Sometimes, I get a little costume-y when packing for a trip. It's a tendency I have in general, given my love for the visual arts. (When I was in third grade, our class had to dress up as and present what we wanted to be when we grew up - I was a fashion designer.) It's good to be aware of both function and form when you're packing for a trip. You want your clothes to be comfortable and weather-appropriate, but you probably want to look cute for photos as well. Cultural sensitivity is another thing to consider - on one hand, considering how closely you want to comply to local societal norms, and on the other, trying to avoid insulting anyone with cultural appropriation.
Costume-y? Me? Never.
When planning for Mexico, I was dreaming of a packing list with Aztec-inspired patterns, embroidered details, and color, color, color. To be fair, my wardrobe is on the colorful side already. I stopped by Target and Walmart for a few items to flesh out my vision.
At Target, I bought some tribal-print flats, a cute feather-detail necklace, a card of earrings with silver and turquoise details, a romper, a hat, a faux leather purse, and a jean jacket. Pretty sure this is the first jean jacket I've ever owned, amazingly enough. At Walmart, I got a tribal-print top, a black lace dress, and tribal-print scarf.
Then, as I read more about Mexico City, I started to get worried. One great piece of advice I read was to pack what you'd pack for New York City - you can wear what you like, but most people are going to be in jeans or dark pants, some form of the urban uniform. That definitely proved to be true.
Mexico City: denim, more denim, and plaid.
The notable exceptions seemed to be older people - more likely to wear slacks and a button-down or nice blouse - and church. The pictures directly above were taken on a Sunday. the one below was taken on Saturday, but I'm pretty sure these ladies were kitted out for a wedding, baptism, or other special service.
More notable exceptions (clockwise from upper left): performers, equinox celebrators, waitresses, and tourists.
I didn't get pictures of what I wore each day, but I stuck to my plan. Some of what I wore was great, some things I had to make a few adjustments to, some things I abandoned all together, and some things ended up being more useful than I'd imagined. While I thought the hat would fit in, I also felt kinda dumb in it. (I look good in wide-brimmed hats, but fedora-ish ones have never quite worked for me.) However, after getting sunburnt after a few hours outside the first afternoon I was there - Mexico City is pretty high up - I wore both sunblock and the hat daily.
My colorful jeans were fine, since I'd paired them with black or white tops, and the jean jacket helped tone things down as well. The black dress I'd brought was perfect with black tights - dressier than what most people were wearing on a Tuesday, but it blended in well enough. One thing I ended up not wearing was the romper. It was on the more out-there side of things for Mexico City and I was traveling down to Xochimilco that day - if I'd gone with a group, I would have felt fine wearing it, but as a girl on my own, I didn't want to attract extra attention. Plus, rompers are harder to deal with when traversing sketchy toilet situations. I ended up wearing jeans yet again, which were great.
And then there was Teotihuacan. I'd read it could get warm, since the site has little shade. However, I was going to be doing a sunrise hot air balloon ride as well, which required a jacket. Some people were wearing full-on winter gear when we arrived - puffy jackets, knit hats, and gloves. I was on the chillier side of comfortable, but layers ended up being perfect for this day.
It was also fun to see a bit more variety of dress. Still loads of jeans and plaid, but more lace, more colorful denim, more of what I'd imagined I'd see in Mexico in the first place. Plus, lots of white for the equinox, ranging from tracksuits to costumes for the holiday.