Earlier I had talked about what to bring on an Up With People tour. One important part is clothes; you’ll need a variety of outfits for the different dress codes you’ll encounter.
When you get your schedules, you may see different notations for dress codes – Dress Code 1, Dress Code 2, and so on. This may sound really weird at first (numerical dress codes?) but after a while you’ll get the hang of the system.
Here’s what you’ll encounter:
Dress Code 1: Business Formal – worn during official meetings (especially with mayors and businesspeople), tours of business facilities, and anywhere where you need to make a good impression. Suits or a jacket and shirt with slacks or skirts work fine. Some people wear a simplified version of their national costume; this works amazingly well, because you don’t look like the rest of us. Most people wear black, but there’s no restriction on colour; one time we had 3 people dressed in varying shades of pink and maroon. They looked like a colourbar.
A bunch of us in Dress Code 1 for a tour of the General Atomics nuclear facility in San Diego (behind us is Blanton Belk, founder of UWP, and the General Atomics head who is also UWP alumni – can’t remember his name though). Most of us are in business shirts or suits, but Nanu and Joyce have decided to go ethnic – which works well.
Dress Code 2: Smart Casual – for occasions when it’s not very casual nor very formal. This can be a bit of a gray area, but usually you’ll tend to know when you’ll need to dress in Code 2. The main difference between this and “casual” is the lack of denim. This is one of the two default dress codes (when a dress code is not specified), and is a good idea in a more conservative area where you’re not sure how casual they will be.
Rie, myself, and Nanu dressed kinda between smart casual and casual – jeans and faeries wings aren’t Dress Code 2 category. However, swap the jeans with a pair of nice slacks or a skirt and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how Dress Code 2 works.
Dress Code 3: Casual – the other default dress code. Jeans and a t-shirt basically. Easiest to put together. However, do be aware of your surroundings; some places (especially more conservative areas) may consider casual outfits as being too unprofessional and undignified. Internal UWP activities are usually Dress Code 3.
DeeAnn contemplating the mysteries of the dress-coded universe.
Dress Code 4: Get Dirty – no, we’re not advocating porn. Plenty of community service projects involve dirt and dust – gardening, cleaning up, even cooking. For this you’ll need something that’s easy to wash and which you won’t get too bothered about getting dirty. A simple cotton T-Shirt and jeans work well. Often you’ll get free T-shirts during the tour; some people use those for Dress Code 4.
Myself getting away from carrying wood and rock all day. My shirt’s so full of wooddust. Thank goodness for Dress Code 4!
National Costume – this is always fun to have. Go for something more smart casual/DC2, instead of elaborate; super-elaborate ones, such as those with heavy embroidery, are usually very expensive and heavy, and can be in great risk of getting wear and tear on the road. Something a little tamer is easier to bring around and wear, and can also function as a DC1 or DC2 outfit. But for goodness sake, stay away from stereotypes; don’t bring too many kilts if you’re Scottish, or liederhosen if you’re Gemran (unless that’s your thing).
Nanu looking very ravishing in her sari from Nepal. She looks ravishing anyway, the lucky woman.
Performance clothes – this is where my experience may differ from yours, and where it’s best to check what the handbook has to say. In the old Up With People days, people had costumes; they differed by show, and ranged from bright yellow t-shirts to full-on costuming. (And a long blonde wig nicknamed The Cat.) During my WorldSmart tour, we all wore black; it’s a good basic colour, and it goes with all the other dress codes. Get something comfortable but still classy, so you can move easily and still look nice while doing so. Go for interesting tops; T-shirts can be a bit boring after a while.
Some of us during the Toyota Celebration – I think we’re singing Shima Uta. Usually the outfits are all black, no design or anything else; however, Huning is something of a Style Goddess so we pretty much let her do whatever she wanted.
The current Up With People shows may demand something with more colour. You will get a colour pallete if this is the case – a document with a selection of colours and shades. Get something vaguely ethnic: Bohemian works well, as does actual ethnic clothing – but you don’t have to be authentically ethnic. Pair this up with something black or in denim (usually pants or skirts). Also, get accessories! They can make a big difference.
Other clothes to bring include: house clothes/sweatpants, swimming outfits, winter clothes (jacket, scarf, gloves, hat), underwear, sweater/jumper. You won’t need anything super-formal, but if you do, you can get something at the city. Or go with a national costume – your’s or someone else’s.
One thing to remember: you will need less than you think. People tend to wear the same thing over and again and no one really cared. You probably won’t rediscover the bttom of your bag until quite late into the trip (like me). Sometimes there are donation drives too, so use it as a change to recycle or donate the clothes that don’t fit or that you just don’t like!