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Social Life in Dominica

Behavior

The Dominicans are conservative in most aspects of their lives and this is best seen in their behaviors, dress, and dining etiquette. They tend to dress and act conservatively, much of which is based on their deeply rooted Christian faith.

As a visitor to Dominica try to follow the lead of the locals by dressing conservatively (see below for details), dining in the local etiquette (see our Dominica Dining & Food Page), and avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart. Also try to avoid being loud, rude, showing off wealth, or getting noticeably drunk in public.

Dress

The traditional dress of Dominica is called wob dwiyet, which includes a number of clothing items. For women this generally includes a long skirt called a jupon, a shorter skirt over the top called a jupe, a shirt called a chemise decollette'e, a sash called a foulard, and a hairpiece called a tete maw'e or tete chasee. Sometimes other items are also included, like a long robe called a gwand. The hairpieces were often formed to have a various number of spikes, each of which had a different meaning on their marital status: one spike meant the person was single, two meant taken, but not committed, three meant the person is taken, and four meant the person is open to anyone.

Today the traditional dress is only worn on special occasions and during festival as most people wear modern western-styled clothing today. Due to the country's many beaches and hot weather, the clothes are often loose-fitting as shorts and short-sleeved shirts are well accepted. However, the people of Dominica are also somewhat conservative and this is best seen in religious, political, and business settings where the dress is more formal; pants and long-sleeved shirts are essentially required, especially at churches and in formal meetings. Lastly, sunbathing naked or women sunbathing topless is often restricted so check with locals before doing so.

This page was last updated: December, 2013