Tag Archives: Bermuda Laws

Dress Codes

Probably everyone has heard of Bermuda Shorts, a regulation 3″ above the knee, the National Dress of Bermuda. The sober colours worn abroad give way to pink and yellow on the island – yes, pink shorts are considered appropriate business attire for a man.  It makes some sense given the climate but why on earth are they paired with knee length socks?

An aside, it is claimed that the shorts became a local fashion after Nathaniel Coxon, a teashop owner on the island during WW1, cut off the bottoms of his khaki trousers and those of his staff after they complained about the heat (obviously not related to the saying “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”  – or his teashop business would not have lasted very long – restated: “if you can’t stand the heat wear shorts” ).  Thereafter Rear Admiral Mason Berridge adopted the style for his fellow officers – I guess he must have frequented the teashop – and he coined the term “Bermuda Shorts”. Sometime later, Berridge credited Coxon and Coxon was awarded an OBE, (for designing shorts?)

Anyhow, it wasn’t shorts I was going to talk about, I began this morning with some research on nakedness and exposure on the island.  The trigger was driving past a man without a shirt: a most unusual sight. I had heard it was illegal to go topless in public and am sure last year there was a court case involving just this issue.

What I did find was an old picture of a policeman taking rather unusual measurements from a tourist:

Too short?

If the skirt length was considered too short a “Green Ticket” was issued:

May we respectfully suggest that your attire may prove to be embarrassing as there are certain regulations pertaining to propriety of dress that are being enforced in order to maintain Bermuda’s position as a most attractive and pleasant holiday resort.

Bermuda Laws are listed online at the clearly named website – Bermuda Laws Online

Therein I found:

SUMMARY OFFENCES ACT 1926 (1989 revision)
Offences against public morality
11 Any person who, in any public place—

(a) …….

(b) openly exposes his person; or….

which seems to cover it (or not)

And finally, the  tourist charged with being inappropriately dressed: case dismissed by the judge, though he was also charged with using bad language. The judge is recorded as saying:

….. a man not having a shirt on cannot be considered to be improperly dressed these days …. 

which I presume is the end of the matter!  What about a woman?