The Guide to your Cartagena Suitcase

Posted: 02 Oct, 2015
As Chosen by Team Cartagena

Packing for Cartagena is a cultural minefield that no one can ever be prepared for. Maybe it’s the obnoxious heat, but clothes seem to take on a different meaning here.

After committing several fashion faux pas, Team This is Cartagena is finally fluent in the language of La Moda CartageneraFollow these simple guidelines and you too can be one of those smug holiday makers that actually knows the meaning of a capsule wardrobe.

sunglasses_essential guide_


In the Rest of the World: Plastic eye patch things you wear to disguise your hangovers or boost your VIP swag in clubs.

In Cartagena: Fundamental accessory needed to block sunny glare that’s prone to causing constipated look on your face.

How to Wear Them: Cheap gafas de sol are a major fashion gaff here (ha!). Invest in sunnies that will keep you looking as fly as Sofia Vergara. You can wear them on your head to keep the beads of sweat from dripping off your fringe. Just don’t put them on any form of string necklace, unless you want to receive The Gringo Side Eye from the locals.

Above: Q’ Nota. Centro, Calle Nuestra Señora del Carmen 33 – 94, Cartagena, Colombia

shoes_essential guide


In the Rest of the World: Those things you wear that are a bit fancier than flip flops.

In Cartagena: Secret stilts that transform women to super model giants.

How to Wear Them: High, high, high! Wedge platforms are just about comfortable enough to navigate the potholes and horse manure on the streets. Go for earth-glam colour tones: gold-orange, gold-brown or just about gold-anything will go down well here. Taxis are cheap for a reason – they transport your exhausted feet home after a day flailing around like Bambi in the city.

Above: Glory Ang Atelier, Centro, Calle de la Iglesia, Edif Ayos Locales 5-6, Cartagena, Colombia

Essential guide_dress

The Dress

In the Rest of the World: A floaty thing you wear when you shave your legs.

In Cartagena: A daily uniform.

How to Wear Them: Ignore everything your mum said about having to choose between showing your chest or legs. Here, both are showcased to equal degree. Pucci inspired prints are all the rage. Neutral tones just don’t exist in the costeño dictionary.

Above: Bettina Spitz. Centro, Calle La Mantilla, 3-37, Cartagena, Colombia


Bag_Essential Guide

The Bag

In the Rest of the World: Totes, Clutch, Bucket…. OMG, there are just soooo many categories to keep tabs on.

In Cartagena: Woven, tribal and colourful slings you wear to keep the beach vibe street side 24/7.

How to Wear Them: Choose the colour combination and print that best suits your personality and wear it over your head and shoulder. These bags are sold on street stoops and fancy designer boutiques so expect to see them wherever  you go.

Above: St. Dom. Centro, Calle Santo Domingo 33-70, Cartagena, Colombia.

Bikini_Blog post


In the Rest of the World: Something that requires intense preparation and may involve tears of despair and self-loathing. You wear it about twice a year.

In Cartagena: A second skin.

How to Wear Them: With confidence! There is nothing worse than seeing a sarong shield in holiday photos. Invest in quality togs and discard the slimming black onesie for a fruitier Caribbean version.

Above: Maaji Swimwear. Centro, Calle de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, Carrera 3,  33-1 to 33-99 

Don’t even go there…
The Jacket

In the Rest of the World: That item of clothing you wear in winter, and sometimes spring, summer and autumn too.

In Cartagena: Que?????

How to Wear Them: Potentially could be used as a makeshift canopy on the beach to shield you from the NEVER ENDING beach heat, but it will never ever touch your shoulders whilst you are here. Step away from anything long sleeved and pack another bikini instead.

The Low Factor Tan Oil

In the Rest of the World: Totally worth it for the glowing tan you get to show off to all your friends afterwards.

In Cartagena: Hello sunburn.

How to Wear Them: Don’t – unless you want to lie in your hotel room writhing around looking like the scaly fish you ate at lunch.

Written by: Clementyne Chambers
Photography by:
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