IF you were to judge western fashion by what you see while holidaying in Asia, you would have to believe that hair beads, flip flops with socks, and Red Bull tank tops are all the rage on the runways of Milan, Paris and New York.
You’d think that showing dirty bra straps, that the navel was the acceptable point at which to stop buttoning shirts, and that shapeless fisherman’s pants were the height of chic.
Admittedly, some concessions must be made for the climate, and for the somewhat more laid-back holiday styles, but that’s no excuse for cut-off denim shorts.
Research has found that a fashion crime is committed in Thailand every 12.5 seconds.
Fashion crime falls into a number of categories.
White people with dreadlocks is one of the worst offences.
If your natural tone is anything lighter than a cup of milky tea, then you should NOT have your hair in tight braids or dreadlocks.
Special dispensation can be given to people with recessive genes from mixed ancestry, but ample documentation should be carried at all times and be presented upon demand.
The usual suspects are middle-aged women trying to pick up employees in reggae bars, but juvenile offenders are also common.
The proposed penalty for such a crime is a two hour session at a court-approved hair salon.
Serious offenders, such as those caught smelling of patchouli oil, will be given a long bath and a summary mullet haircut.
Speedo swimming trunks, or ‘budgie smugglers’, are another serious fashion no-no.
A man’s inner thigh should never been seen in public, and the fiend responsible for entering the phrase ‘bikini line’ into the male fashion vocabulary is number one with a bullet on the all time fashion criminals’ ‘most wanted’ list.
Special allowances will be made for athletes, but only during training and actual competition.
Thongs for men are totally banned everywhere in Thailand.
Similarly, women should not sunbathe topless on Asian beaches.
Although some ladies will violently defend their right to bare their best bits, the law and local cultural sensibilities are usually against them for two major reasons.
First, different laws apply in different jurisdictional zones even within the same country.
What is acceptable in Europe is not necessarily okay in this part of the world.
The second reason is the sad fact that the desire of most people to take off their clothing is inversely proportionate to everyone else’s desire to see them naked.
But the law must be fair and impartial, so err on the side of caution and don’t let the dogs out.
For people who spend most of the year in a climate that requires more layers than a plate of lasagne, the urge to be free of threads is understandable, but it’s still not allowed.
The human billboard is another fashion villain, although offenders are often the unwitting victims of large, ruthless, organized campaigns of visible branding such as the Von Dutch family, the Billabong syndicate, or the Body Glove mafia.
Anyone decked out in clothing bearing the logos of these sinister surf syndicates is a victim.
Some poor souls even bear the mark of several different brands at a time.
They think they are making a fashion statement, but he underlying message is ‘I am being used as an advertising pawn’.
The real criminals here are the people making the clothes, but by buying them, the victims are merely aiding and abetting them.
Teenagers, susceptible to peer group pressure and high-profile celebrity endorsements, are at the highest risk, but those suffering a mid-life crisis have been known to get sucked as well.
Socks and sandals are also high on the must-not-do list.
The wearing of socks with any type of footwear less formal than canvas high tops is a definite no-no, and why anyone would want to do this is a complete mystery.
Apart from looking stupid, it completely defeats the point of sandals, which is to keep your feet cool on a hot day.
Finally, wearing shirts printed with the words ‘No Money, No honey’, ‘Same Same, But Different’ or Red Bull and Singha beer tank tops, automatically tell the locals the wearer is a mindless and gullible tourist, ready to be ripped off.
Anyone wearing one of these shirts will be over-charged, harassed by taxi drivers and tailors and may well have accidentally gone home with a transvestite.