Intermediate, Rookie, That's What She Said

What Not to Wear

Kristin Dean

By | May 28, 2009 | 28 comments

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.

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SO FAR, THIS ARTICLE HAS 28 COMMENTS!

  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" ?

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  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!

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  3. Mica

    28/05/2009 - 7:19 pm

    Nice advice!

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  4. diego10

    28/05/2009 - 7:46 pm

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

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  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.

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  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.

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  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. :)

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  8. EmilyS

    28/05/2009 - 9:00 pm

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

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  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.

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  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.

    Besossss!!!

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  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 ??

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  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.

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  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!

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  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…

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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!

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  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

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  21. Caterina

    28/05/2009 - 9:01 pm

    Aren't you overreacting? I get the feeling you are. De onda te lo digo, no hay racismo alguno en este artículo.

    I found the article very helpful, clever and well written.

    Some cities have specific dress codes, you know? For instance, in Caracas clubs won't let you in if you are wearing sneakers. Or, nowadays if you don't want to get in undesired political debates, it is recommended to not wear red.

    Likewise, in Paris or in Milan it is best to dress a little more formally when going out to dinner…

    I could go on for hours. You're way off base here. The author of this blog is anything but racist.

    In NYC just wear black (all black if you like) and you'll be fine, and maybe a scarve around your neck ;)

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  22. Mica

    28/05/2009 - 9:17 pm

    Using the word 'racist' in response to this piece does one of two things:

    Shows complete misunderstanding of the meaning of the word by you.

    or

    Shows that you know the meaning of the word but are using it disingenuously in this instance, thus making you a dick.

    It would appear that your English is good enough place you firmly in the latter.

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  23. Chris

    24/07/2009 - 2:18 am

    I have to agree with others "racist" is too strong a word here. I too seek out what to wear in going to wherever I travel. I can't tell you how many times we here in New York talk about what tourist are wearing. This is a city not a beach or a wilderness camp. YOu just wind up looking out of sorts and sorry to say a target. Before my move to Buenos Aires, i made sure I research everything including what to wear. everyone I know does.

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  24. elk312

    25/07/2010 - 2:20 am

    Wow, Mondogo, I think you need to get over it.

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  25. Keith, Cali

    28/05/2009 - 10:30 pm

    This is hilarious! Racist!? It's unfortunate that everyone isn't as well traveled as you. If anything your comments are condescending and close minded. Everyone has to start somewhere and getting a few tips from an experienced traveler is helpful and makes a trip run smoother. Well written, good tips, thank you Kristin, please keep it up.

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  26. Bestwhoever

    29/05/2009 - 3:19 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.

    Reply
     
  27. Leaandro

    02/06/2009 - 11:52 pm

    Since when dressing advise is considered racism? As a local, I just think it's a good piece of advise. The kind of information I look for when travelling to a foreign place.

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  28. Sol

    24/07/2009 - 4:22 am

    you are right about the cleavage but I still agree with the author. I am porteña and I would never use, for example, a short skirt and a cleeavage at the same time. If I use cleavage,I will use long skirt or trousers and if I use a short skirt, I will use something basic on top.
    I didn´t feel discriminated by this article at all and I would like to know how to dress if I go to either Cleaveland, Hawaii or Beijin.
    One more suggestion, please men, dont use treking sandals with socks!! and flip flops in summer are ok but only Hawaiannas style.

    Reply