Iran is an Islamic republic and the hejab, or Islamic dress, must be worn by all women. This does not mean having to wear a chador, but rather covering one’s head and neck with a scarf, and wearing long sleeves and a long coat (preferably calf- length). Feet and any part of the legs left showing should also be covered (with socks or thick tights), even when wearing sandals. Do not wear lots of jeweler, try to keep to plain rings and discreet makeup.
Hejab must be worn in all public places (even in restaurants and regardless of the temperature!). In practice, this means that the only time it can be taken off is in the privacy of your hotel room. But do not forget to put your coat and scarf back on when you go to answer the door! Some state hotels are very strict about hejab in the lobby and may ask women to readjust their scarves if a few lochs of hair have managed to escape.
The problem of packing for a trip to Iran is simplified for women by the rules concerning clothing: do not bother taking along your best dresses for the evenings as no one will see them! On the other hand, a selection of scarves and a change of coat will come in handy. Scarves as well as long coats in a surprising variety of colours can be bought quite cheaply in Iran. Bee careful when buying cloth in the bazaars as most of it is synthetic and very uncomfortable in hot weather. Trousers (jeans are perfectly acceptable) and long skirts or dresses are the most practical way of dressing. Be aware that wearing hejab can be difficult in hot weather, particularly if you are overdressed, loose and light cotton clothing is best of all.
In certain holy places, such as the mausoleums of the descendants of the Imams, woman most wear a chador, but these can usually be borrowed at the entrance gate. There is no need to buy one for the purpose. Be careful not to tread on the ends of your chador: walking with a chador on is not always as easy as it looks, especially if it is slightly too long!
Even if these rules concerning clothing seem restrictive, it is very strongly advised that you stick to them (remember that, travelling in a group, you may simply be sharply reprimanded for improper dress, but it could be an entirely different matter later for your Iranian guide). If you are not prepared to obey these rules, then it is probably better not to visit Iran at the moment.
The rules concerning clothing for men are much simpler: shorts should not be worn and arms should be covered particularly when visiting holy shrines. Note that all these rules are more strictly observed during the months of Ramadan and Moharram.
Given the great temperature swing between day and night, as well as differences in altitude (when travelling by car in the Zagros, for example. It is quite possible to go from the central plateau at a height of 1,000 meters [3,280 feet] above sea level to a mountain pass at 2,500 meters [8,202 feet] several times in one day!) it is important to have several layers of clothing handy that can be taken off or put on as need be. In winter, warm clothes are essential except along the Persian Gulf.
Your feedback is extremely valuable to us, and will be useful for others.
So let us to have your comments.