What to Wear in Iran

Do I Look Proper?

Shayda Owrak Feb 19, 2019 4 min read

When you decide to travel to a new and very different place so many questions pop up in your mind. For many of us, one of the very first questions is: “What should I wear in that country to look proper?”

Rather than looking good, dressing nice represents the respect we have for the social norms of the place we travel to. The issue takes on added significance when it comes to destinations where we know less in terms of their clothing, including countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Iran, as a Muslim country, is one of the destinations travelers should get to know more about its clothing norms before deciding what to pack. For long mainstream media have depicted Iran as a strange and backward country. Sadly, many travelers think they are traveling to a country where people ride camels or women are not allowed to go out alone. Throughout this article, you will find out that this image of Iran is not true as I will discuss the dress codes in public.

Hijab

A hijab in common English usage is a veil worn by some Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family. It usually covers the head and chest. The term can refer to any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women that conform to Islamic standards of modesty. In this article, I use hijab to represent a general way of covering the body which can be a headscarf for women or trousers that men wear in public.

Hijab in Modern Iran

Historical documents show that the concept of covering the body has played an important role in Iran since thousands of years ago. Sometimes the way of dressing indicated social class. Sometimes it represented whether someone was religious or not and obviously the dressing style always has been affected by the geographic location and climate. Iran is a vast country with different ethnic groups living peacefully together. This diversity accounts for so many different types of clothing in different regions for both women and men.

What to wear in Iran
People wear different clothes in different parts of Iran

You don’t see people in big cities wearing the same clothes worn in rural areas, villages or smaller cities. However, you can easily notice the different styles and customs in each region in the country.

From the book Negar-e-Zan. A Historical pageant of women’s dress in Iran

Although you may find a variety of clothing styles in Iran the formal dress code in public is almost the same in the whole country. Throughout time, traditions and customs have undergone changes but the concept of covering one’s body has remained somehow the same. Whether a social norm or religious obligation, men and women wear clothes that cover their body in public. Women also wear a scarf which covers their head and chest.

Zoroastrians are one of few groups that still wear the same style in small towns  or villages

What to wear as a tourist

Iran is a Muslim country with its special dress code. Not only women but also men are supposed to obey the Islamic law. You can find a general dress code for men and women in Iran below:

Women:

  • A headscarf which covers their hair and chest as well.
  • A manto which is a long jacket with long sleeves that reaches the knee.
  • Skirts are OK to wear unless they are short (long skirts are common during the spring and summer).
  • Legs should be covered to the ankle.

Men:

  • Men should wear trousers in public.
  • T-shirts are fine unless they are sleeveless
  • Men are not allowed to wear shorts in public. Furthermore, if you are traveling to religious towns like Qom or Mashhad, you would better care more about your clothing to make sure it is more modest (long sleeves and headscarf for women, trousers for men).
What to wear in Iran
Tourists visiting Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan

 


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