A Gentleman's Guide to Looking Good in Cape Town

Trendy barbers such as Barnet Fair are a great place to get a cut and shave. | Courtesy Barnet Fair
Trendy barbers such as Barnet Fair are a great place to get a cut and shave. | Courtesy Barnet Fair
Cape Town may just be the most stylish city in South Africa. Though you can usually get away with board shorts and a plain tee, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make a bit more of an effort. Here’s a quick breakdown on how guys can look their best while hanging out on the streets and beaches of the Mother City.

Sun accessories

Cape Town summer sunshine is no joke. With summer daytime temperatures spiking in the mid-30s, it’s important to take precautions. But there’s no reason why this should interfere with your style.

You can easily pick up simple, stylish baseball caps at most surf shops across the city. Most decisions will come down to brand loyalty, style and price.

Pair this with a some stylish sunglasses and you’re already halfway there. You’ll find hawkers selling shades on and around most beaches in the Cape during summer months, but you’ll want to avoid these. Though they’re often on-cue in terms of style and fashion, those that aren’t stolen goods will be fake.

Even if you’re not brand conscious, rather pick up a pair of sunglasses that offers real protection from the sun’s harsh UV rays. You could go traditional with a pair of big-name brands from sunglasses stores present in most malls, but companies like Bambooka and JesseJames make slick sunglasses from bamboo that are local and significantly more stylish.

Of course, if you’re playing the long game for looking good, make sure you pick up a tube of high factor sunscreen from a local pharmacy.

Decent sunglasses are a practical and fashionable essential in Cape Town © Lesly B. Juarez / Unsplash

Beach ready

During summer Capetonians and visitors spend most of their time on the beach, or looking like they’ve just visited one. This is a good thing — it means that with a slick pair of board shorts and a decent T-shirt, you should fit in at most venues during daylight hours.

Most beach-related clothing in Cape Town still comes from the big surf brands, and you’ll find these stores close to beaches and in most shopping malls. Pick your brand and track down their store in Cape Town. Most brands have flagship stores at the V&A Waterfront or Canal Walk shopping centres. If you want to keep it a bit more local, pop in to a local surf shop in Muizenberg.

Though you won't last too long in the waters without a wetsuit, board shorts are an essential Cape Town fashion item © Shane Becker / Unsplash

After dark

When night falls, you’ll want to clean up a bit before heading out on the town. Though historically most bars and restaurants would let you in regardless of what you’re wearing, there’s a growing trend to be slightly stricter on the attire. And with the city’s most fashionable crawling out onto the likes of Bree and Kloof Streets, or the pretentiously chic Camps Bay strip, you may want to look the part.

The Woodstock Exchange is a creative hub in the city, and you’ll pick up clothes and accessories there that are usually on trend. Closer to the city, Blue Collar White Collar is a unique Capetonian men’s clothing store that will have you covered for any event where you need to look slick but cool.

Socks are also big business in Cape Town, and if you want your ankles to shine, head to the Nic Harry flagship store on Wale Street. In the area, you’ll also find branches of Paul Smith and Puma Select that mix international style with local flavours.

Sneakers usually make the cut for most bars and restaurants, and you can snap up the latest styles at Shelf Life. If you’re looking for bespoke leather shoes with a hint of South African style, head over to Freedom of Movement — they sell stylish and contemporary takes on the traditional “veldskoen”.

Bold socks paired with stylish shoes or sneakers have taken the city by storm. © The Creative Exchange / Unsplash

Thrift store shopping

If you’re more about reinventing styles from a few years back, or on a budget, pay a visit to some of the city’s thrift stores and clothing markets. There are several to choose from throughout Cape Town.

Second Time Around, Vintage with Love and Second Hand Rose typically stock more female clothing than men’s, but you never know what you might discover on their shelves. If you’re looking for the best of the second-hand clothing markets taking place throughout the city, check out the Second Hand Group. There’s also a popular clothing market on Saturdays at the Old Biscuit Mill, but you can expect more limited edition, high-end fashion, rather than second-hand goods.

Clothing markets and second hand stores often reveal some well-priced gems. © Artificial Photography / Unsplash


Cape Town has seen a resurgence in the number of trendy new barbershops around the city. There are now several independent barbershops that will give you the latest cut, treat you to a cup of coffee, or even a whiskey. Some also offer other style and grooming treatments, such as shaves, skin treatments and massages.

If you’re looking for all of the above, check out Widow Maker on the top of Long Street. Barnet Fair operates from select locations throughout the city, and will also give you a clean cut and a fresh new look. Both have skilled and efficient barbers will take care of your needs in a truly unique setting.

Trendy barbers such as Barnet Fair are a great place to get a cut and shave. Courtesy Barnet Fair