The national dress of East Timor is the sarong which is widely worn by both men and women. The sarong is a lengthy piece of fabric, which is normally wrapped around the waist of men and women.
This skirt or kilt comes in patterns of check or brightly colored designs of batik or dyes.
East Timor like all God fearing countries are a traditional society where dressing neatly and modestly play an important part of all locals. Although the main dress which is the sarongs is widely used, many are adapting to the western dress codes which should be worn to a limit, not exposing too much of one’s self. There is no restriction on the dress code as fashion is slowly gaining popularity where people are looking into modern branded names.
Foreigners and visitors are requested to abide by the general rules of clothing and are permitted to wear western clothes like pants, shirts, t-shirts, short pants, dresses, skirts, blouses and other modern clothing. It is advisable to avoid revealing or offensive attire in public areas, and to dress up conservatively when attending religious and official events. In general one should be clean, neat and presentable in the eyes of the general public.
It is a normal trend to wear casual clothing as the weather too plays an important role in what is needed to be worn. Most people coming to work in East Timor dress to the latest fashion being conservative for their daily work routine. The younger generations are more inclined to the modern day fashions that come from the USA, Australia and Europe.
East Timorese will be found in western clothing in the city limits, whilst in the rural areas you will find them wearing the normal hand woven and dyed textile clothes. The women wear the similar skirts with Indonesian style tops and head gears. Women who intend visiting East Timor should be very careful in dressing while in the country. Story has it that women who dress in revealing outfits are normally branded as prostitutes.
It is reported that in 2000 near the market area of Mercado Lama a mob of young males threaten five women who were considered to be indecently dressed. East Timorese take their dressing very serious and would like all visitors to abide by their beliefs.
As mentioned above the weather does play a role in the dress set of laws that one needs to follow. As East Timor is a tropical monsoon climate country, you will find it dry, sticky and hot from the months of July to November with the strong rains coming in from December to March. It is generally known to rain through out the year, so rain wear should be part of your dressing item along with some light clothing. It is advisable to have some warm attire for the cool nights and while traveling on higher levels.
So when in East Timor, it is better to be very cautious in dressing.