The clothing question (Egypt)

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Mar 18th, 2006, 12:28 PM
  #1
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The clothing question (Egypt)

As with previous trips, I'm always surprised at how mistaken some are. I've been told by Americans who have lived in Egypt recently that the "dress" for tourists is no different than in the U.S.
"look in the mirror" is the best policy. If your legs and arms should be covered, than do it in both countries. I'm told that Egypt is more secular and becoming very in tune w/ the Western clothing. Just as we accept other's type of dress, they also know we wear shorts and sleeveless tops when it's hot and by those who can.
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Mar 18th, 2006, 08:42 PM
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I am not sure who you were talking to and I'm not quite sure of your point. Are you saying that these people you talked to are right (dress as you do in the US) or wrong (cover up)??

Just a simple point of fact - shorts and sleeveless tops (no matter the temperature) are NOT accepted in Egypt - unless you're at the beach, sitting around a hotel pool, or on a cruise. Similarly, shorts for men are definitely not acceptable.

When you are visiting the sites, shopping at the bazaars, or travelling, you should dress more conservatively. Of course, women do wear shorts and revealing tops - and men do wear shorts - but it is not considered appropriate. Now, will you be refused service? No, but you won't be allowed in some religious buildings (particularly mosques) and you will most probably get stares and unflattering comments thrown your way.

I lived in Egypt for 4 years, and even in the hottest months - I wore long pants (or a long-ish skirt) and loose fitting tops with sleeves to at least my elbows. In fact - these outfits were usually cooler since they protected you from the heat of the sun.

Yes, Egypt is becoming more Western (I wouldn't use the term secular) and you will see Egyptian women dressed in more Western/European styles - some of which are rather revealing. But it is not the norm. The US tends to be more tolerant of other people's way of dressing, but as the old saying goes - "when in Rome...." When travelling, you are a guest in that country and should be aware of and respectful of their customs and culture.

In Egypt, the best policy is to dress comfortably - but more conservatively than in the US.
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Mar 19th, 2006, 04:17 AM
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Perfectly stated above.

No, you do not dress in Egypt as you do in the US. Especially not in Cairo or at holy sites. If you do, you will be given coverups and if green capes look good on you, you're in for a surprise. Ha! Ha!

Only at a beach resort, hotel pool or on the top/pool deck of your Nile cruise boat can you wear abbreviated clothing.

Besides, in the heat with sun beating down on you, it's best to be covered with loose, comfortable fitting clothing. The people who live in these climates know and so should visitors.
 
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Mar 24th, 2006, 07:22 PM
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I believe the point this person was making to me was that just as we (Americans) don't look at visitors as inappropriately dressed due to the fact they are dressing like they would in their country, so too, the Egyptians can recognize a Westerner. IOW, I am accustomed to seeing topless females as I've been to many places where that is "appropriate". It may not be the "norm" in the U.S., but would you be offended if you saw it on a ship?

I have been several places where I am "starred" at, not because of what I'm wearing but rather because I'm different, is that a negative or uncomfortable? I suppose I'm used to it.

Just another month to go and I'll have my answer. But I do plan to take those tank tops w/ light sheer tops to put over.
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Mar 24th, 2006, 10:57 PM
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Of course Egyptians can recognize a Westerner...but being able to recognize one does not mean that they willingly accept whatever the Westerner is wearing JUST BECAUSE it's a Westerner. It is still considered disrespectful, except in those circumstances listed above.

Where we live now (as it was in Egypt), it is not considered appropriate for older boys (over 8 or 10) or adult men to wear shorts. While my boys wear shorts around our neighborhood and to school, when we go downtown or to the market or out to eat or even go for a haircut - they know they must wear long pants. Even in the heat of the summer, they know to accept and follow the cultural norms of our host country. They have even learned to wear zip-off pants when we travel so that they can wear the long pants in the airport, but change to shorts on the plane.

I go back to the simple idea of understanding and respecting the customs and culture of the country you're visiting.
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Mar 25th, 2006, 09:37 AM
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Same response as when people on cruise board ask what they can get away with wearing on formal night - do you want to fit in and not offend, or dress in whatever manner you can "get away with".
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Mar 27th, 2006, 06:08 AM
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My guess is your friends were maybe being sarcastic. Maybe not. I'm constantly amazed at how little clothing many tourists wear here in Cairo. (I'm american, have lived here for two years.) To feel comfortable it's best to cover at least your legs, and preferably your arms. That being said, at most of the big tourist spots you'll probably be overdressed compared to many of the westerners there. It is true Egypt, at least the "new rich" Egypt is becoming more western leaning. But it is also in many ways becoming more traditional. There are more and more women everyday covering their heads. You can get away with shorts at Giza. You can get away with them downtown. The question is-- should you? You'll get a lot of looks. You'll get bit more hassle from the boys.
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Apr 17th, 2006, 09:11 AM
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just back from 2 weeks in Egypt and while most of it was great - the constant, and I mean constant, hassling is incredibly irritating. This is done for all tourists totally irresepectiveof what you are wearing by my observation. The vast majority of the Egyptians are on the take and couldn't give a toss what you were wearing. They have little or no respect for anything other than your $$.
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Apr 18th, 2006, 05:32 AM
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Eliza - I am so sorry that was your experience - it wasn't mine.

The vendors have their living to make, and around the big sites they can be quite pushy but they weren't threatening at all (and I agree that tourists will all be targetted whatever their clothing). I found it quite funny to hear cries of "buy one, get one free", and if I was annoyed I just said "Lah shokran" (no thankyou) or "imshi" (go away (to children)) and they did. But we experienced nothing like "constant" hassling. Some of the souvenirs (hand embroideries etc) were well worth a look and amazing value. Many Egyptians we met were helpful and friendly and not simply after the $.
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Apr 18th, 2006, 12:16 PM
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I can empathize with Eliza3. We went in November of last year and a good trip was overshadowed by people constantly bothering us for money. The worst incident was being cornered by an antiquites police office at the Temple of Horus in Edfu and he wouldn't let us out of this room until we paid him what he thought was sufficient. And what are you going to do...argue with the guy with the gun? As far as clothing, I always wore long pants and had a long sleeved linen shirt to throw on over my t-shirt when we went to the sites.
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