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Brazilian Street Fashion: How Not to Look Like a Tourist

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Visiting Brazil? Or maybe you’re getting ready to move there? 

Well here’s some advice about what to pack so you’re comfortable and you don’t look too much like a tourist.

As a rule, Brazilians dress well: they like to look good. But they also like to dress casually and with a sense of humor, preferring refreshing and light fabrics better suited for warmer climates.

Keep in mind that the country is huge, and there’s lots of regional variation in both climate and style. In urban centers, for example, it is common for people to adopt a more urban and modern style, while for people in the interior of the country, the style is often more colorful.

Wherever you’re going to be, you’ll be able to find a Brazilian street fashion trend that you can apply to your personal style. Here are some tips for Brazil’s most popular destinations.

Thinking about Europe instead? Check out our guide to Spanish street wear!

couple holding hands clothes with Brazilian street fashion style

What to Wear in Brazil: Rio de Janeiro

Rio is one of the most famous cities in Brazil and a huge tourist trap. But that doesn’t mean you have to look like one. You can leave the Hawaiian shirt and the cargo shorts at home.

Rio is known for its famous beaches, forests, stunning natural landscapes, and of course for its warm, sunny climate. The style largely reflects that: it’s all about casual, airy clothing that’s beautiful and sensual.

Fashion for Men in Rio

For men, board shorts, a simple t-shirt, and flip-flops (“chinelos” in Brazilian Portuguese) are always a good call for your everyday activities and exploring the city. This is a very common outfit among Cariocas—the name for people born and raised in Rio. 

If you’re going out at night, you can’t go wrong with dark-colored jeans, a smart t-shirt or crisp shirt, and either black or white shoes.

Fashion for Women in Rio

Vibrant and cheerful colors are characteristic of the outfits typically worn by Carioca women. You’ll fit in wearing tropical prints, polka dots, vibrant stripes, and asymmetric shapes. 

Short sundresses and long skirts are staples of the Cariocana closet, together with either sandals or sneakers. You’ll find locals heading straight from the beach to lunch or for drinks, so don’t forget to carry a light dress or a loose tee with shorts to cover up—bikinis are for the beach only. 

And, of course, accessorize! Use a great bag, put on some bold jewelry, and don’t forget your sunglasses. 

What to Wear in Brazil: São Paulo

Sao Paulo is the business capital of Brazil. 

Unlike Rio, São Paulo is not a city of vibrant colors or beaches. The landscapes are formed by dazzling architecture, vibrant urban art, busy—sometimes chaotic—nightlife, and fantastic restaurants. 

Being a financial center, you’ll see many people in business wear: suits, ties, and shoes. But there are lots of more casual options for visitors that won’t make you look out of place.

Fashion for Men in São Paulo

Men who are not traveling on business can choose jogger pants or jeans for everyday activities, with fun T-shirts and light jackets. The sweatshirt is also an indispensable item of every Paulistano’s closet and is commonly used on cold days.

Fashion for Women in São Paulo

For women, jeans often take center stage, together with a comfortable and stylish blouse, or a fun t-shirt. If it’s chilly, go with a nice blazer or even a leather jacket. 

Clubbing? You can never go wrong with a mini skirt in São Paulo—they’re a must-have for this city.

What to Wear in Brazil: the North East

The North East of Brazil is a region with many states known for its music and rich culture. And it’s hot! It’s famous for having the most—and the best—beaches in the country. 

If you are traveling to cities like Recife, Fortaleza, or João Pessoa, you should definitely bring lots of light clothing and comfortable shoes—when you’re not at the beach, you might be exploring the colonial streets or dancing to traditional Northeastern forró.

Fashion for Men in the North East of Brazil

In the North East, you can re-use the fashion tips we gave you about Rio de Janeiro. As the region is full of white sandy beaches and beautiful natural landscapes, the local men opt for light, colorful, and comfortable clothing. 

In the cities, like in Rio, you’ll see the natives often opting for a slightly more chic look, even while using lighter, airy fabrics.

We don’t recommend jeans or long pants—you’ll get uncomfortably hot.  If you’re going to the beach or just wandering through the streets, choose beach shorts and light t-shirts with sandals or flip flops. 

If you are going to a restaurant, choose more up-scale shorts with casual shoes and maybe a polo shirt. This is how many Nordestinos (men from the North Eastern) like to dress!

Fashion for Women in the North East of Brazil

Women from this region of Brazil almost never wear long pants during the day, although you will see women in jeans or pants at parties or events at night when it’s cooler. 

During the day, you’ll see women wearing long or short dresses, with varied prints and colors. Mini skirts and lightweight blouses are also really popular in these areas and can be worn with white sneakers, and low or medium heels.

Jackets are generally not used in this region of Brazil during the day—they’ll attract confused looks in the streets. (You won’t want to wear one anyway.) But at night, leather jackets can be a stylish addition to your outfit when you go out.

What to Wear in Brazil: the South

The south of Brazil is the region below Sao Paulo, and which borders Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Major cities in this region include Curitiba and Florianopolis. In terms of climate, it’s much cooler than the rest of Brazil. 

As a result, people in these regions often wear clothes with heavier fabrics and bright colors are less common. Curitiba in particular is generally a little more conservative when it comes to its culture and clothing, and even in hotter weather, the dress code tends to lean towards less flashy styles. 

To dress like a Brazilian in these regions, always make sure to have on hand a little something warmer—a light jacket or sweater—in case it gets cool in the middle of the day!

Fashion for Men in the South of Brazil

Jeans and trousers together with short- or long-sleeved shirts and a blazer or light jacket, are all good options for cities of the South. 

But don’t forget to also pack some light pieces, such as shorts and t-shirts, to enjoy the hot days and the beaches of this region too (Florianopolis, in particular, has a number of very lovely beaches). 

And remember: bring a sweater or even a light rain jacket—just in case!

Fashion for Women in the South of Brazil

In this region, women usually wear clothes with more discreet prints than in the hottest regions of the country. Skirts and tights are also common, often worn with short boots or sneakers. 

On colder days, you’ll often see women accessorize with scarves, hats, and gloves. On the hottest days, you’ll see clothes with lighter fabrics like in more Northern regions. 

Now That You Look Like a Brazilian, Learn to Speak Like One

Now you know the basics, you should be able to blend in with the locals. All there is left to do is to enjoy the Brazilian culture and music… and the language

If you want to learn to speak like a local as much as you want to look like one, take the Pimsleur app for a spin. You’ll be able to start speaking conversational Portuguese in just 30 days. 

Not sure yet? Try out a free Portuguese lesson (and tell us about your experience in the comments below!)

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