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Rainelda Mata-Kelly of Law Offices Rainelda Mata-Kelly – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Rainelda Mata-Kelly – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIf you are planning to conduct business in Panama or visit any public offices, it is very important that you wear at least business casual clothes.   Although most people equate Panama to beaches, rainforest and other sightseeing activities, the wardrobe of Panama City’s dwellers is mostly geared for business. People here take pride in their appearance.  Even construction workers will look clean and tidy when they leave their workplace, as they will always clean up and change clothes before they leave.   No need to bring your suit and tie, though, unless you are going to be attending some important meetings or events.
 
Public offices and the better restaurants will bar entry to anyone in shorts, beach sandals, tank tops, etc. 
 
If you see someone walking about in shorts during weekdays in the city, it is a sure bet he/she are tourists.  Of course if you are just planning to do all the fun things that Panama has to offer to tourists or are living at the beach, you can wear pretty informal outfits most of the time. 
 
By the way, ladies, always bring a light sweater or wrap, as air conditioning tends to be freezing in most places. 
 
(Pictured: Rainelda Mata-Kelly at work in her law office.)
Mirhanna Sandoya of Lucero Homes Golf & Country Club – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Fashion Week in Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn Panama we have a very American style way of dressing. If you are going to the movies or to the shopping mall, you can wear jeans and a sweater, and if you’re going to work, you can wear dressy pants, a dress, or a blouse. If you’re going to a big birthday party or a wedding, you may wear a more fancy dress, like cocktail dresses or night dresses. 
 
Most of the people that you see around in Panama are wearing jeans or Bermuda shorts. During the hot season- January, February, and March- people wear Bermuda shorts and polo shirts, or even shirts that have no sleeves, except if you’re going to some banks where some don’t allow sleeveless shirts or flip-flops. Everything else is permitted.
 
There really is nothing that you should not wear in Panama. People here in Panama are more open-minded than anywhere else in Latin America. When I studied in Taiwan, I had many friends from all over Latin America- Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and Paraguay, and their style of dressing was very conservative, like a routine of things that they have to wear, but Panamanians are very American-like. We wear anything- if you see it in the magazine, in the movies or in Hollywood, you can wear it. Anything is possible in Panama.
 
(Fashion Week in Panama, pictured.)
Elcira Maimone of Cubitá Group – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Elcira Maimonte in casual clothes, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWe wear summer clothes all the time in Panama! It’s sunny here all the time so people here prefer wearing light clothing.  The average temperature here every day is around 34 degrees Celsius (about 93 degrees Fahrenheit).
 
In comparison to the dress code in Italy, where I lived for a year, the dress code in Panama is very relaxed. People in Panama usually wear shorts, guayaberas (the traditional shirt for men), sandals, etc. everywhere they go. You would only see people dress up if they were working in the office or the bank. Then you would see men wearing suits and women wearing high heels.
 
 
(Elcira Maimone in casual clothes, Panama, pictured.)
Isha Edwards of Dekel Development / ANDROMEDA OCEAN ESTATES / BLUE PLAYA VENAO / BELLAMAR – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Bermuda shorts – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe dress code in Panama is very tropical and very casual. Most of the people here in Panama wear flip flops, spaghetti straps, t-shirts, jeans, shorts, Bermuda shorts, etc. The weather is hot and humid, so you do not want to have too many clothes on top of you.
 
At work, I wear sleeveless tops and long skirts, but they are made of light fabric. This is acceptable at my workplace, but there are other offices where they will ask you to dress up more. Our office environment is a bit more casual, so there is a certain freedom in clothing here. It depends on your job, of course.
 
If you are going out at night, the clothes you’ll wear will depend on where you are going. There are all kinds of clubs here that are really fancy where you will need to maybe wear heels and a nice cocktail dress. People here in Panama like to dress up to party, but it is not necessary. Nobody will stop you if you were wearing flip flops and short pants and you go clubbing. You can go as you wish.
 
If you are from another country and you are coming to Panama, I would recommend that you bring short pants and skirts, light fabric shirts, something nice that you can use for going out to nice restaurants, and some light fabric jackets. You will need jackets if you go inside restaurants where there is air-conditioning, so that you can have something to put on your shoulders to keep you from getting cold. You can also use a jacket if you are going to places like Cinta Costera for example. At night, you will get that cold breeze from the sea, so it is better to have a jacket. But mainly, during the day, you can wear very light clothes and flip flops or sneakers.
 
My 70 year old grandmother came to Panama recently. She wore short Bermudas and very light fabric linen shirts. She wore a hat because she is really white, so she wanted to be protected from the sun. She wore flip flops, but the kind that retirees wear. She also brought a light jacket. That was basically what she wore for the whole two weeks that she was here.
 
Men also wear linen shirts because they are casual enough, but still presentable. Bermudas are also popular for men here in Panama. Flip flops are also common in men, most especially the boy scout flip flops that you close using Velcro. 
 
(Time-tested classic Bermuda shorts that go to the top of the knee, pictured.)
Bill Hamilton of Bill Hamilton – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
dress code Panama jeans trousers shirt – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingMost of the men wear jeans and shirts in Panama. Women wear jeans and trousers, as well.  However, when the Panamanians go out to eat in the evening, men wear a shirt and a pair of trousers that make them look respectable and the women “dress up to the nines,” as we say in England. They dress up to go for a meal. Panamanians won’t make it obvious, but it is frowned upon to go to a restaurant wearing a pair of shorts. They expect people to have a certain amount of etiquette. 
 
I’ll give you an example. We had a guy and his son staying at our hotel. His son was in his 20s and he had a date with his girlfriend, a Colombian whom he recently met. He was going to a discotheque and was wearing a pair of shorts. My wife Mieke called him back, and said, “You won’t be let in. They won’t let you in the discotheque in shorts. Go and put a decent pair of trousers and a shirt on.” So he did and his father laughed and the young man said, “No offense, ma’am.”
 
If you go to the immigration office of any official office here wearing shorts and flip flops, they will not let you in. You have to wear a shirt, trousers and shoes. Women must wear proper skirts, proper shoes and a top with shoulders covered. Otherwise, they will throw you out. No T-shirts. 
 
If you are invited to a dinner, you wear trousers and a shirt. If you show up wearing shorts, the Panamanians probably won’t say anything, but they’re probably thinking, “Oh, uncivilized.”
Mack Jones – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
I moved to the beaches of Nueva Gorgana in 2010, from Washington State.  My wardrobe decreased overnight to ten pairs of white Sportif stretch shorts, ten white loose weave T shirts, ten pairs of white underwear, and three pairs of sandals.  Nothing requires ironing.  Today I routinely wear two of those items, and sometimes only one.  Of course, when I go out to dine, I use four of them.  When visiting government offices, I substitute a pair of long pants for the shorts.  What a change from Washington, and its four season stuffed closets.
Diana Chacon of SIUMA REALTY – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The dress code in Panama is a lot of bright colors. People here clothe in light materials. You can’t wear clothes that are too thick because it is really hot. I like the bright colors that people wear here in Panama City. You will see a lot of reds, blue, and yellows. Ladies wear high heels or sandals but the entire get up is nothing too formal.
 
In New York, I dress depending on the season. I wear black during winter and in summer, because it is so hot, I have to wear skirts. Here in Panama City, you  get used to wearing pants, rugged pants, light shirts and still look professional when you go to work. You don’t have to worry about wearing jackets or suits. I wear any colored pants during the week and I wear jeans or something casual during the weekends. I wear sandals, wedges, or high heels. I like a lot of white, blue, yellow, and pink shirts. I like all the bright colors as long as they don’t show a lot of cleavage or the skirt is too short.
 
There are dress codes at work. Even though you wouldn’t see them in the employee manual, you will know that you are not supposed to wear something unprofessional looking.
 
The companies here in Panama City use uniforms. They buy shirts for everyone with the logo of the company and they all wear the same shirt. They give you about 5 different shirts; one for every day of the week. It is really convenient because sometimes you can’t decide what to wear but that way, you won’t be bothered thinking what you would wear and running late because you have a uniform.
 
I see a lot of young women wearing dresses or skirts. It is common to see young girls wearing short shorts and I don’t know why their parents allow them to, but it is because of the weather, I guess. It is hot, so I think any kind of clothing that will make you feel comfortable under the heat is allowed.
Esteban Guerra of EPA Español en Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
dress code in Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingPeople in Panama commonly wear shorts or pants. Those who go to offices that have air-conditioning would wear jackets or coats, but most people are comfortable walking around in clothes made of cotton because of the warm weather.
 
The dress code here in Panama City is quite similar to the dress code in cities in other countries. People here like to dress elegantly and with clothes of high quality. It is very common to see men in Panama City wearing shoes, trousers, shirt, and a tie, while women wear dresses, pants and blouse, and they are more fashionable.
 
Tourists dress a bit differently because they are more active and the weather in Panama can be somewhat warmer for them.
Antonio Cheng – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
It can be really hot here in Panama, so a lot of people wear just shirts or guayaberas. People here do not wear long-sleeved shirts, and some people would just go in shorts all day. Many wear flip-flops instead of closed shoes.
 
Expats wear shorts all the time and Panamanians wear shorts only on weekends. Expats dress differently from Panamanians. Expats usually wear shorts, Hawaiian shirts and sneakers. You will see them and you will know that they are expats. Panamanians do not usually wear Hawaiian shirts. We use the guayaberas and jeans or khakis. Your dress code will also depend on what you do. A lot of bankers and lawyers dress in a coat and tie during the week.
 
If you want to dress up a little bit, you will not feel out of place, either. You can find a lot of people who dress up in the malls, and of course, it depends on where you are going. If you are going to an event or a date, you would of course dress up.
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Dress code in the Republic of Panamá
 
What a beautiful custom to be nicely dressed, groomed and be admired! Your clothes don't necessarily have to be expensive, or from a brand name; just charming and clean.
 
Of course, if you are at the beach, park or outdoor adventure, you wear your shorts, jeans, sneakers or boots, but always in good taste.  But don´t you feel good with yourself when going to dinner or any event, to look at the mirror and say:  "I look so good".  It´s just part of human nature.
 
Latin American people, in general, like to dress well, no matter the occasion, even to go in the metro.  Ladies with high heels, and men with tidy shoes.  We are, though, more flexible when we go to the country, but even there, we like to look our best.
 
Except for the mountains, the temperature in Panamá is very warm, which is why many visitors only wears Hawaiian shirts, hats and sandals, thinking that Panamá is only a beach or jungle area, not realizing that there is a separate social life everywhere they go.  Many visitors are surprisingly aware of the cosmopolitan city, even in places like Coronado, Pedasí, Chitré, David or Boquete, were a  dress code is always in effect.
Alexandre Moreno  of EPA Español en Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The dress code in Panama depends on where you're going.  If you will be outside it Is better to wear light clothes like shorts, shirts and t-shirts.
 
In Panama you can find a lot of options for where to buy your clothes.
 
In my case I prefer to wear what is comfortable for me and for sure what is appropriate for the occasion. I would say that if you are in an office you should wear long pants.  In general this is really casual and sporty. You should wear elegant clothes if you have an important event.
Nancy Parizeault of Coconut Lodge – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
What is the dress code in Panama?  I wish I knew the answer six years ago when I moved to Las Cumbres in Panama City, Panama from Canada.   Moving from minus 30 to plus 30 Celsius, the first thing I did when packing my clothes was get rid of all of my jeans.  "Why jeans when you can wear shorts or light clothes?" Was what I thought to myself.  
 
Unfortunately in 2008, when I moved, there was not so much information available on the do's and don'ts or the ins and outs of moving to Panama.   We definitely did not have the benefit of rich in information websites, such as "Best Places in the World to Retire." So for those still wondering what clothes do they wear in Panama. Guess what? Jeans it is.  Fortunately for me, I figured out where to get affordable and fashionable jeans for each day of the week.
 
That leads to the question as to what people wear on the weekends.  Generally, locals tend to dress up (dress pants and shirt for men, dresses for women).  However, some go basic chic with a nice pair of jeans and nice shirt or blouse, jewelry for women, and of course, high heels.
 
The one thing you do want to know though, is that as a man, if you are to enter a bank or government building, flip flops or cargo shorts are out.  You need closed shoes and long pants. How many times have we found ourselves desperately looking for a clothing store to buy a pair of jeans so my husband could enter a bank or government building?  So when you decide to take the step to move to the best place to retire in the world....well.....pack those jeans.  You won't regret it!
Shai Gold of International-Triage Medical Networks – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama is a tropical country where casual dress is the code.  At the same time, it is IMPORTANT to note that men are required to wear long pants when accessing government offices.  Jackets are not required and a white, long sleeve, guayaberra is considered "formalwear".  As for women, when accessing government offices, need a conservative blouse, or dress.  You will NOT be allowed entry if you do not abide by this dress code.  
Elio Orta of Antojo Inmobiliario – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
 
I think there is a dress code for people who Stylish man and woman walking in Panama City, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Livingare going to live in Panama City and who will look for a job here.  The men need to wear good clothes, dress shirts, pants, and closed shoes.  The women also need to dress right; no mini skirts or small shorts.
 
BUT, if you are here because you are looking for somewhere to retire, dress as you want.  It is really hot around here, and at the end, you are retired!  Enjoy your retirement by dressing light, with shorts, "Guayaberas" shirts (Tommy Bahama's Style), and simply you will get along day by day. 
GISELLE SOCARRAZ of Real Estate Chiriqui – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Dress code? Well, there are some rules that the Panamanians go by:
 
1. Shorts are for beaches, not legal hearings or churches.
 
2. Sandals are appropriate everywhere, except government buildings (probably more for the footwear's sake than anything else. =)
 
3. Socks riding higher up than your calf are considered to be a fashion faux pas. Yes, even under the cover of pant legs.

3.1 ....and NO SOCKS WHILST WEARING SANDALS (unless of course you want to be the butt of every joke whenever you step into the local Super Baru)
 
4.  Jackets. Unless you are in Boquete or are attending a major function, wedding, or funeral,  do not wear them, you will only end up overheating (and mildly frightening your neighbors).
 
My best advice?: Learn from the natives. The guayabera shirts are great for men and are welcome ANYWHERE from Presidential Inaugurations to nightclubs.  There are even sleeveless variants for women (to show off our mighty biceps of course).
 
So just learn from your neighbors and be practical (you are in the tropics after all) and you'll be just Pana-Fabulous!
Lissy Lezcano  of Lissy Lezcano Attorney & Mediator – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
The dress code in Panama depends.  For example if you are going to a governmental institution you must follow the rules:
  • For men, wear long pants.
  • For ladies NO shorts.
Basically the rules are for work and depending if you are doing errands around public institutions.
 
For outdoor activities, wear tropical clothes, as our country is very hot.  Wear sun block and walking shoes.
 
Thanks 
Albert Obbens – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Every time I come back from Holland to Panama, It strikes me to see how elegant Panamanian women are. They love fashion, accessories and high heals. Moreover, they can walk! When I compare that with (in general) women in Europe, with their 3/4 trousers, rough three layers of vests etc., I always have the feeling they don't care because they are married anyway...
 
As a foreigner it is best to mix in with the same, as people do look at you. Of course, apart from official offices, you can wear what you want and outside the city, nobody cares. In Boquete the temperature is often a lot lower than people think. In January you will see people where warm coats, hats and gloves!
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account

Panamá Hats... A History

 
One of the first things that a tourist Sombrero Pintado – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Livingwants to buy when he or she visits a Latin American country, the Caribbean, Hawaii or any island, is a hat, maybe as sun protection.
 
Panamá is famous for the variety of hats it produces.  But there is a misconception that the commonly named "Panamá hats" are indeed  from Panamá.  But if these hats are not from Panama, why are they called Panama hats?  It goes back to the 19th century, when first of these types of hats came out in Ecuador.  Their original name for the hat was: jipijapa, from the city where the factory was, but people in general couldn't pronounce the name.  Immediately after, over 5,000 of these hats were imported for use by the Panamá Canal construction workers, and president Franklin Delano Roosevelt wore one when he visited the construction in 1930 and was photographed with one, making it very popular.  From there on, it was called: Panamá hat.
 
Panamá hats are very unique as they are hand painted, and prices go from $4 to $500.  The main region for the famous "sombreros pintaos" are Los Santos, in the Azuero region, in central Panamá. (The correct term for the hat in Spanish is "pintado", but locals call them "pintaos").
 
Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe hat is a daily attire for men and women, especially in the region of Veraguas, Coclé and Herrera.  It is very disrespectful to a man in this region to take away, or even touch  a hat when he is wearing it.  For them, wearing the hat it´s something very serious, almost sacred.
 
Penonomé and Los Santos are the most common places where these hats are worn on a daily basis.  Normally junk (junco) fibers are used to make these hats, consisting of tropical plants in the American continent, and "chisná" plants leaves.  These are boiled along with the fiber of the hat to give the color, and paint them.  Absolutely no technology is used; everything is handmade and techniques are passed on from generation to generation.
 
There are hundreds of varieties, all of them equally beautiful but just in black and white.  Some are hard, others very soft.  Their quality, type and quantity of returns depends on the ability of the hat maker, and the time that he has to finish it.  The price varies in the returns (thread count).   A hat that has 25 returns is the finest, and it costs $500.
 
The Art & Craft annual fair is a very good place to get these hats, and they are also available at most of the souvenir shops, especially in Chitré, where you can get the greatest variety of the art and crafts in Panamá. There are also available at some hotels, especially if they have shops, or malls.
 
 
Nanette Witmer – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
There is definitely a dress code in Panama. As a woman you can't enter any government office wearing shorts. If you are doing anything from reregistering your car to going into the driver's license office, a woman will be turned away if she is wearing shorts. Men also should wear at least shorts below the knee.
 
I live in David. Here it is probably a bit more reserved than Panama City. During the day you will not see women even at the grocery store wearing shorts. In those instances, women wear capris below the knee, never shorts. You can always tell who is a tourist when you do see someone wearing shorts in public.
 
In general, going anywhere during the day to grocery stores, banks, paying your water bill or cable bill, you will be treated with much more respect if you follow the dress code that the local people use.
 
 
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account

Panamanian Women

Latin American ladies, in general, have the tendency to have excellent taste in fashion.  As Panamá has social clubs, restaurants and  lots of social life on a daily basis, that gives them the opportunity to wear special occasion clothes, or simply, do their own  daily fashion show, for their own satisfaction, as well as to maintain regular visits to the beauty parlor, spas and any other place that offers them comfort and well-being, including the mud bath at El Valle de Antón.
 
Generally, even the less privileged women in Panamá are very much aware of their attire.  For example, a maid will come well-dressed, and then change her clothes upon arrival.  Another example is the general use of brand name sneakers, or Tommy Hilfinger clothes,  which is very popular in Panamá.
 
At the malls, you can find an infinite amount of prime brands from all over the world; and if you go to the less expensive malls or shopping centers, casual clothing for all tastes are available at ridiculously low prices, making the dress code more accessible to everyone.
 
Ladies commonly wear high-heeled shoes, as Typical traditional dress of Panamanian Indian woman – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Livingwell as a variety of sandals for daily use.  Sneakers are worn only to sporting events, or trips to the country or beach.  Now, you can see more and more ladies in shorts  at the malls, especially foreigners.  Men are more likely to wear sneakers at certain places, but usually the men in Panamá wear good dress shoes as well.
 
Long gowns are very popular, and are regular attire  for weddings or other special occasions.   Wedding dresses are carefully picked out and compete in quality to the same level as the bridal court girls.
 
Every year, Panamá hosts the "Panamá Week Fashion", in which several international ladies tailors are invited. This is a big event, covered by the international press.  There is also another yearly popular event that is called "Tarde de Sombreros" (Hats' Afternoon), and is designed  as a charity event.
 
Native ladies still wear their traditional customary regional dresses, even if they live in the city.  (See the picture above and to the right.)
 
Sweaters or blouses with "mola" applications are also very popular attire for local women, and now, for tourists as well.
Lourdes Townshend of Multimodal  & Logistic Transports Magazine – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
 

The Pollera

"Pollera” is the name commonly used to describe a variety of traditional Panamanian skirts and dresses characterized by their elaborate decorations, usually made from cotton embroidery and lace materials.  At the beginning in the 16th century, the pollera was the daily dress of European ladies.  It was brought to the American continent along with the process of colonization.  In subsequent years, the pollera became the daily dress or the dress of local celebrations.

The people in countries in Latin America other than Panama also use the word “pollera” to describe regular skirts, especially in certain regions.

There are different kinds of polleras:
  • “de gala” (the fine one)
  • “Montuna” (rustic)
  • “Congo” (which is the one used in Portobello by the African-Panamanian community)
There are also many different regional dresses, according to different places in the country.

The “Pollera de gala” is performed in almost tembleques head dress for pollera, traditional Panamanian headdress – Best Places In The World To Retire – International Livingevery public event, tourist  show or parade.  Its main decorations are the “tembleques”, which are worn on the head and made from painted fish scales.  There are also tembleques made out of other materials, and the most elegant are made out of gold.

Some polleras take at least one year to finish, and all of them are originals and hand made. The good ones are handed down by grandmothers from generation to generation, and proudly exhibited in festivals.   The only materials that can be used to make the pollera are gold, pearls, lace and crochet yarn (for the little pompoms in the blouse and skirt).  A good pollera could cost around $10,000.    The jewelry worn is very expensive, with only 100% gold accepted.  A complete set could be valued at over $20,000.   The pompoms should match the color of the shoes, which are also of special designs.  The pollera montuna has different colors of blouse and skirt, and uses a hat, with same shoes and less expensive jewelry.  Some regions uses colorful tembleques, or flowers as well.
 
The pollera has been classified as one of the most beautiful and colorful national dresses in the world; and has won first prize many times at Miss Universe contest.
Renate Jope of Panama Premium Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Dress code in Panama is really very tropical, due to its hot climate. You can wear the same clothes pretty much all year round.  
 
Panamanians dress very smart and fashionable, even when out on the streets. Rarely do you see people wear shorts in the cities.
 
Due to the warm climate the dress code is basic, in the sense that you don't need much. 
 
Public offices, like ministries and other official buildings, need women to wear closed, long sleeve blouses, no sexy clothes, no mini skirts and flip flops.   Men also need to wear long pants, shirts and closed shoes. 
 
The local population also dresses very smartly, especially for fiestas, clean and polished. 
 
In comparison to the US, Panamanians dress standard is much higher than what we are used to. 

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