When I first learned I would be travelling to Istanbul I immediately started to worry about what’s appropriate clothing for travel to a conservative country? Now that I experienced it, I can be honest about my fears and share my tips for packing for a trip to Istanbul. In this post, I created an Istanbul packing list filled with packing tips for women wondering what to wear in Istanbul.
Turkish Fashion and Turkish Women’s Clothing
Istanbul is a modern and fashion-forward cosmopolitan city. That said their traditions and culture still fall on the conservative side. Most women I noticed dressed in smart fashions which included sleeved dresses, long tunic tops and straight cut pants and jeans.
There are both very conservative women with their heads covered in scarves and those who are more modern who are not covering their heads. But overall dressing conservatively means no v-necks or low cut shirts, covering your knees and not wearing ultra tight clothing that shows the form of your body.
Istanbul Essential Travel Accessories For Women
Depending on the time you will be travelling to Istanbul be sure to pack for the weather. In summer the most popular and busy tourist season make sure you have travel essentials like a hat, sunglasses in rainy or cooler months pack a raincoat or puffer jacket.
If you are planning to do some sightseeing, then the following items are a must.
I’ve started buying more painted silk scarves for travel. Scarves can be used in many ways to boost a carry-on only wardrobe, as a fashion accessory, hair tie, belt and more.
For a trip to Istanbul, a scarf is a great way to cover up your neckline or your head when entering religious sites. This particular scarf is inexpensive and comes in many beautiful prints and colours. Amazon US | Amazon CA
The streets of Istanbul are cobblestone, and you will be doing a lot of walking, especially in the old city between historic sites. I recommend comfortable walking shoes, ballet flats or sandals as heals may be hard to wear on cobblestone sidewalks.
Vionic Women’s Spark Caroll Ballet Flat
Vionic shoes provide excellent arch support and work to support your natural alignment from your feet up. These ballet flats come in a variety of colours and won’t take up a lot of space in your luggage. The right ballet flat can be dressed up or down depending on the activities of your trip. Amazon US | Amazon CA
Vionic Women’s Splendid Kani Slip-on Walking Shoes
If you don’t’ want to wear sneakers, a slip-on walking shoe will give you the comfort of wearing a sneaker, have excellent arch support and cushioning and come in a variety of colours. Amazon US | Amazon CA
Anti-theft Travel Bag and Purses
When visiting a busy city, especially in Europe where pick-pocketing is a profession I always travel with an anti-theft bag. It is not a 100% foolproof solution, but having my zipper locked while I’m running around taking pictures when I know I’m distracted is an extra line of defence I can’t live without.
Travelon Anti-Theft Quilted North South Bag
For those who have been visiting this site for a while, you know I’m a big fan of Travelon for travel accessories. The fact is I have bags that are four years old which are still going on trips with me. They offer the anti-theft features I love (slash proof fabric, locking zippers) but are stylish and come in fun styles, patterns and colours. Amazon US | Amazon CA
Tops and Sweaters for your Istanbul Packing List
I suggest blouses that are not low cut as you may get a few glances if you are showing too much skin. That said, during hotter months consider layering a t-shirt and light tunic top with a sweater. There are some attractions like the Mosques and Topkapi Palace that require you to be covered adequately in religious sites.
Read more: Places to Visit in Istanbul: 2-day Itinerary
Fashion T-shirts or Blouses
When packing tops for your trip to Istanbul remember to keep the neckline from dipping too low. Crew T-shirts and tunic tops are great for trips to conservative countries. Remember to cover your shoulders and avoid tanks but layering with short sleeved cardigans or button down shirts is a great way to get around this.
Another must-have travel accessory for me is a lightweight cardigan. When travelling temperatures change in a heartbeat or plane rides can get cold. Having a wrap style Kimono or long sleeve cardigan can make all the difference.
In Istanbul where temperatures can get quite hot in the summer, I opted for a Kimono style cardigan to use as a cover up when entering religious sites and for a little warmth when on a windy cruise on the sea.
Pants, Dresses and Skirts for your Istanbul Packing List
The critical thing to remember is that in conservative countries women don’t emphasize the shapes of their bodies when out in public. If you are going to wear pants, tight leggings can be seen as too revealing. You will be better off to wear straight leg pants or long skirts.
Another note as I saw this happen during my trip, ripped jeans at the knees or showing even a spot of skin on the legs will get flagged when entering religious areas. Some like the blue mosque provide a generic skirt to put over the top – but if you want to avoid wearing a grimy public covering plan accordingly.
Straight Cut Leggings or Jeans
During my trip, I wore straight cut and bootcut jeans a lot, but I was travelling in fall when temperatures were cooler. I also recommend Hue Leggings which I love and have many styles including a full leg Capri style which I can’t live without.
When travelling to Istanbul during the summer, you may want to invest in a pair of flowy linen pants. The loose Palazzo style pant is like a skirt but offers the comfort of a pant. Avoid Palazzo’s with high slits and have fun with styles and colours.
Make your travels easy by packing a maxi skirt which can be worn over leggings or shorts. While I would not have been comfortable walking in shorts, many tourists do especially during the hot summer months. When visiting religious sites, you can slip on a flowy maxi skirt. Amazon US | Amazon CA
Sleeved Wrap Dress
Finally, a sleeved wrap dress is the perfect compliment to your Istanbul packing list. Dresses can be short sleeve, three-quarter length or long but the skirt length should fall below the knees. Avoid low necklines and super tight fits and remember you can always layer with scarves or kimonos. Amazon US | Amazon CA
Visit Our What to Wear in Istanbul Packing List on Amazon
As I know you all love to find the items on my lists easily, I’ve added the Amazon links for both the US and Canadian sites next to each piece. I’ve also put all the items mentioned in this post in a convenient list on my Amazon Stores. I’m going to try and do this on all future fashion articles, and I’m also committed to picking items for women of all sizes. If you have any more requests for me let me, know in the comments or shoot me an email here.