It’s summer and some of you lucky and lovely American women may be taking some precious vacation time to travel out of our country. I will not be joining you; my passport intentionally expired years ago when I had kids, because I am courteous to very-long-distance airplane travelers. Maybe I will renew it when the airlines make a Kids-Only Club in cargo. 

But for those of you ladies who are planning your trips and packing your bags, you may be wondering what you should wear to your foreign destinations. American fashion style is often not very well appreciated in other countries, you may be shocked to learn. I came across a very informative article from Condé Nast Traveler  (via concierge.com) on this subject called “Etiquette 101: Dress Codes.” What I have done is pared down their piece (in case you have Internet-Caused ADHD, a hot topic these days) to quote their basic street style recommendations for several Other Countries, and then give you my BOTTOM LINE. I am courteous, I save you time, and I mess up someone else’s article with snark. You are welcome. Here you go.


Avoid bright colors and take care to shun the plethora of other offenses: pleated chinos, walking shorts, sport sandals, baseball caps, golf attire, loud logos, sneakers, T-shirts, and sexy clothes.

BOTTOM LINE: Anything that’s not identifiably American. 


Germans run the gamut from wildly fashionable to definitively frumpy—with an intellectual in-between group that pairs their sack dresses with edgy haircuts and bold jewelry. Although nothing's verboten, the perpetual cold dictates sensible coats, which, for the stylish, are asymmetrically zippered or bat-sleeved and made of wool.

BOTTOM LINE: “Sprockets”


Jackie O's legacy lives on in the legions of Greek women wearing linen trousers, nice tees, sweaters tied around the shoulders, and oversized shades. No baseball caps, no Birkenstocks, no billowy fake-hippie skirts. Ever.

BOTTOM LINE: Like the Ivy-League girlfriend of one of the guys from Vampire Weekend.


Young people pair tight Dolce & Gabbana tops with Diesel jeans. Think brands, brands, brands—and preferably Italian: Versace, Gucci, Cavalli, or Armani.

BOTTOM LINE: New Jersey new money.


Scanty outfits require tights and fur coats during frigid Russian winters. Sneakers draw incredulous stares. Super Euro cologne—and especially anything Armani—is the height of hip; the more the better.

BOTTOM LINE: Chilly prostitute.


"I once heard that a woman had trouble getting a tea-man to serve her because she dressed like a frumpy housewife."So dressing down is not an option. Women cultivate a studied casual look in designer jeans, Tod's loafers, and ironed high-end T-shirts (like James Perse)—never shorts.

BOTTOM LINE: Country club member that demurely flirts with the staff.


Quirky Kate Moss inspired London girls throw on a high-low mix of Top Shop and Temperley; they're freer and less polished than other city style–setters.  Don't opt for chinos and polos—the preppy look won't fly in London. At a party: Skinny jeans take a girl from meetings to a cutesy mews (switch from heels to Chuck Taylors) to a Shoreditch pub crawl (back to heels).

BOTTOM LINE: Dress slightly better than normal; avoid smiling as to not offend others with your superior teeth.


Arms, chest, and back should be covered. Although Chinese women wear conservative cuts, shirts are sometimes transparent, leaving the bra in full view. Chinese women would be loath to wear any footwear without straps, because it shows too much of the foot.

BOTTOM LINE: Maidenform good; feet bad.


On the street: Unless you're here to visit a Bollywood star, designer clothes aren't right for Indian city streets. A sari won't work, either: "Western women look silly because they can't wrap or tie it right," says Barbara Crossette, author of India: Old Civilization in a New World. Instead, wear drawstring pants, leather toe sandals, and a nice cotton tee. 

BOTTOM LINE: Boulder, Colorado.


Pair heel-covering sandals (like gladiators), sneakers, or ballet flats with Levi's or Lee jeans—American denim is revered in Jakarta and its surrounds. Wear some kind of collar (a polo shirt, perhaps) as a sign of respect.

BOTTOM LINE: Like the girl who wishes she were the Ivy-League girlfriend of one of the guys from Vampire Weekend, but only got into a state college.


For Tokyo youth, nothing's too studied or over-the-top, so the laissez-faire American norm is seen as slovenly. Women should wear heels, makeup, and a dose of frills.

BOTTOM LINE: Lady Gaga for 30-and-under; 30-and-up, attractive enough to invite packed-train frottage. Avoid being fat in any way.


Loose jeans and a tunic-like top (shirts should reach the upper thigh) make for perfect daywear when layered with a bright embroidered scarf. In the south, women wear vibrant colors and breezy cotton layers. The country's northern half is cooler and requires heavier, darker duds. No shorts, tank tops, or above-the-knee skirts. Makeup's vital for girls; heavy kohl is worn around the eyes.

BOTTOM LINE:  Osama’s Mama.


Those in their 20s and 30s strut in tank tops, hot pants and flip-flops. A polo shirt by Fred Perry or Ralph Lauren is a popular option, as well as anything from casual mass-market stores. Hems are worn high at every age—get your gams ready.

BOTTOM LINE: Laid-back Cali-style, covering paralyzing fear of capital punishment for forgetting to flush a toilet.


The mall, not the street, is the social arena. Here, girls in T-shirts (their shoulders covered out of respect and as a remedy against the freezing AC blasts) tote the latest Louis Vuittons. Carry a pashmina to cover up in case you find yourself in a traditional souk—although you'll see miniskirts and shorts, they're for people who know the city well enough to avoid ultra-conservative quarters.

BOTTOM LINE: Pretend slightly that you aren’t of less worth than a dog.


Shorts are a faux pas unless you're hitting the greens or playing squash at a sports club, and even then they're wrong for women, who are better off in pants or long skirts (ankle-length jeans and khaki cargo styles are popular). About 90 percent of Egyptian women cover their heads, but tourists aren't expected to.

BOTTOM LINE: Pretend slightly that you aren’t of less worth than a dog with three legs and mange.


Special police enforce the Islamic dress code, which requires women (non-Muslims included) to be covered from head to toe. The working classes wear full-length black chadors, but a manteau over jeans is an acceptable alternative. Hijabs are often patterned or pinned with pretty brooches. Makeup should be minimal, and while bright lipstick isn't allowed, flawless eyebrows are an absolute must. They're credited with creating the first perfume, so it's no surprise that the Iranians are scent savvy: Although women might be cloaked, they're often doused in glam, sexy fragrances like Azzaro's vetiver and pimento tonics.

BOTTOM LINE: Hefty bag, something to cover up the sweaty despair, and a tweezers.


It's South Beach style in resorty Eilat and Tel Aviv, where cotton shorts and tank tops are de rigueur during the hot summer months. Everywhere in Israel is fairly casual, but Jerusalem, Galilee, and Tiberias get colder winters and call for more conservative dress. In these places, long skirts are ideal for women, and everyone covers up at Jewish and Christian religious sites, with high necks and long sleeves.

BOTTOM LINE: Piss off the Muslims.


Rich red embroidery is popular, so Western women can don detailed tunics over loose trousers (many local women wear pants) or black cotton dresses embellished with traditional needlework.  The veil's a release of sorts for trendy young women, who can show a little more skin as long as the head is covered.

BOTTOM LINE: Look like an Amish sampler with a bag over your head.


Beirut is fashion-forward, but the city's poor Shiite majority dictates a conservative look. Since the stylish set don't do much walking, women shuttle around in Audis wearing light dresses or caftans. Be warned that such liberal style won't fly outside the capital city. Women express themselves through their accessories, which are often over-the-top: bright scarves, gold bangles, glittery clutches, and neon satchels.

BOTTOM LINE: Bodyguard.


Although tight jeans and bare midriffs aren't unusual in hip Damascene hoods like Salahiya, you'll have to search hard to find a Syrian woman over 40 wearing pants. Older women wrap the head in a hijab—or an Hermès scarf—when shopping in marketplaces downtown, although this isn't required of tourists. Do remain respectful by covering arms and legs before going out.

BOTTOM LINE: Young hotties can show belly buttons but not limbs; old bags, cover up.

Have fun, ladies! Send me a postcard if you don’t get jailed or suffer too badly from Severe French Disdain Syndrome. USA USA USA!