Perhaps the most visible mark of Iran’s Islamic leanings is the conservative dress expected of its citizens. Although normal, Western style clothing is acceptable in private homes, when in public women are required to cover everything but their face, hands and feet.
The most common uniform consists of a head scarf (roo-sari) to conceal the head and neck, a formless, knee-length coat known as a manto and pants or long skirt.
In and around holy sites, you will be expected to dress even more modestly in a chādor, a full-length swathe of black cloth designed to cloak everything but your face from view.
The dress code can be daunting during your preparation, but roo-saris, manto and chādors can be bought in Iran easily and with very good rates. In choosing color you don’t have any limitation, so choose the best color you like!
Visiting Holy Sites
Although no trip to Iran would be complete without a glimpse at the stunning architecture and somber environments of its mosques or holy shrines, many travelers are daunted by the prospect of walking into the foreign world of a mosque. Don’t let these fears stop you, Iranians are welcoming!
Some mosques, and most holy shrines, require women to be wearing a chādor before entering the complex. If you don’t have one, there are sometimes kiosks by the door that lend or hire chādors.
Shoes are not worn within prayer areas of a mosque or shrine. Busier mosques have free shoe repositories where you trade your shoes for a token. Also try to avoid mosques on the holy day of Friday because of the Friday Prayer and its crowd.
Holy shrines, like those in Mashhad and Qom, are usually off limits to non-Muslims, although the surrounding complexes are usually OK. Always ask first before you enter a room you are unsure of.