Clothing and Dress Tips for Travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If you are planning to stay mostly in Rio or the coastal areas during Brazilian Spring, Summer, or Fall, you will need only casual warm weather clothes. It is pretty warm and humid in Brazil – think southern Florida or Houston in the summer and you have the right idea. Shorts, jeans, t-shirts, and sports shirts are all common. In Winter, it can get down to perhaps 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night, so you might want to throw in a light sweater or jacket if you get cold easily. Also, side trips to the mountains in Petropolis can be cooler at any time of year.
You may want to consider carefully what to take if you are a “logo” wearer or if you are used to wearing t-shirts with writing. Americans and other visitors are generally welcome in Brazil, but if you are perceived as rich, you may attract unwelcome attention. I mostly advise going low-profile – read the section on Security first.
It is fine to pack a sport coat, slacks, and dress shoes if you plan to hit some of the upscale night spots or restaurants. People only wear ties and suits there for business occasions and weddings. Don’t go overboard here as you will not want to wear this stuff during the day. Samba style dancing, whether inside or outside, is generally a shorts and t-short affair and will be hot.
For shoes, I recommend good walking or sports shoes that have been broken in. Pack dressier shoes for dancing at clubs. Again, remember that your shoes may immediately identify you as an American or at least as a “rico” (pronounced hee-ko), a rich person. If you have a choice between your brand new $150 Nikes and your older and more comfortable $50 cross trainers, choose the latter. Sandals or "flip-flops" are often seen on the street (without socks, of course). Beach sandals are essential as the sand can get very warm.
Don’t go out and buy a lot of resort wear. Clothing made in Brazil is actually pretty stylish, good quality, and cheap if you stay away from the major tourist shopping areas. For example, the same bikini that you might buy in the States for $70 costs about $10-20 in Brazil. It may even be from there!