Everyone knows that there are strict rules about women clothing in Iran. In spite of the fact that these rules are very strict for Iranian women, they are not that much strict for tourists. Nevertheless, wearing hijab will be beneficial to you if you do not want to have any problem. You may prefer to follow these rules more carefully especially in small cities. As a woman who have been to Iran for three months as a tourist I would like to tell you my experience about female dress code in Iran and talk about general dress code application.

Female dress code in Iran and hijab

Even though there are strict rules about women clothing in Iran, there are many women who do not want to obey these rules. Actually, a group of women prefer covering their head with scarf, others do not want that. But in Iran, women must cover all of their bodies from head to toes in hijab. Women who don’t care about covering their head by their own wish generally cover only half of their heads. Therefore, it is very easy to differentiate women who cover themselves willingly.

Make up & plastic surgery in Iran

Many Iranian women have remarkable manicured hands and fashion nails and they are very well-groomed ladies. Almost more than half of women in Iran know how to make-up like professionals. You can see too many ladies on the streets who have plastic surgeries as well. It looks like these women have had their surgeries on their lips and noses in the adjacent plastic surgeons.

Details about female dress code in Iran

As you know Iran ruled by Islamic Republic laws, so there are rules about women clothing. We can briefly sort the rules should be known about women clothing in Iran as:

  • Women should cover their heads, arms and legs, so they cannot wear short, t-shirt, mini-skirt and etc.
  • It’s forbidden women to wear clothes which show up their body shapes. They should wear baggy dresses.
  • Likewise their top clothes should cover their hips.
  • There is no problem for women to wear open shoes such as sandals or slippers.
  • Although there is no clear and accurate rule about clothing color, for the one of the biggest issue of the country as women should not get attention too much avoiding from luminous colors would be beneficial.
  • There are rules for men too, but the list of the rules is not that long for men’s clothing. Men should not just wear shorts-that’s it.

How much is veiling applied in Iran?

We can say that women’s scarf issue is flexible in Iran. Usually women in Iran cover half of their heads and big part of their hair is visible. However, that flexibility is not valid for covering their bodies. Women should cover their chests, legs and arms in any circumstances.

What would happen if women do not obey dress code?

As you know, there is vice squad in Iran. So to speak, vice squad may intervene people’s lives with the authority given to them. They are the first authorized people in Iran about women’s clothing. As we learn from our friends if you do not come across with archconservative ones or are not in archconservative cities, for the first time they just warn you. However, in a chaotic atmosphere (election, protest, etc.) they may take people into custody for minor reasons in order to intimidate the public. As I heard from my Iranian friend; when she was walking to her home from a metro station they took her into custody for the reason her tunic was not long enough.

Do tourist women have to cover their heads?

If I need to answer that question concisely, YES. Tourists in Iran have to obey the hijab laws as well. But these rules can be tolerated for tourists. Even if visibility of your hair is not a big problem, you should definitely cover your head and your body.

Can women ride bicycles in Iran?

Female dress code in Iran

YES. There is no rule which forbids women cycling in Iran. In 2016 (or 2017) a fatwa had been given and said women cycling is not licit, but fatwa had not been accepted after women had protested it by cycling. You may ride your bicycle comfortably. I’ve done it during 3 months.

How did I get dressed in Iran for three months?

I wore a buff bandana instead of scarf for three months in Iran. Besides the weather was very cold, so my polar buff bandana was very useful. I usually wore outdoor trousers for down-clothing. I said that women wear clothes that should be long enough to cover their hips. My jacket and coat I wore in Iran were about until the half of my hip long, but I did not have any problem. And nobody cared about how I got dressed.

Female dress code in Iran
This is how I usually get dressed in Iran

By the way, I covered my head when I was cycling through Iran-Turkey border. The officers at the border told me everything about I needed to know, and I passed. I also heard that for the flight transportations the hijab starts on the plane. So do not forget to take long dresses and scarf or something equivalent with you.

What are Iranian women thinking about the laws in Iran?

In practice female dress code in iran and women social life are not that much scary as we imagine despite all the rules in Iran. I do not say that everything is all right and perfect, laws are certain but women fought a lot to assert their rights after the revolution, and they gained positive outcomes. Therefore, there are rules but they are not implemented most of the times by people. Many men -especially younger ones- advocate that women should wear whatever they want to wear, too.

Women-men relationships in Iran?

Iran is a country which does not prefer women and men relationships to be so intimate. It has already been forbidden that unmarried women and men to appear intimate together, and to establish relationships such as living in the same place. It is not welcomed that married ones are intimate too. Mean of intimacy could be that couples are holding hands in a park or to put arm around shoulder. These rules and restrictions are paid more attention in conservative and small towns than big cities. Even, when we were having conversation with friends we met in Tabriz they were paying too much attention to talking in a low voice and not to mention about politics. When I asked the reason of that, they told me that “there could be vice squad or government men around”. I do not know my friends were paranoiac or I get lost in a foreign language, but meantime I felt like I was in one of James Bond movie’s set.

Being unmarried couple causes any problem in Iran?

Normally it is forbidden that unmarried women and men being intimate or touching each other, but there is no problem for tourists. Actually, nobody cared about whether we are married or not while we were hanging around as a group including men and women. Normally Iranian women and men cannot stay in the same room in hotels, but this rule is not valid for tourists. So, couples who are unmarried and want to visit Iran can come with peace in their minds.

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