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Mexico City, Puebla, Oaxaca

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Estimado EMSG--re your wife's clothing:


As a woman who lives full time in a Mexican city, I would never go about the streets in shorts, sleeveless shirts, tank tops, etc. However, I am long past the age for that sort of clothing. I prefer, if anything, to err on the side of modesty.


You and your wife will see young Oaxacan women who dress in everything from miniskirts, skin-tight pants, bare midriffs (they're all the rage right now), and other provocative clothing to much more traditional garb.


Your wife will need to decide for herself what she's comfortable wearing. It will depend on her age, her figure, and her desire to call attention to herself or not. Bared shoulders are not as provocative as a bared bellybutton, but as Rancho Gordo said, Oaxaca is still a conservative city. Some churches refuse entry to folks dressed, for example, in shorts and tank tops.


I think the bottom line is that a city, be it Oaxaca, the DF, Guadalajara, or any other city, is not the beach and city tourists do not (and should not) dress like beach tourists.

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Here's a picture of me in Mexico City in 1981 with my friend Adrianna, who was 19 at the time. I think this illustrates how conservative Mexican dress can be, although she was wearing a purple plastic jumpsuit when I met her. At the time, she was making a TV commercial for Tampax, and so she was fairly well-known, I think. We went to a Carnival party that year, and the next day, my picture was on the society page of a Mexico City newspaper. I was standing behind Fina Maus.


I would wear shorts only at the beach, as a rule, and never in any of the highland areas, although I did wear shorts at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, and Edzna, Campeche. My friends, who were natives of Campeche, also wore shorts when they took me to Edzna.

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