What to wear in Morocco

By Alice Morrison

Picture: Harpers Bazaar

“What should I wear in Morocco?

This is a question that we very often get asked before people come over on holiday and although there is no one correct answer, we will try to give you some good ideas and options for things to pack.

Morocco is a Muslim country but also a modern, developing nation, so the dress code varies a lot depending on whether people are from the cities or the country and whether they have had a modern upbringing or a traditional one. In the countryside and in poorer areas of the city, you will see a lot of traditional dress.

For a Moroccan woman, this is a jellaba (kaftan), a long dress with a hood, and a headscarf. It is relatively unusual here to see women with the full veil, although you do see some women (often widows) wearing lower face veils in the cities.  You may also see women wearing gloves in the summer but don’t be misled, this is not for modesty, it is to stop their hands getting too tanned and looking silly against their white arms. One thing that is definitely Moroccan-chic is to wear a cap or bonnet OVER your headscarf to protect your face from the sun.

Traditional wear for men is also a jellaba. In addition, there is a long shirt and trousers that is worn for special occasions and you might notice that on Fridays or for special holidays, the men wear bright yellow babouches. In the south, the men may wear their headscarves wrapped in to a turban.

Picture by Carol Horowitz: www.imagesofanthropolgy.com

But what should YOU wear?

Hints for women on what to wear in Morocco

There are a couple of things that are very different here. One thing that seems surprising is that the shoulder and top of your arm are considered super- sexy, like the top of a thigh in Europe, so beware the vest top. Obviously, it is best not to show too much chest or cleavage either. Skirts and shorts on the knee are perfectly acceptable in the cities. In the countryside, they are not and you should go for trousers or an over-the-knee skirt. Jeans, including skinny jeans, are almost a uniform with the modern Moroccan girls here, but they tend to wear a longer top if the jeans are tight. It is not necessary to wear a headscarf although you may find a scarf useful against the heat and also to put round your shoulders if you are wearing a skimpier top.  The other thing is to be careful of clothes that are see through. The sun is strong and you may draw the wrong kind of attention if your dress goes transparent in the light.

At the beach, it is absolutely fine to wear a swimsuit or a bikini and likewise at the hotel pool but you will need a cover up for walking around.

Hints for men on what to wear in Morocco

Shorts and T shirts are acceptable to wear in the cities, but don’t go for the hotpants look. Vest tops would be considered underwear. If you are in the countryside then trousers or longer shorts would be better.

What to wear in Morocco in the Summer

In the hot summer months, the sun is absolutely burning hot, so think about covering up rather than leaving your skin exposed to those rays. Maxi dresses, floaty tops and cool trousers are all good bets for women. We find them cooler and less sweaty than shorts and T shirts – sorry guys! you will have to make do.

It is also absolutely acceptable to buy and wear the local jellabas. They are cheap, pretty and very cool and you will get lots and lots of compliments as you walk through the markets. Men, also, might want to invest in a stripey number!

A hat or cap is an absolute necessity and a light scarf is a good idea to put over the back of your neck. You can also wet it and that can help you cool down.

What to wear in Morocco in the Winter

In winter, the days are often clear and sunny but the nights are cold. Remember that houses in Morocco are designed more for the heat, so you may find them chilly. You will definitely need jeans or heavier trousers, a sweater or fleece, closed shoes or boots and a warm jacket for the night time. You might also want to bring something cosy to wear in bed or while in your hotel room.  A warm shawl during the day (there are many to buy in the markets) is handy for when you go out of the hot sun into the shade.

Sports clothing for Morocco

People doing sports get a bit of a free pass when it comes to dressing appropriately. But again a T shirt style rather than a vest top and long leggings or a skort(for women) rather than short shorts would be a good choice.  If you are going to be hiking out in the rural areas then you are better to wear hiking trousers. Likewise, if you are mountain biking in remote areas, pack a pair of baggy overshorts.

Be glamorous!

You will probably see every kind of style and fashion while you are in Morocco. Moroccan girls are absolutely famous for their beauty and they love to dress up so be ready to look good! The men are also very handsome – although a bit too addicted to stonewash jeans. The main thing is to be comfortable in the different weather conditions and also to really enjoy what you wear. Girls, think 70s kaftan glamour, bright prints, gorgeous colours and maybe even a sequin or tassle or two for the evening.

Have fun!

This piece is by Alice Morrison. For more from her, check out www.alicemorrison.co.uk or her latest book 

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