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What Clothes Should I Bring to Phoenix?

Desert Wardrobe Tips

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People who are relocating to the Phoenix area are sometimes uncertain about what clothing to bring to the desert. Should you throw away your winter coats and boots? Do people wear black in the desert heat? Does everyone wear sandals? What do people in Phoenix wear to work in the summer?

Do I Need Winter Coats, Scarves and Gloves?

In general, I wouldn't get rid of all your winter stuff. During the winter months we will have days that get down to the 30s at night, and there will be frost in parts of the Valley. In the winter, it is not unusual for us to have a 40° swing between nighttime and daytime temperatures, so some layering will be in order. Also, don't forget that we have serious weather just a couple of hours away, in case you take relatives to Sedona or farther north, like to the Grand Canyon.

If you plan to visit certain relatives or friends often, or you travel for business, you will need those clothes. When my family still lived in New York, I kept a long raincoat, a down parka, gloves and a scarf at their place so I didn't have to travel with it.

Are There Different Company Policies for Attire in the Summer in Phoenix?

Some companies have summer wardrobe exceptions and that will vary with the company. Many companies allow women to dispense with the panty hose for the summer, and encourage slacks during those months. Cropped pants or capris are often not permitted.

As far as men are concerned, companies often invoke a no necktie policy, and sometimes allow golf shirts in the summer, even though the dress code might otherwise call for suits. Many of our police and fire men and women have shorts as part of their uniforms. Many companies here in Phoenix have a more casual dress policy than in some large cities all year round, and casual Fridays, where jeans are permitted, are fairly common. You'll just have to check with your employer.

I Have Lots of Sweaters. Should I Give Them Away?

I love my sweaters and corduroy pants, even though I only get to wear them for a couple of months each year. I just can't bear to give them up. You'll find that you will look forward to some changes in weather and clothing, because we don't have traditional change of seasons. I love my shorts and tees, but along about October I get itchy to wear long pants and sweaters again.

What Do People Wear in the Summer in Phoenix?

The general rule is to wear loose fitting clothing that breathes, like cottons and linens. People wear shorts and tee shirts and tank tops. Sunburn is a reality, and sunscreen is a must. People wear hats or baseball caps to protect themselves from the sun. Sunglasses are a must, for you and your kids.

Should I Give Away All My Black Clothes?

No. There are people here who wear a lot of black, but probably not as much as back east or in more 'business-oriented' cities like San Francisco. Black slacks with cotton blouses, black skirts with cotton blouses, black shorts with cotton tanks--those are all just fine. As far as black in the summer, I don't think it's a problem unless you work outside. The key is loose and breathable, as mentioned above.

What Kind of Shoes Do People Wear in the Summer?

Women often wear sandals. Men do, too, but not to work. Everyone wears flip flops around the house or to go shopping. You'll also see many more people wearing running shoes or sneakers than you do in New York or San Francisco.

I Don't Want to Look Out of Place. Any Warnings?

Arizonans can always tell who the out-of-towners or newbies are. They are the people wearing shorts and tank tops when it's 65 degrees in the winter, and they are the ones with sunburns who are sunbathing by the pool in the sweltering heat of the summer!

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