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Chuck Bolotin of Best Mexico Movers – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Expats in Ajijic restaurantWhen one speaks of the dress code in the Lake Chapala / Ajijic area, one has to make several distinctions:
 
Mexican vs. expat.  The local Mexicans take great pride in their appearance and their clothing, a trait which extends to maids and gardeners.  They almost always have very clean, well ironed clothes in very good condition, usually significantly superior to the typical expat man’s clothing (more on that below).  Mexicans from Guadalajara who are visiting are even better dressed, with women many times wearing flashy, somewhat seductive clothing, usually with high heels.  (And this is just normal, walking around.)
 
Expat women.  Expat women (especially those from the US or Europe) are generally tastefully and very well dressed, with clothing usually purchased during trips "back home."  They wear nice and not overdone jewelry and their hair and nails are generally impeccable.  With the low beauty parlor and nail salon prices here, why not?
 
Expat men.  Expat men can sort of be slobs (like I have been accused of being, and not without justification), wearing shorts, tee-shirts, sandals, etc. Other expat men can be better dressed, but are usually significantly outshined by their wives.
 
The weather here in the Lake Chapala / Ajijic area is usually so very nice that you can wear almost whatever you want without looking too out of place; even a jacket or sweater, almost any time of year.
 
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Andre Bellon of Bellon Insurance Agents – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Adelita Bar and Grill, Lake Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe dress code in Chapala and Ajijic is informal. The customers that come to my office come in shorts, jeans, and most of them wear tennis shoes or sandals
 
I used to have a partner who’s not working with me anymore, and he would say, “Let’s go to the office in shorts.” And I said, “No, we are providers. Our clients are retired. They are on full vacation, but we are not. We’re here to give them service, so we have to have a better look.” It’s informal because of the weather, because I would look strange if I would use a tie and a coat.
 
In Guadalajara (the closest big city to Ajijic, about an hour away by car), most people use a tie and a coat, but not everyone. Most of us in the insurance agents’ community wear a sports shirt, buttoned down, long sleeves. The shoes we wear are formal and not just sandals, or tennis shoes. 
 
Here in Ajijic, the Mexicans, even the ones who are not service providers, who are maybe middle or lower class socio-economically, unless they’re in the middle of working a construction job, many times they’re still dressed extremely nicely. They’ll have pressed pants, and maybe they’ll wear a cowboy hat and long sleeved shirts. During the day, they wear work clothing. Most people use jeans, but after work, they do change to something like Dockers. Not that label because it’s expensive, but that’s the way they dress. They change to be nicer. 
 
What’s interesting when you think about it, is you wind up having the local Mexicans who may not have 1/10th the money of an expat, dressing nicer than the expats. The expats are here to relax, and if they are comfortable in shorts, in a t-shirt, or in sandals, they’ll spend the entire day looking like that.
 
Most Mexicans, if they can afford it, it’s more important for them to look nice. They will not pay much, but they will manage to look better. That’s for sure. Their appearance is very important to them, and that’s their culture. In all of Mexico, people like to look good, and if someone looks like a laborer, it does not reflect well on them. Mexicans would say, “You look terrible. You look like a construction worker.” That’s an insult, unfortunately, because that discriminates. It’s not a terrible job to do, or something to be ashamed of, but people do discriminate based on that, more so here than in the United States. 
 
In the United States, you can go into a bank in shorts, sandals, and t-shirt, and they’ll give you service. Here, you go to a bank like that, and they are going to think that you’re going to rob them.
 
(Adelita Bar and Grill, Lake Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)
Joan Silver – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Business owner Barbara Golden at her real estate office, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWhen we go out to dinner with friends in Chapala and Ajijic, we enjoy getting dressed up. During the day, the dress code is a little bit more casual. It’s important to wear walking shoes because of the cobblestone streets. If we go out to dinner in Chapala and Ajijic or Guadalajara, men and women like to get dressed up. If you see a gentleman sitting at a table nearby wearing shorts and a baseball cap, he's definitely not Mexican. The dress code for men in Chapala and Ajijic is slacks and shirt. The men don’t wear t-shirts or muscle shirts and shorts like most expats. The women are often in dresses, sometimes in slacks as well, but nicely dressed. Even the poor people and the workers in Chapala and Ajijic are dressed properly. 
 
Although some expats do not follow the dress code in Chapala and Ajijic, they're always accepted. They're not turned away at the door if they don’t have a jacket and tie. We don't have restaurants in Chapala and Ajijic where people wear a certain dress code to be respected.
 
(Business owner Barbara Golden at her real estate office, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Gabriel Varela, MD of Gabriel Varela - Neurosurgeon – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Players and audience at Lakeside Little Theater, Ajijijc, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe dress code in Chapala and Ajijic is very informal. People are very informal with board shorts and shirts. You don’t have to be very elegant to live here. I wear a tie and I am generally dressed a bit nicer out of respect for my patients. I know that patients like to see that their doctor is dressed professionally.  As a result, I dress more formally in one part of the day and less formally in another part.
 
Sometimes, when women go to a party or they have a meeting in restaurants or in the nightclubs, they will dress more nicely, but I have never seen very, very formal dress.  
 
(Players and audience at Lakeside Little Theater, Ajijijc, Mexico, pictured.)
Amaranta Santos of Eager & Asociados – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Chic women at Nuova Posada, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere is no such thing as a dress code in Chapala and Ajijic. As long as you cover the most important parts of your body, you can walk around wearing shorts 90% of the year. I don’t recommend flip flops because you might have a bad fall because of the cobblestones but otherwise, flip flops are accepted here. The only thing that is not accepted anywhere is going out wearing no shirt at all. If you don’t a shirt, you don’t get service. Other than that, you can dress as comfortably as you feel.
 
Most of the Mexicans here in Chapala and Ajijic have to work and because of that we have to follow the dress code set by the companies we work for. That’s why you see Mexican people wearing polo shirts or regular white shirts. You hardly ever see a tie or a suit because these clothes are not convenient weather-wise. Wearing a regular shirt without a tie is the more common dress code that you would find here. It is not that Mexicans are dandier. It’s just that we have to work and we have to follow the dress code of the companies where we work.
 
There are a lot of fashion-oriented people in town who even hold fashion shows in the area for the Lake Chapala Society. The whole town of Ajijic from the carretera (main road) to Lake Chapala is about 6 blocks. There are some nice boutiques on the main street Colon and Morelos, which is the street that leads to the plaza or the central town square. It leads from the carretera, and all the way to Lake Chapala. If you walk down that street, you will find a lot of boutiques with very nice pieces of jewelry and clothing. They are not the kind that you would wear at night in New York but something nice to wear in this kind of town and in this kind of weather. 
 
We are one hour away from Guadalajara where you could find malls that sell Tiffany, Burberry, Coach, etc. So if you feel like you want to dress like a fashionista, you could go to those stores in Guadalajara. There are restaurants in Guadalajara where you can go to wear your beautiful jewelry and be in the right place.
 
(Chic women at Nueva Posada, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Anne Dyer of Casita Montana – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Jet Metier of Best Places in her Ajijic, Mexico home – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingChapala and Ajijic is noted to have the second best climate in the world. Everybody here dresses up very casually. Towards the end of May, we get the hottest of the season where the temperature is in the high 80s. But in about three weeks from that, the rains will start and everything will cool down and it will become fantastic again.
 
The average temperature is 70 to 80 during the day and at night, it cools down to maybe 60 and you could sleep well. Up until just a few years ago, people didn’t have air conditioning but now a lot of people have air conditioning. Years ago, there’s no such thing as air conditioning; just a lot of fans.
 
For people who are planning to move to Chapala and Ajijic, I suggest that they just bring casual clothing like jeans, t-shirts, etc. When you go to the concert or the little theater, you might want to have one or two dressy items but in general, it’s very casual. 29 years ago, when I first came here, I brought a fur coat down. Believe it or not, it’s still in my closet! You don’t need a coat here. A jacket or a sweater is just fine.  
 
(Jet Metier of Best Places in the World to Retire, in her Ajijic, Mexico home, pictured.)
Luzma Grande of Ajijic Concierge Services – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Well dressed members of the Lake Chapala Society, Lake Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn Chapala and Ajijic, you would find that locals dress one way and expats dress another way. Mexicans use more formal clothing when going out. It is very rare for you to see a Mexican guy wearing shorts outside. Mexican people in Ajijic dress in a very Mexican way and you would notice that but it’s very rare that you see a Mexican woman wearing a long skirt and a manta, which is rustic cotton clothing for women here in Mexico.
 
The American expats who live here dress a different way, too. They wear clothes that are made for gringos who live in Mexico. It is like the kind of clothes that you will find in a resort, which is more bohemian style, so they wear a lot of white or they wear lots of brilliantly-colored clothes with big accessories, which I don’t think you would normally see American women wear in the States or in Canada. 
 
With regard to opportunities to dress up and go to events, someone told me that there are two types of people who retire in Ajijic. One type are the people who spend money in charities and events and they are ready to buy a smoking jacket just for an event. They are okay with spending 1,500 pesos (US $80) for two tickets for a charity event. But there are also people who will never go to those events.
 
I have been to some of those events like the Black and White Ball because I have been invited. It was incredible. Everybody was elegant and wearing black and white. Women wore very nice gowns and were well-made up. I have met these people and made acquaintances with them but I don’t belong to that group because they spend money in those kind of charities once every two weeks during the winter. It is a lot of money. There are people who can afford to dress formally in some occasions and that is why they have the clothes for that. There are also people who never do that at all. 
 
There are also people who go to happy hours and usually go two for one in a restaurant where there is cheap and good food. I have friends in all these categories of people. In general, there are people here in Ajijic who are willing to pay for good quality clothes and there are people who are very careful at spending on clothing.
 
(Well dressed members of the Lake Chapala Society, Lake Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)
 
Thomas Hellyer of Lake Chapala Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Tequila sampling outing, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn my opinion, thankfully, the dress code in Chapala and Ajijic is very casual. There is not really any dress code of note here. You will see people in khakis and cotton shirts, shorts and t-shirts, sandals. December is a bit cooler so you might have to dig a jacket out. But in general, the dress code in Chapala and Ajijic is pretty casual. 
 
You will not see many coats and ties. Very occasionally, perhaps when you are going to a charity function or to a Mexican wedding, you might have to look for your fancier clothes. Other than that, you don’t need a very big closet here because of the weather and partly because the dress code is pretty casual.
 
We have seasons here but they are not as extreme or notable as the seasons in North America so we don’t need to have huge and heavy coats, hats, scarves, or gloves. When you get acclimated here, you get wimpier over time and you would feel a little colder than you would have back home with the temperatures that we have here in Mexico.
 
If there are events or during Christmas-time, perhaps people would wear fancier clothes here but in general, the same clothes that you wear around during the day is what you will wear to dinner. 
 
There are also some opportunities to dress up nicely. There are some groups that purposely dress up and go up into town. There is nothing out of place that way. It’s just that you don’t have to. If women want to wear high heels, there are opportunities to do that. However, the cobblestones make wearing high heels a bit interesting. Some of the Mexican ladies are quite adept at it but every now and then, you will see someone go down!  
 
(Tequila sampling outing, Mexico, pictured.)

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