Alexandra Tracy Chavarriaga is a Community Economic Development (CED) volunteer serving in a pueblo in La Guajira, Colombia.
There is no doubt that the first piece of important information a Peace Corps Colombia volunteer will tell potential trainees is that the Colombian Coast is HOT HOT HOT. I still remember the video of former Colombia volunteer Jimmy Everett explaining humorously and thoroughly exactly how the weather feels. Having said this, it’s important to help new trainees pack or prepare to buy local clothing that is perfect for the coast, taking into consideration what most Colombian women wear, how comfortable different fabric feels, and of course aiming for a stylish look.
Young professional Costeña women tend to wear tight blue jeans (most of them remind me of Apple Bottom jeans), a company/organization polo or cute flowy top, and either sandals or flats.
Though I love how Colombian jeans accentuate the derrière, they are not the most comfortable, and they are certainly not breathable for the hot weather. I would wear those jeans to go out with friends when it’s (only a bit) cooler at night or if you go to a discoteca with AC. However, the tops are adorable, so you might find something you like that matches local styles here in Colombia at a good price. Same goes with stylish sandals or flats.
Here is what current PCV women had to say about their favorite and/or most comfortable outfits they like to wear while serving here:
Outfit 1 – Yadezi Abreu’s casual professional look
“Banana Republic Tailored Fit 100% cotton sleeveless button up. Taken another step further by getting it tailored for my body type for only $5,000 COP by a local vecina. Levi’s 311 shaping skinny in a dark wash 80% cotton 17% polyester and 2% elastane. Usually held up by a simple leather belt. For my kicks I always go to my Red Wing Iron Range short boots, which are made of Amber Harness Leather for the most part. No matter what the day brings, this outfit is clutch.”
Outfit 2 – Yessy Lazaro’s burgundy look
“My H&M dark blue and white striped shirt is 95% cotton and 5% elastane. For this crazy heat, you want to keep fresh. The flowing and fresh light weight a-line skirt is 100% rayon bought from Forever 21. Very simple but comfortable flat thong sandals are perfect for these inconsistent rainy days on the Coast because they are made out of a type of plastic material from Old Navy. My accessory is my ultimate favorite vintage diamond necklace found from a thrift store in Spokane and has been with me for years.”
Outfit 3 – Lindsay Schiltz’s fashion mostly found here in Colombia
“The top is 100% rayon. Super breathable and patterned so it doesn’t show sweat. It’s from Marshalls in the states. The pants are from the volunteer clothing swap. They are 91% cotton 6% polyester 3% spandex. I was surprised to read about the polyester since they feel really breathable. I wear a lot more pants here than expected. I just feel more comfortable and my school is very buggy so it helps to be covered. The shoes are from Medellin.”
Outfit 4 – Alyssa Galik’s thrifty finds
“Both of these are thrift finds from the US. Shirt is 100% cotton. Sleeveless profesional tops are a must. Also for me personally, most days the thought of trying to put on jeans in the heat kills me so I wear a lot of light skirts and dresses. This high-waisted cotton skirt hits my calf which is great for windy days but is still form fitting. Although dresses and skirts that hit just above the knee would be considered appropriate in most professional settings. I also typically wear sandals or chacos most days but if I want to be more professional, these loafers are great.”
Outfit 5 – Michelle DiIeso’s comfortable fashion
“Not sure if we’d call it fashionable but it’s so comfortable and light I’d like to wear it everyday. I’ve fallen in love with leggings here. These are cotton/spandex leggings from Old Navy with a 94% cotton and 6% spandex tank top, with a polyester (I know, weird), and the outer shirt is from H&M I got from a previous volunteer. I have a pair of croc sandals I wear essentially everyday.”
Outfit 6 – Monica Lynn’s look brought from the USA
“My favorite jeans from 7 and 7 (my heaven) which are 97% cotton and 3% elastic. They are form fitted and comfortably adjust to my ever changing body and are the perfect wash to go with everything and dress up or down. The shirt is also from 7 and 7 and I have it in 3 colors because it is extremely breathable, a flattering cut for any body type and feels like air (which I need a lot of in this heat). I also profusely sweat. All. Day. So the 95% polyester and 5% elastic is perfect and doesn’t leave sweat marks (the fabric is almost porous). The shoes were bought from Viscata online before I arrived to Colombia. They are dressy enough and give you some height (and integration fuel as so many women wear heals here). But my favorite aspect is that they are soooo comfortable and I can wear them all day without dying to take them off!”
Outfit 7 – Alexandra Tracy’s bright-colored chic
“I feel the most comfortable in this heat with this outfit, I feel radiant, and people compliment me in my town all the time even if it’s not what women normally wear. The sleeveless black top I bought in a thrift store in the USA, is 64% rayon 32% nylon 4% spandex, and has a breathable open top back. The necklace I got in Brazil is made out of strings (material unknown) in order to add more color. The magenta pencil skirt is 89% cotton with 11% elastane. Women wear a lot of bright colors here, which I love. Black isn’t normally worn because of the heat, but if you know you’ll be inside or under shade the majority of the time, it’s always a stylish color that goes with anything and makes other colors pop.”