Expect a lot of fashion advice about what to wear when heading to the desert. Double that importance if you happen to be in the Middle East or Africa.
I honestly feel like if you’ve got stupid written all over you, you’re going to get into trouble regardless of what gender you are. Still, the point of following certain dress codes is to minimize unwanted attention, which can often increase trouble, and to realize there are certain practical advantages—like keeping the sun at bay—that may not always be apparent.
Enter the headscarf, which so far has to be proven to be more of a nemesis than the Arab teenagers who accost me in the street (and there are plenty). It is literally a constant battle between function and fashion. Apparently, being blessed with two X chromosomes does not make me a headscarf expert.
There are a lot of purposes for covering up, with the best reason being that you are going to get some serious sun protection besides the sunscreen you’re wearing. On the off-chance that you’re actually in the desert, a headscarf also provides protection against the dust, which can actually become a real problem when it starts getting windy. (You can always deck on some sunglasses for the ultimate and unbeatable desert combo. Stylin.’)
At any rate, even in a Muslim city, a headscarf can also help ward off unwanted attention and stares, from tourist touts or otherwise. Other than the fact, I’m carrying a large backpack, which is a definite sign I’m not from the area, it’s still better to err on the side of caution. Also realistically, if you’re visiting a mosque, certain places just won’t let you enter if you’re not wearing the proper headgear and covering up your bare shoulders.
Short of buying a hijab—which would totally take all the work out for you—it’s a good idea to learn the best way to wrap a rectangular piece of fabric around your neck. Now before I get all squealy like a teenager girl like omg and this is how you put on eyeliner YouTubezz, I’m going to leave the hard work to the experts: those exact teenage girls.
Straight from YouTube user Amenakin, here’s how to tie a proper hijab:
Ok, well, this Scarves.net video has a much simpler video which uses a circle scarf, which isn’t exactly ideal or common, but you can always tie a long rectangular scarf to make it into one. At any rate, it’s a lot easier to follow.
Luckily, you don't need to be a chick to appreciate the wonders of the headscarf. Kate McCulley, who runs the Adventurous Kate blog, has some advice that is more applicable for dudes. If you need to learn how to tie a Bedouin headscarf in the desert, this is how you do it. (Bedouin tribes basically consist of desert-dwelling nomads who in this day and age have apparently adopted the 4WD. It’s called progress.)
Well, I guess the other option would be to buy a hat, Indiana Jones-style.