Tuesday, 20 April 2010

What not to wear in Turkey

Although most Turks are Muslims, Turkey is a modern country with a secular society. Many Muslim women in Turkey (around 30 per cent of the female population) dress in a headscarf and a long tunic when they go out in public, in order to observe Islamic law but also to stay within the bounds of Turkish law, which prohibits religious garb in public places.

Wearing burqa is illegal under Turkish law, and even wearing a headscarf is becoming rather controversial.
So how should a Western tourist dress in Turkey? Not that much differently than at home; just use your common sense. However, if you don’t have any common sense, read our handy guide below:
You can let it all hang out on Turkey's touristy beaches

On the beach
In the touristy spots in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, you can wear just about anything – but use your common sense. Nudity is illegal, but some people do flout the laws (and their flesh) and nothing is really done about it. Bear (or ‘bare’) in mind that you’re likely to have your picture taken by curious onlookers!

 City chic is the order of the day in Turkish centres
In the city
Would you walk down the streets of London, Paris or New York in a bikini? I thought not. It’s the same in Turkish cities. Cover up, and make an effort to look smart casual. Turkey’s cities, especially Istanbul and Ankara, are stylish centres. You will look out of place in a sarong or a scruffy pair of shorts.
Everyone must cover their head in the mosque - even if you're the queen.

In the mosque
If you’re visiting one of Turkey’s many mosques, remember that clean and modest dress is usually required. While they’re fine on the beach, displaying thighs, upper arms, shoulders and bellies should be covered up. Women may need a headscarf to cover their head. It’s a good idea to carry a light, elegant Turkish headscarf with you in case the occasion arises. They’re also great for deflecting the rays of the mid-summer sunshine. Men: put your legs away; shorts are not acceptable in the mosque.
 "Aren't you glad you decided to wear matching socks, darling?"

At a restaurant
In the more upmarket restaurants, dress is a little more formal than in most Western countries. Avoid wearing shorts to nice restaurants. The Turks often wear dinner jackets, you may wish to follow suit. When the sun goes down, Turkish women really dress up, but you’ll very rarely see plunging necklines and bare arms.
Take your cue from her: don't wear a bikini in rural Turkey.
In rural areas
Away from the crowds of tourists, in Turkey’s more isolated areas, especially in Central and Eastern Turkey and the Black Sea coast, women should dress with care. Wearing long-sleeved tops, trousers and long skirts is a sign of respect and people will appreciate your efforts to blend in. A headscarf and the Turkish baggy trousers (salvar) may be a good idea. Look at the local women to get an idea of what you should be wearing.