Jakarta, IO – The recent news about Elon Musk wearing a T-shirt when meeting Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has attracted attention in this country. Many have shared their two cents’ worth – some positive but mostly negative – about Elon Musk’s T-shirt.
I will not deign to discuss the matter further, and instead will share a little insight about the dress code or fashion related to T-shirts. In the 1950s, particularly in Jakarta, many foreigners were observed to be neatly dressed in suits and ties, especially for formal gatherings. Most people considered Caucasians affluent, as symbolized by their suits and ties. This look was often called “netjes” in Dutch or “necis” in Indonesian.
In contrast, Indonesians were often identified as “impoverished” with their grubby and shabby T-shirt look. Such garb was often characterized as the “dress code” of pedicab drivers, flea market sellers, the penniless, unskilled laborers and so on.
In short, Caucasians were mostly seen as netjes while Indonesians generally looked shabby with their signature T-shirts.
In the last two or three decades, however, thanks to the rapid development of Indonesia, dramatic changes occurred.