How to do hejab in Iran

Hejab always seems a big deal for women travelling to Iran. So I thought it might be useful to share what I myself wear. I’ve visited Iran multiple times during the last decade. And can still remember the challenges I faced the first time I went to Iran!

So here’s some practical advice for any woman lucky enough to have a trip to this beautiful, hospitable and sometimes contradictory country.

In the West, hejab means the headscarf. But in Iran, women have to cover both their head, and their bum.

At all times.

That includes the steps out of the plane and the arrivals hall in the airport. If you are not going to wear your hejab on the plane, you must have it in your hand luggage.

The stereotype is that Iranian women all wear black cloak-like chador. Some women do choose to, or have to, wear chador. But see how wrong the universal cliche is here.

For travellers/tourists, chador are only necessary in shrines, or a few specific mosques. When they are necessary, chador are usually available to be borrowed – lots of Iranian women don’t always have a chador immediately to hand.

The rest of the time, most Iranian women wear a manto: a short or long ‘coat’. Many travel advice sites suggest wearing a long shirt, or shalwar kamiz. But I know that the coat-like nature of a manto means you can easily take it off in a private place – for example if – or when! – you are invited into the home of an Iranian.

And I think that going shopping for a (cheap) manto can be great fun. As well as letting you see what the current fashions are. And up to the minute fashion is a big thing in Iran!

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