Costa Rican Women's Style:
1) Jeans- Jeans are the way to go is Costa Rica. Almost all women wear jeans on a daily basis, and it is rare to see young women in dresses, although older ladies wear skirt suits often. Due to the hot climate, I personally find it impossible to wear jeans everyday, but the girls here prefer them to skirts and dresses. Shorts are also rare for Costa Rican women, but I see them being worn more than dresses.
2) High Heals- In Costa Rica everyone wears heels all the time. Heels are not reserved for special occasions are stilettos are trendy. Although I wear heels on a daily basis at home, the streets here are not in prime condition for wearing them. This does not seem to deter the Ticos though, who navigate the bus, badly paved roads, and tile floors with ease in the trendiest wedges and pumps. Even little girls wear mini- heels.
3) Straight hair- Tica's love the salon. These ladies never have a hair out of place. Almost all the women have straight hair and many dye their hair lighter shades of brown, but fake blond is one trend that is not to popular. Luckily for me, my host mom has a straightener because that was one item I deemed unnecessary for my trip.
4) Brands- Costa Rican's love "ropa de marca" (brand name clothes). Although they are ridiculously expensive here because they are imported, there is definitely a market for brand name items and people pay close attention to labels.
5) AVON- Catalog shopping is popular. My host family buys much of their beauty products, clothes, and household items from catalogues. Many women here work with companies selling for AVON or other similar companies. I found this to be very interesting because in the states, now that there is the possibility of buying online, catalog shopping is uncommon. International shipping is expensive though, and many people don't have international credit cards so catalogs are the alternative. Also, this is an interesting way for non-working women to make some extra cash. A little old school, but it works!
6) Ropa Americana- Ever wonder how Goodwill could possibly sell all the millions of items donated to its store everyday? Interestingly enough, some of those clothes end up in Costa Rica (as well as the rest of Central America) in second hand stores called "Ropa Americana". These stores sell imported used clothes from Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Although these items seem to be the discards of the discards, there are definitely gems to be found if you look hard enough. I wonder how Michal Kors would feel if he knew one of his 100-dollar shirts was being sold in Costa Rica for 3-4 dollars?
A Little Bit of Style Analysis:
Due to my university girl mindset, it is interesting to think about the results of outsourcing and mass production of clothing after seeing the fashion industry in Costa Rica. The majority of the clothes being sold here are U.S. brands or U.S. discards. Much of this merchandise is being sold for much higher prices than it gets in the States and much of the clothes here are cheep brands that are found in the LA fashion district, or trendy boutiques and generic mall stores. The quality of the Costa Rican clothes does not match up with the prices they are selling for. Much to my dismay, I found that the clothes here are not cheep as I was hoping and quite frankly out of my price range of the quality of the items. Forever 21 quality at Gap prices? No thank you!
Analyzing outsourcing of the fashion industry shows up ideologically as well as materially in Costa Rica. Although there are differences within the look that women are going for from that of women in the states, much of the desired look here is taken from U.S. media ideals. Tallness, light skin, and straight hair all are in style, although it is not necessarily attainable for many Costa Rican women. Overall, the population here is fit, people are not necessarily thin. Voluptuousness is in style as opposed of the European aesthetic of ultra-thin women. This is shown in the media, as well as in people's personal opinions of beauty. The mannequins in stores have drastically different proportions to the one in the states, and are much more curvy. Exercise is popular in Costa Rica, although the amount of overweight people is surprisingly much higher than I expected it to be. Plastic surgery is also huge, not only for Tico's but also for medical tourists, who come here to have work done and get some beach time in at the same time. I have found it interesting how much U.S. beauty ideals have come to Costa Rica, not only in terms of Transnational companies and products, but also in terms of personal ideals. Who knew Victoria Secret body spray would be available at the corner store in Costa Rica, or that the hottest Quinceñera gift these days is a boob job? I certainly didn't before I arrived.
Anyways, there is some food-for-thought from my experience here so far. I have not been to the beach yet, or able to explore the natural beauty Costa Rica is known for, but as I have noted in this post, although the women here are definitely beautiful to start with, natural beauty is far from in style for Ticas in San José.
Happy Sunday everyone & Pura Vida!
Photos used in this blog are not mine. All were taken from Google Images.