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
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
Leah, Chicago, USA
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
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
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