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Clothing for Turkey

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We'll be traveling to Turkey this week and I have some packing questions. I'm aware of the need for modest clothing, so my daughter and I will bring clothes that cover our shoulders and knees, particularly for Istanbul. My teenage son is used to wearing long shorts in the summer. Is there any problem with him wearing those for sightseeing? Thanks.

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    You will see quite a range of clothing styles in Turkey. It also will depend on whether your trip is limited to large cities and the resort areas on the coast, or whether you also will be travelling in the countryside. In Istanbul, you will see young women dressed in the same kind of skimpy tops, dresses and short skirts (combined with skyscraper heels) as you would see in North America or Western Europe. You will also see modestly dressed women and girls, wearing long sleeves, ankle length dresses and headscarves.

    If your sightseeing activities include visits to mosques or churches, then it would be polite to dress more modestly (not a day for tank tops or miniskirts). It's useful to carry with you a lightweight pashmina-type scarf (you can buy them at Tie Rack) to cover shoulders (or even your head).

    Long shorts and tshirts for your son aren't a great choice. Among the more conservative members of the population, tshirts are considered to be underwear. A button up shirt (or at least a polo shirt) would be better. Long pants, too. But for days in Istanbul or on the coast that definitely do not include visits to mosques or churches, tshirts and shorts will mark your son as a tourist, but won't be considered disrespectful.

    When you go out in the evening for dinner, you should also leave the shorts, tshirts and running shoes back at the hotel (at least in Istanbul). Smart casual would be better.

    By the way, make sure you pack comfortable walking shoes. Istanbul is hilly and the sidewalks in some parts of the city are narrow, twisty and broken. I have no idea how Turkish women manage to walk around in 5 inch heels, but they do.

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