How to pack stylishly for Jordan

May 17, 2013 in Jordan,Middle East,Places

My first thought when my trip to Jordan was confirmed: what to wear? As it was my first trip to the Middle East, I knew that it would be not only much warmer in temperature but much more conservative in style. I wanted to be as respectful as possible while still being comfortable and on trend–and be carry-on only!

Christine Amorose dressing stylishly in Jordan, Middle East

Turns out I worried far too much about erring on the conservative side: while most Jordanian women are covered from head to toe, it’s not expected of Western women. While it’s best to cover your chest, shoulders and legs in cities like Amman, the rules are bit looser when you’re surrounded by other Westerners at the tourist sites.

However, I’m glad that I chose to cover my shoulders and legs most days: I felt much more at ease among locals. When we were only among our tour group, I usually ditched the sweater in an attempt to come home with a little bit of color.

Here are the key pieces that made Middle East mixing and matching a breeze (and let me get away with just a small duffel for 10 days):

Christine Amorose packing stylishly in Jordan, Middle East

Maxi skirt that doubles as a dress

A floral maxi skirt is an easy way to be chic but conservative: this has actually become one of my favorite work looks in New York City! The woven belt is key to this look: being able to cinch in the waist is what allows it to work as a dress. (Note: this was the day we were heading to a five-star resort on the Dead Sea, so my shoulders were only really exposed for a bit of a photo shoot. Usually I had a sweater on top.)

Christine Amorose dressing stylishly in Jordan, Middle East

Basic solid tees

I’ve recently discovered Everlane, and I’m obsessed. The prices are very affordable ($15 for a tee!) for such high quality, and it’s free shipping and returns. The solid-color crewneck tees were perfect to pair with a maxi skirt: they covered my shoulders and my chest without being matronly. Bonus: they just released a bunch of spring colors that would be perfect in the warmer climate!

Christine Amorose dressing stylishly in Jordan, Middle East

Something to cover up

I recently bought this super-soft chambray, and it’s without a doubt the best spring staple possible! It was perfect for Jordan since it wasn’t too heavy in the heat, but still covered my arms when we were in more conservative areas.

Packing an active but conservative outfit for Jordan, Middle East

An “active” outfit

When I saw hiking on the Jordan itinerary, I groaned: it’s one thing to mix and match for city days and nights, but active clothes throw a whole different curve into the mix. And again, I wanted to err on the conservative side: I didn’t pack the short running shorts or sports bra tank that I would have generally worn. My parents (who are avid golfers) kindly sent this Swing Cool Elements shirt: UV protection, cooling, moisture-absorbing and fast-dry! Unlike the rest of the group who wore T-shirts and shorts, I actually stayed fairly cool and hydrated through the hike–and I didn’t have to worry about sunburn! Definitely worth investing in if you’re going to be doing a lot of outdoor activities in the Middle East. (Note: one thing I do wish I had packed was more active outfits: the adventure activities in Jordan like hiking, riding in the back of a 4×4 in a desert, riding a camel and canyoning all would be best in comfortable outfits that you don’t mind getting a little dirty.)

Christine Amorose in a LBD in Jordan, Middle East

The MBD

When I wrote how to not look like a backpacker while living out of a backpack, one of the things I recommended was a multi-functional little black dress. For Jordan, a maxi black dress was the ultimate perfect-for-everything outfit. It was super comfy–even on long bus rides–and could be dressed up with a funky necklace or dressed down with a chambray on top. I usually kept my shoulders covered with a checkered scarf worn as a shawl or a wore the same scarf around my neck to cover up my chest.

Christine Amorose dressing stylishly in Jordan, Middle East

A pair of patterned pants

So, obviously, these are the fiercest pants possible. But what I love about them is that they’re super lightweight and loose: even though they cover my legs, they’re not hot and heavy like a pair of jeans. They also roll up nice and small without wrinkling: key when you’re camping!

Christine Amorose in a burka in Jordan

 

Not this.

Honestly, I saw about the same amount of women wearing a full burka in Jordan as I do in my day-to-day life in New York City. They’re definitely a few, but it’s not every woman. You will be required to fully cover if going inside a mosque, but other than that, Jordan is very liberal by most Middle East standards. Most Jordanian women had a scarf pinned over their hair, and wore stylish clothes that covered their chest, arms and legs. You’ll honestly feel comfortable in anything in Jordan–and no one is going to give you a hard time if you choose to flash a little calf or forearm–but I definitely think it’s important to be respectful of the more conservative culture. And hey–I learned that a maxi skirt and a chambray looks just as chic in New York City as it does in Amman.

Have you ever traveled to the Middle East? What do you recommend packing?

Note: I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board, but all opinions are my own. 

  • Naomi Todd

    Hareem pants are such a good traveller staple to have. They are so comfy and if you get a pair with a nice pattern, they add a bit of colour and style to your wardrobe!

  • AliciaC

    FYI: Your Everlane link doesn’t work. But I googled it and found them. :)

  • camorose

    Thanks, Alicia! I think it should be fixed now. If you do decide to buy, click through the link–they have an awesome referral program :)

  • Vegetarian Girl

    This is a really great post :) you look very stylish but also respectful to being in a different culture.

  • Haha, cool post. I felt the same way when I traveled solo to Istanbul in Turkey. That I should dress all in black, cover everything and don’t attract too much attention. Especially since everyone “warned” me Turkish men would harass me. And after a day, I realized it’s not like that at all. You can wear colors and lighter clothes as long as you’re respectful of the culture in general and don’t parade in shorts. I laughed at myself :)

  • Which size did you buy for the Everlane tees? Would small be too tight? Thanks!

  • I love your floral dress! :) and the patterned pants -aweeesome !!

  • You always look so cute and put-together while traveling! I’m going to use some of your tips for what to wear. I generally prefer to be comfortable, but that doesn’t mean I have to forgo style.

  • Megan

    As someone who constantly wears athletic clothes, no matter where I’m at, this was super helpful. I’m so awful at looking put together while traveling, especially when I only use a carry-on (aka every trip). And I’m still trying to find a pair of harem pants that work for my frame. So. Tricky.

  • camorose

    I used to hate the idea of the traditional hippie harem pant, but I’ve come to find that the style in a more sophisticated pattern and material can work really well.

  • camorose

    Thank you! That was exactly the look I was going for :)

  • camorose

    Yes exactly! You can still be super fashionable, just a little more conservative. Like I said, I would totally wear a v-neck and a maxi and sandals in New York City in the summer–you don’t have to show a ton of skin to be comfortable in the heat!

  • camorose

    I wear a small and I think they’re comfortable–not too tight at all! I think you’d be fine with a small, too!

  • camorose

    Thanks! That dress is actually a skirt, but it’s SO versatile!

  • camorose

    Thank you! I’m big on flat shoes and loose skirts–super comfortable but still look really put-together.

  • camorose

    I only use a carry-on too–I assure you, it can be done! :)

  • eva

    i’m so happy to have stumbled upon your blog! great to find a down-to-earth travel blogger who also enjoys a little style. love your posts and excited to read more – thanks for sharing! eva @ jauntblog.com

  • camorose

    So glad you found me! Thanks for reading :)

  • I have plans to work in the middle east in the next few years and always did wonder about my wardrobe. You’ve definitely given me a few ideas! 😀

  • camorose

    Way easier than I thought to be conservative but still stylish!

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  • indohoy

    scarfs work anywhere, anytime!

  • camorose

    So true!

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  • cwalk

    What shoes did you wear?? Can you describe what you’re wearing in the photos? I’m headed to Israel this summer, and this has REALLY helped!!

  • Colleen G.

    What a great post! I’ll be working in Jordan for the better part of this summer and it’s my first time in the middle east. I am tall, super pale, and blonde, so I am a bit worried about blending in! Your post just inspired me to go online shopping for this trip (harem pants included!) and I feel much better about my purchases. I’d love to get your opinions on not to miss places too!! Let me know… would love to chat!

    Colleen G.

  • camorose

    I wore Saltwater sandals pretty much every day! I love them because they buckle on so they’re super secure, they’re waterproof and they still look cute! I also had Vibrams for hiking–I would definitely recommend at least one pair of sneakers!

  • camorose

    Hooray! Feel free to email me at cestchristineblog@gmail.com with any specific questions :)

  • Awesome – thanks so much for the tips! We’re heading to Israel, Jordan + the West Bank in a couple of months and I’ve been trying to figure out what to pack that’s conservative enough (but also cute!) while dealing with the heat!

  • camorose

    Woohoo glad you found it! Enjoy the Middle East and eat all of the hummus! :)

  • I am traveling to Israel, Jordan and Egypt next month! I have been wondering a lot about how to pack. Bookmarking this post for sure! Thanks!!

  • camorose

    Oh awesome–glad you found it! Have the best time!

  • Alina

    I’m going to Jordan in 2 months, and I just wanted to say showing us your outfits not only gave me a good sense of what to wear, but also some new ensemble ideas :) Thank you!

  • camorose

    Oh yay! I’m so glad that you found it. Have the best time in Jordan!

  • sarah park

    Hi! I was wondering what you thought of wearing skinny pants? Is it borderline inappropriate?

  • camorose

    I think if you wear skinny pants with an oversized top, you should be fine–but I wouldn’t wear skinny jeans and then a crop top or super form fitting top!

  • Ak.Sam Tashtoush

    Been literally all over the the 5 continents and i lived in Jordan for 6 years for studying .. It was single handedly the best period of life 😉 Hope you enjoyed it .. loved the article. :)

  • camorose

    So glad you liked it! I loved Jordan too!

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  • Denise

    Hi! I was wondering what about wearing a short dress (end mid-tight) with tights? Excited for my Jordan trip! Thanks! :)

  • camorose

    I think with tights or leggings, you should be OK–but I would try to stick to longer than knee length, especially if it’s form fitting.

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