog topic on it’s own, so it this list is not exhaustive. Fashion shopping is what Belgrade does very well, for less than you would expect to pay in Western countries. Even cheaper than Dubai. By way of example, my husband bought a pair of Cesare Paciotti shoes in the Paciotti boutique on Knez Mihaijlova for more than a couple of hundred euros cheaper than the same pair in the Dubai Shopping Mall boutique. The SAME pair. So if you want to shop, Belgrade is the place to do it especially if you are on a budget.
In the downtown Belgrade city centre, you’ll find that the largest number of shops in one place will be on Knez Mihajla street (a pedestrian zone), Terazije Street, Cika Ljubina St, Krajla Petra St and Krajla Aleksandra St.
If you want to hip and fashion forward designs, go to the Dorćol (pronounced “dor-chol”) district, such as the unique fashion design hub Supermarket Concept store or the Čumićevo Sokače pronounced “Choo-mich-evo Soh-ka-che”) fashion district where there are local Serbian designer boutiques. Belgrade has a strong fashion design industry – the clothes are locally made, are one of a kind and are of high quality.
Oh, and don’t forget to greet each shopkeeper with a cheery “Dobar Dan!” which means “Good day”. I find this works wonders especially if you need help. Most stores have someone who speaks English. In fact, I found most people under the age of 60 could speak English to some extent. More than I found to be the case in Paris. But that was my experience. Greeting the shopkeeper may not be part of our culture in Australia, but in Serbia it is expected. It shows good manners. Same as in France. Same as in Italy. Show respect when you walk in, and you should get service. Ignore the shopkeeper, and expect to be ignored. It works both ways. Expect to be asked where you are from, how you like Belgrade (you love it!) etc…Serbs are naturally curious and hospitable when they see you are genuinely in love with their town.
You can’t buy anything unless you have Serbian Dinars or RSD, which is the official currency in Serbia. While Serbian shops may talk in terms of something costing X Euros, the Euro is not used for trade in Serbia. You will need to have RSD to buy anything in Serbia, and you will find a Menjačnica pronounced “men-jach-nitsa” or Currency Exchange Office in all major shopping centres and around Belgrade.
If you want one stop shopping, Still in Belgrade has a list of shopping centres, similar to the Westfield concept, with the main ones being on the other side of the Danube, in Novi Beograd (or New Belgrade) – Delta City TC and Usce TC (pronounced “Oosh-che”). Belgraders will tell you that the prices are too expensive in the centres, and that you can find cheaper elsewhere, which is true for most things. But if you need something in a pinch, or don’t have time to trawl the boutiques, they have a range of different shops under the one roof.
Clothes and shoes are not nearly as expensive as in other parts of Europe, so make sure to bring an empty suitcase. I have found the best sales to be in the New Year season.
For the kids
Belgrade caters for kids clothes shopping too. Most children in Belgrade are just as well dressed as their parents, teens too. I picked up a few good pieces for my kids at the local markets as well as at the Shopping centres in Novi Beograd eg Zara and H&M, but don’t overlook the districts mentioned above for trendy kids wear by local designers. Wherever you find stylish clothes for adults, you will also find similar for kids. It’s all about having the entire family looking well dressed.
Belgrade style is a whole blog theme in itself, and there are a few great Serbian fashion blogs out there, so I cannot do it justice in one short post. But I hope my experience can help you begin to understand what Belgrade is really like, and it may not be at all how you imagined it to be. I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be as fashion forward as it really is, before I ever visited. You just have to see it for yourself! Now go…plan your next shopping trip in cosmopolitan and very unique Belgrade.
I would recommend that you visit Belgrade fashionista Vanja Milicevic’s fashion blog for some ideas – she often showcases Belgrade Style!
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