The Chador.

The Iranian dress code for women to cover up is rigidly enforced by law, so with this in mind Olwyn Pat and I dressed appropriately before arriving at the border of Iran. Only our face and hands can show.

I wore my turquoise shalwar kameez bought in India, Pat had a suitable long Iranian style navy raincoat and trousers, Olwyn wore an African style dress and trousers. We all had a headscarf to cover our hair and neck and to complete the outfit socks and shoes. An assortment of dress styles to say the least.

We do not have to wear the black chador as almost all Iranian women wear, but after being here a few days I wondered what it would be like to wear, so Olwyn and I decided to buy one. Easier said than done as they are made to measure. With the help of an Iranian woman (no English) an Iranian man who spoke some English and the shopkeeper who showed us roll after roll of black material in different weights, textures and designs we made our decision. Our height was measure and the length of material was cut off and will be taken to the tailor. They will be ready for collection tomorrow some time after 4.45 pm.

Back the next day at the shop, having got the directions written in Farsi just in case we had a problem finding the shop again and as promised the chadors were ready to be tried on. They have a curved hem and no other shaping. A few nearby shopkeepers came to watch the fitting and of course Clive was there to record it all on camera.

The middle of the straight edge is folded over and put on my head which is held tight under the chin by one hand or between your teeth and the fabric tucked in around the face. The only way to keep the chador closed is to hold it, as there are no buttons or clips. Ready dressed we thank the shopkeeper and set off for a walk through the bazaar - blending in a little more now! It was extremely difficult to keep it in place and needs both hands to manage all the fabric and not to trip over. We were meeting up with the others in the tea room which meant climbing a steep flight of steps, by the time we sat down we were so hot under all this material. It was tiring and awkward to wear and we only had it on for half an hour. It is incredible how the Iranian women manage the chador while shopping, holding a child, working or riding pillion on a motorbike, and all done with such grace and ease.

For me it was an amazing experience and worth all the effort.

Ann Barker.

Home - This page last changed on 2004-04-28.