Packing Topics / Clothing and Culture

Clothing and Culture

Clothing can say a lot about a person and a culture. This will be true for you and the communities you're studying in, so it's important to do a little research on what you should wear. You can definitely check out the latest trends and fashion of your host country, but you should also keep local customs, attitudes, and even local religious beliefs in mind when you're packing (and getting dressed in the morning). We're not saying this to put a damper on your style, but paying a little more attention to local customs in regard to clothing could reduce your risk of being targeted by thieves or offending your new neighbors or local friends.

Petty theft like pickpocketing is usually considered a crime of opportunity. When you wear t-shirts with American brands or Greek organizations on them, it can signal to a stranger that you may have money, an expensive phone, or a passport on you. By sticking to more neutral styles, you'll blend in a bit more with the locals. This goes for flashy jewelry as well, so best to leave your diamonds, crown jewels, and championship rings at home.

By sticking to more neutral styles, you'll blend in a bit more with the locals.

If you’re visiting a “Holy Site,” be sure to check on a dress code. Generally, shoulders have to be covered and pants or skirts have to go below your knees. We want you to have the best experience possible, and getting turned away from a temple in Bali because you’re wearing shorts will definitely put a damper on your day.

What is considered "appropriate" will largely depend on where you're going.

In some conservative countries, you may need to dress more modestly than you would at home. In such places, you should avoid shorts, miniskirts, tank-tops, and low necklines...even if it is really, really hot outside.


  • Not taking into account local dress could be seen as disrespectful, and could draw unwanted attention.
  • American fashion is generally more casual than other countries. Unless you’re on your way to the gym, you might leave your sweats in your room.