Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dressing in Portugal


We are planning a trip to Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Gibraltar and so in the last post I suggested several possibilities as far as what to wear and what to buy in Spain. This post centres on Portugal.

As in Spain, Italy, France and generally speaking all European cities, men and women are very well dressed. Some youth copy American fashion but for the most part I am not writing for adolescents. And so the more mature, especially in Portuguese cities, will not be wearing jeans or shorts and sneakers. One more generalization - as you go into the countryside or to the resort beach areas, dress is more casual but still not many jeans, no sweat pants and over-sized t-shirts. If you see oversized t-shirts and baggy sweatpants, the wearer is probably North American. Dark colours are a good choice for travel anyway but in Portugal, it seems only proper, especially if you are over the age of 30. When Canadians, Australians or Americans come back from visiting Portugal, they often say, "We saw black everywhere, even in the summer". You will see black a lot but that is probably more tradition than style. Wearing black is associated with the deaths of those close to you and there are certain time and kinship requirements that many still adhere too; especially those of a particular age. The older you are, the more likely you would be required to wear black for this reason.

Embroidered products and lace are essentially traditional crafts that tourists often buy. But I truly cannot think of any particular contemporary piece of clothing that you would look for in Portugal. One can say, scarves are the thing in France and so there is a lot of variety - buy scarves. One may advise - the Spanish love shoes - so buy shoes in Spain. But truly I cannot think of what to suggest for Portugal. Although, leather handbags and shoes are of decent quality and you might get lucky.

Modesty is revered in Portugal so forget dressing in an ostentatious way. Name brands won't impress anyone - essentially the Portuguese could care less. "Respectful" seems to be the best word to describe how to dress. Men in shirts with collars and pants; women in skirts and modest tops and dresses. The Portuguese seem to be more nonchalant, more relaxed and less enthused by "what to wear ". The translation for "nonchalant" is "not being concerned" and so it is with the Portuguese.

Photo Source: Dutched Pinay Travels
Of course, Oporto's main shopping street, Rua de Santa Caterina, has upscale boutiques and other shops, particularly shoes, that cater to all budgets. Thank you to Dutched Pinay Travels who gave me permission to use this photo and who has a great post about shopping on Rua de Santa Caterina. Basically you can find anything that you are looking for here. No matter what European city you are in, I think it best to seek out the local artisans and designers to pick up something unique.

Here are 3 packing guidelines that will serve you well in Portugal:

1) In Lisbon, the walking can be challenging (there are seven hills and they are steep) and cobblestone streets and walks are the norm. Take your most comfortable walking shoes, no matter what they look like.

2) If travelling in Spain, Portugal or Italy during the summer, you would be better off taking cotton and linen dresses rather than shorts and t-shirts. When in Spain, it doesn't matter how hot it is, you won't be allowed into religious sites in shorts (men included) or sleeveless tank tops (men included). I have read that Portuguese rules regarding sleeveless tops and shorts are not as restrictive as Spain and Italy. I would err on the side of caution though.

3) Spring, even summer, can be windy and bring an Atlantic chill to the air so a windbreaker would be necessary, such as one from North Face's Summit Series.

Just click on the titles below to read some other posts I wrote about travel and packing:
Business and Tourist Travel Wardrobes
Packing for a Two Week Visit to Europe
In a Man's Suitcase: Vacation in Europe
Shoes for Traveling Europe
Curiosities in Your Travels
The Bag and Packing for the Weekend or Longer

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