The Yucatan Yenta
These are observations. Of course, there are many exceptions. And some of them might be out and out wrong.
Meridianos, male or female, seldom wear shorts. Europeans and Americans wear them all the time. In fact, local women seldom wear even Capri-length pants. Men never wear shorts except at the beach.
Foreigners figure they’re going somewhere very hot, so they will wear as little as possible. Many of them go shopping before leaving home to buy what they think of as tropical gear. This means that everything is khaki. there are a lot of tourists wearing breathable, cotton khaki with lots of pockets. No local person would be caught dead wearing these clothes.
Next is athletic shoes. The local men wear them sometimes, but the women never wear them unless they are going to the gym and the rest of their outfit reflects that. They would consider birkenstocks as something from Mars.
Foreigners wear comfortable sneakers everywhere. And birkies.
Mexican women often wear high heels, even when they are doing a lot of walking. You will rarely see a gringa in high heels.
Jeans. Merida men wear them and so do younger women (often with high heels). All gringos seem to own and wear jeans.
Women in Merida wear more form-fitting, sexy clothes than gringas. Their shirts are tight and low. This applies to women of all ages, although it is more unusual for older women. Gringo women wear t-shirts or loose-fitting cotton shirts.
Foreign men, along with their shorts, wear socks and shoes – sometimes casual leather shoes and often sneakers. Sometimes, to my delight, they wear bermuda shorts, dress shoes and black socks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Mexican man wearing shorts and socks. It isn’t a good look. Foreign men, especially the younger ones, tend to wear huge, often very old-looking t-shirts with their long shorts and comfy socks.
Mexican women generally take more time to make themselves presentable before they leave home. This often includes heavy make-up. Their nails and fingernails are manicured and painted. None of this is true of foreign visitors, who are probably more comfortable, but sloppy by comparison.
Only foreign men, especially younger ones, have too-long, untended, dirty hair. Most of these guys stay in hostels and are painfully thin. If a local man is touseled, he is probably drunk. Otherwise, unless he is a worker going home after a hard day of labor, local men are neat and combed.
Local men carry inexpensive nylon backpacks sometimes for changes of clothes or to carry tools. Local women may carry them, but it is unusual. Foreign tourists, young and old, wear packs of all kinds – big packs, daypacks, fanny packs, and the kind you wear over your…well, you know. (I have a special name for those bizarre items.)
A great proportion of Mexican women wear dresses and skirts, while foreign visitors seldom do.
Ah, last but not least – the hats. All the guidebooks say that when visiting the tropics it’s good to use skin block at the 400 level. They also suggest hats. Consequently, our visitors are easily distinguished by their jaunty headgear, usually straw hats with colorful bands. Some people wear visor hats. Charming.
I should also mention here that there are huge differences among the local dress, depending on what part of town someone lives in, or whether he/she is Maya or white. The wealthier (and whiter) people from the northern more expensive neighborhoods, wear much better clothes because they shop in the US and read Vogue. Adult women are usually in dresses and younger people in jeans, snow-white sneakers, and cute shirts.
But if you go downtown, the clothing gets much tighter, the colors louder, and many people are wearing shower shoes. You will also see older women wearing huipiles at the market or on the streets. When you see an older woman in a huipile in the north, she is almost always a domestic and has been asked to dress that way. Some of the young women wear dresses and skirts, especially those who work in offices.
Women’s bathing suits. Many local women are so modest, that when they go to the beach, they go in the water fully clothed. The younger people wear all kinds of beachwear, often skimpy, as do the tourists. But the tourists avoid exposing themselves to the sun, so don’t stay out long.
Last year I was at a party, sitting next to an obnoxious Mexican woman who looked at me and my friend and said, “I really envy you American girls. You can go out wearing just anything, and you don’t have to put on any make-up at all. Mexican women take a lot of time to select their clothes and make their faces more beautiful.” When she got up to leave, my friend said, “I think we’ve just been dissed.”
It’s also true that after a short while, people who have moved here from the north change their way of dressing. Not much khaki, no straw hats, and in general blend in somewhat with the local population.
Okay, what did I miss?