Clothing in Iran | How to dress appropriately when visiting Iran?

Published: 20-11-2020

Laws about clothing in Iran keep a lot of people from visiting the country. Iranians are wonderful people and their country is beautiful. We want to shed some light on what to wear when visiting Iran. Iran is an Islamic republic and that means that there are a number of rules and laws that you must adhere to -even as a tourist. For example, Islamic dress code applies. So are some preparation to take when planning your trip to Iran. What do women wear in Iran?

Clothing in Iran: What do you wear as a woman in Iran?

The moment your plane will land in Iran, it will be announced that all women are obliged to wear their headscarves (hijabs). Officially it’s mandatory once the airplane enters Iranian airspace, but most women only wear scarves just before leaving the plane. In addition to a headscarf, women should always have their arms and legs covered and the female forms shouldn’t be visible. You should therefore always wear something -such as a long blouse or cardigan- so that your butt is not visible.
Iranian women, however, try to dress in a more western way and try to rebel against the dress code of Shia law. So you see a lot -especially young- women who have the headscarf loosely on the back or their head or a tall pony tail that comes from underneath it.

Appropriate clothing in Iran. What to wear in Iran. Taking photos with a class of girls

How are these rules enforced?

The moral police, also called the “green police”, is a special police force which makes sure no laws are crossed concerning inappropriate clothing or behaviour. You recognize them in green uniforms. They walk across the street to check if everyone keeps to the rules. As a tourist, the moral police will mostly leave you alone, so don’t be afraid. However, this does not mean that you don’t have to adjust.

Good to read: Laws in Iran you need to know off before booking your trip. 

What do women wear in Iran?

It’s best to look around you what women wear. Some places are more religious than others, so it’s a best to try to fit in. I myself always wore jeans (skinny jeans) or leggings with a long shirt on top and a long cardigan or long blouse over it. Always with long sleeves. To cover my hair, I used a thin scarf. Recently, slippers and sandals have been allowed in Iran, but I have to say that I have seen few women wear this. That is why I always wore sport shoes outside the hotel and the car. In principle, I wore exactly the same clothes in Iran as I would wear in the Netherlands in the spring/autumn. When you travel to Iran in the summer, it will be a little more difficult, because it can become very hot. That’s probably a good thing to take into account.

Many people think that women in Iran only wear black robes, but this is not true either. Young women in Iran dress more trendy where possible. Especially in the big cities girls try to look up the boundaries. You are therefore certainly not obliged to wear black clothing in Iran. As said, you should take your destination into account. For example, in Qom -one of the most religious places in Iran- you see almost women wearing black chadors (robes) and hijabs.

Good read: Everything you need to know about backpacking in Iran

Appropriate clothing in Iran. What to wear in Iran. Walking on the Bazaar in Tehran
Appropriate clothing in Iran. What to wear in Iran. Kirsten in Varzaneh

How do you wear your headscarf?

The most convenient way to wear your headscarf is by putting your hair in a bun, so the scarf can rest on it. It is not necessary to attach your headscarf with all kinds of snips and pins. Don’t worry if your scarf falls off your head every once in a while. It happens all the time to the Iranian girls.

Should you wear your headscarf everywhere in Iran?

The headscarf is something that stops many travelers from traveling to Iran. I must honestly say that I was equally nervous and wondered what I could and couldn’t wear. You should always wear your headscarf anytime and anywhere. The only time you can officially take off your headscarf is when you step into your hotel room. However, we ourselves have also been to guesthouses with a courtyard where you didn’t have to wear it. Are you in doubt? Always look at what other -especially local- women do.

Appropriate clothing in Iran. What to wear in Iran. Kirsten's headscarf

As a woman, don’t you have to wear a chador in Iran?

When you walk across the streetin Iran you will see that many women wear a chador. A chador is a long garment (often in black) that covers the body completely. An exception to this are, for example, the cities of Varzaneh and Yazd where women generally wear white chadors. Women certainly don’t have to wear this in Iran. It is true that it is mandatory for certain mosks and shrines. Don’t panic, because a chador can always be borrowed for free at the entrance. Don’t you know how to wear the chador? Ask a local woman and they will always help you.

Appropriate clothing in Iran. What to wear in Iran. White shadors in Varzaneh
Appropriate clothing in Iran. What to wear in Iran. At some places you need to wear a chador.

What do you wear as a woman in Iran?

Things to consider when traveling as a woman through Iran:

  • For a headscarf you can best use a thin scarf.
  • Make sure that you wear your headscarf anytime and anywhere. Also in the communal areas of your hotel/guesthouse. If you see other -local- women without headscarves, you can also remove your headscarf without any problem.
  • Color: Many traditional Iranian women wear mainly black. However, this is not necessary. Especially in larger cities you will also see many young women with colored headscarves in all kinds of prints and colored clothing.
  • Your arms and legs should always be completely covered. A tight pair of pants or leggings is no problem.
  • Female forms shouldn’t be shown. Wear a loose blouse or vest that falls over your butt.
Appropriate clothing in Iran. What to wear in Iran. Selfies with Iranian girls
Appropriate clothing in Iran. What to wear in Iran. Kirsten at Persopolis

What do men in Iran wear?

As long as you wear long pants you’re good. You are allowed to wear short sleeves although only young Iranian men wear them. It’s also allowed to wear open shoes such as slippers and sandals.

Appropriate clothing in Iran. What to wear in Iran. Erick in Esfahan. The dress code in Iran is less strict for men Appropriate clothing in Iran. What to wear in Iran. Erick in Kashan. Wearing short sleeves to a mosk is okay for a guy
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Erick - When your girlfriend (Kirsten) has the travel virus, it doesn't take long before you are infected as well. Traveling has become a big part of my life, just as Travelaar has. Web developer and translator for and it's Dutch counterpart Photo and video editing are also my tasks. My motto: Don't take life too seriously