Often travellers have no idea what to wear in Morocco or the appropriate clothing, the weather, or local rules. There are many myths as well, including that Morocco, as a Muslim country, is very conservative regarding women’s clothing.
First and foremost, yes, Morocco is a Muslim country. And if you have ever been to a Muslim country before or got images from the media, you probably imagine that all women in Morocco must cover up from head to toe.
However, Morocco is a modern Muslim country where even though you still will see local women with headscarves, hijab or even burqas (full-body veils), women are free to choose, and it’s not obligatory. Women are free to wear whatever they want, according to their religious beliefs or family traditions. Even more, 2017 the Moroccan government banned the import, manufacturing, marketing and sale of the burqa thus indirectly declaring that he wants to remove them from Moroccan culture.
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What to wear for women?
The basic rule of what to wear in Morocco for ladies is not to dress provocatively. Not just because of religion and culture but also to avoid unwanted attention. I recommend dressing more modestly in smaller towns, especially in rural, mountainous areas. Villagers are not accustomed to tourists. Go there wearing long pants, a dress, or a long skirt. If you are going for a walk in the mountains or the valleys, you can also wear shorts on a hot day, only they should be on the long side and modest.
However, especially in Marrakech, you will be surprised to see many ladies, even local ones, wearing very modern and open clothes, short skirts, etc. One minute, you may see a local wearing a short dress with a lot of cleavage, and the next, a woman wearing a burqa.
On Moroccan beaches, it is normal to wear a bikini or an open swimming suit. However, to respect local customs, I would recommend bringing more modest bikinis. Often on the beaches, you will notice local women may wear full-body bathing suits, called “burkinis,” which are somewhat like surfers’ suits.
If you want to bring a short dress, go ahead, but ideally, bring one that doesn’t have a lot of very bright colors and pair it with sneakers rather than high-heeled shoes. Wear shorter shorts as well if you wish, but again, make sure the rest of the outfit is more modest.
If you’re staying in a resort town by the beach in Morocco, don’t walk around town in a swimsuit but rather cover your swimsuit with a light tunic or scarf. Even when walking around the larger cities, in the evenings or at dusk, I recommend that women travellers wear a jacket or cover up with a scarf.
By the way, in Marrakech, local women like to go outside wearing… pajamas and bathrobes. These are matched with home slippers and bright make-up.
– A big light scarf. If you ever feel uncomfortable, you can always use it to cover your shoulders or head. The scarf will come in handy if you go to the desert to protect yourself from the sand and wind. In Morocco, I recommend buying beautiful cashmere wool scarves called pashminas. You will find them everywhere; the price depends on the quality and your bargaining skills.
– During the summer, Morocco’s weather is very hot, so bring only lightweight clothing. I recommend both men and women to avoid jeans as it will be too hot. Unless they are very lightweight jeans and ideally of light color. In Morocco, buy light-coloured pants called Aladdin/Harem pants. They are very popular and sold in many places. Depending on the quality, the price ranges from 4 to 10 euros.
– Although the summer season is very hot, I do not recommend bringing short-sleeved shirts or tank tops as your skin will burn. When temperatures rise to 50 degrees, linen or other lightweight shirts with long sleeves are ideal. My favorite summer outfit is a lightweight tunic with long sleeves.
– Bring warmer clothes during the fall and winter seasons, especially to wear in the evenings. As the insides of buildings are not heated in winter, bring woollen socks with you – they will be very useful for walking around the hotel’s cold marble floors.
– Djellabas are long cloaks/dresses for both men and women. Djellabas can be both lightweight for summer and made of thick material for the winter season. I like djellabas the most because of their dwarf hoods. For women in Morocco, I highly recommend buying a light, shorter summer djellaba, a great outfit to pair with thin pants, or for walking around the house.