How would you feel if somebody come to your country and do not respect it? Probably that’s the proper way to think while getting dressed in Egypt! If you respect the Egyptian local customs and sensitivities, in particular with regards to how to dress, you will enjoy greater interaction with the people, they will have more respect for you and it will save you from some unwanted attention.
Egypt is an Islamic country. The culture and dress code are not as strict in Egypt as they are in some other Islamic countries, but it’s still best to be modest, especially for ladies. However dress codes changes in some areas, such as Cairo, Upper Egypt (Luxor/Aswan) or the Red Sea area.
In general you can say, if you don’t want to offend the local people, please dress modestly, especially in rural areas and in mosques, churches and monasteries. Keep your shoulders and knees covered at all time. This is not applicable if you are lying on the beach, but is certainly recommended if you are in any of the towns, even if most of the people are accustomed to seeing tourists. If you plan to visit religious sites, be polite, cover you hair and neck with a scarf and take your shoes of before entering, if required. As a further advice, avoid wearing figure hugging clothes that show off your attributes.
Cairo is fairly conservative. Ladies include in your wardrobe long pants, Capri pants or long skirts (below the knee length) with minimum a t-shirt top with cap sleeves. The longer the sleeves the better, but a normal t-shirt sleeve is fine. Handy are scarves which you can use as a shoulder wrap or head cover.
In Upper Egypt shorts are fine as long as you keep that to the areas frequented by tourists such as the monuments, temples, corniche and anywhere else your tour takes you. In the more rural areas you might get some odd looks.
In the Sinai or Red Sea resorts, anything goes. Locals are used to tourists and have no problem with different types of clothing. Feel free to wear what you like here, unless of course you are to venture into the town village for some reason. Most of the areas around however, are very tourist friendly and you can wear anything.
Men can wear shorts and a normal t-shirt in whole Egypt. Some long pants are handy if you are invited to an Egyptian home or some other event like this. Men wearing sleeveless t-shirts, undershirt type shirts, do stand out and look odd, except in the Red Sea resorts.
In general comfortable and casual clothes are the best, such as loose, lightweight cotton or other natural fibre clothes, which you can wear in layers. Don’t forget your sunglasses and a sun hat or scarf as protection against the sun. Eye drops could be handy against the dust, when visiting the temples, tombs or pyramids. Bring a light sweater or light jacket for cool mornings and evenings and any shoes you like.
By visiting the various sites it is advisable to wear sensible and comfortable footwear. High heels and open toe shoes are not handy. The floors of most sites are either sandy or rough-cut, uneven stones. Inside of the tombs thin heels could get caught in the gaps between the floorboards.
For women who intend visiting the inside of the pyramids it would be smart to wear trousers or jeans. This because you have to ascend and descend ladders and / or crawl through narrow passages.
These are only recommendations. They are not law in Egypt. Nobody is going to tell you off.