By Nadine Kam
Pretty much no one in Hawaii would use the words "too sexy" to describe me. I don't dress provocatively and don't strut around as if I think I'm God's gift to men. If I do bare arms almost every day, it's because our Western standards make it OK in a hot, beachy city, to walk the streets in tank tops. That's not sexy, that's normal.
Dressing for Dubai, where I'm traveling, is another matter. I hear it's a cosmopolitan city where people forgive Westerners their trespasses and tourists wear anything they want. But I think it's wise to respect one's hosts when traveling abroad and in Dubai, an Arab city, that means covering up as much skin as possible, from shoulders downward.
Problem was, I had to dig through my closets and drawers to find shirts and dresses with sleeves, that weren't too low cut, that didn't have cut-outs, and dresses and skirts that fell below my knees. And, came up pretty much empty-handed.
So, I went shopping. And, couldn't find anything.
It's because most Western dress that I would want to wear, is provocative in some way. Trends often reflect the shifting focus on different erogenous zones, selecting what is to be concealed and revealed to maximize the beauty of the female form.
So, if I found a top with a high neckline, I'd turn it around and find a low-cut back. A lot of sleeves today have cut-outs to show more skin. Many tops are so long that shorter girls like me are wearing them as dresses that are about an inch or two away from impropriety.
All I found were a few cast-off long skirts—no doubt discarded for being unsexy—from Goodwill. I dug some more at home and cobbled together five days worth of garments that might pass muster when worn with scarves, and I also figured I could wear leggings under some tunic-style dresses.
There was one shirtdress I dug out of a suitcase, and I wondered why I never wore it. Was it too tight?
Nope. I tried it on and it fit in all the right places, but, it was too long by about four inches and I never got around to hemming it, so the length made it perfect for Dubai.
Only problem was, to my eye and sense of proportion, it was too long, so it stayed at home.
There's appropriateness in terms of cultural mores, and appropriateness by fashion's rules, and this time, fashion won. I'll see how it all works out.