BY WENDY HUNG
In Iran, women traditionally wear hijabs, veils covering the head and the chest. As a traveler, every woman is required to “veil it” as I often called it. It starts with landing, before exiting the plane, each female traveler must not show her hair or the back of her neck.
Hair static, knots underneath, the whole ordeal wasn’t as pretty as it looked during the first few days of my trip. My neck even got red and itchy. Yikes! But after a few days, I actually adapted quite well and began to use veils as fashion statements. Here are some style tips that you may find helpful the next time you step foot in certain Middle East countries:
1. Kick off with a feminine hue
There’s nothing more ladylike than veils in the Middle East. Why not add to your fashion story by picking feminine hues like pink or purple? Women’s emotions are naturally (and rightfully) affected by our fashion choices. When I kicked off the trip with a pink pashmina at Jameh Mosque, the city of Isfahan somehow felt more tender yet elegant.
2. Show off colors that pop!
In Yazd province, we visited a Zoroastrian Tower where dead bodies were fed to scavenging birds. Although the practice no longer exists today, I knew we were heading to the desert so I chose a darker green as a head scarf which would pop in photos (and by photos, I do mean selfies. #NoShame.)
3. Commit to earth tones!
Not only do they always match with everything, if things get dusty on the road, stains are less likely to show. We saw the most scenic views in Chak Chak, where fable says that rocks in the mountains opened for a Persian princess who was escaping the Arab army back in 640 CE. Views were outstanding, but the air got dusty especially after hiking. Guess what? Can’t even tell on the scarf!
4. Wear your personal favorite like it’s no one’s business!
This black and white animal print is a travel item that I bring along with me ALL THE TIME! The colors go with everything and…I got it in Ethiopia! Everyone has a favorite accessory, and I highly recommend bringing just one item (not all) for the road. On this day, we were on a roadtrip for hours, and finally reached UNESCO World Heritage Site Pasargadae, where the final resting place of Cyrus the Great (founder of the Achaemenid Empire in 559 BC) resides.
5. Go classic, go leopard!
So old-school, completely vintage. The one print that will never go out of style. And how perfect it was that I got to wear it the day we browsed and shopped in a bazaar (located in the artistic city called Shiraz)! We bought quite a few pieces of antique jewelries from this hardworking boy who was at the market shop.
6. Keep things light, it helps when the weather gets warm
Materials matter! Especially if you’re traveling to Iran or other parts of the Middle East, make sure to pack fabrics that are light and airy. It was less of a hassle to deal with on the plane ride from Shiraz (where the weather was much warmer) to Tehran.
7. At least one Indian pashmina is essential
As soon as we got back to Tehran, we were surrounded by snow. It was beautiful but freezing. Pashminas are completely essential not only because they’re basically fabric heaters, but they’re also lighter in weight. Having one piece in your luggage is a very smart idea.