What to pack
What men and women wear when visiting an Islamic ruled country like Iran is something most travelers should take time to study. Men travelling to Iran should not plan on wearing shorts or short pants in Iran no matter what the temperatures are like. It used to be against the law for men to wear short sleeve shirts, but now they can wear them and style their hair like elvis. It’s always good to pack at least one long sleeve collared shirt just in case. It’s not uncommon for travelers to be invited to family celebrations or family meal. It would be smart to dress properly for it.
Short packing list for the ladies :
- At least one scarf that’s dark in color or at least not shear enough to see through and is wide enough to cover the length of the top of your forehead to a few inches below your shoulder line
- Long sleeve Tunic that covers your neckline, is long enough to go below your rear and is comfortable since it combined with the scarf will make you warm. I found one at Muji here in NYC.
- Good walking shoes that cover all or most of your feet. I just took one pair of Keen’s Sandal’s like these Somewhat ugly…yes…it was hot and they are comfortable yet passable. Many women wear an Iranian knockoff of the Converse All-Stars Low Tops as well.
- Comfortable pants or skirt that are loose and don’t show off your curves. I wore my Northface Convertable Travel Pants. Extra fugly…yes again.. but like the Keen’s, comfortable in the heat of September. It helps that my scarf is pretty cool and my Tunic covers the not so flattering high waist of the pants.
- Plenty of cash for new local digs
Of course, things are getting better for women there but the law states that all women in Iran must cover their entire head and neck areas – usually with a scarf, wear loose-fitting tops which provide modest cover for roaming eyes, wear loose-fitting ankle length pants and shoes which cover the entire foot while in public. The moral (aka fashion) police are known to give foreigners a little leeway but it’s best to stick to the rules out of respect. The easiest thing for women travelers who can’t find what they think is acceptable and comfortable is to buy clothing when you get to Iran or any other Islamic country. Just be sure to pack or wear at least one outfit since once you land the law is in effect.
In light of this, I decided to add a shopping trip into our first day’s itinerary in Shiraz. If I don’t find anything , I’ll just have to wear the same thing for 14 days. It’s not like I haven’t done it before. It’s a good way to stave off the urge to sleep the day away and make the best of a potentially wasted day. Our plane journey will take us a day and a half - this includes a 6 hour layover in Istanbul from JFK – but we arrive into Shiraz at 2am. Ataturk is a great airport with many lounges to choose from. The departure area has a decent mall where travelers can buy scarves and other clothing suitable for women traveling Islamic countries, and of course Turkish Delight. Even some of these items pictured below.
Iran has some pretty tough dress code policies enforced by the moral police. Travelers are guests, must play by their rules – it’s their rules and I have intention on disobeying anyones rules no matter what. I sound paranoid but I’m not taking any chances especially when it comes to clothing. I ended up finding a tunic that would be good enough to get me there and scarves are easy to find. Our first day was going to be a wash since our flight arrived into Shiraz at 2am so it would be a good day to do some shopping. Here’s a government picture of what women should officially look like:
And here’s what most women looked like in Iran: