How Women Dress in Turkey?
1. Stylish casual dress for most places.
Dress up more (“smart casual”) for the cities, less for the seaside resorts. The nearly universal summer tourist seaside dress of shorts and T-shirt is fine, but not in mosques. However, in Turkish cities—as in New York, Sydney or London—most of the local people around you will be more stylishly dressed.
2. Clean, Modest Dress to Visit Mosques
Clean, modest clothing is appreciated and often required when visiting mosques. In short, don’t show thighs, shoulders or upper arms. Slacks, or knee-length skirt or dress; blouse or top with sleeves to at least the mid-upper-arm. Have a headscarf to cover your hair. In cooler seasons, a light, long-sleeved hoodie is a great idea: just raise the hood when entering a mosque.
No shorts, sleeveless tops (tank tops) or revealing clothing should be worn by women or men. Shoes don’t matter as you will be removing them before entering the mosque (so slip-ons make it easier). At the most-visited mosques (such as Istanbul’s Blue Mosque), attendants may be provided cover-all robes (free) if your manner of dress is questionable.
3. Seaside & Beach: As You Like
In seaside resort towns, dress as you like. Outright nudity is illegal, but on remote stretches of beach some tourists may sunbathe topless.
4. “Smart Casual” in Restaurants
In the better restaurants, dress is somewhat more formal than in the USA or Australia. Avoid wearing shorts and a T-shirt to a nice restaurant or dining room for any meal. In the evening, stylish dress, slacks or skirt and top are preferred. For men, ties are not normally required, and jackets are usually optional. Many Turks wear a tie and a jacket to dinner, but may remove their jackets for comfort at some point during dinner.
5. Out in the Countryside
In rural areas away from the touristy locations, Turks will accept you as you are, but women in more modest dress (sleeved tops, slacks or knee-length dresses or skirts) may be seen as more worthy of respect. A foreign woman wanting to fit in with traditional village life would wear slacks, or going native, comfortable Turkish bloomers called şalvar [SHAHL-vahr]), a top with sleeves at least to the elbows and perhaps even to the wrists, and a headscarf when out in public.