Fashion in Dubai is a reflection of many cultures with a wonderful array of style. Find out what to wear in Dubai from an expat who’s been living there for almost twenty years!
What to Wear in Dubai
Written by: Georgina Hardman
Being a conservative country, everyone is advised (and regularly reminded) to dress modestly and respectfully in public places. This means that skirts should reach the knee, tops of shoulders should be covered, and cleavage should be kept inside tops.
Resortwear, bathing suits, and short or sleeveless summer clothing is acceptable as long as long as you wear them within the grounds of your resort. Once you’re outside of the resort property it’s best to wear modest attire.
Local women wear head scarves, long skirts or trousers, and long sleeves, while nationals from the Gulf region wear an abaya; these are made from a black, silky material with different embellishments. Gorgeous designer handbags and shoes are common along with a fashion sense to match.
When you’re planning what to wear in Dubai you should take several things into consideration, starting with the time of year:
NOVEMBER TO APRIL
November to April varies from warm to cool weather. These are the ideal months to be outdoors, walking, swimming, doing water sports, golfing, sightseeing, etc.
Summer clothes are ideal, but bring along a cardigan, jacket, and pashmina for the cooler evenings. Jeans, trousers, jackets, and boots are worn gladly at this time of year, as it is nice to have a change of wardrobe.
Whatever the time of year, at night the temperature drops by 10°C/18°F! So 25°C/77°F during the day in winter will drop to 15°C/59°F, and 45°C/113°F in summer to 35°C/95°F.
MAY TO OCTOBER
The summer temperatures during May to October are a sizzling 30°C/86°F to 47°C/117°F during the day! It is not just the heat but the high humidity that makes it unbearable.
Very cool, loose, summer clothes are the best items to wear, as the humidity can make clothes feel tight and uncomfortable. Cotton, linen, and silk are best.
Bear in mind that anywhere indoors can be very cold, as the air-conditioning is full-on! So it’s still a good idea to have a jacket, cardigan, or pashmina to keep the chill at bay.
What Local Women Wear in Dubai
Women from Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan tend to be very glamorous and body-conscious. They appear to only wear designer items (or at least items that look designer)!
They favor fitted clothes, high heels, lots of jewelry and accessories, and always seem to be in full makeup with their hair done–an impossible feat for other mere mortals!
Then you have what is sometimes referred to as “Jumeirah Janes” (UK/Western women who live in Jumeirah). The stereotype is that they are housewives who spend their days running after their kids, but also having coffee and manicures while the kids are at school. They tend to dress more practically, with only a touch of glamour, like a nice bag or jewelry.
The Indian or sub-continental ladies wear both western and colorful Indian dress.
Please respect the local culture. Westerners are advised and know they should be dressed modestly; however, they often wear whatever they like despite the conservative nature of the region. Avoid short shorts, tank tops, bikinis, and cleavage in public.
As someone who has lived in Dubai since 1988, I have respect for the dress code and am shocked at such blatant disregard. If you are at home or at the beach and then decide to go out to a public area, it is advisable to change into respectful clothing.
For ideas on how to dress for conservative countries, read this.
As more and more people have moved here, and as the tourists flood in, Dubai has become influenced by trends from cities all over the world. Every week, new designer brands and high street brands are becoming available, and world trends can be seen.
As recently as 15 years ago, only a few brands were here, and people tended to do the majority of their annual shopping when traveling elsewhere. Consequently, most trends were not seen here–for example: piercings, tattoos, and bright hair colors were rare. This still applies today.
These days, most luxury brands have several branches here. There are also multi-brand stores like Boutique 1, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Gallerie Lafayette, and Harvey Nichols, to name but a few.
Shopping malls play a huge part in most people’s lives in Dubai. This is because they offer protection from the arid climate (which is endured for over six months of the year), as well as a range of activities apart from shopping.
The malls have snow slopes, ice rinks, cinemas, theaters, food outlets, top international restaurants, aquariums, zoos, and kids’ entertainment of every kind! The new malls also offer the choice of top designer brands along with high street stores and stalls selling accessories and electronics.
High street stores from all over the world cater to everyone’s tastes and requirements. Dubai is really a wonderful shopping and fashion destination.
Do you have any tips to add for what to wear in Dubai? Please share below!
For more packing tips, please read:
- 5 Common Sense Safety Tips for Women
- How to Dress for Conservative Countries
- 20 Summer Maxi Dresses
- How to Choose the Best Travel Shoes
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Author Bio: Originally from the UK, Georgina has lived in Dubai since 1988. She is married with two teenage children. Georgina attended the London College of Fashion in 1985 to study fashion retailing. She worked for John Lewis before moving to Dubai. She has always been interested in writing.