What to Wear

Due to the conservative nature of the country, it’s important that we dress appropriately. Indonesian dress is modest, especially where you’ll be working, and all volunteers must dress smartly whilst in the local community and on projects. This includes having your upper arms and any cleavage covered. For most of your projects you’ll need to keep your ankles covered as well, so wearing full-length trousers or a full-length skirt is required. We ask that your hair be a natural colour for the duration of your placement as fun colours like blues and pinks are pretty, but not considered professional. At the weekend you’re free to wear what you choose, but many volunteers still like to wear modest clothing whilst travelling to avoid attracting any unwanted attention.

We’re not trying to be the fashion police, but we’ve been banned from projects before for volunteers ‘chancing it’ and wearing low cut tops or see-through skirts. The dress code is there so we can continue the work we do, not so we can boss you around.

Living and working in another country is different to being on holiday there. These are some examples of appropriate clothing for both male and female volunteers.

Smart dress is required for all projects so it's best to stock up on collared shirts and trousers in neutral colours. Patterns are not seen as smart, and can be distracting or overstimulating for the service users we are working with, so please stick to plain, neutral colours. Please see this article for more information.

Try shopping for light materials such as linen or cotton. Essentially you want to look like these guys:

Well dressed volunteers .jpeg

Projects

On your placement you’ll need to dress professionally for all of your projects. Whether you’re working at a psychiatric facility or a school, the expectation of us is the same. We’ve been given access to facilities like hospitals and government-run initiatives based on our history of professionalism, which includes our appearance.

Plain, neutral coloured, collared shirts and full-length trousers are the uniform and smart shoes as well. Your hair needs to be a natural colour please and will need to be tied up if it’s long.

Please click on the below drop downs for examples of the clothing and footwear you need to wear at projects. 

+ Ladies

You need to look professional and make sure that the clothes are loose and aren't patterned in a way that could cause distraction. It's best to aim for neutral plain clothing to be on the safe side.

Lady Project

We get it ladies, the struggle is real, but please see the following test below to make sure your clothes are 100% Bali appropriate.

The main things to consider are:

1) Is it opaque? Please grab vest tops to wear underneath your shirts.
2) Does it cover your shoulders/cleavage?
3) Are your trousers full-length?
4) Is it going to be cool enough? You’re going to be hot whatever you wear, but loose, breathable fabrics help. i.e Linen or cotton
5) Is it patterned? Neutral, plain colour collared shirts and trousers are preferable over patterns.
6) Is it loose enough? i.e. It shouldn’t show the outline of your figure, buttons shouldn't be popping and it should drape off your body.
7) Does it look smart and presentable? Would you see a Healthcare Assistant or a teacher wearing this in your own country? If the answer is ‘no’ please don’t pack it.

Lady Skirt

You may be required to wear a skirt for some of our projects, so please pack one just in case. The main things to consider are:

1) Is it opaque? Please grab an under slip to wear underneath your skirt.
2) Does it have slits? Please make sure your skirts do not have slits.
3) Is your skirt full-length?
4) Is it going to be cool enough? You’re going to be hot whatever you wear, but loose, breathable fabrics help. i.e Linen or cotton
5) Is it patterned? Neutral, plain colour skirts are preferable over patterns.
6) Is it loose enough? i.e. It shouldn’t show the outline of your figure, and it should drape off your body.
7) Does it look smart and presentable? Would you see a Healthcare Assistant or a teacher wearing this in your own country? If the answer is ‘no’ please don’t pack it

Footwear

The shoes you wear will need to be appropriate for projects, please bring smart shoes, which fit the weather you will be working in, too! See the below examples.

Sandals

These are smart for projects and cool when it comes to tackling the hot Balinese weather.

Birkenstocks

Closed Toe Shoes

You will also need to bring a pair of smart closed toe shoes to wear for the psychiatric projects, workshops and field trips.

Closed Toe Shoes

+ Gentlemen

We’re not leaving you out: We know cleavage isn’t likely to be an issue for you, but those naughty knees are, so please keep them covered in smart, full length trousers.

Gentlemen Projects

The main things to consider are:

1) Is it opaque? White shirts will go see through if you get stuck in the rain. Please grab vest tops to wear underneath your shirts.
2) Are your legs covered? Boys, it's important you wear full length trousers rather than shorts. Chinos or smart linen trousers are both perfect.
3) Is it going to be cool enough? You’re going to be hot whatever you wear, but loose, breathable fabrics help
4) Does it look smart and presentable? Would you see a Healthcare Assistant or a teacher wearing this in your own country? If the answer is ‘no’ please don’t pack it.

Footwear

The shoes you wear will also need to be appropriate for projects. Please bring smart shoes, which fit the weather you will be working in, too! See examples below.

Sandals

These are smart for projects and cool when it comes to tackling the hot Balinese weather.

Birkenstocks

Closed Toe Shoes

You will also need to bring a pair of smart closed toe shoes to wear for the psychiatric projects, workshops and field trips.

Closed Toe Shoes

Homestay and Local Community

Your homestay family will really welcome you and will think of you as their family, so we trust you to act accordingly and respect their home and the rules that are in place. Please make sure you dress modestly in, and around the homestay and treat their home as if it were yours and you’ll be sure to make the right impression.

+ Ladies

This is a great example of a culturally-appropriate outfit for ladies. Shoulders and knees are covered, the shirt and trousers are opaque and it's comfortable material. WIN. 👌

Ladies Homestay

Check out our handy video for real-life examples

+ Gentelmen

The homestay is your place to relax after projects and you should be comfortable, while remaining culturally appropriate. This is a fantastic example of homestay-attire for gentlemen. No visible shoulders or knees. No transparency. Just appropriate comfort. 👌

Gentlemen Homestay

Check out our handy video for real-life examples

Piercings & Tattoos

As we’ve said before, we’re well respected in the Indonesian community and seen as teachers and practitioners. As a result, tattoos and piercings need to be covered up and taken out. In Indonesian culture, body art is associated with drug culture and criminality. 

+ Piercings

Therefore, in the local community, please keep piercings limited to one stud per ear for ladies, and no piercings for gentlemen. If you have additional ear piercings, a facial or tongue piercing you’ll have to take it out whilst at projects or replace with a clear, plastic retainer. Enlarged lobes must be replaced with flesh coloured or clear retainers.

Retainer

+ Tattoos

No visible tattoos are permitted. Our volunteers with tattoos cover them up with clothing or with strategically placed bandages and tube grips. Yes we look like the walking wounded, but it’s better than the alternative, which is that our students’ parents assume that we are involved with drugs and won’t let their children continue to come to our lessons. Henna tattoos are also not appropriate to have whilst working. Please refrain from getting Henna tattoos whilst on placement.

Tattoo Cover

 

Accidental (but still offensive) Faux Pas

Sticking to the above guidelines and appropriate dress code will prevent you from making the following faux pas. Click on the drop downs below to find out more.

+ Exposed Nipple

Light cotton or linen shirts may be see-through or become so if it rains and you get wet. Please make sure you wear a thick-strapped vest/tank top under your shirts. This will give you peace of mind while moving around during project sessions, too, knowing nothing inappropriate will be on show.

Pro tip. We're big fans of the nip-check before leaving for projects - stand in the sun and get your homestay-mates to make sure nothing is sheer!

The look below is what we're trying to avoid!

Exposed Nip

Gentlemen, this goes for you, too. We don't want you looking like Chris if it rains.

Exposed Nip Boys

+ Obvious Piercing

Piercings in Western countries are socially accepted and rarely looked at twice, and chances are most of you will have facial, ear or body piercings. However, while working in Bali, please make sure these are removed and replaced with a clear retainer. Using a plaster to cover them up will wind you up looking like this guy, and he'd, unfortunately, not be allowed to work on projects.

Lip Piercing

+ Exposed Ankles

Cropped trousers, great for weekend travel or homestay not for projects, so please make sure your ankles are covered at all times while working. You can have a look at the examples above for some inspiration.

Ankles