I’m a big supporter of the philosophy “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. So you wouldn’t see me visiting a Muslim country wearing a tank top. On my recent trip to Morocco, I saw way too many tourists dressed in an inappropriate way… I’d like to share a few thoughts on why not to expose too much skin and how to do it well.
The recent surge of low-cost flights to Morocco has made the country available for tourists from all over the world, even those who would have previously not even considered going there. Morocco is a great country to get a taste of Africa, before heading further South.
A large number of visitors haven’t familiarized themselves with the local dress codes and it shows. I, as a frequent traveler, have a problem with ignoring local customs. If you’re with me on this one and also prefer being respectful to the locals and their traditions, just read on.
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t have your shoulders and knees exposed. That applies to men as well. Women shouldn’t show their cleavage. As a woman, you don’t have to cover up your hair, just show a bit less of your skin than what you’re used to if you’re coming from a western culture.
What moroccans wear
The way the locals dress varies greatly. Some women wear long gowns with hoods and scarves, other show their hair and you might even come across a local lady dressed in a European way. Men usually wear long pants and a shirt, but you might encounter men wearing long light gowns and a little cap on their head. Of course nobody expects you to wear clothes identical to the locals :)
How to nail it
Long dresses and skirts are perfect for the Moroccan heat. So are long-sleeved tunics and shirts. It’s all about the material that you choose! Nice bigger airy clothes will both protect you from the aggressive sunshine and from suspicious looks of the locals. Don’t show your silhouette very clearly, the baggier the better.
While it’s generally more relaxed in the cities, count with more stringent rules if you go see the villages, especially in Morocco’s South. There it’s good to even wear a scarf on your head. The scorching heat and the strong sun actually make it relieving to wear a white or light-colored scarf and you’ll protect your scalp from getting burnt!
So just keep these simple tips in mind during your travels, no matter whether you go backpacking in Morocco or travel more in comfort.. Dressing appropriately is not only respectful to the locals, it can also stop you from becoming the object of unwanted attention.
What are your thoughts?
If you’re looking for more information about Morocco, there are a few more posts here on TravelGeekery. First of all, 5 key terms you’d need to understand before going to Morocco, and if you’d like to stay in a riad via Airbnb like I did, check my review of Airbnb apartments I stayed at. You’ll surely find handy a guide for haggling, too. Last, in case you’d like to know what Marrakech is like, read the post on What’s so special in Marrakech.
If you GO…
Consider getting a Lonely Planet guidebook. They are a great way to familiarize yourself with the history and cultural background of a place.
Get a great apartment via Airbnb e.g. a riad! You’ll feel more local than in an anonymous hotel.
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