Iran dress code for women has always been a hold back for many female travelers. Many believe that countries that enforce such laws on tourists or even their own civilians are to be left out of their bucket list. Others, however, are just confused. I totally get that it sucks to be forced to wear a scarf on your travels, but if you’ve chosen to Iran despite it all, keep on reading. In this article, I plan on tellin’ you everything about what to wear in Iran. And I promise! It’s not as bad.
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Iran dress code for women
Whenever I see foreign female tourists in Iran, it always seems like they’ve packed their most unpleasant piece of clothing to this part of the world. They have a very strict idea of Iran’s dress code rules. I’ve read many times from their experiences that they also felt extremely unattractive in their outfits.
Here are some tips to make things clear and easy so that you don’t have to dress up like your grandma and also avoid any trouble while traveling in Iran.
Tips on what to wear in Iran
#1 Wear colorful clothing in Iran in the summer
It’s a false belief that the female dress code in Iran comes with the limitation of color. There are absolutely no restrictions in color. While unfortunately, there is a tendency for dark-colored clothing in Iranian women – something I personally don’t appreciate at all – just come to Iran during summer and you’d see Iranian girls rocking brights and neons all the time. So if you’re into colours, bring them along. They are probably the best items to wear during summer in Iran.
#2 Skinny jeans are allowed!
You’ve probably been warned a dozen times that you’re clothing has to be loose fitting so that it doesn’t reveal your body shape. Hence why I see most tourists in cargo pants and slouchy trousers.
While this is stated as the Islamic dress code in Iran, things are not observed that seriously. Shops in Iran are packed with skinny jeans and tights, and Iranians girls don’t show any intimidation in wearing them. So why should you?
|Tip: Remember, you’re a tourist anyway. The worse that can happen is a simple request. Something I’ve never heard of happening to foreigners. Things are easier on you than you think, so don’t make it harder than it is.|
#3 Wearing Tunics and Cardigans is the best
So you want to look appealing, follow Iran’s dress code and not have to go buy a new set of clothing for your Iran trip. right?
Dig a little deeper into your closet and you’re bound to find either a long-sleeve, a 3/4 sleeve tunic or cardigan in there. Tunics are a great option for summer trips to Iran. As long as they cover up your bum you’re good to go (I’ve seen tourists wearing shorter ones with loose trousers too). If you don’t have a tunic, you might find a long tank top that can be layered up with a light cardigan. You might even have a dress that could fit the criteria that can be paired with skinny jeans.
The key is to be creative with what you have. Apart from a few pieces all of the clothing worn in Iran is western designed.
You can always check my Instagram for outfit inspiration by yours truly. 🙂
#4 Wear a Manteau in Iran if you fancy one
Iranian women either cover up with a chador (The black material worn on the head that covers the whole body) or a manteau (A trench coat type of clothing that comes in a variety of materials and styles). Since you’re likely to opt for the manteau buying one at the beginning of your trip could be a good idea. The fashion industry has been growing in Iran lately and there are a lot of designers who focus on bringing new materials and forms into the Manto.
You’re probably going to buy yours at a random shop but here’s to get an idea of how it can look like. These are obviously designer brands so they’re a lot more expensive but you’ll be able to find nice ones in normal shops scattered all across the country.
Keep in mind that wearing a manteau in Iran is not mandatory. Basically, anything mid-thigh would do.
#5 Burqas (veil) are not an Iranian thing
This is another misconception seen in the media or in films about the dress code in Iran. You will see women wearing black Chadors but chances you’ll see someone with a veil is almost zero in Iran. It’s just not in the culture, no matter how much someone might be conservative.
#6 Expand your scarf collection
Scarves have been quite trendy in the past couple of years. You will probably bring the ones you have along but shopping for scarves in Iran could be a good idea. First, they are probably cheaper than most countries, they come in a huge variety and you’ll be able to wear them in Iran as a headscarf and rock them as a neck scarf back home! It’s also a good way to help out local shops and manufacturers.
#7 Don’t judge Iranian women based on their choice of clothing
While there are certain limitations on what to wear in Iran, you’ll find women to be dressed in many different ways. Some just wear a loose narrow scarf on their heads allowing whips of their hair to frame their face with untied hair also showing from the back, some will be with heavy make-up with their hair styled where it is shown, others might wear it tighter with hardly any hair showing and there are many women who prefer to wear the Chador.
The women in the chador are usually the ones represented negatively in western media. They’re usually portraited as religious fanatics with an extremely conservative mentality. This is absolutely not true! Wearing the chador is a choice many women make and while it does show their devotion to their religion it does not necessarily mean they are close-minded or conservative. I have many friends and family who choose to dress this way and are very acceptant, unbiased and broad-minded people. So before you get to know someone, don’t judge a book by its cover.
#8 The heavy make-up situation!
Unfortunately, there is a gravitation towards heavy make-up in Iranian women. Some see it as a protest against the compulsory hijab. The fact is you’ll see many women wearing layers of make-up on a daily basis.
This is to say if you’re into makeup, you won’t be alone here!
#9 Sandals & painted nails are just fine
Sandals and open toes are perfectly fine for both women and men to wear in Iran. You’ll see many people wearing sandals in the summer. Whether you’ve got painted nails on your fingers or your toes, you’d be just fine.
#10 What about cropped trousers & capris?
So let’s say you’re here for a business meeting and you’d want to wear something a bit formal with your super high heels. As long as your cropped trousers are right above your ankle, you’re good to go. Capris that come below your knees should be avoided.
#11 Maxi dresses and skirts?
Maxi dresses or skirts, in general, are not common among Iranian women, but that doesn’t mean you cannot wear them in Iran. Lately, they’re actually becoming a bit more popular. I think a light maxi dress that is not too thin to be sheer is a great alternative for summer. If your dress is sleeveless, you could just layer it with a cardigan or kimono and you’re good. Keep in mind that if you’re going bare legs underneath, then you’d want to make sure your dress doesn’t come with slits. If the weather is a bit chilly, wearing leggings underneath could also be an option.
For skirts that are not maxi length, you’d need to wear leggings or stockings. Midi skirts are great for the winter to match with leggings and boots. They are fashionable, smart and can be dressed up or down depending on your shoes.
You’d want to avoid pencil skirts or bodycon dresses that reveal your body shape in a really obvious way.
#12 Can I wear high boots in Iran in winter?
High boots during the winter with leggings or skinny jeans are very popular and totally ok.
#13 What to wear indoors in Iran?
Last but not least, all of the statements mentioned above are exclusive to outdoor and public appearance. If you get invited to an Iranian house, feel free to wear whatever you like.
How old should a girl be to follow the Iran dress code?
So according to the Islamic faith, some would say over the age of 9 or 12. But like I said, things in Iran have a whole different system. Lately, I see a lot of girls who are well over 9 and still don’t cover or at least not completely. So if you’re bringing along your daughter and you’re bit concerned and confused about what she must be wearing, I’ll make things easy for you.
If you’re daughter still looks childish and doesn’t really have female features, then be easy on her. If she’s really tall, then perhaps it would be better for her to wear a loose scarf, but she can get away with short sleeves and capris. You don’t want her running around in tank tops or shorts, but if it was winter and she was fully covered on the body, she can also ditch the scarf.
They are not required to wear a manteau or long tops, so make sure they are comfortable in what they wear or they won’t be enjoying themselves. Some of them will take the scarf as a fashion trend and probably rock it better than you in no time. But don’t be paranoid and go easy on them.
Iran dress code for men
Dress code for men in Iran is nothing serious. It’s basically no shorts and no tank tops. It’s ok to wear shorts if you’re somewhere close to the beach but it’s best to be avoided in towns and cities.