So you’re looking at packing for Dubai but really confused about what to wear?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone! There is so much conflicting information about what is considered modest and respectable, where is the limit between casual and distasteful?
The big thing to be aware of when you are packing for Dubai is to bring a range of outfits to suit different occasions. There’s a big difference between what you should wear in a mall or a mosque, for example vs what you could easily wear to the beach.
We have a really detailed guide covering all your frequently asked questions on how you should dress in Dubai – along with this complete packing list for Dubai – but in today’s post, we are going to specifically walk you through our favourite dress styles for Dubai.
What sort of dresses are appropriate in Dubai
Before we jump into it, just a few do’s and don’ts on the type of dress to choose for your Dubai trip:
- Avoid anything that is too clingy and revealing for your daywear in public. By this, we mean no bare shoulders, no overly revealing cleavages, no see-through materials or exceptionally short dresses.
- The general rule of thumb for “respectable” in Dubai means knees and shoulders covered, but there’s some give and take – no one will be standing there with a ruler. Got sleeves and your top is fairly covered? Your skirt hem can be a little higher. Long skirt? Thinner straps are ok, as long as boobs aren’t hanging out on display.
- Your resort or clubwear can be a little more revealing – the shoulders and knees covered rule of thumb does NOT apply in these private spaces – but just remember how you are getting to these venues too.
- Choose materials that are light and breathable, cotton and rayon material work best in Dubai. Avoid anything synthetic if you don’t want a total sweat fest!
- Just beware of darker colours in the sun too, lighter colours and florals work best.
Will there be other fashion advice contrary to this? Always. Just remember, no matter how liberal the country has become, it is a Muslim country and you are a guest. Stick with what feels respectable for your setting and always be prepared to cover up if requested.
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So without further ado, our top 10 favourite dresses for Dubai!!!
1. Classic Long Maxi Dress
If there’s one thing you MUST include in your Dubai packing for women it is a maxi dress. We prefer designs that cover the shoulders and the top of the arms and where the V neck is not too low and leg slit not too high – a tough balancing act! Superb for the beach, sightseeing, out for dinner, and even into the desert – this should be your go-to dress style for Dubai.
2. Pocketed Midi Dresses
We love these longer and loser flowing dresses. They are more casual but still respectable for public places as they are not too clingy. And let’s not deny just how handy pockets can be when we’re travelling!
This style teams up beautifully with beachwear as well making it a great all-rounder dress for a Dubai trip.
3. The Casual T-shirt Dress
Another favourite that can be dressed up or down but works well in the heat. It is more casual but great for days at the beach, around your hotel and still respectable enough for restaurants. Be cautious of length but as long as your sleeves are covered, we feel there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of extra leg.
4. The Blouse Dress
This is a smart alternative for day wear, out sightseeing and even out to dinner. Some shirt dresses do sit above the knee but the long sleeves and higher neckline more than compensate for this (and another bonus your blouse dress design frequently comes with pockets!)
5. Fitted A-Line dress
Now fitted doesn’t have to mean overly revealing. Especially with petite figures, it’s perfectly ok to look shapely without giving away too much. This is our favourite for casual evening dining in Dubai and can be dressed up as much as you like.
6. Boho Style
We love this lose and light summery style. You can dress it up to with a thin belt, or lose and casual all the way. It’s our favourite for heading straight from a beachy day out to casual dining and comes in a huge range of colourful patterns and designs.
7. Wrap Dress
Wrap dresses are a superb option for Dubai. They are pretty, feminine and suit both day and evening wear with lots of room to move and show off your curves, just a little! Just be careful of how far up the leg your split rises.
8. Long Sleeve Dress
You better believe it Dubai CAN get cool in the winter. OK, not exactly wintery but it does dip below 20c at night which is chilly to us! Particularly in January, you will find that day time temperatures are cool enough to carry off a slightly warmer long sleeve dress, though do still focus on those with a cotton or rayon mix if possible.
9. Casual kaftan dress for the beach & pool in Dubai
We like something sassy and fun that still leaves a little something for the imagination whilst keeping you covered walking through public areas. Check out these superb designs just made for the resorty beach life in Dubai.
10. Little Black Dress – Dresses for going out in Dubai
If you’ve got any plans to go bar hopping or nightclubbing in Dubai, then a little black dress should make its way into your bag. It can be hard to find that perfect LBD that’s not made from man-made materials, not too clingy or too revealing.
We suggest you look for rayon or a rayon mix at least to cope with the heat – though bear in mind indoor nightclubs can be freezing inside.
And does this feel just a little contradictory to everything you’ve been told about the Dubai dress code- yep! You can see the confusion now!
Our tip would be there are only limited venues where this style of dress is acceptable dress. If you are going out, take a wrap or cardigan with you to throw over the top for the journey, or in case of fierce airconditioning.
Women may also like to pack for Dubai…
You can’t underplay enough just how hot it can get in Dubai – for a good six months of the year even the best of us sweat the second we’re outside – women included!!.
Here are some handy little extras you may want to keep in your day bag to beat the heat:
Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai, a handy guide on what to pack, and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws, and customs to be aware of.
- Check out this incredible list of 150+ places you should visit when you’re in Dubai.
- Pick up a Dubai Pass from iVenture or a Go City Dubai Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!
- Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.Dubai Travel Planner