Egypt is a Muslim country and dress, especially for women, is conservative and I think becoming more so. This means, for preference, covered shoulders and upper arms and covered legs, at least to the knees. Skimpy dress will attract lots of stares or comment and maybe even more unwanted attention. Being uncovered, in Egypt, signals that you are open for flirting and LOTS of attention. In fact, as lots of Egyptian men already think western women are always “open for business” so to speak, this sort of dress further confirms that a definite invitation is being given.
These are the things to leave at home unless you’re going to be lying on the beach at Hurghada or Sharm:
– low-cut tops
– short shorts, in fact, most shorts
– clothes that show any of your underwear, even if it’s only when you bend over
– singlet tops and really short sleeves unless you wear something under and/or over the top
Even for men dress is relatively modest – T-shirts and long shorts are a good compromise. And if you’re walking the tourist sights don’t strip off your shirt! Save your bronzed torso for the beach.
Good clothes for women to bring include long dresses and skirts, lightweight tops with long or at least three quarter sleeves, long pants, or at least three quarter pants, footless tights to go under shorter skirts and dresses and a shawl or scarf is a great idea to cover up when you’re not on the beach or you’re just in short sleeves etc.
It’s likely to be hot, especially in Upper Egypt, so you need to think about what is best to stay covered but cool.
Travellers may find it more comfortable in something like loose linen or cotton long pants and loose longer sleeved shirt. This has the added advantage of keeping you protected from the sun to some extent but also being not too warm to wear.
Of course there are more and less conservative areas of Egypt.
On your Nile cruise or in a total tourist destination like Sharm or Hurghada feel free to wear closer to your usual dress, especially inside your resort or on the beach. Your resort may have some dress standards for the dining rooms.
Even on your Nile cruise you will do some walking through the monuments so make sure you have comfortable shoes and something to cover up.
If you are sightseeing you also need to be aware that dress restrictions will apply before you are allowed to enter a mosque. The Mosque at the Citadel has capes to cover women who are not suitably dressed but this may not be true everywhere.