Dress to Chill on Mykonos

During your short, extended or life-long stay on Mykonos, you can wear just about anything you want. What you need to know is where and when to wear it.


It is true that anything goes in Mykonos, and the same principle applies to the dress code. Total freedom of expression is one of the elements that make her the magical enchantress she is. Still, there is such a thing as the “Mykonian look.” Think mostly boho-chic, and lean either towards the boho or the chic part, depending on the time, place and your own particular mood.

If you are interested in packing, dressing or shopping like a “true Mykonian,” do note that the term does not necessarily refer to a person who was born or raised here or has ancestral ties to the island itself, but rather applies to a citizen of the world, who has settled in Mykonos or who “migrates” there for the warm months.

If there’s one key word for style, be it in Mykonos or anywhere else in the world, it is “effortless.” There was a reason Coco Chanel dictated that “luxury equals comfort.” Still, comfortable and stylish mean one thing in the Hamptons, another thing on the French Riviera and definitely something completely different when you emerge from the ship in the bustling, windswept port of Mykonos, under a merciless Aegean sun.

The “Mykonian look” was shaped by both the island’s microclimate and the stylishly nomadic character of the travelers who adopted the place. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, when hippies, royalty, rock stars and jetsetters discovered en masse this charming corner of the Aegean, they had to quickly adapt to the weather conditions. They soon learned to live with the relentless north winds that are characteristic of the region during the summer months. They had to deal with scorching mid-morning heat, chilly August nights and still manage to synthesize a famously elegant style, one that would take them from a deserted beach to an ultra-glamorous party with as little fuss as possible. All kinds of apparel, acquired from the world over, not only denote a cosmopolitan traveler but provide both style and comfort: shawls from India, sarongs from Bali, jewelry from South America, Texan cowboy boots, Moroccan robes worn with Greek cotton tunics, local fishermen’s’ sweaters and high-end resort designer pieces, all merged in a look that sounds psychotic but somehow makes absolute sense after you spend five minutes on Matoyianni, the island’s main street.

DRESS TO CHILL

Where to wear what on Mykonos

Since the day usually begins by the sea and often ends there as well, here is a beach fashion code that goes with the island flow. Every sandy paradise may look the same, but still, to the style-conscious, subtle adjustments would – and will – make a difference, so here it goes:

LUXURIOUS
Psarou, Ornos

BOHEMIAN CHIC
Kalo Livadi, Elia

BOHEMIAN/HIPPY
Panormos, Paraga, Lia, Agrari

CLUBBING
Paradise, Super Paradise

ATHLETIC
Kalafatis, Ftelia

FAMILY
Aghios Stefanos, Aghios Ioannis, Aghia Anna

OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Aghios Sostis, Myrsini, Fokos, Kapari

NUDISTS
Nudity in Mykonos was just another styling option, as ordinary as any other form of dressing. Things have definitely changed and total nudity is no longer universally accepted. Nudists are still welcome in selected parts of Elia, Myrsini, Kapari, Super Paradise and the far end of Panormos and Aghios Sostis.

Thus, the “Mykonian animal” was born. You will find it roaming certain beaches, prowling the town streets and dancing till the early morning hours, elegantly disheveled, easygoing, polite, with an omnipresent pareo blowing in the wind and a pair of sunglasses always available, just in case a simple pasta dinner snowballs into a wild all-nighter.

A few styling tips might come in handy, even if you only use them as tools to spot the insiders while practicing the refined art of discreet but merciless people-watching that goes on 24/7 on this endless catwalk of an island. (Nobody stares; everybody notices.) Flowing, airy pants are preferable to dresses, shorts are preferable to skirts and loose, long dresses and skirts blend into the environment better than tight-fitting items. Organic materials in your clothes and accessories are essential (the only plastic that will be respected is your credit card). Create your drama in layers of linen, cotton, canvas and denim over silk, chiffon and jersey. It is safer to steer clear of animal prints, screaming designer logos and too much bling. (Please ignore this last sentence if you are Kanye West).

Combine classic, simple pieces such as jeans, cotton shirts and jumpsuits with anything white and embroidered or tried and tested resort pieces such as capri or Thai pants. And then, of course, there is the matter of the omnipresent sarong. You can never have too many sarongs in Mykonos. Here, they are mostly called pareo, the Polynesian term for this absolutely essential piece of cloth that covers your bathing suit on your way to the beach, then functions as both drying towel and sunbed on the hot sand (beach towels scream “tourist”). Pareos are also wrapped around the body, skirt-like, by both sexes during easy sunset cocktails, thrown over shoulders as shawls when the night air gets too cool and even double as makeshift tablecloths in case you decide to throw an impromptu dinner on your porch.

“A few styling tips might come in handy, even if you only use them as tools to spot the insiders while practicing the refined art of discreet but merciless people-watching that goes on 24/7 on this endless catwalk of an island.”

If you are a lady (or a gentleman that prefers to dress like a lady) and you absolutely have to wear high heels, go for solid platforms. However, keep in mind that the rugged landscape and the cobbled streets mostly welcome flats, such as sandals, flip flops and espadrilles. For practical reasons, don’t spend too much time on personal maintenance: a fully made-up face looks weirdly artificial in the simple setting of a Greek island, and since there is no point in styling your hair at a salon (the salty wind is your hairdresser), a spotless mani-pedi will be your discreet way of declaring that you are not a backpacker – especially if you are one. Fortunately, the local businesses engaged in beauty and grooming offer world-class quality, albeit with the steep prices to match the level of service. They also keep ridiculously long hours, to help you make sure you never, ever have to step out with even an invisible chip in your nail polish. (Nobody will stare; everybody will notice.) Hats are a must, because of the high temperatures. However, the wind factor pretty much limits choices to the classic Panama hat or something similar to it. Baseball caps, not so much. Yes, they are practical but too 20th century.

When all that is said and done, by all means, don’t let any of the above deter you from expressing yourself in any style you like. Above all, Mykonos means that every look and every personality is welcome with open arms: from preppy to trans, from hippy to elitist/glamorous, from surfer to nautical and from humble to eye-poppingly extravagant. Here there is room for everyone together under the same roof, under the same sky. In fact, a mixed, slightly odd crowd is not only a good sign; it’s a recipe for some serious, unforgettably fun time.

“When all that is said and done, by all means, don’t let any of the above deter you from expressing yourself in any style you like.”


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