Red Sea rig

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Red Sea rig, sometimes known as gulf rig or schooner rig, is a dress code for semi-formal evening events, which in general consists of black tie attire with the jacket removed, a red bow tie and red cummerbund, although there are local variations.


Red Sea rig was originally a Royal Navy concept appearing circa 1800. Historically, it was felt that Royal Navy officers, being gentlemen, should wear the full appropriate uniform for all formal events, whatever the temperature. The sole exception was in the Red Sea, where the heat and humidity often made this physically impossible. Here, officers were permitted to remove their jackets in the wardroom, provided they added a cummerbund to temper the somewhat informal look.

In his reminiscences For King and Country, Nelson Albert Tomalin describes a rather home-made version of Red Sea rig worn onboard the whaler Southern Sea in 1943 as "...white shirt with epaulettes and long blue trousers with a black scarf as a cummerbund..." .

Because of its obvious practicality, Red Sea rig was adopted into civilian life, first by British diplomats in the Red Sea town of Jeddah, and later by the local British Business Group. It is now widely worn by many military and civilian organisations and is often the dress code of choice for dinner parties in British expatriate communities in the Middle East and Far East Speeech by David Lyman,, reproduced in Thai-American Business,...
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