What Do People Wear in the Desert?

Although the exact attire varies depending on cultural norms, most desert-dwelling people wear loose, flowing clothing that covers much of the body. The coverage protects the skin from the sun, while the loose design allows air to flow and cool the body.

Many desert cultures wear light-colored clothing that helps reflect the sun's rays. Darker colors absorb more heat. However, some prefer to wear darker colors. The Bedouins, a nomadic desert people, are an example of a culture that traditionally wears black robes. Long robes help slow down the evaporation of sweat, which helps prevent dehydration.

Most desert clothing is lightweight and breathable for comfort. Linen is a popular traditional material, although modern high-tech fabrics designed for hiking are also effective. Attire usually includes head coverings including hats, baseball caps or fabric wrapped around the head. The design of many desert outfits allows for easy layering for warmth, since the temperature drops sharply at night in desert regions. The traditional Arabic head covering, called a kufiyya, serves both as a head covering and a piece for layering. It hangs loosely during the day, while at night wearers wrap the long cloth around the neck, head and shoulders for additional warmth.