“Are you allowed to wear that?”
It’s a question that pops up a lot here thanks to Dubai’s decency laws, which require women to cover themselves respectably when in public places. Malls all display requests on the door for shoppers to dress “respectfully”; the children’s school even sends home regular missives asking parents not to present at school drop-off in such horrors as a Primark frock.
(I’m kidding – it actually forbids us from showing shoulders or knees and specifically mentions that ladies must not wear “shorts above the knee” – though surely then they cease to be shorts and become, I don’t know, culottes?).
Anyway, in addition to the decency laws, Dubai is, frankly, quite dressy. Many don’t want it to be so, and actively cultivate a stylish down-dressed, can’t-be-arsed look, but the fact remains that your average shopper in Mirdif City Centre presents better than your average shopper in Lakeside Thurrock. Fact.
But, around the house, chez Mrs Dubai, anything goes – usually khaki shorts (not of a Miley-Cyrus twerking kind of style), a white t-shirt and flipetty-flops. V comfy, v easy and perfect for cooking the kids’ tea.
And now I will get to my point. Yesterday, I realised that DD needed new passport pictures. To us Dubai-ites, passport pictures are like oxygen: if you fall below a critical number (at least four), you start to hyperventilate and come out in hives, so we popped out post-cooking and pre-eating supper to get some new ones done. I was, needless to say, not in the sassy pencil -skirt-and-heels ensemble I’d worn to school (covering the knee and shoulder, of course), but in the around-the-house khaki-shorts-and-white-t-shirt combo.
Seriously? It didn’t look that bad. In a sort of easy-going GAP way.
But, as we stepped into the garage, DD looked me up and down and said, “Are you allowed to wear that out? To the supermarket?”
And I imagined at once the community style police falling on me at the supermarket door: “Mrs D, Lady of the Ranches, one cannot go out looking like that. One is letting down the team; property prices are plummeting as we speak. Be thee home and put on a Marc Jacobs silk frock at once. Step up, Mrs D, keep our property values high.”
And you know what, lovely readers? That didn’t happen, but had it done, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised.