Style

THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA

Some of the most beautiful women in the world are from Brazil – but it’s not only their looks that distinguish them.

How can you attain the vivacious energy and dynamic attitude of a Brazilian girl?

1. Forget about dressing up.

If you’re not attending a wedding, or a truly fancy event, don’t bother too much with your hair and make-up. The going-out-to-a-restaurant uniform in Brazil, if the place is really worth the effort, is a nice pair of jeans, a dressy blouse and a pair of heels.

If the evening plans include a night club or a party, the outfit is basically the same with the addition of some party jewellery and a little more make-up. You could also use a shoulder bag instead of a tote. Clutches are reserved for the formal events only. If you’re slightly older (which in Rio means around fifty), you can trade the jeans for pants.

2.  Don’t be overly serious

Sober colours are not a favourite among Brazilians – all black is only seen at funerals.  One should always add a dash of colour to an ensemble. For example, if wearing black, navy, grey or brown pants, the blouse or shirt can be red, yellow, green, blue, or white. 

Cariocas love prints – and not those delicate little countryside flowers – I mean big, bold, colourful prints. You can even add a chunky necklace or big earrings in clashing colours. It’s about being fun and relaxed.


3.  Shapes

When I’m abroad I can easily tell in a line-up of girls which one is from Rio: the one with the tightest jeans.

Wide leg pants are a no-no, and comfortable jeans are for working in the garden or cleaning the house only. In contrast, the blouses tend to be looser and in light fabrics. Fuller shorts and skirts are often paired with tanks and layering is a must since nobody owns real winter wardrobes. A cardigan over a summer outfit works just fine. If you happen to be there when the temperature drops below 15 C degrees, you’ll get the chance to wear boots and a wool coat.

There is no such thing as trenches, wool coats, or gloves. Even if the rain is flooding the city, walking around in a raincoat will attract some weird attention.

4. Dresses

The summer dress is a year-round staple, mostly in wide prints, in all lengths from ultra mini to floor length. Dresses are worn with high heeled sandals, ballet flats, flip flops or converses. The dress can go from over the bikini after the beach to drinks, to a movie and then to a party and will always look right. Layer it with tanks or tee shirts or wear it over leggings –  anything goes. Formal dresses, though, are left for the same occasions as the clutches. Bright and sequinned dresses should never see the light of day, only the lights of a night club.


5. Skin

I suspect cariocas don’t bother wearing too much make-up because they are always tanned. Even if the whole world is now going for spray tans, going to the beach is still the main way to get a nice colour in Brazil. Twenty years ago, girls would bathe in dark tanning oils and even Coca Cola to enhance their colour. Now,with the skin cancer concerns and scientific proof that the sun will make you look like a raisin in your forties, sunscreen is a must.

Still, if someone tells you "Oh, you look so pale," it’s definitely not a compliment.

6. Hair and general grooming

People always want what they can’t have. In Rio, where the majority of the population has curly hair, the straightening iron is a superstar. Everybody dreams about straight hair. The girls make all the sacrifices necessary to achieve it. If you have the guts to embrace your beautiful natural curls, you’re not Brazilian. Another grooming must is nail polish. Everywhere in the city you can see beauty parlours with lots of manicurists ready to do your hands. Rich or poor, old or young, the nails are always flawless.

7. Flip flops

Of all the steps above, this last one may be the most important. Rubbery, colourful flip flops like Havaianas and Ipanema Shoes are the only acceptables.

Forget about the Birkenstocks and toss your leather sandals. If you want to look like a real carioca, you must walk in her shoes.

Photos courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.