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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Clothing for the Tropics

I was searching the internet this morning for tropical clothing and came up with the usual stuff - Hawaiian style, clothes for resorts, clothes for Bali - all of it geared it seems towards the tourist. Also I noticed a lot of the fabrics are rayon or similar which wrinkles and I think might be too warm.

But what about those of us who live in tropical climates and especially in small farming towns such as Atenas? The resort clothes look very out of place. My husband, Lance, dresses like the Ticos - jeans, shirts - and is very comfortable and he fits in. We want to be respectful towards the culture here.

I cannot dress like the Ticas. The older women wear a lot of what looks like polyester skirts and tops (I even saw one with pantyhose ... too hot!). As for the younger Ticas, the shoes are too high and the clothes are too tight for me. I find jeans too heavy and too hot so I usually only wear them in the evenings or on cool, rainy days.

Having never been to Costa Rica before moving here, I brought a lot of clothing that turned out to be unsuitable but quite a bit of it has worked out fine and I am wearing them to threadbare condition. I wish now I had brought two dozen light cotton tops. Not those heavy t-shirts with too high necks, sleeves that make my arms look cut off in the middle and emblazoned with slogans or cute kittens.

I'm thinking more along the lines of pretty shirts or pull-on tops, light cotton, different colours and patterns. My friend Rose Mary said she made a special trip back to the U.S.A. after moving here, just to buy a lot of suitable clothing that she realized she should have brought with her at the beginning.

A pretty cotton shirt I ordered from Eddie Bauer in a light cotton. This is the kind of top I am referring to.

Shorts .... I could use a lot more of these, in cotton, different lengths. Skirts are fabulous for tropical countries - cotton ones but not tight. They look dressy and they are cool to wear. Unfortunately I don't have any and so they are on my shopping list. My friend Diane often wears one with a cotton top and a pair of sandals that I covet and she looks smart dressed like this.

Shoes .... I wear running shoes only when actually walking into Atenas. They don't look very good for anywhere else. Sandals .... you can never have too many of these and there are so many pretty ones available. I like a bit of heel. Flip-flops are for the beach.

I bought a pair of Clarks walking sandals in a sparkly grey material so they don't look too much like hiking sandals yet still provide good support. Recently I ordered a pair of these shoes in purple from Land's End and they are terrific with shorts or pants ... very comfortable for walking.

Dresses: I have three. This one I ordered from Land's End and it is perfect for when we go into San Jose. It was marked down to $19.99 and I see it is still on sale. With sandals, it's a smart yet comfortable outfit and I don't look like a tourist. One dress I bought at a Ropa Americana - it's a pretty tropical green print but needs to be taken in - it was so inexpensive it was worth it. My third dress is a silk Talbots which I've never worn here.

Linen is a good tropical fabric but it wrinkles and who wants to do ironing in paradise? A note here: I usually buy one size up because I don't like constricting clothes.

Bathing suits: I brought a good quality suit with me but it's in tatters now. I ordered a two piece from Land's End which is very well made and I like it a lot. But if I was jumping in and out of a pool all day, I would not want to wear it because pool water is so hard on fabric. It's great for the beach or going to someone else's pool. So what do people wear who have their own pool? Besides au naturale that is. Quick drying board shorts would be good. What about tops?

I'm hoping my readers will have other suggestions that will be helpful to those contemplating living in a tropical climate.


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