STYLE

How You Can Dress Appropriately For The Middle East and Still Look Stylish!

What I Wore In The Middle East

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that my family and I took an exciting, whirlwind trip to The Middle East recently. We traveled to the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt. It was surreal and spectacular. We got to see so much, and I loved watching the kids experience it too. For more details about the trip, where we went and stayed, and what we did, make sure you check back tomorrow for that post. I’m also planning to do a full recap on YouTube soon. Be sure to subscribe there so you don’t miss any new videos!

For more details on this trip, where we went, what we did, and where we stayed, make sure you check out this post.

 

Women’s Dress Code in The Middle East

The Middle East is much more conservative than the US. I had to very strategically plan out the pieces I was packing. I also had to pack everything in two bags: one carry-on suitcase and a large tote. The reason we didn’t check bags is because the schedule was so jammed, we didn’t want to risk losing luggage and therefore losing time. I’m always strategic when I pack, but this was a different level because I needed to be hyper aware of what I wore to be respectful of the cultures here. And, of course, I still wanted to feel stylish!

Before I get into everything I wore, I wanted to give you a few general dress code guidelines to follow while you’re visiting the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt. Every country is a little different but generally, you should:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing
  • Tops should cover your shoulders and not be too revealing in the chest area
  • Skirts and dresses should cover the knee but the longer, midi, ankle, or full length is best (Avoid short skirts and shorts)
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting or ripped pants, jeans, trousers
  • Avoid wearing anything to sheer
  • Shawls, cardigans, and scarves are a great accessory to have on hand just in case!

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SIMILAR PANTS | TEE | FOR LESS | BLAZER | FOR LESS | SNEAKERS | LIMITED SIZES/COLORS ON SALE | OPTION FOR LESS | SUITCASE

#1) Travel Outfit

The perfect travel outfit should be comfortable and stylish. The flight from Montrose, CO to Dubai was like 22 hours total! NO WAY I’m wearing anything uncomfortable. I chose a pair of comfy knit Lovers + Friends split hem pants. They’re super soft, and stretchy. Plus, I knew I’d be able to wear them when we arrived at our next couple of destinations.

Next, you’ll want to wear a basic top or tee that you can layer. I’m wearing a white V-neck tee that you’ll see me wearing throughout the trip. I threw on a white blazer by Cinq a Sept that has cool ruched sleeves. It’s versatile because it goes with the rest of the pieces I packed. When I got on the plane, I neatly folded this blazer and placed in a cube inside my tote. I didn’t wear it the whole flight.

To complete the look, I’m wearing these super cool Chloe sneakers. I love that they’re neutral so they go with everything and the stitching is so unique. They’re also comfortable and even have a little platform to add height. Believe it or not, I only brought three pairs of shoes on this trip!

If you want to see my go-to travel outfit formula, be sure to check out this post!

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BLACK TOP | SKIRT | FOR LESS | BLUE TOP | JEANS | SNEAKERS | LIMITED SIZES/COLORS ON SALE | OPTION FOR LESS | BAG (SOLD OUT IN WHITE) | NECKLACE | FOR LESS | SANDALS | FOR LESS | BELT | FOR LESS

#2) United Arab Emirates

Shopping & Sightseeing in Dubai

In Dubai, the dress is more lenient, and you might see more tourists wearing shorter sleeves and hemlines, but I still opted to cover my shoulders and legs. Essentially, the more provocatively your dress, the more attention you draw to yourself. Even I noticed women who were wearing tighter dresses or shorts. So, while we were sightseeing and shopping, I wore a black embroidered Alice + Olivia midi skirt. It’s a beautiful skirt! It’s midi length so on my 5’4” frame it’s a little longer but on taller women, it will fit like an actual midi. I styled it with a black ba&sh blouse. It has an open back that I wouldn’t hesitate to wear in the U.S. but on this trip, I wore a fitted cami to cover my back. On my feet, I’m wearing a pair of super comfortable and chic perforated slide-on sandals by Mercedes Castillo. You’ll be seeing a lot more of these slides this summer!

The look on the right was another sightseeing outfit. I’m wearing a gorgeous blue printed top by Misa. The print is really pretty, it’s longer so it covers your butt, but it’s thin enough to tuck into jeans without adding bulk. Oh, and it’s super lightweight which makes it perfect for the hotter climates! I styled the top with some Kut from the Kloth jeans that are under $100, super stretchy and comfortable, and the perfect length. I wore the Chloe sneakers and my new white raffia Prada bag. I’ll be doing a bigger review on this bag soon so stay tuned.

One of the keys to packing light is minimizing shoes (3 pairs max) and only bringing one handbag that you can wear with everything. Make sure it’s versatile, stylish and something you love!

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SHIRT | FOR LESS | JEANS | SNEAKERS | LIMITED SIZES/COLORS ON SALE | OPTION FOR LESS | NECKLACE | FOR LESS | SIMILAR SCARF

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

When visiting mosques and other religious sites, you need to dress modestly. If you’re going somewhere specific, you should research if they have any specific dress code before you go.
One day we visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (which is absolutely beautiful by the way…more on that in tomorrow’s post!). You’re required to wear loose clothing with long sleeves, bottoms that are to the ankle, and a headscarf.
I’m wearing a pale pink and white striped Zadig & Voltaire shirt. It was perfect for this trip because it kept everything covered but it’s lightweight, so I didn’t get hot. I styled it with the same Kut from the Kloth white jeans, Chloe sneakers, and a headscarf.

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DRESS | LOOK FOR LESS | SANDALS | FOR LESS | NECKLACE | FOR LESS

Desert Safari in Dubai

We had an amazing night in the desert where we rode camels and had dinner. It was one of those pinch-me moments for sure! I wore my PatBo dress that you may remember from this post. It does have an open back and cutouts on the sides but with the longer hemline and the fact that it was just our family and our guides, I felt great and glam!

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SWEATER | JEANS | SNEAKERS | LIMITED SIZES/COLORS ON SALE | OPTION FOR LESS | SIMILAR SCARF | SUNGLASSES

#3) Israel

Souks in Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, you have such a diverse mix of cultures, it’s best to dress more on the conservative side. For example, it would have felt strange walking through the church where Jesus was crucified, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, wearing cut-off jean shorts and a tee. While walking around the Arab souks, I wore the same white jeans…can you tell how much I’m loving these jeans yet?! (Note: they DO stretch a LOT, be sure to size DOWN!!) The sweater I’m wearing is by Brochu Walker. It has really pretty lace trim details around the V-neck and hemline so it looks like a 2-in-1, but it’s all one piece. I also wore a neutral scarf to cover my chest when needed. While we were outside I wore my new Hariatt Isles hat that’s currently sold out but I linked a very similar option.

By the way, if you take white jeans on vacation and they get something on them, just spot clean at your hotel with a little soap and water. Don’t fear white…life is too short!

 

What I wore at a party in Israel by the Dead Sea, white backless dress by Elliatt

What I wore at a party in Israel by the Dead Sea, white backless dress by ElliattWhite Dress

Dead Sea Party!

To celebrate a very dear friend’s 70th birthday, we all stayed overnight by the Dead Sea! It was super windy at the hotel overlooking the sea (as you can tell from the pictures). For the party, I wore this gorgeous white crochet, backless dress with my white slides. I loved wearing this dress and felt like it was the perfect combination of sexy sophistication. The shoes and bag made the overall look more comfortable and casual.

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TOP | BOTTOM | SIMILAR HAT | SUNGLASSES

Dead Sea Float

For our float in the Dead Sea, I went with my blue and white printed Johanna Ortiz bikini. This is the same one that’s on the spring/summer capsule wardrobe, which you can find here if you’re interested. Two things…Some articles say that the Dead Sea water can ruin your swimsuit but I didn’t have any issues with the water. BUT, the mud did stain my swimsuit! The second thing is that you’ll be wiping mud all over yourself so just keep that in mind when you’re deciding what swimsuit you want to pack. I kinda wish I had skipped the mud, but it WAS fun!

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SHIRT | SIMILAR SHORTS | ANOTHER OPTION | SNEAKERS | LIMITED SIZES/COLORS ON SALE | OPTION FOR LESS | HAT (SOLD OUT) | SIMILAR HAT | SUNGLASSES

Hiking at Masada National Park & West Bank

For our day full of hiking, I wore my lightweight and breezy Rails cotton shirt with an undershirt, so it wasn’t as sheer. I opted to buy a medium so it would have a roomier fit and could double as a swim cover-up. I’m wearing a pair of green Prana shorts. And yes…I hiked Masada in my Chloe sneakers! (I only had space for three pairs of shoes.) To finish off the look (and for extra sun protection) I’m wearing my chic hat and sunglasses. I wore the exact same outfit for the hike in the West Bank.

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What I wore in Petra Jordan, featuring a green cotton Alexis midi dress, pink cashmere sweater, chloe sneakers

What I wore in Petra Jordan, featuring a green cotton Alexis midi dress, pink cashmere sweater, chloe sneakers

DRESS | SNEAKERS | LIMITED SIZES/COLORS ON SALE | OPTION FOR LESS | HAT (SOLD OUT) | SIMILAR HAT | BAG (SOLD OUT IN WHITE) | NECKLACE | FOR LESS | SIMILAR PINK SWEATER | FOR LESS

#4) Jordan

Petra

Next up was Petra in Jordan. This was tricky because it was really cold in the AM, but warmer in the afternoon. It’s also more conservative. I wore my green Alexis midi dress, and it was perfect. It has short sleeves, a breezy tiered skirt, and it’s 100% cotton and breathable. My accessories included my white raffia bag, comfy Chloe sneakers, and a hat. My bright pink cashmere zip-up sweater by Brodie kept me warm in the morning. It’s sold out but I linked a similar option that would give you that same pink and green color combo!

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SIMILAR PANTS | TEE | FOR LESS | SIMILAR HAT | SIMILAR SCARF | SUNGLASSES | FOR LESS | SNEAKERS | LIMITED SIZES/COLORS ON SALE | OPTION FOR LESS

Jordan Desert

Remember these pants from my travel outfit? I also wore them in the desert in Jordan where we explored, rode camels, and more. (Apologies for the fuzzy picture.) I’m wearing the same white v-neck tee, sneakers, a scarf to cover my chest, and an adjustable hat for sun protection! I was so happy I could tighten my hat because we had some serious wind to contend with!

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BLACK TOP | SKIRT | FOR LESS | SIMILAR HAT | SUNGLASSES | FOR LESS | SNEAKERS | LIMITED SIZES/COLORS ON SALE | OPTION FOR LESS

#5) Egypt

Pyramids in Cairo

In case you couldn’t tell already, this trip was jam-packed with lots of activities…mostly outdoors. And our next stop, Cairo, was no different. We explored the Egyptian pyramids which was a lot of walking, hot and dusty. I wore my flowy Alice + Olivia skirt, a long-sleeve Nation LTD shirt (also on the capsule wardrobe). The billowy sleeves kept me cool enough while keeping my arms protected from the sun. This shirt runs a little small so if you’re between sizes, size up. The sneakers were key to keep my feet free of dirt and dust, but also comfy.

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SHIRT | SHORTS | FOR LESS | SIMILAR HAT | SUNGLASSES | NECKLACE | FOR LESS | BAG (SOLD OUT IN WHITE) | SNEAKERS | LIMITED SIZES/COLORS ON SALE | OPTION FOR LESS

Luxor Attractions

Egypt was hot, but Luxor was next level hot. This is the only time I wore shorts on the trip and I was assured by our guide, that at Luxor’s sites, I would be fine. We packed a lot into this one day, including Valley of the Kings, King Tut’s Tomb, Temple of Hatshepsut, and Luxor Temple. I wanted to be comfortable so I decided to wear my Moussy Vintage denim shorts and old faithful…the Rails cotton shirt. These denim shorts are my go-to every summer…you can read more about how to wear denim shorts over 40 and more of my favorites in this post.

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DRESS | TOP | SIMILAR | JEANS | SNEAKERS | LIMITED SIZES/COLORS ON SALE | OPTION FOR LESS | NECKLACE | FOR LESS | BELT | FOR LESS

Dinners in Luxor

For one night in Luxor, I wore this gorgeous white Elliatt dress. It has an open back, beautiful eyelet sleeves, and a modest hemline. The long sleeves and hemline make up for the skin you’re showing on the open back. The fun tassels on the back felt very Middle Eastern. I loved wearIng this dress for this trip and I will also wear it this summer! You can see more photos of this dress and other LWD options in this post.

On our second night, I was pretty tired and went for a more casual look…a pair of Moussy Vintage jeans with minimal distressing and a white Maje blouse. This exact Maje top keeps going in and out of stock so if you see it in your size, grab it. If not, I linked another option that would work for this trip (or this summer). It also felt good to skip makeup.

I want to leave you with this one thought… I know sometimes you may think twice about packing ‘nice’ things for a trip for fear of them getting ruined. I would consider that it’s worth the risk! By having some nice things to wear, it’ll impact the way you look and feel on the trip! I’m also at a point in my life- at 47-years old- where I know tomorrow is never guaranteed. Wear the dress, wear white, wear your ‘nice things!’

What wardrobe questions do you have?  Please leave them in the comments! Remember that if you want more info about our trip in general, you can check out this post.

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Thank you for stopping by!

How To Manifest Anything, Fashion blogger Erin Busbee of Busbee Style wearing an orange and blue Staud Ina dress with white sunglasses walking around in Telluride, Colorado
Erin Busbee
After a decade in TV news, a desire to help women "look pretty" sparked a career pivot. I started my own wardrobe consulting business, styling "real" women for many years. In 2014, I changed direction again, using my TV background and styling expertise to launch this website and my YouTube channel. We are now a community of well over 1 million dynamic, vibrant, amazing women over 40... who know that age isn't something you need to hide from. For us, life is just getting started!!
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6 thoughts on “How You Can Dress Appropriately For The Middle East and Still Look Stylish!

  1. I’m headed to the Middle East again this fall. I usually struggle with what to pack – covering my shoulders and knees – and looking stylish. You nailed it! I’ll definitely be replicating all your looks:) The surprise item for me was the Chloe sneakers. I never would have believed they would work perfectly with everything you wore. They are the definition of an elevated basic!

    1. I’m SO excited for you, Christina! I’m glad you found this one helpful! ~Erin xo

  2. That’s a lot of clothes to fit into a carryon and another tote bag. Could you show how you pack? I’ve been on 2 long weekend trips recently and both times I struggled to get everything in. I must not know how to do it. I have packing cubes but I must not be doing it right.

  3. Thank you so much for your travel update! And, of course, your great packing Tips! Love your blog! You are right: live your life NOW! enjoy, have fun – use your family porzellan, jewelery- do not safe ….. for when???? Lifetime is much too short!!
    Dankeschön !
    Angela

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