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What Not to Wear in Buenos Aires

Kristin Dean

By | May 28, 2009 | 28 comments

what not to wear in buenos aires

What to pack, what not to pack, weather, good and bad choices of clothing and general preparations for coming to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

You’ve heard that Buenos Aires is “The Paris of the South.” But what does that mean? Which is it, European or Latin American? Metropolitan and sophisticated? Or rugged and wild? With just a few points you’ll know just what (or what not) to put in your luggage, and will soon be on your way:

Day Wear:

This will largely depend on the season in which you are planning your visit. Let’s bounce between the extremes…

Summer: During the summer, you’ll appreciate garments that breathe with temperatures similar to a NYC summer in my experience. Lots of pavement and an average in the 80’s (25+ Celsius) with spikes into the 90’s (30’s Celsius). After your first trip via the subway (subte), you’ll quickly learn that you are going to sweat a lot in January, February and March especially if you are walking around and exploring all day. All it takes is one day wearing a heavy cotton polo, jeans, shoes and you will be scouring the city for a more heavy duty antiperspirant. Comfortable open toed shoes, sandals, no Crocs though (mostly doctors wear them)! Plan on walking a lot here as it is a very walking friendly city.

Shorts are worn by most men under 50-60. Dress is quite casual for most Porteños in general during the day time summer months. At night button downs with sleeves rolled up, khakis, thin jeans, fashionable T shirts and trendy sneakers. Summer dresses, chic tank tops, flats, sandals, skirts.

*Hot/Burn tip: If you are coming during the Argentina summer from the Northern hemisphere consider bringing or buying sun tan lotion on your first day. The sun can be brutal to pasty white winter skin!

what not to wear in buenos aires

Winter: The winter here is generally mild, but still chilly with a 70% or more humidity. Layer well, those 50 degree (10 degree Celsius) days with high humidity can be surprisingly cold after walking around for several hours. Down jackets and parkas are extremely popular here right now (September 2016) for both men and women in case you really want to blend in.

What to wear at a tango show

Chances are you are going to see a tango show at some point during your travels in Argentina. There are tons of tango shows in Buenos Aires and business casual is the general dress code. However, the tango shows understand that many people especially backpackers and adventure travelers will not have blazers and heels on call. You will not be alone if you cannot put together a preppy outfit – I have seen plenty of people in jeans and t-shirts at fancy tango shows.

Tango style dresses, fedoras and the sort can be worn at milongas, but you will need to research which milonga as they vary in audience and vibe greatly!

What not to wear

Mountain wear: Yes, there are plenty of parks here in Buenos Aires, but none will require hiking boots or cargo pants. I realize that brands like North Face and Colombia make some decent looking and comfy clothing, but those garments will only brand you as a tourist. Do you really need all nine of those pockets anyway?

Football wear: This can be a touchy subject for some very dedicated fans in Argentina. Avoid any English national team or English jerseys. The vast majority of Argentines could not care less, but there are those that will take great offense considering the Malvinas/Falklands dispute.

Argentina national team jerseys are the most acceptable to wear around town. If you decide to don a local club just be aware to not sport your new River Plate jersey while touring around La Boca or Boca Juniors jersey around while checking out Núñez! For more football tips or if you want to go safely see a football game.

No no’s for the Ladies
No matter the season, no matter the time of day, you will be most comfortable in simple, flattering garments. Brand names and flashy jewelry matter very little here, except to those in search of someone to rob. Instead, porteñas prefer well-made garments that show off their figures. In many cases, this means that the clothes are extremely tight. Almost never, however, will you see women showing too much skin (the exception being the local prostitutes). Do yourself a favor and don’t bring very revealing clothing, it will only attract unwanted attention.

what not to wear in buenos aires

When dressing up at night; wearing jeans to most bars and clubs is perfectly fine. But if you’re going somewhere a bit more fancy (or if you just want to dress up), almost anything goes, just shoot for modest. Porteñas can be very fashionable, but very short skirts or showing a ton of cleavage is uncommon!

Buenos Aires is big, and you will likely do a lot of walking. The women here typically wear flats, younger females sport sneakers (Vans, Converse, New Balance). In the winter, common footwear is a pair of knee-high boots with little or no heel. During summer months flip flops are perfectly acceptable, less common for men in the city (more of a beach thing). Local women favor a more formal flat sandal. Thanks largely to the myriad of sidewalk obstacles, women rarely wear heels here. If they do wear heels, however, they are always of a modest height and comfortable. I know you spent too much on them, you love them, and you haven’t had the chance to wear them yet, but don’t bring those killer 5-inch stilettos (unless misery is what you seek).

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  1. Mondongo

    28/05/2009 - 5:55 pm

    It's kinda racist to post an article about how to dress in Buenos Aires. This is not "Neverland", it's just a modern city, as any other city. You wouldn't post an article titled "How to dress in Cleveland", would you?

    If you need help to dress in BA, you need help to dress *anywhere*. What's next? "In Buenos Aires, first pants, *then* your shoes" ?

  2. tangocherie

    28/05/2009 - 6:36 pm

    Good article!

    But I have to quibble about the cargo pants. I wear mine ALL the time in the street, because pickpocketing and purse snatching is getting more and more commun, and I prefer to keep my money, ATM card, and camera hidden away in pockets and don't even carry a "target" purse.

    Also, jeans can be worn everywhere–even to a funeral, God forbid it'll be necessary to attend one.

    What folks wear in the street depends on which barrio you're in. I live in Boedo, a nice blue-collar neighborhood, and nobody is anything but casual (no stylish boots with little heels, for example.) In the summer everyone wears sandals, as you say, and in the winter they wear athletic shoes.

    When I'm on my way to a milonga and am dressed "sexy," no matter how hot it may be, I always cover myself with a shawl.

    And those stilettos may indeed be used dancing tango!

  3. Mica

    28/05/2009 - 7:19 pm

    Nice advice!

  4. diego10

    28/05/2009 - 7:46 pm

    umm, "racist"? sorry, but i just don't see that one…

  5. Mondongo

    28/05/2009 - 8:38 pm

    @diego10 — I find it racist cuz the article assumes that one *needs* an explanation to dress in Buenos Aires. As I said, there would be no point to this article in any other city — no one would write "how to dress in NY" or "how to dress in Portland" — so the underlying assumption is that Buenos Aires, since it's not in the US, is a strange place. Another example of north-american xenophobia, IMHO.

  6. lisalou

    28/05/2009 - 8:39 pm

    Hardly racist – tourists to any big city should seek advice on how to blend in order to avoid not only local scorn but also tourist-preying thieves. It may not be Cleveland, but have you ever seen a midwesterner on the NYC subway? You, and therefore any pick pocket, could easily pick them out.

  7. Mondongo

    28/05/2009 - 8:46 pm

    @lisalou — Local scorn? Please. I've done my share of traveling, and it's enough to just look around yourself and copy the locals. Maybe you watch too much Fox News. 🙂

  8. EmilyS

    28/05/2009 - 9:00 pm

    @Mondongo — you sound like a stupid asshole. shut the fuck up!!

  9. Mondongo

    28/05/2009 - 9:32 pm

    @EmilyS — thanks for bringing this discussion up to a new level. And here I was thinking that the art of conversation was lost.
    To the rest — I appreciate that you manage to disagree and yet be polite about it.

  10. HappySlappy

    28/05/2009 - 10:34 pm

    mondongo, mondongo, mondongo…why so angry?
    As a professional travel advisor I can tell you that ALMOST EVERY client coming to Buenos Aires asks me what to wear.

    You clearly don´t need this advice, maybe you should check out the article on Clown School.


  11. Mario Trapani

    29/05/2009 - 3:03 am

    @Mondongo, I think you are off base on this one man.
    "This is not "Neverland", it's just a modern city, as any other city. You wouldn't post an article titled "How to dress in Cleveland", would you?"

    Your first false assumption is that Cleveland is a modern city. Modern is last adjective that comes to mind. And since when did all "modern cities" become homogeneous?…..Secondly, someone with a drop of fashion sense wouldn't dress the same as they would in Cleveland as they would in NYC, LA, Montreal, let alone BA. Someone from, for example, Kansas would probably *need* an explanation on how to dress in all of these places unless that want to look and feel totally out of place. If they brought a straw hat, overalls, and their carharts to wear in BA or LA they wouldn't fit in, now would they?

    But I guess suggesting one may need to know how to dress in these locals makes makes me a Fox News watchin', Rush Limbaugh listenin' war mongerin', gun lovin', Palin votin', small town livin', fetus supportin', global warming denyin' racist sob don't it ??

  12. Bestwhoever

    29/05/2009 - 3:22 am

    If I would be planning a trip to Cleveland or Whereverland, I certainly would like some advice. If in Cleveland white T-shirts would be offensive or drive attention to me in anway, I would like to know it in advance, just to know wether I like to call attention or being offensive, or whatever that clothin would indicate. Racist would have been make a judgment on it, which obvioulsy the article did not.
    Nice article, btw.

  13. Murn

    29/05/2009 - 3:41 am

    I have been to Argentina twice, spending about a month in the country. BA has its own style, which is different from all of the other places where I have traveled. Foreigners in any country usually stand out because of what they are wearing. In the United States what is considered “normal” in Miami would be outlandish in Atlanta, and utterly ridiculous rural Alabama. Fashion is about personal taste, and what looks good on you. I do not see racism in this article, BA is a very fashion conscious city. Hawaiian shirts and “nut-hugger shorts” are the norm in the 80’s TV show Magnum PI, but you won’t see people waking around Palermo or Hawaii wearing that now. Great article!

  14. diego10

    29/05/2009 - 4:45 pm

    i thought racsim usually involves discrimination in terms of RACE, not cargo pants. but maybe i could be wrong…

  15. lamonita

    08/06/2009 - 7:41 pm

    i live in BA and am flying to paris tonight. i just asked my friend there what i should bring to wear… does that make me a racist?

    good article, kristin! it is always helpful to get a little insight from someone on the ground before-hand. i will send this to all my friends coming to visit.

  16. Beatrice M

    14/06/2009 - 4:39 pm

    "Almost never, however, will you see women showing too much skin (the exception being the local prostitutes). Do yourself a favor and don’t bring revealing clothing, it will only attract unwanted attention."

    I have to disagree with this one. There is lots of cleavage in this town! Of course stares will go with that, but really walking down the street here, especially in the summer, it's hard not to see it everywhere you look.

  17. Sol

    24/07/2009 - 4:25 am

    Oh, and also… argentinean men don't wear shorts with white tennis shoes and socks. Infact, they only use shorts at the beach, swimming pool or if they are jogging or doing sports.

  18. Rita

    24/11/2009 - 3:14 am

    This has been a very entertaining string of comments to read. Most writers have demonstrated utter lack of sophistication.

  19. johnny

    27/11/2009 - 8:57 pm

    I dont even need to go into how not racist this simple advice piece is nor why mondongo seems to have a bone to pick (or pull out of his arse), but…

    being from cleveland, I would like to thank this string of commentary for mentioning my home town so many times and in some cases even throwing it a compliment??…well, almost.

    However, I will take this time to correct a few small mistakes about my beloved 'mistake by the lake'….

    As much as I would love Cleveland to be spelled Cleaveland, if it was called so due of the propensity for its ladies to show Cleavage, it is not. …Had it been called that, more than likely though, it would be due to the kind of cleavage we call plumber's ass. (or plumbers crack, builders bum(UK) or cofrinho(BR)

    second, despite being a kind of down and out, tough, rust belt city and not so glass and alloy, it most definitely IS a modern city and a city that was 'blessed' by the riches of the American industrial revolution. Yes, thats part of the reason it's so down now, but it's also why Cleveland has some of the finest architecture, cultural and medical institutions in the US and world. (check out the Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Clinic for starters)

    lastly, and I realize it was just an example, but by no means is a white t-shirt taboo in Cleveland, if anything its one of the cities that made a white t-shirt the t-shirt of choice for any number of cool cats and assembly line workers….

    thank you and hellooooo cleveland!

  20. heyswampy

    15/02/2011 - 9:32 am

    My partner and I are making our first trip to BA this week and this article was extremely helpful. I’m basically going to pack for a summer in NYC. Cheers