What to Pack: Rio de Janiero, BrazilBrazil, Extras, Packing & Wardrobe, Shopping & Style — By Erin G on December 13, 2010 at 6:00 am
By Erin Griffith
It’s romantic, it’s chaotic, it’s beautiful and gritty. It’s Rio, baby!
If you’re visiting the city for one of Rio’s many upcoming global events—the 2016 Olympics, the 2014 World Cup, or February’s Carnival—you may be best off in a haz-mat suit, sequined bikini, or some combination thereof. But for all other Rio vacations, read on. Here’s how to dress like a local without overpacking or—gasp—underdressing.
The first lesson in the Rio style files is brought to you by Sisqo. Remember that guy? But face the music: In Rio, thong bikinis are pretty much a religion and that makes the man behind “Thong Song” a demi-god. Proof: Most Brazilian clubs play American pop songs in their original English versions, yet “Thong Song” has been deemed special enough to get its own Portuguese translation. So prepare to party like Sisqo’s cool again, ladies, because skimpy thongs are a staple of Rio beach life.
And if you’re at all worried, know it’s acceptable (but not common) to wear a full-coverage bikini bottom. Just do not, I repeat, do not, mess around with a one-piece. You’ll feel like a nun.
Rio has a certain sexy vibe in the air, and the youths dress accordingly. No matter how racy your day-to-day style is, you’ll likely find that Cariocas are wearing less than you. For example, a nighttime favorite of ladies (and trannies) in the Lapa neighborhood is scandalously tiny white cut-off jean shorts.
I came to Rio with the plan of going conservative; better to avoid drawing attention to my pale white self, right? but after a month of feeling dowdy (and sweaty!), I went on a Brazilified shopping spree, snapping up short shorts, fancy tank tops, and a sarong for the beach. Not normally my style, but a must for Rio.
There’s also my favorite Rio workout gear: crazily patterned bike shorts. They’re on every jogger you pass, but I wear mine for all occasions. They’re dry weave material (good for the heat), and they make me feel like Clarissa Darling.
On the accessories end, the ladies of Rio are all about asymmetry.
One dangly earring is a staple, be it a giant, neon-colored feather, or a handcrafted dreamcatcher.
It’s also good to have one sleek dress
(think wedding-appropriate) for samba clubs like Carioca de Gema, which is usually overflowing with suited-up men and classy ladies.
And of course, no Rio style guide is complete without a nod to Ha
vaianas. Brazil’s famous flip-flops are not just prevalent in Rio; they’re practically a uniform. They’re sold at every single type of store from supermarket to hardware, so you’ll have no problem finding a backup pair in the event of a blowout.
Just don’t wear them in capital city Sao Paulo, where blazers, heels, and Fifth Avenue-style ensembles rule. There, flip-flops are a dead tourist giveaway.
A few key packing tips for Rio:
Bring Your Own:
-Nail supplies. You won’t find many mani/pedi salons and if you do, prepare to wait. You’re better off going DIY on manicure maintenance.
-Thong th-thong thong thong. Where else can you pull off one of those bad boys?
-Brazilian wax. For the aforementioned thong. When in Rio…
-Havaianas. They’re cheaper than home, and the selection is wonderful.
Don’t Bother Packing:
-Maxi dresses. Less is more.
-Skinny jeans. You will sweat yourself silly. Stick with dresses, skirts, shorts, or if you must, lightweight pants.
-Alpaca gear (sweaters, hats, etc) from other South American countries. Even the winter is warm in Rio, and the truth is, alpaca prints just look country-fied in sleek, sexy Brazil.
-Straw fedoras or Panama hats. I only saw one person wearing such a hat over a one-month period, and he was very clearly a tourist.
-Expensive purses. Rio has its share of petty crime, so it’s best to keep one’s money and ID in a bra or shoe. Don’t make yourself a target with a big pricey bag or your wallet—and the cute purse—may be taken.
Photo credit: Fredonia.edu
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