When I planned my trip to Iran, I was nervous – it would be my first solo trip to a country in that region and I had no idea what to expect.
But instead of focusing on my itinerary or the news, I occupied myself with practical preparation (check out Practical Preparations For Iran on Naomi’s site)– what was I going to wear?
Finding stuff that’s affordable, cute, and that fits my body-type is usually hard enough, but for this trip I had to find things that were comfortable, versatile, and culturally-appropriate – really important when you’re wondering what to wear in Iran.
It’s actually not too hard to dress appropriately, and while the official rules differ slightly from reality, it’s still important to know what technically is and isn’t allowed.
These are the official rules for women in Iran:
- Wear a headscarf at all times.
- No cleavage. Make sure your shirt covers your chest completely.
- Wear long sleeves. It is ok if they creep up a little bit but make sure they cover more than your elbows.
- Wear shirts, blouses or a coat that covers your bum (no active-wear pants with shorter tops).
- Wear long trousers, to the ankles.
- Open sandals are ok, you do not need to cover your feet completely.
Having said that, I saw many gorgeous Iranian women with colourful head scarves all the way at the back of their heads, and tight jeans with figure-hugging blouses.
I also saw female travellers with bare arms, and an elderly lady in a skirt with exposed lower legs and ankles, and it didn’t seem to be much of a problem for the people around her.
It seems rules for travellers are a bit more flexible. But, in my opinion, it’s better to be safe than sorry when your planning what to wear in Iran.
Or in my case, comfortable than sorry.
I did bring a shirt which might have been a bit too short, and wore it while walking the streets in desert town Yazd. A lot of people gawked at me. Within five-minutes, I returned back to my hostel to change into a longer shirt because the staring made me uncomfortable.
It took me weeks of searching online when I was figuring out what to wear in Iran, but I settled for the following:
My black loose top was a real find. It was made of very light but warm fabric, hides all my curves and shapes, but I still felt it was feminine. I could wear a tank top, t-shirt or long sleeves underneath it, depending on how warm or cold I was.
Dressing all black is not necessary when you travel in Iran, and when I found my pink and blue flower leggings, I was sold! It’s made from super-soft material, dries quickly, and it really spruced-up my outfit with the black.
I travelled in February and March, which is early spring in Iran. During the day, it’s sunny and hot out so you don’t need a coat, but you do need a few things in the evening.
I brought two cardigans with me – one made of thick wool (I wore it with jeans, and it was a good way of staying warm at night), and the other is black and jersey-style so it’s lighter, and I can mix and match it with all my other clothes – it’s such a staple item when you’re picking what to wear in Iran. It had long sleeves and covered my bum perfectly.
The most unusual item in my travel wardrobe for Iran was my head scarf. I never travel anywhere without at least one neck scarf, but wearing the scarf on my head was new to me. In the end, I took three with me, but I ended up always wearing the same one.
My soft, stretchy scarf turned out to be the easiest to modify around my head. It was long enough to cover my long hair, and not too warm. I don’t recommend wearing a silk head scarf, as they slip from your head and might leave you exposed in public.
So that’s my guide on what to wear in Iran! I’ve given you the basics so you can change it up with different colours and styles if you want, but I do recommend sticking to long pants and a loose-fitting top that covers your chest completely. And a head scarf, of course.
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Naomi is a traveller and writer from the Netherlands who shares her tips and tricks on how to stay healthy and make the most out of your travels abroad on her website, Probe Around The Globe. You can also follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
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