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I pack for a trip to Rio to celebrate my birthday. In my bag, nothing like the regular clothes I usually wear in my daily routine. It is more lightweight, with trendy accessories. More intense colors are needed for the perfect looks for the day at the beach and night at Lapa, a place of bohemians. I don’t want to look like a serious girl from Brasilia, but a cool tourist visiting the ebullient city of the Christ the Reedemer.

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In Rio, less is more. When you walk on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, you will easily distinguish between a carioca, born in the bustling city located in the east coast of Brazil, and the tons of tourists who delight themselves in the hot sands of Copacabana, Ipanema or Leblon. The carioca has a very unique style, with the perfect mix of color, intensity and movement in the clothes they wear. Everything is less, except for the vibrant colors. Less fabric used in the clothes, smaller size of bikinis, tight denim shorts for the girls. For the male cariocas, tanned bodies showing how fit one can be in the right proportion, cool surfer bermuda prints are a must. Speedos are also part of the scene. Though not common in many European countries and the US, speedos are totally suitable to Rio’s tropical climate.

Beachwear is very democratic just like the beaches in Brazil. We dress up to match who we are, our own trends and styles. The carioca sands are, indeed, a place of all, poor, rich, middle class with no distinction. Everybody goes to the beach looking the way they feel like it, though Brazilians are very fashion-aware, and Rio is considered to be one of the fashion capital cities of Brazil. There’s no rule. The only one is to keep clothes light and colorful to match the cheerfulness of the green waters of the beach. One common accessory, though, are the famous Brazilian flip flops for the hot sands, the Havaianas. They are a popular view in tourists’ and Brazilians’ feet for their trendiness and comfort.

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After an awe-striking sunset at the beach, when the night colors change, so does the outfit. Beachware is substituted by high heels, mini-skirts that swish as the cariocas walk and dance, fancy low-necked blouses, shiny accessories, bright make-up, shiny hair and the perfect lipstick gloss for a final touch anticipating the night of dancing at Lapa – an incredible place boiling with bars, nightclubs, loud music, tourists and cariocas who get to the neighborhood to fulfill their desire of enjoying life to its fullest. Men also are very fashion-conscious at this point, looking their best in light shirts with bermudas, or pants, and their perfumed bodies. Everybody in Rio wants to look their best and entertain themselves to the max.

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Or, you might choose to go to one of the samba school rehearsals happening just before carnival. Oh, then, vibrant colored tiny dresses are a common scene that dazzle all with samba, ginga and movement. Nobody can stop dancing and admiring the carioca style coming from Rio’s slums. Again, less is certainly more. More entertainment and cheerfulness for all made of the simple things in life.

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Check next week’s Urban Style Challenge for more on Rio street style.


About the author

A proud Brazilian teaching English in Brazil, interested in cultures, languages, people and lifelong learning.