you must wear t-shirts make sure they are baggy and the sleeves
come down at least to your elbows. Don't wear tight fitting anything.
Remember, long skirts past the knee, please. The less flesh showing
the more respect you will be shown. If you have long hair try
and keep it tied back. If you smoke try to refrain from doing
it in public (women smoking is still not accepted in some parts
of the Middle East).
Jennifer, Warriewood, Australia
Egypt, I cannot emphasize that conservative clothing is better.
No Shorts, halters, tank-tops, even short sleeves will get too
much attention. You don't have to look like a nun on vacation,
but don't be stupid enough to think that you can dress like you
do in the U.S./Canada overseas. Also, being neat and clean (no
raggedy jeans), combed hair counts for a lot overseas. Many cultures,
especially the Egyptian and Bolivian (and many other Latin cultures)
take much more pride in dressing up than North American culture
Brooke, Cambridge, USA
recently spent 10 days in Egypt, mostly Cairo and Luxor; best
advice is for women to bring mid calf cotton skirts and long sleeve
linen/cotton blouses to wear when venturing out in public- you'll
feel more at ease in the culture and still remain cool. You're
going to attract attention as a foreigner anyways, but at least
it won't be because of "provocative" dress. It will also show
a degree of respect for their culture. If you have allergies,
bring your meds - Cairo is extremely polluted - worse than anything
I've experienced from LA to New York - some days are worse than
others but all days were bad - my lungs and eyes burned! Luxor
was a welcome relief but the air was still bothersome.
Mara T. Harrington, Fox Point, WI, USA
in the Middle East, I found my two most useful clothing choices
were: a puffy, white, long-sleeved cotton blouse, and a full,
calf-length, black cotton skirt. Both were cut generously enough
that I was cool and comfortable, sober enough that no one could
confront me, and formal enough that I could wear them to Shabbat
dinner (Israel)and to mosques (Egypt) alike.
Miranda, Victoria, Canada
I arrived in Cairo and saw what women were wearing, I felt relieved.
I was expecting more veils and coverings on women. (It is true
that acceptable attire ranges with who is in political power).
I was fine -- I wore light (not see through) long skirts, a cotton
longsleeved button down shirt, and my hair pulled back. Outside
of Cairo, a light colored patterned scarf tied or wrapped below
the chin with no jewelry was more appropriate. If you are going
to be outside most of the time, a wide rimmed hat with a scarf
around your neck will keep you cooler. Carry a fan. It's ve-r-r-ry
Jody, Boulder, USA
in Cairo, I've found that sarongs (cotton) are absolutely invaluable
for roaming around, touring, shopping, etc. You can adjust the
length according to taste and surroundings (i.e., to your ankles
for mosques, mid-calf while shopping, above the knee in Hurghada),
they are cool in the hot weather, and can also serve as towel,
scarf, or blanket while traveling. I use safety pins to fasten
them. Also, wear sunglasses dark enough to hide your eyes. Making
eye contact is considered flirtatious, even if it's unintentional.
When touring, a silk chiffon scarf is also useful when going into
mosques, etc. but also to protect your bare head from the sun.
The chiffon isn't bulky to stuff or tie somewhere when you don't
Susan, Cairo, Egypt
travelled in Eqypt and I wore a loose, midcalf length cotton skirt
and long-sleeved white blouse with a big, square white cotton
scarf. I was as cool as I would have been in shorts, I was ready
to visit a mosque whenever we stumbled upon one, and I could "hide"
under the headscarf anytime I felt uncomfortable. I had no unpleasant
interactions with men - one shopkeeper even made a very favourable
comment about my mode of dress--i.e.that I looked like an Egyptian
woman. My whole experience of Egypt was very different from many
women travellers I met who had been there -- I attribute this
to the message my clothes sent. And, unlike one woman I met, I
didn't have to go to the extreme of dying my naturally blonde
hair to avoid unwanted attention!
Jolie, Toronto, Canada
travelling with a group in Egypt, we came across one situation
quite often and at first unexpected. Women MUST cover up any bare
skin when entering most mosques. The first time (when we were
unprepared) we ended up tying the men's sweaters and coats around
our legs so we could get into these sites. This was definately
frowned upon by the locals and the employees. I suggest travelling
prepared with a skirt or pants that you can slip on before entry
if you find them uncomfortable to wear as you're travelling.
Jennifer, Toronto, Canada
Editor's note: A long skirt in a "cool"
fabric is invaluable for day and evening wear. They are far less
constricting in hot temperatures and a blessing when using toilets
in some countries.
walking shorts are alright for touring in Egypt, I would not recommend
mini skirts or short-shorts. Not only is this culturally not acceptable,
it can be dangerous (due to religious extremism outside of the
large cities of Cairo and Alexandria). I wore long skirts or those
casual, comfortable elastic waist, drawstring pants. A woman,(
and a man for that fact), should be very considerate of religious
"dress" while in mosques. While no one may prevent your entrance,
it is considerate not to enter mosques in shorts (men & women)
or with bare shoulderss. You should also remove your shoes before
entering. You will find that if you respect this culture's "semi-conservative"
dress code, you will be harassed less and accorded more respect
by men as well as women.
Lori, San Francisco, USA
traveled in Egypt. My advice is as follows: skirts are cooler
than jeans in a desert climate. For women, shorts are just not
an option in a Muslim country, unless you want tons of whistles,
stares, and very high "tourist" prices for cab fares and souvenirs.
I like wearing "broom" skirts, as they are long (past your knees),
cool, inexpensive, and pack well in a backpack (or suitcase).
T-shirts are fine to wear in public. You'll almost never need
to wear sleeves to your wrists, unless going into a mosque.
have just read in my local paper that according to Travel Holiday
Magazine,it is illegal for women to expose their arms in mosques
Evelyn, Toronto, Canada