Since my very first trip to Morocco in 2013, I can’t seem to quit returning to the country.
And as I have gotten used to the customs of the country, I’ve begun to be a little taken aback when I see girls wandering around the traditional medinas (‘cities’ in Moroccan Arabic) in short skirts and crop tops.
My advice: Be respectful and stay modest in Morocco
Morocco is a Muslim country, and whilst some women feel comfortable walking around with their thighs, shoulders or midriff uncovered, it will attract attention that you will get enough of anyway.
Moroccan guys can be relentless and quite tiring in their comments as Western women walk pass. A few reasons for this include:
- Romantic interaction between Moroccan men and women before marriage is very uncommon.
- Western women (or European as we are often called, whether we are from Europe or not) are perceived as exciting and ‘available’, especially considering that we don’t generally follow the normal Moroccan custom to refrain from sex before marriage.
As you can imagine, tourists walking around in very little clothing can exacerbate two perceptions:
- That we don’t respect the local customs, and are happy to show what are perceived in Morocco as ‘private’ parts of our body to the sons and husbands of local women.
- That our willingness to show our bodies off reflects our ‘availability’ and free morals associated with European women.
Aside from the desire to dress up in the name of fashion or Instagram, a big reason tourists to Morocco ignore the dress code is because of the heat.
Morocco is hot for most of the year – this summer we had highs of 46 celsius in Marrakech. But with stylish maxi dresses and long flowing tops it’s possible to cover up and still look good for your holiday photos.
Plus, if the locals can deal with the heat so can we.
Just make sure to drink plenty of water and stay out of the sun at midday.
Traditional Moroccan Dress
If you’re spending more than a week or two in Morocco, I’d advise investing in a traditional Moroccan kaftan, jabador, or jilaba.
The short-sleeved jilaba I’m wearing in the photos below is actually meant for nightwear! But with a long slip underneath it’s so cool in the heat and easy to throw on in the morning.
The best thing is I love the design and it only cost 50 dirhams (≈€4.69) in the Agadir souk! For traditional ones to wear during the day prices start at around 100 dirhams and increase based on design and material.
The long kaftan that my awesome Texan friend Tommi is modelling below was actually one I sewed myself from fabric from the local village of Aourir.
It cost less than €5 to make (the full amount of material I bought cost 80 dirhams and I used a third for this dress) and took about 20 minutes in total!
For directions, Youtuber Dina Tokio has a great video tutorial on how to make your own kaftan.
Maxi Skirts and Sarongs
I foolishly forgot to pack any maxi skirts for this trip to Morocco, but the great thing about the low cost of fabric is that I was able to use the leftover material from the kaftan above as a sarong.
Quick tip: The best way to keep up a sarong is to tuck it in to your knickers! I learnt this trick from a local woman in the village who was teaching me how to tuck up my kaftan when it was dragging on the ground!
Pair your skirt with a shirt that covers your shoulders (I bought the one below a few years ago from H&M) and you’re ready to go!
Jeans and Leggings
I always pack at least two pairs of jeans for travel as they can be used for casual wear and dressed up for a night out in the big city of Marrakech.
And whilst I don’t carry any leggings with me these days, I found them invaluably comfortable on my first trip to Morocco, paired with a long top and a cover up.
The jeans I always travel with are the skinny stretch jeans from New Look – one pair in black and one pair in blue to fit every occasion!
Bohemian style or harem pants are my favourite item of clothing! The majority of mine I actually buy in Dappermarkt or Albert Cuyp Markt in Amsterdam for just €5 a pair, but you will see them in almost all markets in Europe.
Lightweight, loose and best of all for Morocco, cool in the heat, bohemian pants are mine and Tommi’s go to clothing item for hot days under the sun!
Ayesha – @ayeshaather
As a Muslim girl, Ayesha’s fashion sense is modest yet incredibly stylish. I wish I could pull off her outfits and they have definitely inspired my shopping preferences since finding her fabulous feed on Instagram!
Mimu Maxi – @mimumaxi
As Jewish sisters-in-law with a love for oversized dresses, Mimi and Mushky decided to launch their own fashion line based on their religious dress code and their own style – showing that you don’t have to show skin to be stylish.
- Tank tops – these are great for wearing under cover up shirts
- T shirts – as they cover your shoulders, high neck t-shirts are easy to wear and go well with maxi skirts or jeans
- Cardigans – long flowing cardigans like the ones you can see in my photos from Fes are great for wearing over tank tops and keeping you warm after the sun sets in the evening
- Sheer blouses – I love to wear these over tank tops to cover my arms and neckline whilst still feeling like I’ve dressed up a little
- Kaftans – cool in the heat and easy to wear, light cotton kaftans are great to wear in Morocco
- Jeans – easy to dress up for an evening out and durable over long periods of travelling, jeans are a staple for me wherever I travel
- Cotton trousers – cool and light these can make for great casual wear
- Maxi skirts and dresses – you’ll see a lot of Moroccan women wearing long flowing skirts so not only will they keep you cool but they’ll also help you fit in with the local culture
- Bohemian pants – sometimes the patterns might seem tricky to pull off, but paired with a plain black tee or a white kaftan these pants rock
- Leggings – suitable under kaftans and tunics, but I’d make sure your top covers your bottom
- Scarves – these will be your best friend in Morocco. Useful for covering your shoulders, neckline and (if needed by not necessary) your head, I’d definitely invest in a few lightweight scarfs or sarongs that can also be used to cover your legs
- Small across-shoulder bag – suitable for the busy markets and buses of Morocco, it’s best to carry a small bag that zips up with your essentials. I love my Jones Bootmaker bag the most!
- Sandals – to avoid sweaty feet and soggy socks, pick up a pair of leather sandals from the souk. Mine cost 125 dirham in Marrakech but I have seen them for as little as 50 dirham in Agadir!
- “Dress modestly. Despite some tourists’ attire, hot pants and cleavage in the Marrakesh medina are never appropriate. It’s best to cover your shoulders, knees, and avoid low-cut tops altogether.” – Lonely Planet
- “Clothes are particularly important: many Moroccans, especially in rural areas, may be offended by clothes that do not fully cover parts of the body considered “private”, including both legs and shoulders, especially for women.” – Rough Guides
- “Everywhere but the beach […] you’ll need to wear trousers or long skirts rather than shorts; tank tops, short skirts, and midriff-baring shirts should not be worn.” – Fodor’s Travel
- “Women, especially when travelling alone, may attract unwanted attention. To minimise hassle, you should dress modestly.” – UK Government
Morocco: Final Travel Tips
My Recommended Guide & Phrasebooks Books:
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I’ve tried to cover as much as possible in this post – but if there are still questions you have about what is deemed acceptable or unacceptable to wear here in Morocco let me know in the comments.
Ultimately, it is best to dress in what makes you most comfortable, and with the increased attention from men, here I feel best covered the majority of the time.
Lots of love,
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