When you arrive in Bangkok for the 2012 RI Convention, 6-9 May, the climate will probably be the main factor determining your sartorial choices.
A few years ago, however, Thailand was awash in color-coded politics, and a shirt often telegraphed which side a person was on. It started during the tenure of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecom mogul who jumped into the political arena with his populist Thai Rak Thai party. In 2006, Thaksin was ousted in a peaceful military coup –nothing new for Thailand, which has seen 18 coups since 1932.
What was new were the 100,000 people who turned out to support Thaksin and his policies wearing the red shirts that would come to symbolize their movement. Protesters in yellow shirts opposed them. Both sides claimed loyalty to the king, who has his own color, also yellow; the queen’s is blue. Other factions with corresponding shirt colors emerged later, complicating daily wardrobe decisions. Colors often derive from the days of the week, each of which has its own planetary deity and corresponding hue: red for Sunday, yellow for Monday, pink for Tuesday, green for Wednesday, orange for Thursday, blue for Friday, and purple for Saturday. Black is an inauspicious color.
Colors now have lost most of their political charge, so if you’re having trouble deciding what to wear, just do as the Thais do – put on the color of the day, and you’ll blend right in.
Register for the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok.