So, you’ve bought your tickets, perused your Buenos Aires tourist guide, studied your map, and know how to cuss someone out in Lunfardo thanks to lessons learned from LandingPadBA.com. Only thing left to do now is pack your bags: a simple, yet perplexing task.
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? This nickname could very well lead you astray while faced with the task of deciding what to bring along. But never fear, with just a few points of consideration, you’ll know just what (or what not) to put in your bags, and will soon be on your way.
Before getting started, I suggest setting aside that whole “Paris of the South” idea. Rather than thinking of Paris or Rio, I suggest thinking of another comparison when packing your bags: New York City. Like NYC, BA is hot in the summer, cool in the winter (although you’re not going to run into nearly as much snow down here), and offers little for the outdoor adventurer within the city itself; like New Yorkers, porteños have a whatever-goes attitude towards style, so long as its your own; and like New York, unless you want to spend a fortune on cab fare, you should plan on doing a lot of walking.
That said, here are a few suggestions that hopefully will prove helpful:
Mountain Gear: 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?
Daywear: This will largely depend on the season in which you are planning your visit. During the summer, you’ll appreciate garments that breathe. After your first January trip via subte , you’ll quickly learn that you are going to sweat a lot during the summer. All it takes is one day wearing a heavy cotton polo, and you’ll learn that with heavy fabrics pit stains will also be your constant companion. The winter here is generally mild, but still chilly. Jeans and a sweater or long-sleeve shirt will be plenty, but also be sure to bring a jacket, umbrella and gloves just in case.
No matter the season, no matter the time of day, you will be most comfortable in simple, flattering garments. Brand names and flashy jewelry or accessories 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 revealing clothing, it will only attract unwanted attention.
Lookin’ Sharp: Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the same rule applies when dressing up at night: don’t show too much skin without heeding this warning. Truth is, 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 don’t get yourself confused for a hooker.
Footwear: BA is big, and you will do a lot of walking. The women here typically wear flats. In the winter, the favored footwear is a pair of knee-high boots with little or no heel. Outside of those coolest of months, sandals or flats are the way to go. Flip flops are perfectly acceptable, I wear mine all the time, but you will find that the 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 that rip into your feet after 10 minutes (unless misery is what you seek).
So there you go. I know I made many mistakes when preparing for my first trip to Buenos Aires, and only wore about half of things that I lugged all the way here. Don’t waste that precious energy and luggage space doing as I did. The best strategy while packing for your trip is to try not to stand out as a naive tourist. Bring only the simple things, only the most flattering items, and leave lots of empty space in your luggage to make room for the things you may buy while here.