How To Dress for South Africa

How To Dress for South Africa

South Africa is a cosmopolitan area complete with their own sense of high fashion, particularly in the trendy areas. Cape Town and surrounds are the perfect setting for model-perfect sunsets, and amazing photo opportunities. Cape Tours can bring you to all of the best and most happening spots in all of South Africa, but what to wear? If you want to not stand out as the tourist, and you don’t want to get caught out having packed the wrong clothing for your trip – look no further. We’ll tell you how to dress like the locals.

Things to Bring Year Round

Sunglasses – these will be an essential thing to have on you at all times, since the sun here is brutal and unaffected by the seasons. It will always be bright, even on an overcast day so bring those sunglasses with you everywhere.

Ladies – bring that pair of black jeans. Men – bring your favourite blue jeans. These are easily your most stylish articles of clothing, and versatile enough to go anywhere you can think of while visiting.

A crossbody bag for women, or a crossbody satchel for men – you want to make sure your belongings stay safe and on you at all times, it’s smart to get one that goes across your body to prevent it being stolen from you easily. A bag hanging loosely from the shoulder is always easier to steal than one which is wrapped around you.

Walking shoes – you’re going to need these the whole trip. Save those fancy high heels or shined up loafers for your one night at the amazing restaurant & winery tour. There are so many places you’ll be going, and so much walking involved – wine tours, hiking up the mountains, walking the open markets, you’re going to wish you had your cozy shoes if you don’t bring them daily.

Lip balm & water – these both serve to combat the hot, dry climate. The lip balm prevents the Cape Town winds from drying your lips and causing them to get chafed. The water will help as you acclimate to the weather here, keeping you from becoming dehydrated. Ensure those two things are in your bag at all times while here.

Shopping While Here

If you miss some of the things on the list, and realize only after you have arrived that you should have brought along those other articles of clothing, then fear not! When you land in Cape Town, you’ll find a vast array of places you can go shopping from small boutique stores to malls like Canal Walk and Bayside, or the V & A Waterfront. You can even head to the Cape Quarter market and Greenpoint Market on a weekend for some great deals. You’ll easily find anything you didn’t bring with you, to supplement your own clothing and prices here are well beyond reasonable, they’re a steal. So pack light if you’re interested in saving money on getting new clothes.

For the Men

This is the easiest part to write in the entire article because fashion for men locally is pretty simple. A nice pair of blue jeans, with a button up shirt – a comfortable pair of loafers and walking shoes and you’re set. If you’re going to the beach, bring along a nice sweater to pull over, or a hooded sweatshirt for when the wind picks up or if you’re expecting to be out late and it gets cool. Avoid plain t-shirts for t-shirts which have branding on the front instead. Bring along a hat for the sun, any type will do. On a very warm day, opt for shorts which are cargo shorts, and in neutral colours or olive green.

For the Women

This is where it gets complicated because ladies fashion in South Africa means something different every season.


From September – February

T-shirts, vests, tank tops. Anything which can layer is perfect since spring temperatures can vary.

A jacket. Some days are much cooler than others, and you’ll want something to block out the wind at a minimum and for the cooler nights.

Maxi dress. It’s the perfect thing for spring weather here, it’s long enough to keep you warmer than the shorter styles seen in summer.

Boots. There is no reason not to have boots for all parts of the year, boots are great and go with everything. Springtime here involves hiking, so bring hiking shoes/boots.

Pumps or sandals. These are so versatile and can be worn with so many outfits. They’re lightweight, comfortable and can be the splash of colour your outfit needs for spring. Gladiator sandals are also a good bet.

A floral print dress. Spring is flower season here, choose a floral cotton dress to match.

Beach wear. Bring your suit, sunglasses and suntan lotion/sunscreen because you can definitely hit the beach in spring already.

A Hat. The Hat. THE hat means not just any sun hat, but a true sun bonnet, those big floppy straw ones preferably.

Skirts. You want to wear very light colours in skirts, no black because it will absorb the sunlight and you’ll be very hot very quickly. Choose neutral colours, or seasonal colours you’ll find locally in any shop window.

A Summer dress. For summertime only, choose a pastel print that is made from linen or cotton to keep you nice and cool. If wearing this in spring, you can pair it with a shoulder wrap, something gauzy and light, or even a cotton scarf for extra warmth at night.

Denim shorts/overalls/dungarees. Overalls have made a comeback, and you can dress up your spring look with a cute mini-t shirt under them, and a wide brimmed sun bonnet. Any denim shorts are bound to make you look stylish, and keep you nice and cool.

Jeans. You can also bring trousers of your liking, but jeans are great for the evening when the temperature drops and you’ll need something more to stay warm. Jeans and trousers – the darker the better.


From March – August

Hooded sweatshirts. They’ll keep you warm and dry if you get caught in a sudden rain, which can and does happen frequently during the autumn/winter months.

Jeans. Again, totally versatile and comfortable no matter the weather. Black jeans are always a safe bet, but burgundy is in this year also.

Warm jacket. Stress the importance of the word warm here. The winds in South Africa are crazy especially by the water, so be sure you have a very warm jacket which can block out the wind and the cold. Don’t forget that South Africa is very close to the icy South Pole!

Boots. Again with the boots, you can’t go wrong bringing your boots, and in the fall here it’s best to have boots in case of rain or muddy hiking trails.

Jumper/sweaters. You want to bring along something casual and chic that is pale and muted in colour.

Shorts. Yes still shorts, you want them because even though South Africa’s in its colder months, there will still be days which are brutally hot in between.

Leggings. They’ll keep you nice and cozy under your jeans, dresses or anything else you wear. Think in layers.

Long sleeve shirts. Long sleeve tops are essential for winter, choose rich colours for autumn like oranges, reds, amber, and purple.

Umbrella. You’ll want one, luckily almost every store you’ll go into in this part of the year will sell them.

Rain jacket. Hoodies are great, but they won’t stop you from getting drenched if you’re out for the day, and have no spare clothing to change into with you. That is enough reason alone to bring one.

Stockings. Like the leggings, they’ll keep you nice and warm, and they will go under some things which are meant to fit tightly where your leggings cannot go.

Scarf. Bringing along a few scarves will dress up any outfit, but in winter go for the chunky warm ones.