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Tips For Modest Clothing In Turkey?

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Hello! I'm curious if any of you have good tips for modest clothing in Turkey. I'm going to Istanbul this summer and since I am going alone and am a girl I want to make sure I dress appropriately! Specifically, I'm looking for ideas about a long-sleeve shirt that you could wear under clothing that wouldn't be completely modest on its own, like short-sleeved shirts and such. My only issue is, I need it to be cool! I really dislike heat and have a low tolerance for it. I know, summer is a bad time to be doing this, but it's my only chance right now. Does anyone have recommendations for something like that? Also, any clothing advice or even just random advice would be awesome!

This will be my first trip to Turkey, and while I'm very excited I also don't know enough Turkish to feel prepared. I'm doing a homestay with a teacher to study Turkish, but I assume I will spend some time on my own as well. I've read about not smiling at men and things of that nature, but are there any other things girl's should try to avoid doing to keep attention from them?

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Hi Paks and welcome to our forum. I'm not sure where you will be staying in Istanbul but some areas are very conservative. When I stay in an area like that I make sure that I wear a long loose fitting dress and wear a thin cotton long sleeved shirt (not buttoned up) over the top just to cover my arms. If I'm wearing a skirt which again is long or trousers I will wear a T-shirt or top which covers my chest and again a long sleeved shirt. On the other hand if you go around the tourist areas you will see people just about wearing anything.

I would advise against wearing shorts or very short skirts and tight fitting low tops. I also tend not to wear a lot of jewellery and usually wear a cheap watch when out and about and don't carry a lot of money or credit cards.

I wish you luck with your home stay and hope you have a fantastic time as there is huge amount to see in Istanbul. The person you are staying with will also guide you and make sure you are safe.

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Oh, I know it's not necessary! But I'd really prefer to be polite and all of those things and I would like to wear sleeves.

Abi: Thank you! I'm really a very conservative dresser normally, I never show my legs. I'm not too worried about my clothing, I just don't want to be that crazy American. And thanks for the advice! That's another way of getting sleeves!

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Hi Paks and welcome to the forum. I don't handle heat well and I have found that you are actually cooler in a long-sleeved cotton shirt and light cotton trousers or long skirt than in sleeveless T-shirts and shorts. It is good for any hot country really and you don't have the hassle of changing in and out of clothes for visiting mosques and churches. Cotton shirts and trousers are comfortable, light-weight for packing, decent and kept the mosquitoes off (though I don't think you'll have problems with mosquitoes in Istanbul!).

As for how a girl should behave, try not be over-smiley or over-friendly-touchy as that can be miscontrued but it doesn't mean you have to walk around all day looking like Victoria Beckham! Enjoy your stay in Istanbul, it is a magical place!

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I hear you about not wanting to perpetuate any American stereotypes!

If you are in the States now, I'd suggest getting some linen sets. Yes, it wrinkles, but if you have an iron over there, linen is cool, dressy yet not overly so, and I think it has a very sophisticated look- very crisp and clean. Also, I love going into certain hippie type shops to find bohemian/India stuff. It's very trendy and hip, and the long flowing skirts and/or tunics can be very modest and cool and also very chic going back home. The tops can winterize easily with a pair of jeans, so your travel garb isn't a waste.

Another out of the box suggestion is to go to places like Target or WalMart and see if you could get a pool cover up that could also double as a see-though lightweight thing to throw on top of a tank top, if you can picture what I mean. It would give the illusion of being more covered up without adding any weight. Could also look really great with a pair of summer khakis and sandals.

How exciting for you! Just be careful. I'd take more precautions than just what you wear if you are going alone. That's way more potentially dangerous than anything you do or do not wear. Remember that woman from NYC not that long ago...?

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As for how a girl should behave, try not be over-smiley or over-friendly-touchy as that can be miscontrued but it doesn't mean you have to walk around all day looking like Victoria Beckham! Enjoy your stay in Istanbul, it is a magical place!

Whilst I agree with this. Some of the native women in Istanbul don't pay any attention to covering up at all.

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Thanks everyone for the advice!

Just to clarify, I'm more worried about myself than what is the least amount of clothing acceptable. To phrase that another way, I am rather modest in the U.

S. and I would like to be viewed that way abroad as well. It doesn't matter to me if it's totally fine to not cover up, because I will be viewed differently by not doing that, even though I probably could in some areas without causing offence. (Not sure I'd want to take the chance on getting it wrong somewhere though. XP)

I wouldn't feel comfortable pushing the limits even if I could get away with it. Also, as an issue of respect, especially when going into someone else's home, I think erring on the side of over-cautious is best.

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Aaaaaaggh, put my foot in it yesterday, was on the way to beach for barbecue, stopped at Bazzar, ( not market day, so just the men doing their thang and fish/ meat stalls open) the boys got out to get Kofte and chicken and I was waiting in car......

Realised I needed something from the boot, so ran round to open boot and retrieve item, couldn't figure why all the dirty looks ......

Oops, was in beach wear, shorts and t shirt!

Didn't even think until I was reprimanded by the turkish barbarian, when he came back to the car with meat etc!!

Then I felt quite guilty, especially as the children were fooling around big time, trying to make Asena sit in the drivers seat as though she was driving and we were all hooting with laughter!! I really got to nail this culture!!!!

post-10106-0-89846800-1365316540_thumb.j

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I'm sure you'll be fine. Although "modest" in "American" could mean just about anything... I'd keep skirts below the knee, not expose cleavage and pants should not look painted on. That rules out most women in the states. You can't even use the, "would my mother approve" as some of them are the worst offender. And anything seems to go in church anymore, so that barometer is out.

Guess I'm a little jaded, teaching middle and high school... Even some of the teachers push the envelope of what's appropriate for school!

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Another thing I thought of:

As an American woman, I was always taught to look another right in the eye when walking down the street to send the message that you are not a victim and I still tend to be of that mindset. I don't have much experience in Turkey, but I still can't imagine that I'd look down and avoid looking at people. But I do notice that people in Turkey SEEM like they're staring, but really, I just think that we're so engrained to SMILE at people to be nice that any face without a smile seems to be an disapproving stare, when really, to them to smile would be an inappropriate and much unwelcomed advance. So I'd try to balance looking around to keep your wits about you, but not try to connect with others specifically, or you may find you get attention you don't want.

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In the UK the latest trend for young Muslim girls is the supersized hejab, false eyelashes, piles of makeup and skinny jeans.Posted Image

We see girls dressed like that in Urgup, too, tottering around on high heels. Mostly they are Ankara weekend tourists but some of the local girls try to imitate the look too. Oh dear, we were all young once!

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Hehe. I see, I see.

Don't worry TaterTot, my family had to force me to start wearing things that showed any skin at all before I went off to College so I'm pretty sure I'm not like most American girls with their sense of modesty. I still get in trouble when I get all worried when my sisters wear skirts or dresses, thinking they're super short, but in their opinion it's nothing compared to other girls. Case in point being, I think knee length skirts and dresses are still too short, and thus would never step out in one unless I was wearing tights or leggings under them.

I'll definitely get some sunglasses though I think.

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Another thing I thought of:

As an American woman, I was always taught to look another right in the eye when walking down the street to send the message that you are not a victim and I still tend to be of that mindset. I don't have much experience in Turkey, but I still can't imagine that I'd look down and avoid looking at people. But I do notice that people in Turkey SEEM like they're staring, but really, I just think that we're so engrained to SMILE at people to be nice that any face without a smile seems to be an disapproving stare, when really, to them to smile would be an inappropriate and much unwelcomed advance. So I'd try to balance looking around to keep your wits about you, but not try to connect with others specifically, or you may find you get attention you don't want.

That's why I suggested dark lensed sunnies.....

You will be stared at and you can stare back!!!

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I hope that you won't spend all your time in Istanbul and that you'll find time to visit some other places in Turkey. It's like going to the UK and only visiting London or the states and only staying in New York.

There's no need to worry about clothing.

Just wear what you'd wear in any city. Normal t-shirts or blouses and anything that reaches the knee or below. A long sleeved shirt will go over anything and can be slipped on or off as the situation dictates. Don't forget a scarf/pashmina that can be used as a head covering should you want to visit a mosque.

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I also don't know enough Turkish to feel prepared. I'm doing a homestay with a teacher to study Turkish

I have been in Turkey since 1998 but still dont know enough Turkish to feel prepared - stupid I guess

One thing to remember ibn Turkey is that when you enter someone's house - shoes are left outside or taken off - you will probably get a pair of slippers inside.

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  • 1 month later...

I think the more relevant question is : would you as a presumably young western woman realy like to stay in an aerea were you have to take these insane precursons? These aereas exist in Istanbul,but I cannot for my bare life understand why any modern woman would want to venture into them!!!!

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I think the more relevant question is : would you as a presumably young western woman realy like to stay in an aerea were you have to take these insane precursons? These aereas exist in Istanbul,but I cannot for my bare life understand why any modern woman would want to venture into them!!!!

As Paks states, she is a very conservative dresser anyway and she just wants to be sure when she ventures into non tourist areas, its not about having to dress a certain way but about wanting to if I understand her correctly.

And some people, even modern woman would like to see more then just the tourist areas Posted Image

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