If you plan to travel and visit conservative countries like Iran, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, it’s of the utmost importance to follow the local dress code and pick modest garments that are reverent of the local culture.
When travelling to conservative countries, safety should be one of your top priorities, and part of staying safe is dressing to blend in, not to stand out. It’s quite simple to think that you’re not harming anyone by putting on some of your usual clothes like cutoff shorts and tank tops. However, when you wear such clothing in conservative countries, you’ll likely attract negativity, risk, and disgust. To avoid this, check out the list below:
1. Long-sleeved button-up shirt
For the most part, a long-sleeved, button-up shirt is essential for any travel. One advantage of bringing a top like this is its flexibility. Meaning, you can wear it in multiple ways.
You can opt to wear it as a breathable cover over a shirt, as a light jacket or, if it’s long enough, as a tunic for full coverage. Keep in mind that most conservative countries require you to cover your shoulders, aside from covering your knees.
Be sure to buy a good-quality button-up shirt so they’ll be easy to dress up and down. This way, you’ll never have to worry about how you’re going to put an ensemble together. You’ll look fashionable, and culturally appropriate at the same time.
2. Pashmina shawl
One of the most flexible and versatile travel accessories is a scarf. It seems like most travellers, especially women, love to bring scarves whenever they go travelling. It is practical in the sense that they’ll add a pop of style without having to overpack. It’s an item that allows you to blend in modest countries without having to wear bulky clothing.
Though there are many types of shawls available, perhaps the best shawl for travelling is a pashmina. It’s a large scarf in a light fabric that’ll afford you the luxury of travelling in style while not bringing a lot of things.
The best thing about bringing a shawl with you is that it has multiple uses. For example, you can wear it as a stylish outer layer or a hood, use it as a travel pillow or blanket, turn it into an evening wrap or a sturdy cape, and even wear it as a hair accessory. When buying one, go for something that’s big enough to cover your chest and shoulders.
3. Capri Trousers
Capri trousers keep your knees covered, but because they’re not full length, you can still stay cool and fresh. Be sure to opt for linen or a cotton pair of trousers because these fabrics can absorb sweat and perspiration while efficiently dispersing body heat.
Steer clear of wearing jeans. Even though jeans can cover up the entire leg, they’re quite heavy and distressing in extreme heat. Moreover, avoid wearing leggings or anything that’ll cling to your leg excessively because it’s immodest for some countries.
4. Maxi skirt and dresses
Long maxi dresses or skirts are not just stylish and comfy; they’re also excellent for travelling to conservative countries. You can easily dress them up or down because they offer the kind of comfort you’ll need for a long trip.
These dresses and skirts are also perfect because they cover up your knees allowing, you to be modest when visiting conservative places like temples, palaces or mosques. Be sure to opt for a thin (but not translucent) fabric so that it’s light and won’t take up much space in your luggage.
When buying a shrug or cardigan, go for a lightweight material so they’re easy to throw over your strappy tops or favourite dresses. This is the ultimate cheat sheet to dressing modestly as you can still wear your favourite garments but transform the outfit into something modest and respectful to local customs by covering your shoulders. Also, you can, without difficulty, throw this on or off as needed.
As a rule of thumb, when planning to visit conservative countries, pack modest garments that will cover your shoulders and knees. Though this may be a challenge for you, it’s important to follow the local dress code to stay safe and make the most out of your travel. From long-sleeved, button-up shirts to shrugs, rest assured that you’re culturally appropriate and fashionable.
By Yassi Parrish
This article originally appeared on Zafigo, a travel guide for women travellers in Asia and the Middle East, and is republished with permission.