What to wear while serving as a PCV in eSwatini

Starting in 2018, each intake group for Peace Corps Eswatini will arrive at the end of September, rather than in mid-June. This means that it (likely) will not be so cold when Trainees arrive. The heavy winter wear mentioned in My favorite items during PST will still be important for you once winter arrives, but it is no longer essential PST gear.

For G16 and all future groups as things currently stand, the dress code for your PST will be similar to your dress code for work. All PCVs will be working with either a high school (for youth development PCVs) or a clinic (for community health PCVs) where there is at a minimum, a business casual dress code.


RPCV Taylor with her clinic staff.

Clinic staff is often in uniform and the teachers at my high school wear dressy outfits that do include dress pants, although I don’t know if pants for females will be allowed at this year’s PST, and sometimes your homestead or community or school, and always your community council, will require a skirt below the knees for females.

There is no heating at the clinic or school or home, and buildings have concrete floors and cinder block walls, so layers in winter will be very important. It is so cold in winter that you will want to dress like there’s snow falling. Even as I am writing this, one of my coworkers asked why I wasn’t wearing my jacket if I was cold. I told him I am not used to wearing my jacket inside, so I bring along a blanket and scarf to wrap up in. This means you should also bring cozy clothing to wear at home in the winter. I had to buy a fleece and sweatshirt here just to stay warm.


Me speaking at morning assembly at the secondary school. It was too cold and for Tevas that day.

Swazis going to work at offices, clinics, and schools always looks professional in clean and ironed clothing (dry cleaners are available across the country). Dress shoes can be important for fitting in, and I was recently told that I should switch from my Teva sandals to flats for my extension work at an NGO in town. Flats are common for women, and sometimes I see teachers and the head nurse at the clinic in heels.

Non-professional clothing is needed for your homestead. I have many knee-length cotton skirts, leggings/yoga pants, and shirts/tank tops, I wear at home and outside of my house. I have shorts that I only wear inside or on vacation. My homestead is different from many others because my host father is a member of the community council, so rules for dressing at the community council apply at home. It is possible that someone could replace my site or move to another site where pants are not allowed. Females must be prepared for this.

It is also important to bring clothes that you like. If you don’t like it, you won’t wear it. Clothes that you like that do not fit the work dress code are still wearable to an extent here or when you are on vacation.

Mr. Price is like H&M. Pep, which sells both housewares and clothes, and Power both sell clothes at low prices. Trueworth’s and Woolworth’s both sell higher quality clothing at higher prices. I bought shoes at Woolworth’s after moving to town and dress pants at Mr. Price. There are Pep stores in all towns and other clothing stores are in Mbabane, Matsapha, and Manzini.

If you forgot something or need to buy a new outfit in eSwatini, it is totally possible, even during PST. You can also have clothing tailor-made, which I have frequently done. To get an idea of the possibilities, check out my new clothes here.

Check out my other posts about packing and what to bring:

These are a few of my favorite things

These are a few of our favorite things

My most-used items as a PCV in eSwatini

Packing for Peace Corps Eswatini

Packing for Peace Corps Eswatini: Clothing

Packing for Peace Corps Eswatini: Home supplies

Packing for Peace Corps Eswatini: What Peace Corps gives us

Sanibonani, G16s and all other future cohorts! I know you are out there, reading this blog. Please let me know if you have questions I can answer before you arrive.

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