We were told not long after arrival in Pakistan that we should both wear shalwar kameez! Shorts are definitely not a good thing to wear, for men or women, and skirts, even long ones, make climbing in and out of tuk-tuks quite tricky (tuk tuk floors are a lot higher in Pakistan than in India I noticed!).
We both finally bought shalwar kameez in Rawalpindi, where there are lots of shops and market stalls, and we did find them very comfortable and useful for the rest of our stay in Pakistan. The dupatta is handy for women when you go somewhere where you need to cover your head, like a mosque.
The way in which you dress is going to have a dramatic impact on how you are perceived by locals. Revealing a little skin as possible is the way to go for both sexes. Long, loose, nonreavling clothes should be worn by everyone. One recommended option is the shalwar kameez (traditional clothes) which is really cheap to purchase. Women should always have a scarft nearby in case they enter an unfamiliar area or mosque. Overall, dressing in the right way will lead you down a path that will not end up in aggression or intense situation.
Bonjour Mes Amis,
Better to wear local clothes during the visit to Pakistan whether you're travelling in south ( Lahore, Multan, Islamabad and Peshawar) or north ( Chitral, Hunza or Skardu).
It consists of Shalwar, Kamees (Loose trouser and long shirt) and Duppata (thin shawl) for ladies.
The best way to see the culture and to enjoy te hospitality of the loclas..
On trekking itineraries one can wear shorts with long sleeves shirts.
Enjoy the hospitality of Great Pakistanis
In the Northern Terretories there is not a strict dresscode for women, but as you get further south, you can feel uncomfortable wearing shortsleeve shirts. I started wearing longsleeved everyday. But that was not the only thing, I also started feeling uncomfortable in my long pants. All the pakistani women wear Salwar Khameez - a tunic worn over loose pyjamas - and I decided to buy one too. It definatly felt better wearing that and covering my head. It just relieves you from the looks of all the men you otherwise get. It also is ofcourse a way to respect their culture.
Pakistan is a moderate Islamic country. Although veil is not an absolute requirement and the women may even wear jeans and T-shirts in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi-Islamabad, it is much preferable that they should properly cover their bodies by wearing loose clothings. It is proper to cover head with some kind of sash, sleeves should cover the elbows and legs should not be exposed above ankles. Also they should not travel alone, as it is considered immodest. Men should also cover their bodies properly and should only address and talk to men. Also they should never try to photograph local women and even girls. In case of queues, seating and other service matters, women have the first right. At shops during haggling, women may be able to break the ice so let women take the lead here. The picture of our entourage during an off-town adventure shows an acceptable range of attire for women, with some of us wearing black color robes and head scarfs in line with the traditions of conservative NWFP and Balochistan provinces. Also note that men, heavily outnumbred, are present in the entourage.