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:
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!
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.
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).