Nobody told me about the long hair!
I feel betrayed by my fellow Americans. When I first started my career in the U.S., I had thought that short hair was seen as more professional, so I had decided cut most of it off. But upon moving to Bogota, Colombia, I realized how out of place I looked with it.
Almost every woman in Colombia has long hair. The only women without long hair are older woman, who may be unable to grow their hair long anymore. A Colombian woman would even describe shoulder length hair as being short.
After watching Miss Universe pageants, I should have known…
Apart from the hair, here are a few items Colombian women, in Bogota, would wear:
1) Sweater or Blouse – Colombian women have a clean, tailored look. I would recommend wearing a simple, classic-looking blouse or sweater. A shirt that is fitted is better than anything baggy. Show off your figure, but don’t wear anything too revealing.
2) Scarf – You never know if its going to be chilly in Bogota. It’s always good to wear a medium-weight scarf or packed it in your purse in case it gets cold.
3) Jacket – Women in Bogota usually wear jackets that are warmer than necessary. Many can be seen with big, ski-like, puffy coats, even though the coldest it gets in Bogota is in the 50s. Bogotanos will all complain about how cold it is too, so you should add, “Aii que frio!” to your vocabulary.
Personally, I would recommend a light jacket, jean jacket, or leather jacket, which is just about the perfect weight for a 55-60 degree day.
4) TIGHT, Black Pants – These pants are critical. Your black pants should also be one size too small, practically busting at the seems. No Colombian woman would be caught dead in baggy pants, sweat pants, or dress pants (those baggy professional pants American wear, including myself). You have a body underneath those clothes, so again show it off.
Also, it’s too chilly to wear skirts in Bogota, so you would have to wear tights if you went that route. I would still say to stick with the tight, black pants.
5) Mid-calf boots or ankle boots – Since most Colombian women aren’t very tall, most will wear some sort of boot, with a heal. The boots are key, because your feet would be cold in flats.
6) Long, Painted Fingernails – A Colombian Woman’s fingernails are not just painted 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. Get creative with it!
I would characterize this as the standard Bogota-woman look. The tight, black pants and the boots are of the highest importance. The only flexibility is what is worn on the top, scarf, and light jacket. Women also tend to wear a lot of makeup, but always very tasteful, and the jewelry simple, and not too gaudy.
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 (e.g., arepas con chocolate). You have to eat everything, including all the meats (e.g., chorizo, morcilla). You have to walk slowly, as if you have no where really to be. You have to be polite and poised, with your head held high as if you were Miss Colombia. You have to say “chévere” as often as possible, meaning “cool”, “awesome”, or “great.”
While I don’t fit in for obvious reasons, including my height (5’9”), blonde hair, and green eyes, I do my best to take my walk a little slower and to wear my tight, black pants and little boots.