A headscarf is the most important piece of clothing you should consider as a female traveling to Iran, something that you might find a hassle wearing it. But many people get used to it very quickly. A headscarf is supposed to partially cover your head and your neck.
Although the dress code in Iran obliges women to wear a headscarf, the fact is that the scarf does not need to cover the entire head. In practice, a loosely-fitting piece of clothing for the head is enough for women to conform to the dress regulations of the country.
As you can see in the photos, many Iranian locals wear their headscarves loosely and far back on the head, with the front part of the hair completely visible. For a woman not used to wearing headscarves or shawls, keeping them in place on the head is a little bit annoying; we recommend that you fasten your headscarf with hairgrips to eliminate the hassle of constantly rearranging it.
What about body and legs?
A basic rule is that what you wear on your upper body should be long enough to reach your knees, or slightly above them. You are allowed to wear trousers or jeans that cover all your legs down to the ankles. Even tight leggings are ok as long as your dress, tunic, or ‘manteau’ covers you up at least down to the mid-thighs. (Manteau is a French word meaning a gown or cloak, now widely used in Iran to refer to a series of closely related outfits in various styles worn by females.)
Your arms are supposed to be covered down to the forearms, so wearing short-sleeve clothes are not permitted. The more loose-fitting the clothes the better, for both you will be more comfortable in them especially if you want to visit some places in town, and you can rest assured that you would fully conform to the laws and norms of the county.
‘Manteau’ is a type of outdoor clothing many Iranian women wear.
Two Iranian female youths dressed in trendy clothes walking down a street in Iran.
Three Iranian women in ‘manteaus’ talking and walking down a street with women in chadors seen in the background.
A typical photo of the preferred manner of dressing among non-conservative Iranian women keeping up with the latest dress fashion.