Loja Clothing: Finding clothes to wear in expat sizes

Clothing on a rack display for sale
Imagine you are packing your suitcases to move to Loja and wondering what to bring. It is a frequently asked question. "Will it be possible to find clothes in my size in Loja?"

First let me say, if you are a smaller size (below middle range) then you'll have no problem. By smaller size I mean a women's size 8, or a men's medium or smaller. You will find plenty to choose from in any clothing store in Loja.

Larger sizes, or clothes to fit what are referred to as Big & Tall or Plus, are a little different story. But do not despair! There are many ways to make sure you can be fashionable and comfortable in my city.

The first trick is to bring with you as much as you can for the amount of time you plan to stay. Bring a variety of clothing, too. Lojanos dress in layers because of the temperature fluctuations we experience during each day. You will want to pack at least one "business casual" or better outfit - a nice dress for women and perhaps a suit for men - for special occasions like parties, weddings, funerals, quinceaƱeras, and maybe classy cultural events. Loungewear, too, like sweats, pajamas, and bathrobes will be handy for wearing around the home. Hoodies are popular for cooler evenings. In other words, you should bring more than just hiking clothing. Ecuadorians care about appearances and an expat can gain respect by being respectfully dressed when out in public.

Again, if you are a larger size, then try to bring enough clothes with you. It may be worthwhile to pay the additional baggage fees for an extra suitcase. That said, I should point out that many expats will lose some weight during the first year here and the clothes you bring may need altering for continued use.

Shoes and sneakers for sale in store
Tailors and seamstresses are plentiful in the city, and handy for not only making repairs or alterations but also for creating new articles to a precise fit. One excellent approach to that is having something you already own copied. As well, if you can bring paper sewing patterns with you from your home country for styles you like then those can be put to good use.

Loja has several used clothing shops that are frequented by both Ecuadorians and expats. You'll discover prices are a little higher than similar offerings in the Goodwill or Salvation Army stores in the states but are still a bargain compared to new. It can be a fun adventure to search these places for things in your size and a great feeling of accomplishment when you score a new outfit.

Lest you think you will be unable to ever find brand new clothing let me assure that is not true. There are a few North American retailers in Ecuador, like Payless Shoes in Loja, who carry clothes or shoes in larger/taller sizes, and also some higher-end stores that have imported clothing. One can also check out the city of Cuenca - just a shopping day-trip away - where there are more stores catering to expats.

Stack of blue jeans from the Loja Jean Fair
A Jean Fair is held several times a year
Online shopping for clothing in Loja can be a bit tricky. For example, don't expect to return or exchange something that doesn't fit. You buy it, you own it, and your only option might be to try and sell it to someone else, or donate or swap it to a friend. Mercadolibre.com is Ecuador's primary internet shop, being similar to eBay. OLX.com is another, but functions more like Craigslist where you purchase items direct from a seller in your locale. Amazon.com does offer shipping on some items - not all - but the cost of shipping and import taxes can sometimes make things more expensive than they are worth.

A workaround that a number of expats use is called "muling" which is when you ask friends and family who are coming to visit to bring packages with them for you. Or, if you make return visits yourself, do some shopping to bring back to Loja with you.

There is no reason you must wear your duds until they are threadbare. We have a number of ways to clothe the bod in Loja. Sourcing your next set of threads is all a part of the grand adventure in el sur.


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