Do Clothes Maketh The Man?

If you plan to visit a Department of Foreign Affairs passport office wearing shorts, be prepared to be turned away.

In our hot and humid climate shorts are far more comfortable than long pants, but at the DFA they’re banned.

Sorry Michael Douglas - no entry

Sorry Michael Douglas – no entry

The DFA has strict rules on how their customers should dress. Their policy states: “no slippers, no sandos, no shorts, no spaghetti-strapped blouses (whatever they are), no micro-mini skirts.”

In this day and age it seems odd that the DFA should have such Draconian rules. It got me thinking about how other countries tackle the issue of what people should wear when visiting government offices?

After some brief research, it seems the Philippines might be unique in this regard. There’s no dress code for visitors to government offices in Hong Kong, Singapore or Australia. And, in the US, they wouldn’t dare for fear of a lawsuit.

So why here?

Of course one could always challenge the rules. A 12 year-old British boy did just that a while ago when he wore a skirt to school in protest against rules which ban boys from wearing shorts.

Chris Whitehead wore a girls’ knee-length skirt to classes as a protest against his school’s strict uniform policy which bans boys from wearing shorts during the hot summer months.

Please come in

Please come in

He also addressed 1,368 pupils at morning assembly wearing the black skirt, which boys are permitted to wear due to a loophole in the policy.

He said: ”In the summer girl students are allowed to wear skirts but boys are not allowed to wear shorts”.

Headteacher Robert Campbell said the ban on shorts was imposed following consultation with students, teachers and parents.

But he added: ‘What Chris has done is raise the issue in an entirely legitimate way. I think it will be right to start thinking about uniform again in September.’

And a few years ago a ban on a New Jersey schoolboy wearing flowery skirts to school was overturned after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claimed his rights were being violated.

So what about the DFA? A local official humm’d and ha’d when asked if a man wearing a skirt would be allowed into their offices.

At first the answer was no, but it was pointed out that a kaftan-style dress was de rigueur for many Muslim men and Scottish men wear kilts, which is essentially a long skirt. Finally, the official said men dressed like this would be allowed in.

No issues at the DFA for a Scotsman

No issues at the DFA for a Scotsman

And what about a man dressed in women’s clothes and wearing high heels? Yes, it seems he’d be allowed in too.

A man dressed as a woman - no problem

A man dressed as a woman – no problem

But a man wearing shorts? Perish the thought!


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