What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

It is not formal at all for most sections. - Jul 2019

Business casual (it's more dressy than most imagine before coming to Kabul). Shirt/tie and not infrequently a suit needed for State, business casual (and an occasional suit) for USAID. Women should bring scarves to cover their head and conservative suits for outside meetings at ministries. Other agencies' attire varies (the security-related agencies rely mostly on khaki and camo). There are several formal dances per year; women should bring a few formal dresses (which is more than I would have expected); many men get tuxes affordably made at the ISAF bazaar. High heels shouldn't really be worn on the compound in case of a duck and cover, but one pair for formal events makes sense for women. - Jun 2014

Towards the business casual. Bring a few ties and just one suit unless you are State and working the chancery. In that case, you may have to dress the part. - Jul 2013

Depends on your position. It goes from business to tactical chic. This place is hell on clothing, though, especially shoes. Expect to toss whatever you bring at the end of your tour. - Mar 2013

If I see one more pair of cargo pants after I leave here I might lose my mind! Folks here either dress up for work like they would back in DC or some are more on the casual side, and others have gone completely native. It really depends on your office. When you are out in public you just need to cover your head if you are a woman and try not to expose too much skin and you will be fine. - Dec 2010

Work depends on the location. In the main Embassy builing, business. The further away from the Ambassadors you are, the more casual it is. Most people in NGOs (and defintiely in the field) have their own uniform: cargo pants, logo polo shirt/hiking shirt and cargo boots. Plus or minus a holster and beard. The flights in look like an army of fly fisherman. Women have to wear pants off-compound, and cover their heads in all but the most liberal of places. - Aug 2010

Dress code for work depends on which agency one works for. DoS employees wear standard DC business dress. FBI, DEA, and security types wear cargos and earth tone tops. USAID types wear anyting from DC business dress to local garb. USAID women tend to dress more in line with Muslim dress codes than DoS women. When out in the city, at an event with Afghan VIPs, or in the field, women should dress in accordance with Muslim custom. Long pants, tunic tops long enough to cover the bum, with chest coverages and sleeves past the elbows (at least), and a head scarf. - Jul 2010

For non-security personnel the dress code is similar to that at other embassies. There is a Marine Ball, and ball gowns are worn. There are also balls at other embassies you can attend. It is a good idea for women to bring at least one full gown, one black cocktail dress, and one other formal dress if you want to attend these events - Sep 2009

Depends on on your job. Cargo pants, polo, boots or can be more dressy for official meetings. No need for high heels or dresses! - Mar 2008

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