“Dressing for Dream Destinations” is a travel series that takes us across the world to daydream about what we’d wear to various locations. (For more, see our past posts on Australia, Russia, India, Morocco, South Korea, Spain, China, Greece, Japan, the UK, Cuba, Iceland, Turkey, Thailand, Italy, Vietnam, France, Malaysia, and New Zealand.)
South Africa is a country located on the southernmost tip of the African continent. As a travel destination, it is known for its diverse and beautiful ecosystems, wild animals, wine, and cultural history.
If you are mainly going to watch animals, the dry season (May to September) is the best time to go because that is when they tend to congregate at water sources.
Fun fact: South Africa has 11 official languages!
While you may have to exercise some caution when visiting this country, it is well worth the trip. As a tourist, most of the time you just need to be aware of your surroundings and you’ll be totally fine — just be prepared to take a lot of Ubers or taxis.
What to Wear in: Cape Town
Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa. (Pretoria is the administrative capital and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.). It’s often referred to as the Mother City.
Cape Town’s unique combination of mountains and beaches has made it one of the most popular destinations on the continent. In the background of the city is the iconic, flat-topped Table Mountain, where visitors can hike or visit by cable car. Off the west coast of Cape Town lies Robben Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.
Fun fact: the longest wine route in the world begins in Cape Town!
It depends on what time of year you go, but since it’s a coastal city, Cape Town can get chilly. It’s a good idea to wear some versatile basics that you can layer with a jacket or cardigan.
What to Wear in: Johannesburg
Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and is commonly referred to as Jo’burg or Jozi. It is the financial hub of the country but the truth is Johannesburg has a very stark wealth divide with both ends of living standards distributed throughout the city.
Important landmarks that lie in Jo’burg include Nelson Mandela’s former home, the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill, and Maboneng (one of the hippest neighborhoods often compared to Brooklyn, New York).
Johannesburg is also a convenient base to go on day trips to Pilanesberg National Park or the Cradle of Humankind (the world’s richest hominin site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
The most important thing to remember about dressing in South Africa is that the sun is very strong. Make sure you cover up with airy clothing for protection.
What to Wear in: Durban
Durban is a coastal city known for its combination of African, Indian, and colonial influences and is the third largest city in South Africa. It has the largest population of people of Indian descent outside of India, which is apparent in many of its stores and restaurants.
Visit Durban’s beautiful Golden Mile, world-class aquarium Ushaka Marine World, and the huge Gateway Shopping Mall.
Durban has a quirkier reputation than the more well-known cities and is known for being diverse in an already diverse country. Feel free to wear as much color as you want!
Is South Africa on your travel bucket list?
Have you traveled to South Africa before? If so, what did you wear? Any tips for fellow CF readers? Tell us in the comments section.