One of our most frequently asked questions for visitors to Iran is the dress code. We've put together this handy guide for women and men to know before you travel to Iran.
The Iranian attitude to dress code is more casual than you might expect, but there are definitely rules you need to follow. The key one for the Western visitor, is the headscarf. These need to be worn at all times, so can become a bit of a hassle, having to put one on just to nip down to the reception area of your hotel for example, but we find people get used to wearing them pretty quickly. They must cover your neck as well as your head, so a bandana is not acceptable. You can have a little of your hair showing with no problems - you'll see many locals with headscarves perched far back and held in place with a pair of sunglases on the head, so it doesn't need to be right up to your forehead unless in a shrine or a mosque. We recommend fastening your headscarf with hairgrips to prevent having to constantly rearrange it - watch our video on how to do this below:
What about Legs and Body?
According to the dress code in Iran for tourists, you are supposed to hide your body shape, so you should wear trousers - either jeans, or if visiting in summer, something loose and cotton is best. Your top should be fairly baggy and fall to about mid thigh. A summer dress over jeans and t shirt is a good option. Bare forearms are fine but you should definitely cover your shoulders.
Open-toed sandals are fine, but you should probably avoid toe-nail varnish. Flip flops are generally worn to the bathroom, so whilst fine, it's a little unusual to wear them outside in Iran.
Summary of Iran Dress Code for Tourists
- Hair: Should be covered at all times
- Legs: Should be covered down to the ankle (don't worry if your trousers ride up slightly but they shouldn't go much above the ankles!)
- Arms: Forearms can be uncovered but cover the shoulders and tops of arms
- Feet: These can be uncovered but avoid toenail varnish
In the Bavanat valley you will see the Kashquai nomads wear colourful summer dresses. In Mashad Iranians dress much more conservatively and you should cover your forearms.
Dress Code for Men
There are fewer rules for men, but you should avoid shorts - wear jeans or trousers. T shirts are fine, but you should avoid sleeveless vests and stick to t shirts or shirts. Iranian men dress smartly, more often than not in shirts.
How to Locals Dress in Iran?
About 1/3 of Iranian women wear the chador, the traditional black dress. Many Iranian women wear a manteau - a type of tunic that reaches down to mid thigh. In the cities you will see young people pushing the dress code rules as far as they can, with headscarves perched high back on their head, bleached hair often showing through, and skinny jeans. But you should be more conservative and respectful of the traditions as a foreign visitor.