Amsterdam Fashion and Shopping 101

kees lynch headshot
Kees Lynch
December 21, 2023

Let me start my piece about fashion trends and shopping in Amsterdam by stating that, at the end of the day, fashion “trends” are by no means something to abide by—if anything, I try to steer clear from them. Fashion is about wearing what makes you feel good, regardless of anyone or everyone else saying your outfit looks bad. You by no means have to slot yourself into the fashion trends most sported by Amsterdammers. That being said, Amsterdam has incredibly cool style, and I hope that this article can illuminate some of those cool trends and point you in the right direction for finding pieces that fit the ballot. 

The staple piece of every Amsterdammer’s wardrobe is a good leather jacket. When in doubt, throwing on a leather jacket over your favorite knit sweater and a good pair of Levi’s will always be a presentable outfit. I bought mine at the Waterlooplein, Amsterdam’s premier flea market, for €50. Waterlooplein has some fantastic pieces for great prices; I bought a pair of Diesel jeans for €3.50, and I haggled for a colorful denim jacket and ended up saving myself €15. Shoes are up to you, and in my opinion one of the best ways to create a unique outfit, but shoe trends follow global trends here; think variants of your basic sneaker, like the all-too popular Adidas Samba, or a leather loafer/boot style, such as the similarly pervasive Dr. Martin. Shoes are a bit harder to shop for at flea markets or vintage stores, but do enough shopping and you’re bound to find something. There are nearly too many vintage shops in Amsterdam, but in my experience most of them have had at least one thing I would buy. Some of my favorites are all on the Haarlemerdijk, a street near Student Experience Minervahaven. In particular I like Zipper, Rumor’s, (IM)MATERIAL, and Episode, which has locations on Spuistraat and near Waterlooplein. 

Accessories are a must: rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and sunglasses are all fair game. Perhaps the most popular accessory in Amsterdam is the scarf, which I have seen people tie in a plethora of ways but perhaps the coolest and most useful of which is to pull part of the scarf over your head to create a balaclava. In terms of jewelry, I was introduced to a brand, UNOde50, that makes unique, chunky silver pieces that can be bought pretty cheap on Vinted, the European equivalent of Depop (but, in my opinion, better). There are definitely a fair amount of nose, ear, and eyebrow piercings on the bodies of Amsterdammers, so if you’ve been on the fence about a piercing as an accessory, now’s the time, especially since your parents don’t have to know for a few months. Perhaps the trendiest brand I’ve come across is Freitag, a company that makes bags and wallets and such from used truck tarps and other recycled and compostable materials. I personally haven’t indulged in a Freitag bag because they’re not really my thing, but you will certainly get compliments if you buy one. Another major difference I noticed between American style and Amsterdam style is the dress code at raves and clubs. Raves are associated with bright, bombastic, colorful outfits in the United States. In Amsterdam and Europe in general, the Berlin-influenced head-to-toe black leather has begun to infiltrate the rave and club scene. It’s not as intense as it is in Berlin, but it is certainly noticeable—I stuck out like a sore thumb wearing a white t-shirt and colorful striped pants amidst a sea of black.

Amsterdam’s vintage shops, flea markets, and thrift stores are worth exploring at your leisure, but there is one flea market that you cannot miss: IJ-Hallen, the largest flea market in Europe. IJ-Hallen happens one weekend per month in Amsterdam Noord, which is only accessible by ferry. I have never in my life seen so much clothing and other items in one place—you could seriously get lost. Bartering is encouraged at the stands that don’t have fixed prices, and that experience in and of itself is fun. I’ve bought some of my most unique and favorite pants, jewelry, shirts, and accessories at IJ-Hallen. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, then it must not exist. It is a truly remarkable experience to have so much cool clothing and accessories right at your fingertips.

Again, fashion is about making yourself feel good, so if none of these trends match your style, turn a blind eye! In spite of this, Amsterdam does have a good fashion sense, and it’s hard not to notice and appreciate it, especially on campus; it feels like every student I see was better dressed than the last. Living in Amsterdam has expanded my style exponentially, and I’m sure it’ll do the same to you!

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs
kees lynch headshot

Kees Lynch

Despite being a history major and studying history at the UvA this year, I am a passionate musician. I have been playing piano for over a decade, focusing largely on jazz, but I love to play guitar, banjo, and mandolin in my free time!

2023 Fall
Home University:
Skidmore College
Explore Blogs