Ecuador still maintains family values in many ways. They seldom put their aged in nursing homes; instead they take care of their elderly, although this is changing slowly. They NEVER tell their 18-year old teenagers they have to move out and get a job…and that’s because their life, at least until they are married and move out of the house consists of being with, living with, and helping out the family as much as they can. Most young people work in the parents business until they move away from home.
Where Do the Tight Jeans Come into the Picture in Cuenca?
So when you hear and or see the Ecuadorian culture placing so much importance on the family you might wonder why some things seem out of place, such as most of the women wearing really tight pants.
In some cases it can be unbecoming for a young girl to be wearing tight pants, especially when they pair the tight jeans with a pair of high heels. To some folks it might be a bit objectionable.
We have had four or five different expats to Cuenca negatively comment about the tight pants on the women here. Mostly from mom and dads that have concerns about the toddlers and teenagers they are bringing with them to live in Cuenca. They want to know: “Why” in a family oriented, catholic culture the women wear such tight pants"?
We find some of the comments quite amusing given they live in a culture where many of the women dress indecent. Some of the women in the u.s wear short shorts and shirts that expose belly buttons and lots of cleavage. So it sort of odd to hear such comments from newcomers to Cuenca as the women dress even more reckless in the states! If you don’t think so, you must live in a very northern cold state.
Never Judge a Book by its Cover
We have to go back to the old saying, “never judge a book by its cover”. And here’s why. After having lived here for some time we have been given a chance to observe the culture and become friends with many of the young ladies and their families, and well, some things just are not what they seem.
Jeans Are Tailored to Fit Tight and are Culturally Accepted
Yes, it is true; there is no denying it, the local younger women wear tight pants. That’s the point, ALL of them wear tight pants, not just some of them, which tells us it is how they tailor their pants in Ecuador. The jeans, which are a tad bit stretchy, are tailored to fit tight in the thighs and all the way down to the feet; it is the style here and is what’s in fashion. Basically, it is what you get when you go shopping. There is no such thing as “boot cut” jeans here either; they are all very tight all the way to the ankles.
Bottom line: Wearing tight jeans is part of the culture; no one obviously has made a fuss about it. It certainly does not mean the girl or woman is loose, nor does it means she is looking for attention. The women are traditional and shy here, for the most part. The Cuenca dress style certainly does not reflect the Cuencanas conservative nature.
Latinas and Leotards
You’ll also see some women wearing leotards, also referred to as “tights”. Normally you would see these worn in the tumbling and gymnastics world, but here the gals wear them out on the street.
One expat commented to me that it looks like they didn’t finish getting dressed and forgot to put on a long blouse or dress over the tights, which is what women usually do in the northern country when they wear tights. Many of the women also do that here in Ecuador, but not all of them. Here again, there are good reasons for everything.
Leotards are cheap! When you see a young girl wearing leotards it usually means that is all she can afford. The leotards or tights are very inexpensive at just $5 a pair at Feria Libre, compared to the cost of Jeans which are $20 to $50. Sadly, clothing is expensive here.
If you observe carefully, you’ll notice more of the young Indigenous women and young people wearing the leotards, which we figure is what is allowed in their budget.
We rarely see the Andes Mountain gals wearing skimpy clothing; It is just not part of the culture up here in the Mountains. In fact they are usually all bundled up with jeans, sweaters and coats, gloves and scarves, at least in the winter. And in the summertime they wear sweaters, boots, jeans or slacks, and jackets.
We think you’ll probably agree once you meet some of the local women you will know that they are not dressing a certain way to be stared at, or to be flirted with, or because she is loose; the clothing style is just part of the culture in Ecuador, and we believe in most of Latin America.
UPDATE August 2014: A Reader adds to this article with good info. Here is what the local gals said to him.
"I'm responding to your article on tights. At a conversational Spanish class
I asked the young lady this very question. Her response was that when
dresses were much longer women in Cuenca wore dresses and ankle high socks.
But when the style went above the knee they switched to pants [and tights
for the reasons you give]. The reason is that showing the contours of the
figure is not a no-no but showing SKIN is. It made a lot of sense to me."
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