What to wear in Afghanistan

red outfit

This was on the roof of our building, relaxing out of sight in a long, loose tunic, pants and head scarf.

Recently my parents had the opportunity to travel to Afghanistan, where the dos and don’ts of dressing in a Muslim culture are quite different from in Senegal. After seeing The Gazelle Skirt series on what people wore for a week, my mom decided to chronicle her clothing on the trip and ask questions of the women she was visiting and met along the way.

You ready? Here we go!

Beverly's polka dot tunic

What I wore around the guesthouse in Kabul, so indoors and around other expats. But if I went down to ground level where the male Afghani staff worked, I needed to wear a head covering.

What were the general guidelines for what you could wear in Kabul?

In public or at home with males outside your immediate family, I had to wear outfits with long sleeves, like three quarters or longer. Tops had to loosely cover your rear and fall at least below the knee. And this was over long pants. Your head has to be covered with a long scarf, but my bangs could show. There weren’t any restrictions on shoes, so most women wore very glamourous shoes, like strappy heels. There were also a lot of bedazzled iPhone covers, henna designs on hands and feet and sparkly nail polishes to accessorize.


A long robe, worn over my long tunic with sleeves, worn over my long pants. It was hot!

And you have to wear this even when it’s hot out?

Oh yeah!

How hot was it?

It was over 100 degrees most days and there wasn’t much that was air-conditioned.

You came to Senegal in July one year. Better or worse?

As miserable. Wearing a burka or chaddor in Afghanistan in May, and they said it was cooler than usual, was as miserable as Dakar in July without AC.

blue & pink dress

This I wore indoors and around the Afghani staff. Three-quarter length sleeves, long tunic covering knees (and everything above!) and a head scarf.

What kinds of fabrics did you see?

It wasn’t drab at all. The women love bright colors, metallic threads, rhinestones…

yellow Pakistani outfit

This is a Pakistani-style outfit that I actually bought in Kosovo before the trip. (I hear you can buy them in Dakar at Marche HLM.)


Putting on the burka to travel into the Taliban area.

How different was it in the Taliban area?

The women love the bright, beautiful clothing, but it’s all under their chaddor or burka. You can even see their love of color in their homes which are decorated with richly colored tapestries with cushions and pillows similar to the Persian rugs.


Whenever you go out in public (outside your compound) in a Taliban area, you have to wear a burka like these. To walk, you grab the bottom corner by your ankle and wrap it around to cover the front of your legs as you walk.

Thanks for sharing your clothing experiences with us!

black outfit

This was actually taken in Dubai on the way home. I bought the top at a market in Kabul for about $12.


3 thoughts on “What to wear in Afghanistan

  1. That is very interesting. The burka looks uncomfortable and awkward to walk in if you were holding a baby. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. Pingback: Happy Tabaski! | Senegal Daily

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