Women in Iran must always wear a long coat or uniform over their regular clothes and are obliged to cover their heads (hair) with a scarf. It's the law, and not only for women. Men should wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts too. However, men are allowed to wear short-sleeved t-shirts or shirts in summer but shorts are forbidden for them. If you travel to Iran as a tourist, according to the dress code in Iran for tourists, you are supposed to hide your body shape and put a scarf, so you should wear trousers - either jeans, or if visiting in summer, something loose and cotton is best. Your top should be baggy and free. A summer dress over jeans and t shirt is a good option for you. As you know Iran is a country with respecting Islamic rules including “Hijab”. However, such rules are not observed strictly, especially for tourists and foreigners. Tourists are generally encouraged to dress conservatively when going through the Middle East; standard clothing is a precarious thing with regards to Iran and tourists should observe and respect the rules.
Different beliefs about women's wear in Iran
There are some minimum requirements for foreign women dress-code in public places in Iran but generally the law is loose when it comes to tourists. Because Iranian people are hospitable to the foreigners and they don’t like to bother them anyway. So, if they see a tourist woman without essential Hijab, they may just give them a smile to remind them.
In terms of Color, it's a completely false belief that wearing must be dark in Iran or Iranian people always wear black. There is no limitation in this respect and we recommend you make sure using light colors in summer. Color is a part of Iranian deep culture and if you go through different Iranian tribes like Kord, Lor, Balooch and Tork, you see how colorful and beautiful their dressing style is; it is said that they use the colors of nature! Hair should be covered. It does not mean you shall have a tight scarf around your head. It is very usual that some parts of hair remain out of the cover. It's quite acceptable for women to show their face. Appropriate hats & caps can also be used as well as scarves. Cotton scarf is the most common covering for head and is called "Roosari" in Farsi. They are produced in very diverse colors and designs for different tastes.
Legs should be covered down to ankles. Feet can be bare and you can wear sandals. Any type of shoes is acceptable in Iran.
What's the meaning of Hijab in Iran?
In summer and winter, like other Iranian people, tourist should wear cloths appropriate to the season and norms of the society. However, we see tourists in Iran mostly in spring and summer because the weather is good. There is a point that is worthy of mentioning regarding dress codes in Iran; when people go to holy shrines like Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, Shahcheragh in Shiraz, holy shrines in Qom or any other religious places, it is obligatory to wear "Chador" for women and all must respect it. If you like to participate in a mourning ceremony to become familiar with Iranian culture in this regard, you should wear black like others, however, it is not obligatory but people usually wear black to respect the family of dead person and sympathize them. Since the revolution of 1978 in Iran all women including foreigners or tourists, have been required by law to wear loose-fitting clothes to hide their figures. They must also cover their hair. This form of dressing is known as Hijab, a term that refers in general to ‘modest’ dress, and is also used to refer specifically to the hair-covering while appearing in the society.
In Iran you can also buy and wear traditional colorful dresses sewed by valuable cloth like Termeh (cashmere) or velvet. These are the symbol of Iranian original dressing that shows the identity of men and women in Iran. You can easily find this kind of clothing in old bazars of cities, for example in Isfahan, you can see a wide variety of traditional colorful dresses in Naghsh-e Jahan square and the bazars around it. You can take various attractive photos while wearing a Safavid or Qajar style dress in historical places and enjoy the design.