Truth be told, I find buying clothing in Mexico the most difficult shopping experience of all. I am never happy with neither the fit nor the quality of my purchases. I often can’t find anything suitable at all even after hours of searching. However, not having much of a choice, I’ve had to persevere.
Shoes can be bought at a zapatería. Having enormous feet (size 7 1/2 US) or at least compared to local residents, means that I am not able to find my size in the style that I want. Fortunately, our area has a Coppel now and it carries a larger variety of shoes in my size. There’s a little tradition when new shoes are purchased. It’s customary when you show off your new shoes, the person admiring them will step on your foot, leaving a shoe print mark, sort of like that first dent in your new car. It’s just an expected action. Get used to it.
You can get your shoes repaired, and find shoelaces, at the reparadora de calzado. Tio Felipe, when he wasn’t selling moonshine and Pepsi, worked as a cobbler until his eyesight became too bad.
Undergarments, bras, panties, slips, girdles, and such, can be found at the bonetería. This word very possibly comes from the whalebone corsets imported with the Spanish into Mexico. I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think undergarments were of high enough importance to rate their own specialty store, or even used for that matter, before the conquest. Be warned, bigger sizes of bras are hard to find, which I don’t understand since there are all sorts of boob sizes in Mexico, but be that as it may, the standard size and cup is 34B.
If you need a hat, head to the sombrerería. Western style hats, Easter hats, gardening hats and chachuchas (caps) can all be found here.
Our pueblo (town) is particularly known for its rebozos (traditional Mexican shawls) and there are specialty stores called rebocerías where you can find a multitude of thicknesses and patterns. Some rebozos are hand-made, others are manufactured, but all of them are lovely.
For scarves, accessories and handbags, head to the accesorios shop. Again, each shop is stocked with what the owner most likes, so you might have to go to more than one to find something that you like.
Jewelry can be bought, sold or repaired at the joyería, watches at the relojería. If you want to sell your jewelry items look for signs that say “se compra oro y plata.” (Gold and silver bought here.) They buy by the piece or some will just buy the gems (pedacería). If you just need repairs, take the item to the taller de joyería or relojería, but only a place that has a good reputation otherwise your grandmother’s diamond might be replaced with cubic zirconia and you’re none the wiser.
There are special stores to find a first communion, 3-year presentation outfits, Quinceañeras or school uniforms. Wedding dresses and funeral clothing (yes there are special outfits for the dearly departed) also have their specialty stores. Suits for Quinceañeras or weddings or other formal occasions can be bought or rented.
Our town and the neighboring town co-host 8 km of clothing shops. Talk about shopping overload! Each shop carries whatever it wants and has the sizes that the shopkeeper feels will sell the fastest, which usually isn’t the sizes I’m looking for. Women’s sizes are not the same as in the US, although men’s clothes seem to match. Anything over size Woman’s 12 is considered are talla extra (extra big size).
The weekly tianguis always has at least one vendor with huge piles of second-hand clothes you can dig through. This is a great place to find good quality children’s clothes at a reasonable price, however it is time consuming. Best to take a few of your lady friends and divide and conquer the mound.
You might also be able to find used clothing at bazaars. It’s quite a lucrative business to import second hand clothing and resell it here, mostly because the quality of the second-hand goods is far superior to the locally manufactured clothing items
There are also places that specialize in saldos, which are like outlet stores. Although you think you might be getting a good deal, these clothing items often are flawed in some way. Perhaps they are sized correctly or maybe the inseam was cut just a little bit too small. Let the buyer beware in this case.
Lest you think all hope is lost, if you head to larger areas, you may just find a store that sells clothing like Liverpool, Sears, and maybe even a Walmart, if that’s what you like. Of course, the prices are astronomical, imported goods and all, but it may be worth it to find long-lasting, comfortable and stylish clothing.
How has your shopping experience been in Mexico?