While the weather in Sao Paulo has cooled down for the time being, I promised to investigate a fashion issue that is rather perplexing. Shorts.

Why don’t Brazilian women wear shorts? Or perhaps it is just the women of Sao Paulo? I know these garments are sold in the city because I have made the purchases. But you are more likely to find a women in a pair of jeans on a sweltering day than a pair of shorts. Ok, I get it. A cute skirt is just… well, cuter. And some can pull off a pair of crop pants. But sometimes shorts can be cute – and more practical when you are managing a walk with a small child and a puppy in tow.

What do the women of SP have against shorts? Fashion snobbery, culture or are we just walking the wrong neighborhoods? Is there a shorts ban in other cities?


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33 Responses to Shorts

  1. Erin Halm says:

    Eduardo told me from day one that it´s rare to see people wear shorts here. In Rio because of the beach, it´s more common, but for whatever reason, no shorts here.

  2. I don’t like shorts either and haven’t owned a pair in years. Maybe its something about how the bunda looks in shorts vs skirt jeans. My bunda looks awful in them 🙂

  3. Rachel says:

    I do see shorts here quite often, though there are more skirts/dresses.

  4. Sarah says:

    Yep, total no-no in São Paulo, for all social classes and pretty much everywhere in the city. Same as the chinelo thing. I do it anyway, but always get strange looks when I do! Maybe you could get away with long, dressy shorts…try it and post for us! (Or a paulistano could weigh in on the topic here and save you the work.) 😉

  5. Leticia says:

    In Minas shorts are everywhere. I wish they weren’t though. These are not the American shorts that I’m used to. Short, tight, stretchy “jean” fabric. They are more like hot pants paired with a skimpy top. But hey in Minas it’s like sitting on the sun and we have no cool breeze from the ocean. I live in the country so dresses are not very functional for everyday. I think this is why the women around go a little crazy with their church garb:)

  6. Danielle says:

    Have you not seen the shorts with the pockets hanging out of the bottom?!?!?! They have been all the rage everywhere I’ve lived. But I agree that higher social class women are kind of anti-shorts, especially any style that we Americans would be used to.

    Here are the trashy pocket shorts:

  7. Julia says:

    Maybe paulistanas don’t wear shorts because it is not so elegant. Or because of the street harassment.

  8. Kristin says:

    I appreciate your market research, Megan, but where is the answer?? I still don’t get it. I don’t think that classy shorts are less elegant than say the stretchy, belly-overhang shorts and pants I see some of the ladies get around in here. The women here have a love of tight jeans. Period. And they really don’t appear to sweat. one of the great mysteries of life…

  9. anna says:

    I think shorts only look nice if the girl has fabulous legs…..
    I don’t like my legs ( its more like I totally hate them!! ) so I don’t wear shorts outside.

    Brazilian women wear clothes too tight!! if you are very fit it looks good. If are not in great shape its a disaster I think. Brazilian men in general dress okay. Not too loose like americans not too tight like italians.

    • Hmmm. Anna – do you think shorts are simply socially unacceptable because it is not as an attractive option as other garments?

      • anna says:

        its not attractive when I wear it for sure !! And I do think most people also don’t look their best in shorts too but thats just my opinion – very few girls look elegant in shorts. for guys its a lot easier to look nice wearing shorts.
        I don’t know if thats the reason they won’t wear it.

  10. Ray says:

    Dear B.A.B,

    Very interesting and accurate observation on your part, don’t ask me why, but you are right, we, Paulistanos DO NOT wear shorts in the city, ever. I never did.
    I remember talking to Gil about this a couple years ago, and realized we actually don’t wear shorts in the city of Sao Paulo, maybe it’s cultural, who knows, because we do wear it here all the time.
    But I can tell you one thing, not just women, men will not wear shorts in the city either, however we will put shorts on when heading out of the city, either to the mountains or to the Ocean, but not in the city, it’s probably a big city thing.
    The exception will be park Ibirapuera.or if you are heading to your Sports Club.



  11. Perhaps Paulistanos don’t wear shorts because it is too closely associated with their cold war enemies – the Cariocas. Asking my Carioca husband, he says shorts are everywhere in Rio. Thoughts?

    • anna says:

      paulistas are more self-conscious about their image than cariocas.

      I like to wear havaianas and my family doesn’t like when I wear it!!! I have to fight for my rights !! 🙂

    • Andre says:

      lol, it makes sense. cariocas usa havaianas and shorts everywhere, even fancy restaurants (during lunch mostly but still) but in sp no one does it, even in casual situations. and yeah, shorts are really common in here (rio).

      then again, on the weekdays, i can imagine it’s not very acceptable to wear shorts on work environments and most places are heavily air conditioned so.

  12. Rosa says:

    Hi, I’m new here but I had to comment on this! As a brazilian I’ll tell you that shorts are not much used around here on workdays, because it’s not acceptable to wear shorts to work – at least not thight shorts, BUT I live in the North West and we have all this Sun and the beaches so if you go out with friends, or to the supermarket, even to malls it’s okay to wear shorts (even the really short ones). Though I see most people avoiding are shorts that are too small or too tight, personally I keep suffering in jeans and sometimes try a skirt that’s no too short. Probably in SP people think that shorts are too frumpy? Maybe with this new trend at SP Fashion Week that will change, hope it inspires you :
    If even after this people throw funny looks at you, just assume they’re jealous of your amazing sense of style!

  13. Marina says:

    Think SP vs Rio like NYC vs LA – Paulistas are much more vain and class conscious, simple as that. While I grew up with my faxineira wearing shorts and chinelos, my mother or grandmother would take off my chinelo and spank me with them if I thought to leave the house, even (or especially, since it could be a social event!) to go to the mall. One time my older sister accidentally wore her chinelo in elementary school to class, outside of dress code, and her teacher threw them out the window and made the whole class come with her to go get them while my sister stayed inside and waited as punishment. Btw, this was in the mid 90s at the latest. In American terms it just wasn’t “appropriate” for a girl of certain means to dress this way, and it’s pervaded the culture without anyone even being blatant about it outside their family. I thought it was so funny when I came to boarding school in the US, and even in preppy New England (in a Boston suburb) I saw Greenwich kids wearing these pink atrocities to class. They may have been made from quality cotton, but even those would be no-nos in Brazil. The only influx of shorts you see now are teenagers who attend American and British schools in large cities and have caught on to the trend of high-waisted torn shorts much in the vein of Southern California fashion (where I now go to school.)

    • OMG – that explains a lot! I would never think to wear something as an adult that I was beaten with as a child. Very interesting. I wore a uniform to school in grade school, so I was very excited to basically wear anything I wanted when I got to go to a public high school! So interesting… thank you!

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