I am partial to a headscarf. I picked up the habit in Iran, where the headscarf, a compulsory item of clothing, has also become every woman's favourite accessory.
According to law, any Iranian woman venturing out in public must be swathed in a manteau – a thigh-length coat available in a range of drab colours – and a scarf. Unlike the manteaux, however, the scarves in the local markets come in bright colours, stripes, paisleys and patterns. Young women tend to play with their scarves a lot, particularly when they spot a handsome man - twisting the ends playfully, letting the scarf slip back ever so slightly to reveal more of their hair.
All the current talk about burqa bans has obscured a fundamental fact: in most Islamic countries – certainly the ones that Australians are most likely to visit – clothing regulations are nowhere near as restrictive as you might think.
As different countries have different standards, however, trying to gauge the appropriate local look can sometimes be confusing. While some problem areas are obvious – flaunting your cleavage is always a no-go - in other cases, initial impressions can be misleading. In Jordan, for instance, you may see girls wearing skinny jeans and be tempted to throw on your favourite pair of Ksubis.
However, unless you have also brought a long shirt that covers your bottom, you will be breaking the dress code, and will find yourself endlessly pestered by men who assume that you are up for anything.
And that is the first good reason to dress appropriately. Having men ceaselessly hitting on you – which is what happens if you reveal too much - is no fun. More importantly, however, it is a matter of respect. We expect visitors to our country to behave appropriately: returning the courtesy when we are abroad should be a no-brainer.
Here is our quick guide to what to wear in Australia's favourite Muslim holiday spots. When in doubt, err on the side of caution. And remember that to enter a mosque, your shoulders and knees, as well as your head, will need to be covered. Pack some loose pants and shirts, plus a scarf or two, and you will be ready for anything.
Let's be clear: what happens in Bali stays in Bali. The standards that apply on this Hindu island are different to those in other, Muslim areas of Indonesia. In big cities such as Jakarta, you won't have to adjust your clothing too much: just make sure your shoulders and cleavage are covered. More remote areas may be more traditional, so ensure your knees and upper arms are also covered.
Yes, this is an Islamic country – something most visitors forget. Inside your resort, of course, you can wear pretty much anything you like. If you are going to visit a local village, however, or spend some time in the capital, Male, cover your shoulders, knees and chest.
What you wear will depend on whether you're staying in Kuala Lumpur or venturing further afield.
In multicultural KL and the surrounding areas, you will see women wearing everything from hotpants and singlet tops to a more restrained scarf-and-loose-clothing combo. The eastern states, however, are much more conservative, so pack long skirts or pants and loose shirts.
This is another country where the rules can seem confusing. For lying by the hotel pool, a bikini is perfectly appropriate. Heading out for sightseeing or shopping? Then cover your shoulders, cleavage and knees, and skip the tight clothing. You will doubtless spot at least one or two clueless tourists wearing see-through tops or mini-skirts: don't embarrass yourself by being one of them.
Jordan has a reputation for being tolerant of tourists and their wardrobe choices. However, given that many local women wear the hijab, it's advisable to keep your chest, arms and legs covered at all times. There is no need to cover your hair, except when entering a mosque.
In this conservative country, women who don't cover up will have a hard time fending off men who see their bare skin as an open invitation. Stick with long trousers or skirts and loose fitting tops that cover at least to your elbows. If you are wearing skinny leg pants, team them with a long shirt that covers your rear.
Rule number one: no cleavage. Rule number two: no knees. Rule number three: no shoulders.
Beyond that, standards seem to fluctuate in Morocco. On the whole, you won't go wrong with long and loose.
Iran is known as the country with the strictest clothing rules but even here, allowances are made for foreigners. Local women cover their hair with scarves and wear manteaux over jeans or trousers.
Visitors also need to ensure they do not show any skin from their neck to their ankles (hands are okay), but a loose shirt will do instead of a manteau. However, some travellers like the ease of the manteau. In warm weather, you can keep cool by not wearing a top beneath it.