Sartorial Independence comes to the Dutch Antilles


Male lawmakers in the Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao, Bonaire, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten) want to free themselves from the European-style suits, ties and jackets that they are obliged to wear under a 1954 dress code and wear clothes more suitable to their warm, and sometimes muggy, weather. A group of legislators have proposed an amendment that would allow them to wear a Nehru suit, which has a hip-length coat with a mandarin collar, or a safari suit, usually made of cotton and featuring multiple shirt pockets. Parliament President Pedro Attacho said Friday that legislators have approached him in recent years about changing the dress code. “From a European eye, it might look strange, but if you have the Caribbean eye, it will be nice to see because it’s something that is recognized in your own region,” he said. “It’s time that we appreciate and recognize our own way of dress.” Women would still be required to wear non-provocative business casual clothes with skirts that hit at the knee.

The legislature anticipates approving the proposal next week and implementing it in September, Attacho said. It is expected to pass easily, as did a similar law in the British territory of Bermuda in July 2000 that designated Bermuda shorts as acceptable parliamentarian attire. Those who violate the Netherland Antilles’ current dress code can be asked to leave Parliament.

Photo: The Netherlands Antilles delegation during a recent Caricom meeting. Pedro Attacho is in the center (partially blocked but legally attired).

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