Country itineraries for tourists are also taking cognisance of the need to be cautious, and many regions have laid out rules to be followed.
When in Rome, goes the adage… it would be cautionary and wise to do what the Romans do. And today, in a scenario where the angst is palatable as the world comes to terms with racist overtones and immigrant rants, back home, the well-heeled jetsetters are taking stock of these divisive episodes by being cautious. In this season of summer holidays and beach vacays, we explored how to fit in, dress right and feel comfortable when in a foreign country. With the rise in hate crimes and immigrant tirades, the ideal way to travel is to blend into the milieu, and while there is nothing wrong in wearing your cultural and religious beliefs on your person, it would be ideal to take the road of restraint and self preservation.
Country itineraries for tourists are also taking cognisance of the need to be cautious, and many regions have laid out rules to be followed. For instance, anyone knows that visiting a wat in Thailand needs a conservative outlook. With London being the focus of reports of a surge in hate crimes, and the US too, the figures are worrying, and divisive political campaigning and toxic language used on refugees and migrants makes it pertinent to be a wise traveller.
A well-travelled designer, Susan Fernandes of Anu & Susan, agrees, “When we travelled to Iran, we wore long sleeves tops and trousers and though I could have wrapped a dupatta over my hair, I even went further and bought a local headscarf and actually enjoyed the anonymity of fitting in. I’ve personally told many of our foreign friends not to wear strappy tops and shorts if travelling alone, for them to not call attention of our local Indian men who’re not too used to seeing so much skin.”
Vikram Ahuja, Byond Travel shares, “I travel a lot and my advice is to be aware of cultural sensibilities and sensitivities of a region you’re travelling to. Most importantly, be respectful of the culture. Make sure you are able to dress how the locals would dress. Also, travellers to specific regions should avoid attracting undue attention, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.”
Another globe trotter, fashion designer, Reshma Kunhi says, “Travel clothing has always been in trend and is comfy and chic — athleisure comprising track suits, sweat pants with tees and smart sneakers, comfortable denims with tees and jacket, joggers, etc. are great. For long distance travel, wear maxi dress or A-line skirts. For shorter distances, with the current scenario, it is advisable to wear clothes keeping in mind comfort and safety, especially for Indians travelling to areas which are in the news for racist attacks. Avoid wearing clothes and accessories which identify with a particular community. For Indian Muslim or Hindu women who’re not comfortable with modern clothing, dress modestly. One can avoid a burqa and opt for a trench coat, long cardigan, ponchos, long multilayered skirts or flares teamed with a blouse or a scarf. For Indian women who’re comfortable in saris or salwar kameez, you can instead opt for palazzo pants with long-knitted tops teamed with a cardigan which are more or less like salwar kameez, and look chic.”
The mood is definitely not conducive to wearing allegiances on the sleeve. “I’m a minimalist so I believe in minimalism. However, I just have one thing to say — Do in Rome as the Romans do. Never go overboard. Just wear casual tees and denims,” says Malini Gowrishankar, F5 Escapes.
Susan Fernandes goes on to add, “I like to fit in the country I am travelling in. I like the idea of global chic. I am not comfortable in anything ultra revealing, unless I’m on a beach. When Anu Nagappa and I travel to Europe or the UK, we do wear Western outfits, made in the finest of Indian fabrics – silks and pure cottons.”
For an Indian living abroad, travelling across the globe, Goan DJ Donabelle, who DJs in Dubai, Cambodia and Goa, feels it depends on the country you are visiting, “Cambodia and Thailand are the safest and easiest places to dress. No one looks at you. This makes the tourist comfortable. Also as an expat, I feel super great to be allowed to wear what I want where I want to. Wearing a sari or salwar kameez is a big thing as when I do, it draws a lot of attention here, in a good way. I would advise people to wear what they are comfortable given the place, time, weather and situation. If you are in a county that is conservative, as a guest you should respect and adhere to their ways instead of asking for unwanted trouble.”