Cape Town style is laid-back and casual you will spot people wearing business attire, to athletic wear and even beach items. It’s normal to see people wearing flip flops with jeans and a vest. People don’t wear traditional outfits’ every day though you might spot some people wearing Shwe-Shwe and or African Wax print items. You also won’t see people wearing Safari clothes all over the city this is a myth.
Whilst staying in Germany and travelling around Europe I found that people always think that Cape Town is an eternally sunshine city. Admittedly winters in Cape Town are milder than around most European cities. We enjoy a Mediterranean climate. What you pack will be largely determined by the season you will be visiting so I’ve added the average temperatures here for you to get an idea of the weather.
From 22 December (my birthday) to the end of February it’s summertime. You can expect hot and dry weather with average maximum temperature at 26 C /79 F
March to April is autumn with 20 C /68 F in March and 18 C/ 64 F in April with rain at times.
End of May till Mid September is winter with gale-force winds and rain 18 C /64 F is the maximum average temperature.
And September, October till November is springtime. Spring is warmer at times it can get windy as it’s not summer yet. The average maximum temperature is 21 C /70 F and 11C/ 52 F is the minimum.
What to wear
I have broken down what to wear according to each season with items included. This will give you more of an idea of what locals in Cape Town wear during the different seasons.
Mid-December to February (summer)
Pack lightweight clothes, a swimming costume is a must as there are 82 beaches, sunglasses and a sunhat is a good idea. For ladies straw wide brim hats are popular and bowler hats though I don’t wear them. For men sporty peak caps are popular. Denim shorts for women are a big thing. Rompers and summer dresses made of light cotton and linen material is also a good summertime fashion item, along with sandals for both men and women. Guys also tend to wear longer cargo style shorts in summer. Although jeans are year-round worn. Pack a good pair of shoes. You should also pack long pants, jeans and a warm jacket as it does get colder at night.
And if you plan on clubbing most places allow you to dress casually but, you should have more stylish clothes packed if you plan on going to a club with a dress code. For men, this will mean a dress shirt and formal shoes, no sneakers. And ladies a cocktail dress and heels. Usually, it isn’t as windy during summertime. Still, I tend to check the wind conditions before I wear flare skirts or dresses. And I normally wear hot pants under my skirts to avoid the Marilyn Monroe effect.
Pack clothes you can layer. A good quality light winter coat, rainproof shoes like boots or leather sneakers are great for rainy days. Light jackets, sweaters and leggings are good for the ladies to keep you warm if you plan on wearing a skirt. But, do check if it’s a windy day out else you will have to hold on to your shirt the whole time.
Pack a warm coat Cape Town can get icy cold. We also aren’t big on indoor heating at every single venue so keep warm. Beige and khaki colours have been in fashion for a while and seem to be staying. I also see a lot of maroon and mustard around this season in local fashion items. The Parka is also still fashionable over here. Again waterproof shoes and or boots, scarves and gloves to look fashionable and stay warm. Ditch the umbrella for a good raincoat the wind can get super crazy and I’ve seen many a broken umbrella in bins around the city. Most bloggers and websites will tell you a good strong umbrella is a good idea but, as a local I know that’s risky and the wind tends to blow the rain at you under the umbrella in any case. If you aren’t from here you will find that winter days are often like springtime in European cities. Capetonians have been known to stare at tourists wearing shorts in the rain and swimming during winter. There are also always winter days with summer-like weather if you’re lucky you might experience one.
Mid-September to November (spring)
Take a bathing suit along, sun hat again some layers for colder nights and day. Remember to pack a raincoat and a few warmer and lighter items. Combat boots are a good idea for walking, they are waterproof and this is a good time to go hiking as it’s not too hot yet. Denim shorts with a cute top or vest is a Capetonian staple. Blue denim shorts are the most popular ones by far. A maxi dress and or short floral print dress are forever in style it seems and you will be able to see ladies wearing them often. A black fabric background with a colourful floral print is in fashion at the moment. September the 21st is the first official day of spring in Cape Town and with it comes the blooming flowers. You can see them at Kirstenbosch gardens or at the West Coast National Park. So wearing a floral print item is appropriate. These months will bring along unpredictable weather so bits of everything is best. Also, Cape Town’s weather, in general, is unpredictable you should always have a light jacket with you. Check the weather report regularly. I use Accu weather every single day.
Good shoes no matter the season you will need great walking shoes. From hiking to exploring the markets in the CBD you will be walking a lot so wear good shoes.
Sunglasses are a must to protect your eyes.
Sunblock it’s a must in Cape Town you will burn if you don’t if you forget yours buy some at Clicks, Dischem or even at a random beach shop.
Denim jackets, shirts and biker jackets are all over the place and you will definitely fit in when you wear them.
Pack a pair of black or dark denim jeans, darker colours means you will be able to wash them less. Skinny jeans are still in but, flare jeans are making a major comeback.
If you wear a backpack around touristy areas people will assume you’re a tourist. Young locals now wear vibrant moonbags when they go out clubbing. But, in the day time, you might be easily spotted as a tourist. Rather wear a crossbody bag or a sling bag you can hold close to your body. Sadly pickpocketing and grabbing valuable items. Be aware and careful and hold tight on to your bag.
Feel free to wear lighter colours even to wine estates I’ve seen people asking if it’s okay to wear white dresses whilst wine tasting and there’s nothing wrong with it.
Cultural appropriation isn’t really a thing in Cape Town. You will see people of all races wearing braids, dreadlocks, African beads, clothing items and even traditional Indian attire. On Heritage day (which is a national holiday) some people dress up and wear clothes to represent their heritage. But, some people don’t know their exact heritage and choose to wear clothes from other groups. This isn’t frowned upon. Though I still won’t wear Native American headdresses as I personally feel it’s disrespectful.
I wear dresses and skirts during winter as I have a collection of woollen dresses which are tight-fitting. Many people do wear jeans but, I love wearing dresses so I wear them with warm tights sometimes a lighter pair and a thicker one, a coat a scarf and gloves to stay warm.
If you’re coming to work in Cape Town try to find out what the dress code is like before you arrive. Most companies in Cape Town don’t require you to wear corporate styled clothes. I wear summer dresses to work but, I wouldn’t wear hot pants or my shortest shorts. That being said unless you’re a lawyer, banker or accountant you won’t be required to wear formal office clothes daily.
Thank you for reading and I hope you found this post informative. Please feel free to comment.