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She's Best Dressed Worldwide

 

South Pacific...

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


Netherlands...

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


Iran...

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


Papua New Guinea...

When travelling 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


Paris...

Paris 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


Thailand...

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 took place.
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


Read more about what to wear, where.

 

 

 

 

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