When in Rome… dress according to the culture

In the Netherlands it is better not to wear fur, in China white is the color of mourning and in a mosque the headscarf is a must for women. The Royals need to switch gears on the international stage to keep everyone friendly. In Rome, do as the Romans do! Josine Droogendijk of Modekoninginmaxima.nl explains how royal ladies prevent an uncomfortable fashion moment.

Text: Josine Droogendijk. This story has already appeared in Vorsten 13 of 2021 and has been adapted for online publication if necessary.

In many countries, it is customary for high-ranking guests to be received with traditional gifts: a feather cloak in New Zealand, for example, flower garlands in Nepal or a khata (ceremonial shawl) in Bhutan . Customers can also choose to refer to national clothes commonly worn in their attire. In the Netherlands, dress customs are fairly standard by international standards. You rarely see the King without a tie and the Queen invariably wears a hat on formal occasions. Customers can quite easily comply; it is not a national costume that lends itself to a fashionable gesture. Willem-Alexander would be surprised if the King of Sweden appeared in clogs or in a Staphorst costume.

Máxima winks at the saree

Take India for example, it’s a whole different story. The sari is the great pride of the country and few tourists leave without it. When the Dutch court gets the green light for a state visit in 2019, Máxima will know what to do: find the saris she bought during a previous state visit (2007). She entrusts the saris to Jan Taminiau, who transforms them into western evening dresses with a clear nod to the sari. The diplomatic gesture earned Máxima many compliments, both in the Netherlands and in India.

Diana and Catherine in Pakistan

One country where you can easily score points in terms of diplomatic attire is Pakistan. During Princess Diana’s visit in 1996, her wardrobe with long tunics and trousers (the so-called shalwar kameez), scarves and colorful embroidery is even described as “master fashion”. So the bar is set high when William and Catherine make a five-day visit to the same country in October 2019. The couple aren’t put off by this. With great enthusiasm, the Duchess conjures up one shalwar kameez after another and the prince wears a coat and knee-length trousers, a so-called sherwani, at the state dinner. To top it off, the prince’s gesture is executed in the national color of Pakistan: dark green. Talk about a fashion masterclass!

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