World Wise

Global gar­ment gaffes

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE EVERY ISSUE - By Terri Mor­ri­son

De­code the Dress Code

Nu­dity is gen­er­ally in­ad­vis­able in pub­lic, un­less you are with author and tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Rick Steves in Baden-Baden. His sem­i­nal 2008 ar­ti­cle in the Seat­tle Times about get­ting com­fort­able with the unique tra­di­tion of bathing naked is an eye­opener: Amer­i­can prudes, Euro­pean nudes at Ger­man spa (seat­tle­

Of course, there are other sit­u­a­tions when pub­lic nu­dity is im­proper. For ex­am­ple, when art ex­hibit or­ga­niz­ers in Qatar re­cently mounted a show called “The Olympics - Past and Present,”they ne­go­ti­ated for sev­eral an­cient Greek stat­ues to be sent to Doha. Un­for­tu­nately, the nudes (which in­cluded a long-haired, ath­letic kouros from 520 B.C.) caused a com­mo­tion, and the sculp­tures were se­questered be­hind a sheer black screen, only to be seen in sil­hou­ette.

The re­fusal to dis­play the price­less art au na­turel did not sit well with Greece’s National Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Mu­seum, so it was agreed to re­turn the two big­gest stat­ues. For­tu­nately, there were no hard feel­ings.

Re­li­gion in­flu­ences at­tire in other coun­tries too. Qatar is ac­tu­ally less rig­or­ous than its aus­tere neigh­bor, Saudi Ara­bia. Ac­cord­ing to Joanna Saa­vides, pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional busi­ness at the Emi­rates Avi­a­tion Col­lege, sev­eral air­lines fly­ing into Riyadh now pro­vide abayas (the flow­ing dark gowns) for women who may have for­got­ten them. Abayas are re­quired for women in all Saudi pub­lic places, and with­out one, a fe­male may not be per­mit­ted to dis­em­bark. Ob­serv­ing Is­lamic guide­lines for at­tire and be­hav­ior is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant dur­ing re­li­gious events. Air­lines can be

fined and have their flights sus­pended if they bring in women with­out abayas dur­ing the Haj (the Mus­lim pil­grim­age to Mecca). Joanna also noted that women should es­chew open-toed footwear in the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia. If you want to flaunt a great pedi­cure, do it in Rio, not in Riyadh.

Ob­vi­ously, suit­able at­tire varies in dif­fer­ent coun­tries. What your wear forms a large part of peo­ple’s first im­pres­sions, so in­vest wisely. Here are some guide­lines to avoid a fash­ion faux pas:

Ar­gentina: Get Se­ri­ous Ar­gen­tines usu­ally wear for­mal, con­ser­va­tive out­fits, even in many so­cial sit­u­a­tions. For­eign ex­ec­u­tives should do like­wise. Ar­gen­tines are aware of Euro­pean styles, but tend to­ward a mod­est and sub­dued look.

France: Stylish, Best Qual­ity As one would ex­pect, the in­ven­tors of haute couture put a pre­mium on style. Even en­try-level work­ers buy the best clothes they can af­ford. The typ­i­cal French pos­ture (very straight, even when sit­ting) makes their clothes look even bet­ter. And French­women are fa­mous for their hard-edged, fem­i­nine chic: a smart tailleur and good shoes are a must.Your en­tire wardrobe will be scru­ti­nized.

Ja­pan: Cool Biz Dur­ing the hor­rific tsunami of 2011, Ja­pan’s power grid was dam­aged and the govern­ment asked ev­ery­one to con­serve en­ergy. Many com­pa­nies com­plied, set­ting their ther­mostats in the low 80s and im­ple­ment­ing a“Su­per Cool Biz”dress code which elim­i­nated the dark wool “salary­man”suit and tie in many of­fices. (There is also a“Warm Biz”code dur­ing win­ter.) Un­less you are in the fi­nan­cial or se­cu­ri­ties in­dus­tries, you can prob­a­bly leave your heavy dark suit at home – go with more ca­sual light cot­tons or linen jack­ets with dark pants. And stat­uesque women might want to shun the stilet­tos in fa­vor of flats.

Safety First

Your fi­nal, but pos­si­bly most im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion is se­cu­rity. Never be a tar­get. Global trav­el­ers may cringe at the sight of US tourists in their loud clothes and bright sneak­ers. But even US busi­ness­men can be picked out of a crowd in a sec­ond. The first in­di­ca­tor is the “Amer­i­can cut”suit. It’s not just the sin­gle vent, straight lines, flappy pock­ets, and wide arm­holes. Strangely enough, many men wear suits that are too big for them. For your next trip, try a clas­sic“Bri­tish cut” (two vents, ta­pered waist, arm­holes slightly higher, but­ton fas­tened at the waist) or a Euro­pean-cut suit (two or no slits,V-shape de­sign, flap­less pock­ets). What­ever you wear, make sure your slacks break at the top of your shoes’heels, and your tie hits the top of your belt.

Trav­el­ing on Rome’s sub­ways? When pick­pock­ets at­tack, you may want to have some cloth­ing that blends into the en­vi­ron­ment around you, yet keeps your valu­ables safely zipped in in­te­rior pock­ets. Scot­tevest (scot­ is well-known to pho­tog­ra­phers and fre­quent fliers. Their vests, jack­ets and coats are tai­lored to hide iPads, ex­pen­sive sun­glasses, pass­ports and other trea­sures. While a gar­ment with 24 pock­ets may sound ex­ces­sive, skirt­ing pick­pock­ets and some checked bag fees can be worth it. Che bella figura!


What’s your Cul­tural IQ? True or False? Ob­ser­vant Mus­lim men do not gen­er­ally wear gold jewelry.

E-mail your an­swer to Ter­riMor­ri­son@ kiss­bowor­shake­

A free copy of Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: The Best­selling Guide to Do­ing Busi­ness in More Than Sixty Coun­tries and Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: Sales & Mar­ket­ing will be awarded to two cor­rect re­spon­dents, courtesy of F&W Me­dia and McGraw-Hill.

May’s An­swer: True.“Re­spect”by Otis Red­ding, be­came Aretha Franklin’s sig­na­ture song.

Terri Mor­ri­son is a speaker, co-author of 9 books, and is work­ing on her 10th. She is also Edi­tor of Kiss Bow or Shake Hands Dig­i­tal - avail­able through McGraw-Hill. Ter­riMor­ri­son@kiss­bowor­shake­hands Twit­ter @Kis­sBowAuthor. Tel (610) 725-1040. BT

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