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A Maldivian girl in a traditional dress. | by Aey Xed ( A. Z )
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A Maldivian girl in a traditional dress.

A young lady parading Dhivehi libaas : As far as fashions go this dress is creative enough to challenge the talents of an Armani or a Dior.

Perhaps no country enforces dress codes as seriously as Bhutan. Under a 1988 policy, which the government says is aimed to “promote national integration and the Bhutanese identity”, it is compulsory for all citizens to wear gho and kira at all times.

The government explains that the policy was implemented only after consulting the people.


Many other countries are not so serious about dress codes. Even though Japan has a national dress, the kimono, for both sexes, one rarely sees the dapper Japanese in anything except a designer suit. Singapore, the other developed country in Asia, ostensibly does not saddle itself with a national dress. But all high-flying business visitors to the island are well advised to pack their tuxedoes unless they enjoy feeling like hermit crabs without shells.


While a libaas makes an impressive fashion statement, it is not practical as everyday wear. The price tag is also steep. (photo: Haveeru)


In the Maldives people have used traditional dresses like feyli, libaas, faaskuri hedhun and mundu. Even today, official functions showcase some of these. We may choose to reinvent them as our national dress. But whatever we do, it doesn’t hurt to look smart. Oscar Wilde once said, “Clothes maketh a man.” To this we can add, “costumes maketh a clown.”


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Taken on December 2, 2006