The Way we Wear

Ascot, Wimbledon and girls schools in the UK are all issuing dress code guidelines that makes the UAE’s approach to dressing appropriately still rather liberal and on trend

By Penny McCormick


Girl’s general appearances, "Should be modest and tidy. With discreet, minimal jewellery, and no make-up. Hair tied back. No torn clothing or other extremes." So reads the dress code to one of the UK’s most elite girls’ schools – Cheltenham Ladies College.



The guidelines follow a summer of rule reiteration for seasonal, society events such as Wimbledon and Royal Ascot. At the latter for instance, “Dresses and skirts must fall just above the knee, Straps must be at least one inch thick, Hats must be worn and Trouser suits are welcome, but must be full length and of matching material and colour.” Don’ts include the banning of fascinators from the Royal Enclosure, as are shorts and the bearing of midriffs. Many social commentators in the UK have applauded this return to etiquette, and with it, a blatant anti-Wag culture, where less is definitely not more.




Last year a Twitter campaign in Dubai sparked a media storm, and quite rightly, a focus on the appropriate dress codes for foreign visitors and expatriate residents and whether local customs and values were assimilated. The campaign which began with a hastag - #UAEDressCode and the twitter handle @uaedresscode has evolved into an account with more than 600 followers.




It’s worth bearing in mind that the local population comprises only 11 per cent of a total of 8.2 million and that they are incredibly tolerant of western dress.




In fact the Twitter campaign has brought a lot of the residents together – whether Filipino, Asian, American, European or British, who all object to some of the more outrageous clothing, favoured by transit holidaymakers.




A key part of the debate has been the definition of decency and what comprises a universal dress code in a country with more than 100 nationalities. Those involved in the dress code campaign urge trying to respect or share the same values as their host country.




In general most normal clothing is tolerated and accepted as long as it is not too outrageous. Most offenders are tourists so it’s best to follow a few guidelines and also use your own common sense when dressing and going to public places. A rule of thumb is that it’s better to cover knees and shoulders and everything in between.




And as for the seasoned travellers’ approach to this debate? They all say, When in Rome…




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