What is Islamic dress code (for non-Muslims)?
August 1, 2009 12:33 PM   Subscribe

What should my wife wear to an occasion that requests "please observe Islamic dress code?" We are non-Muslims.

My wife teaches at a school whose teachers have been invited to the ceremonial opening of a (Shiite) Islamic center nearby. The invitation posted on the bulletin board says, "Please observe Islamic dress code." Does this mean she has to wear a hijab or some other face/hair covering?
Anything special for men?
posted by feelinggood to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should perhaps add: this is in a suburb of Toronto (Canada).
posted by feelinggood at 12:35 PM on August 1, 2009

This link should help. Muslim Wedding Chic?
posted by pghjezebel at 12:39 PM on August 1, 2009

It may mean that they would prefer people dress in, say, something more modest - less exposed skin. But seeing as millions of Muslims wear "Western clothes", this is not the easiest thing to decipher. Call and ask.
posted by mdonley at 12:41 PM on August 1, 2009

Best answer: In some circles, that just means long pants (unlikely), in others it could be more elaborate.

I'd call the organizers and ask.

(Actually, I wouldn't go to any event that requires women to dress in a certain way, but then I'm also told I'm a contemptuous jerk.)
posted by wfrgms at 12:42 PM on August 1, 2009 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You should wear long sleeves and pants. Your wife should wear clothes that cover to her wrists and ankles, and bring a scarf to cover her hair. I don't think she'd be expected to cover her face.

Now how dressy you should be--that I do not know.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:45 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Bluedaisy has it. Both of you should wear modest clothing, ie no cleavage, with trousers that go down to the ankles and full length sleeves but no one will freak out if they fall back to show your forearms every now and then. Nothing too tight. For your wife, a full length skirt would do, or trousers with a loose top that reaches below the hips, or a jacket. For headwear, your wife should simply take along a scarf she can wrap over her head as needed, Audrey Hepburn style. If you google pictures of iran+women, you'll see the whole gamut in the first two pages (ignoring, of course, the pornographic or beach babe ones).

You may be expected to take off your shoes in some areas, so wear socks/ easily removable shoes.

As for how dressy: I daresay she'll have some guidelines already, but Iranian women (who may well predominate at a Shia gathering) tend to be sharp dressers.
posted by tavegyl at 1:04 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

This seems to be a summary of "Islamic dress code" and goes along with bluedaisy's recommendation.
posted by cabingirl at 1:07 PM on August 1, 2009

What bluedaisy said. The dresscode is often more relaxed for westerners so she will be fine if she wears pants, long sleeves and a scarf. He should also wear pants and dress shirt or long sleeves.
As for how dressy you should be, you really don't have to be provided it isn't a major islamic holiday/celebration/event. Hell, you could probably even get away with a pair of jeans provided you look clean and tidy.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:07 PM on August 1, 2009

This may be obvious, but have you tried contacting the center, or the person who posted the flyer? Part of most centers like this is doing outreach, I'm sure they'd be delighted to explain the customs to you.
posted by chrisamiller at 1:09 PM on August 1, 2009

On anything special for men, I think the same would apply: modesty. Long pants and sleeves, not too tight fitting. No need to cover your hair.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:29 PM on August 1, 2009

i posted "muslim wedding chic" when attending my gentleman-friend's cousin's wedding in a mosque.

i wore a long western-style vintage dress that fell past my knees, a scarf that covered my head and a cardigan to cover my arms.

many of the other white ladies there were wearing long wide-legged trousers with blouses and cardigans and had a scarf over their heads.

but really, everyone was super laid back about what i was wearing and were very friendly. i think showing an interest in islam as a westerner goes a long way, and people are generally appreciative of the respect and interest you show.

have fun!
posted by chickadee at 2:44 PM on August 1, 2009

Here is Hillary Clinton wearing Islamic dress on a recent trip.
posted by Pants! at 2:46 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

You might get some ideas for both you and your husband at this online store. You can probably find similar garments in your closet or at thrift shops.
posted by PatoPata at 5:13 PM on August 1, 2009

If it not a mosque, then your wife shouldn't have to worry about scarves. You don't need to go buy clothes either. Wear conservative clothes that don't show provocative levels of skin.

But seriously: call them and ask what that phrase means.
posted by dejah420 at 5:38 PM on August 1, 2009

Actually, I wouldn't go to any event that requires women to dress in a certain way.

So weddings, funerals and the beach are all out, I suppose.

Pantsuit and a scarf. It's pretty close to "conservative business" dress, really.
posted by rokusan at 6:08 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

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