Nobody told me about the long hair!
I feel betrayed, wronged by my fellow Americans. Having previously thought that short hair was professional and in wanting to be “professional”, I had cut most of my hair off.
It has been about 2 years that I have had short hair, but upon coming to Colombia, I realized how much the “professional hair” look was a U.S. phenomenon.
Just about every woman in Colombia has long hair. The only women without long hair are the old woman, who’s hair is falling out, so “naturally”, it’s shorter. A Colombian woman would even describe shoulder length hair as being short.
So why is this? It’s because long hair over the history of time has been seen as womanly. Traditionally, long hair has been associated with beauty and femininity. I’m sure you never have heard of a goddess of having short-hair. Generally, beautiful women throughout history have had long hair. Colombia has a very traditional culture, and hair length is something that has not changed much over in their culture.
So I failed in that category, and growing hair to mid-back length is not something that can happen over night…
I would describe the Colombian women look (particularly in Bogota) like this:
1) Sweater or blouse – Something nice, like a button down, simple and classic.
2) Scarf – Never know if it is going to be cold – always good to keep at hand, or stuffed in the purse, if necessary.
3) Jacket – Usually warmer than necessary. A lot of women can be seen with big ski-like puffy coats, even though the coldest it really gets in Bogota is in the 50s. Bogotanos always find the city to be cold, so more often than not, you will see women dressed in big puffy coats and scarfs, as if it were 20 degrees colder than it actually is.
I would recommend a light jacket or leather jacket, just about the perfect weight for a nice 55-60 degree day.
4) TIGHT, black pants – I mean, one size too small, busting at the seems. No woman would be caught dead in those baggy “professional” pants that women wear as part of a suit set in the U.S. Oh don’t worry, I own a pair too, but don’t wear them in Bogota.
Also, it’s just the tiniest bit too cold to wear skirts, so you would have to wear tights if you went that route. I would still say, stick with tight black pants.
5) Mid-calf boots or ankle boots – With a heal of some sort, since most Colombian women aren’t very tall. The boots are key, because the feet would be a bit too cold in flats. Also, women are always walking around the city; however, walking in stiletto boots never stopped a Colombian woman from wearing them.
6) Painted, long finger nails – Not just in your traditional red, pink and neutral hues. They tend to include designs on a few of the nails – maybe one finger with polka dots, another one with a flower, even stripes or checkers.
This is the standard Bogota woman look. The tight black pants and the boots are always a given. The only flexibility is usually what is worn on the top. The women tend to wear a lot of makeup, but not too bold, and the jewelry simple and not too gaudy.
So that’s more or less about the look, but to really make it as a Colombian woman, there is much, much more. You need to know how to cook the traditional foods, you have to eat everything (all the meats), you have to walk slowly from place to place with intention, and you have to be polite and poised. Being on a “diet” here would be difficult, as food is part of the culture and is part of being a Colombian woman.
While I don’t fit in for obvious reasons, including my height, hair color, eye color and German genes, I do my best to take my walk a little slower and put on my tight, black pants and little boots to blend in slightly better.