The clothing you
wear is really important in countries where the local
men have constructed their ideas about western women
primarily from watching American movies on video. It
makes sense to notice what parts of the body the local
women keep covered, respect this, and dress accordingly.
Contrary to popular representations of Pacific women
lounging around topless, Pacific Islanders are actually
very conservative and Christian. When traveling in the
South Pacific, I wore short sleeves (not tank tops)
and a long skirt or sarong. As a western woman in a
non-western country, you will never "blend in" with
the crowd, but local people will have more respect for
you if you honor their traditions.
Heather, Santa Cruz, USA
In my country,
anything goes, really. Fashionable, leisure, business,
classic. Anything too exposing (or too tight or a deep
cleavage) will be seen as cheap however. Dressing for
dinner, it depends on the restaurant you�re going to.
For the theater, opera or casino you should dress nicely--
a long dress is optional. For funerals anything in black
or gray that covers most of your body is appropriate.
Holland is not a fashion-country, though the women in
the big cities dress more fashionable than on the country-side.
On the beach it depends on the weather. Wear anything,
or nothing, no-one will pay attention to you.
Anne-Marie, Rotterdam, Netherlands
In Iran (even for
tourists), women are required to wear scarves and robes
over their clothes all the time . When we were there,
the temperature was about 40C, and in some places even
above that. However, when we entered shops, where there
were no other customers, we were allowed to take off
our scarves and robes.
P.S. This clothing
code is a national law but I found the general public
(men) in Iran not too sexist. Women hold high positions
in their government.
Jeannie, Hong Kong
If other Journeywoman
plan to travel to Iran, I recommend you make do with
loose-fitting, modest clothing and a scarf until you
get there. Then, you can observe the local women, find
a market, and have the fun of purchasing an appropriate
coat for around twenty American dollars. These coats
are never fitted -- they are very straight and don't
reveal even a hint of the body shape beneath. They should
be long enough to reach your mid-shin and will probably
have shoulder pads to make your new boxy look more complete.
Like Iranian women, you can wear whatever you want underneath,
including jeans or black nylons. You should not reveal
bare legs or ankles, and if you wear pants, remember
to wear socks.
Marie Javins, New York, USA
to this part of the world, be very conservative. Loose
dresses are definitely best, but pants and T-shirts
will suffice. Shorts are a no-no, unless you are in
place such as Lae or Port Moresby. In these more popular,
coastal towns, tank-tops with wide straps and long shorts
may be worn because you will be understood and received
as a tourist. Of course, you could be adventurous and
wow the people by wearing the traditional laplap (sarong)
and mairblaus (long, flowing shirt) which remain fairly
cool despite the heat!
Rebekah, California, USA
is where I spent my most recent holiday. In anticipation,
I made a gorgeous silk dress for myself, but it was
a little tighter than I usually wear, and a little more
bare, so I chickened out and left it at home. Sheesh!
I would have been
underdressed in Paris in June. Women there wear their
clothing far tighter than we do in the Midwest, USA.
They aren't any fitter, skinnier, better looking, or
whatever, but they sure dress better than we do in the
USA! Unless you
are very sophisticated, prepare to feel frumpy in Paris.
Leah, Chicago, USA
When visiting Paris,
"dress up" more than you would in most other places.
This involves a creative use of scarves, costume jewelry,
decent looking shoes and watching what the Parisian
women wear. This may be the one city in which you abandon
jeans, athletic shoes and warm-up suits for a more attractive
form of dress.
Trisha, Atlanta, USA
A rule of thumb
for culturally correct clothing in this part of the world
is the knees and the shoulders must be covered in order
to visit many of the sites. On a trip to the Queen Mother's
Palace Gardens in Chiang Rai, both a woman and a man in
our small group, wearing shorts, were directed to a booth
where they rented "proper dress." This consisted of a
huge pair of mid-calf denim pants with a string you wrapped
around you (who knew where they were stored or who wore
them the last time?). The guards instructed the renters
specifically how the garment was to be worn. It cost them
1/2 US dollar for this rental privilege. It was unfair
to the rest of the group to have to wait while the transaction
Diane, Dallas, USA
Open-toed or backless
shoes (sandals) are not allowed when visiting the Royal
Palace in Bangkok . Sometimes you can "rent" appropriate
footwear. But, if you have a larger shoe size you will
be out of luck.
Barbara, Kitchener, Canada