What do women wear in Turkey–covered from head to toe or in provocative, colorful dresses?

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Despite many prejudices, clothing in Turkey is by no means as strict as in other Muslim countries. Being a country at the crossroads of two continents, Turkey blends Western culture (and its style of dressing) with the traditional one. Don’t expect burqas here, for sure.

Turkish women who adhere to traditional Muslim values often still prefer modest clothing that does not reveal thighs, shoulders, and arms. However, this does not mean you will see them in large flowing robes with covered faces, as is the case in, for example, Pakistan.

Vibrant Colors and Striking Makeup

Fashion for women in Turkey varies from region to region and from woman to woman. In cities, you will most commonly see trousers, knee-length skirts, long-sleeved shirts, and a headscarf. High-heeled shoes are not uncommon either.

Urban Turkish women aim to look just as appealing as women in Western countries, indulging in ruffles and colorful, shiny fabrics. This holds true for scarves, whether covering the hair or the neck and cleavage, depending on personal preferences. They often pay attention to bold and meticulously applied makeup, accentuating their femininity. Besides scarves, they also shield themselves from the sun with hats.

General Dress Code

In essence, there isn’t a strictly mandated dress code. However, in cities, the most common attire is the favored “smart casual“. In upscale restaurants, a more formal dress is expected, so save flip-flops and shorts for later.

As mentioned earlier, Turkish fashion is highly diverse, and it’s not uncommon to see a billboard featuring a woman in a bikini right next to another woman with a covered body. This implies that Turkish women can draw inspiration from many styles of dressing. Western fashion is particularly popular among the younger generation and in large cities like Istanbul or Ankara.

The only strict taboo in Turkey is nudity, which is even punishable by law. So, forget about nudism on the beaches.

A difference arises when you venture into rural Turkey. Here, it may seem like time stopped two hundred years ago. Opt for clothing that is modest and covering. You’ll encounter women wearing turbans, covering their heads and necks. Interestingly, even in the higher class, turbans are very popular among conservative women.

Turkish Women and Islam

In summary, Islam plays an important role in the lives of many Turkish women, and to some extent, this is reflected in their choice of clothing, which is often more concealing than revealing, complemented by a headscarf. However, it is essential to recognize that each woman chooses how to interpret and apply Islamic principles to her personal style of dressing.

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