A general overview.
It can seem like a daunting proposition: deciding what to wear in a hot, conservative country like Morocco, but the basics are actually quite simple. Here, Fes Desert Trips offer advice on what to wear. And what not to!
It can be tricky at the best of times, deciding what will fit in your suitcase and what won't, but when visiting a country out of your cultural experience it can become harder still to know what would be considered acceptable and what would be seen as inappropriate. So, here's the chance to benefit from the experience my wife and I have acquired during our fifteen years stay in this remarkable country. And for those who have visited before, consider it an update. fashions and attitudes have changed greatly in the last few years as the country's youth becomes increasingly westernized and modern.
Morocco is a Muslim majority nation, but is far less conservative in its outlook than most Islamic countries. The Arabs and Berber peoples are generous, kind and hospitable but expect and deserve a certain level of respect for their traditions and cultural heritage. Neither the law nor the people expect tourists to abide by religious dress codes but it is respect and modesty that are the keywords.
It is also worth remembering that different areas and different times require different standards of dress. Morocco is seasonal and can get very cold in the winter, even the desert can be cold at night. The holy month of Ramadan may be a little more conservative than other times of year. And sunbathing on the beach in Agadir, clubbing in the bustling modern city of Casablanca or shopping in Marrakech may be a lot more liberal than visiting the ancient Medina of Fes or remote Berber villages in the mountains.
TOP TIP : Loose and flowing, beyond the elbow, below the knee.
The older generation of Moroccans are usually dressed quite traditionally and smartly; kaftans, djellabas, head coverings for the women, sandals and so on, though business suits in a western style are also common for work and special occasions. The younger generation are far more likely to be dressed in jeans, t-shirts, football tops and trainers.
Top Tip :
Don't be tempted to wear lots of expensive or flashy jewellery or wave your mobile about in public areas. Like in any other country this will attract thieves.
Women's Clothing Suggestions:
Ladies, you may find some unwanted attention from Moroccan men, this will be in the form of cat calls or direct requests for marriage. Shopkeepers may touch your arm, but they do this to men as well, it's just cultural. It is highly unlikely a Moroccan man would touch you in an inappropriate way, so just ignore the comments or look the man directly in the eye and tell him where to get off. Wearing clothes that cover more of your body will help decrease the attention you receive but won't stop it completely, Moroccan girls get this as well, though If you are blonde and under fifty you will be subject to more attention than others.
Moroccan women usually have loosely fitting skirts or trousers that cover the legs and tops that go on below the elbow, though for tourists, shorter sleeves would be acceptable. Older women tend to have the hair covered or tied back but this is more of a fifty-fifty nowadays with the younger generation who can choose to have their hair loose and uncovered. Feel free to have your hair as you like, no one expects visitors on a Moroccan tour to wear a headscarf. Make up is fine too, as Moroccan women love to wear quite a lot of it and adore perfumes and scented soaps.
It is probably best to avoid low cut tops, shorts or tight-fitting clothes in traditional areas, especially if travelling alone or with just other women.
Flowing, loosely fitting clothes are altogether more comfortable in the climate of Morocco anyway. If you do wear tight trousers/ pants, then it is the done thing to wear a longer loose top to the mid-thigh. Baggy trousers are great and cool. Moroccan women are almost never seen in very short skirts, these are best avoided, though knee length should be okay.
Light jumpers or cardigans are a sensible option for summer evenings and heavier ones to look and feel good in the winter.
Scarves are a very useful additional item, not necessarily for covering your hair, but for covering the shoulders against attention and the sun during the hottest parts of the day.
Top Tip : Layers!
Tis a good idea to bring lots of thinner clothing items that can be worn in layers as this makes it much easier to just add or take off a layer depending on the temperature of your location and the time of day or night.
Men's Clothing Suggestions :
To be honest, it seems that pretty much anything goes with male tourists and though this might not be remarked upon, it can be frowned upon and would seem like disrespect to some Moroccans. It's your choice, but most Moroccan adult men don't wear shorts in public and would generally wear traditional djellabas or polo shirts or open-necked shirts with a collar, though no tie is necessary. Knee length cargo pants are a good alternative.
Shoes that you feel comfortable walking in are essential, not just for the countryside or desert but for long walks in the traditional city medinas where taxis are not an option. Sandals will keep your feet cool. Ladies will find that they rarely get a chance to wear their high heeled shoes except in hotels or restaurants during the evenings. Walking boots are great, but other boots may make your feet rather hot.
For the beach, swimming pool anything is possible, the hammams (public baths) are segregated so that men and women are usually naked, but wear the sexes are mixed, again it is prudent to lean towards a more conservative style, swimming shorts rather than Speedos or a one-piece in preference to a bikini. Definitely no thongs!
Not really necessary unless you're attending a wedding or the like, but it is nice to have some formal clothes for dinners at decent restaurants or good hotels. Most hotels cater for their guests every need and won't object if you're casual at mealtimes.
Top Tip :
Do remember to bring a jacket, jumper or sweatshirt. It can get cold not just in the winter, but in the evening in spring or autumn and all year around in the mountains. Even the desert often gets cold at night. Speaking of which :
Desert Tours :
For both men and women, long, comfortable trousers/ pants are important for comfort when riding your camel as well as protection against the sun and sand. Closed toed shoes or sandals prevent the sand getting between your toes and burning or rubbing. A broad brimmed hat might be useful. Sunglasses too.
Purchasing Clothes :
Many people end up buying clothing in the Moroccan souks (markets). The traditional styles can be beautiful in form and colour and they make excellent souvenirs and presents too. Djellabas, kaftans, fez hats, headscarves and sandals are all popular purchases, so make sure you have a little bit of space in your suitcases. The clothing is often hand made with beautiful and intricate designs stitched on. The tanneries in Fes are famous for their leather goods; great quality at excellent prices. And don't forget to engage in the customary haggle!
A brief checklist for the ladies:
Loose fitting, long sleeved tops.
Light jumper or cardigan. (summer)
Heavier jumper or cardigan. (winter)
Long trousers/ pants or jeans.
Long skirt or dress.
Floppy or broad-brimmed hat.
Sensible comfortable shoes, closed toed for the desert.
A brief checklist for the men :
Light polo shirts or shirts with a collar.
Light jumper or sweatshirt. (summer)
Heavier jumper or sweatshirt (winter)
Long trousers / pants and shorts.
Floppy or broad brimmed hat.
Clothing Summary :
Please don't hesitate to ask Fes Desert Trips if you have any questions, we are always more than happy to help in anyway that we can.
What you decide to bring and to wear on your Morocco tour is, of course, entirely up to you, Morocco is a very tolerant and polite society but respect is a precious commodity.
We feel that your freedom is imperative but also that if you follow the guidelines outlined above, it will actually enhance your Moroccan experience and avoid any possible embarrassment.