I’ve been wondering about how to dress when we are in Panama. Our PC packet offers very little insight. Here’s their list of what to bring:
- 3-4 pairs of casual pants
- 1-2 pairs of nicer pants
- 1-3 pairs of shorts
- 2 out door work shirts
- 4 shirts or tank tops
- 3 nice shirts with collars
- 1 sweater or thermal
- Bathing suit
- 4-5 pairs of socks dark colors
- 2 week supply of undies
- Hat and bandana
This is pretty open ended so I spent tonight google-ing what Panamanians wear. Here’s the short of it.
Neat and Sharp: The two most common words used to describe how Panamanians dress. This means always having clean hands and face, groomed hair and not sweating. I’m curious to see how that last one goes, it is tropical after all. Also no wrinkles, they are a sign you don't care. Another one that will be hard to do traveling and in a humid climate to boot.
Shorts - Apparently wearing short skirts or shorts was banned by some leader a while back because that was too American and they were trying to distance themselves from Americans. That’s since been revoked but they still wear long pants and skirts.
Cleavage - Many women around Panama City have fake boobs. And even if one doesn’t have fake boobs the bras sold locally push up and together to make sure you have lots of, how did one blogger put it? Ah yes “breasts that protrude out of these little tops like a baby kangaroo out of his mothers belly.” That was a woman blogger by the way.
Heels - Women always wear heels in the city. In most Central American countries girls celebrate their Quinceanera, a kind of debutant party when a girl turns 15. She gets her first pair of high healed shoes and is officially a young lady. This means unless you consider yourself under 15, you wear heels. If you’re a guy closed toed shoes when in city.
T-shirts - Only for very casual wear, otherwise only under other shirts. Guys wear them under button ups. Although looking through PC pictures many seem to wear t-shirts. That’s reassuring.
Collared Shirts - Not unlike dental school, Panamanians seem to prefer collared shirts, be it polo or button up. Looking through photos, most of the local men wear collars. It is amazing to me the number who wear white. I suppose it is cooler, but if you have to wash your clothes by hand, I would think white would be tough to maintain. Or maybe that’s the point?
Here's a November 2006 Peace Corps group at their Swearing In Ceremony. As you can see a number are breaking the rules I established. So I guess I'll take it all with a grain of salt.
If you need more information look at my ehow articles:
How to dress for Panama - men
How to dress for Panama - women
How to dress in Panama City