Tag: wearing clothes

Each week in the Wednesday column, Prudence asks readers for their thoughts on a question that has her stumped. She’ll post her final thoughts on the matter on Fridays.

Here’s this week’s dilemma and answer; thanks to Deborah, Christina D., Collette, Gearboy, Clothes are Clothes, First Lady’s Gown, and Sasha for their ideas!

Dear Prudence,

I have a first-world question. I travel extensively for work and am often gifted with traditional clothing. Think keffiyeh in Saudi Arabia, vyshyvanka in Ukraine, hanbok in Korea. They are usually very beautiful, but I’m at a loss as to what to do with them when I get home. Can I somehow use or wear them without seeming to appropriate the culture?

—Drowning in Clothes

Dear Drowning,

I decided to ask for help responding to your letter because my first reaction was “Good for you for being thoughtful, but this is fine! People from these cultures wanted you to have the clothing! Nobody will care. Wear it.” But a nagging voice in my head said “But what if someone does care and my advice sets her up for weird looks, or worse, a confrontation?” I’m well aware that “Prudie said I was in the clear” would not help you in that situation.

And in fact, the responses I received from readers confirmed that everyone’ will not agree on whether you should wear the traditional items. Many thought it would be fine and were even kind of exasperated that you would ask the question:

This depends on context that is not provided in the letter, but if the LW wants to wear these things and they are not exclusively ceremonial, and if the LW feels like they have a bit of fashion sense, it comes down to prioritizing respect for people you know, fashion, and being

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