Morocco is a magnificent nation that is mostly Muslim and is home to a rich history, incredible architecture, and breathtaking natural scenery.
Even though it has a lot more to offer than just photo opportunities, you’ll still want to take some stunning images before you go back home. And what better way to complement those pictures than with a fashionable wardrobe?
So, you’ve made up your mind to finally take the plunge and book that trip to the most northeastern tip of North Africa.
You’ve learned that the movie Casablanca wasn’t actually shot in Morocco, you’ve seen pictures of Moroccan women still wearing traditional long jeleba dresses on streets, and you’ve decided that you’re going to book a “glamping” trip in the desert, although you’re not entirely sure what the term “glamping” means.
What do you do? How should one pack for a vacation during which every source of information seems like it is contradicting itself?
As someone who has spent a significant amount of time in Morocco, allow me to guide you through the appropriate and inappropriate ways to dress there. You’ll be able to put together a wardrobe that reflects your personal sense of style while also paying homage to the layered traditions of Moroccan society.
Moroccan Style 101:
In order to figure out how to dress in Morocco, you first need to understand why the culture seems to be filled with so many contradictions; the different contradictory images of Morocco in popular culture are only a reflection of how complicated and ever-changing the society is.
“Tradition” and “modernity” are not mutually exclusive concepts, nor does the development of a culture follow a straight line. It is neither unusual nor undesirable for a civilization to be both traditional and contemporary at the same time.
The manner in which we conduct ourselves, communicate with others, and dress while interacting with people of a different culture are all indicators of the degree to which we respect that culture.
For their day-to-day activities, some Moroccans like more traditional clothing styles, which often take the shape of a jeleba dress. Other Moroccans, on the other hand, prefer to dress in a more Westernised way, drawing cues from a European style guide.
Observers sometimes oversimplify this distinction by reducing it to an age gap between “younger generations” and “older generations” or by associating it with a difference in social status. In practice, there is a significant amount of nuance and grey area between the two.
It is not necessary that one’s choice of clothing reflects their religious views or level of conservatism; rather, one should wear whatever is popular or comfortable for them.
Once upon a time, a friend of mine from Morocco said to me that she found it odd that female Western visitors in Morocco only had the option to wear one of two outfits.
Either they tried to “fit in” by importing their idea of “Moroccan fashion,” which took the form of the mismatched remnants of the boho chic wardrobe that they had retired to the back of their closet after 2009. Alternatively, they tried to “fit in” by importing their idea of “Moroccan fashion,” which took the form of a head scarf.
Or, as if to emphasise the fact that they were visitors in a strange land, they attempted to choose their most revealing summer attire. She said that in all actuality, travellers would be in a much better position if they just dressed in the “normal” type of clothes that they wore in their everyday lives back in their own countries.
I replied that maybe we simply didn’t know what to dress since there are so many misconceptions about Morocco and so many Instagram influencers that have coloured how Morocco is regarded by people from other countries.
Packing your clothing in the way that you often wear might help you feel the most comfortable in them even while you’re on the road. There are a few guidelines to follow when it comes to covering up, and these guidelines are based on both practicality and respect.
Aside from that, you should dress as you normally would. They are accepting and tolerant of cultural differences, but they want us to be understanding and accommodating as well. Moroccans are not judgemental; instead, they expect us to be the same way.
A Travel Backpack is Perfect for Morocco
Carrying large rolling luggage out of hotels and onto public transit is one of the most taxing aspects of vacations in Morocco since visitors often traverse a great deal of territory in a relatively short amount of time there.
You will feel much more comfortable travelling between cities when everything you need is easily carried on your back, but you will want to buy a travel backpack that is appropriate for both your requirements and your build since no bag comes in a single size that fits everyone.
I carried the Outbreaker Backpack with me as a carry-on item when I went to Morocco two years ago as part of my study abroad programme. It has a capacity of 35 litres.
Although I also packed a bigger rolling suitcase with me since I was staying for a much longer period and had numerous books to tote, I found that the Outbreaker Backpack was the ideal travel companion for when I went on travels over lengthy weekends or school holidays. Traveling around cities on my own while carrying a backpack was a breeze.
What to Wear in Morocco for Different Seasons
Many of Morocco’s major towns are located on the coast, which is convenient given that the country shares a border with the Atlantic Ocean. This indicates that the majority of cities have hot and humid summers, but cooler and less severe winters. This is what you should wear every season of the year:
How to Dress Appropriately in the Spring and Fall in Morocco
If you are going to be there in the spring (March-May) or the autumn (October-November), you can get away with only bringing a few shirts and jeans without having to worry about the need for additional layers.
On the other hand, if you intend on going to the desert at night or during the daytime, you should bring a sweater or cardigan with you.
What to Wear in the Colder Months in Morocco
It is vital to keep in mind that while much of Morocco has a moderate winter, there is limited access to central heating and this should be taken into consideration if you want to go there during the months of December through February.
Because of this, you should be sure to have additional layers of clothing with you, including a base layer of a long-sleeved or tank top, comfy sweaters, and warm socks. When the weather begins to drop, having a winter coat that can be packed up easily, such as the Patagonia Micro Puff, will not only be convenient but also incredibly adaptable.
This is particularly crucial to keep in mind if you plan on travelling to a city in the Central Atlas Mountains of Morocco (think: Fes or Meknes), since the climate in these places is drier than it is along the coast, and the temperatures drop significantly at night.
How to Dress Appropriately for the Summer in Morocco
Summertime in Morocco is peak tourist season, in spite of the fact that it is also the hottest period of the year. You will want to choose the lightest available textiles, such as cotton and linen, if you are going to be travelling throughout the summer months (June through September).
Because the humidity will so rapidly seep through your clothes, you will need to make sure that you plan to wash them on a regular basis.
The Japanese retailer Uniqlo introduces a new collection of linen shirts and trousers every spring, just in time for the busy summer travel season; I love to stock up on these items.
What to Wear in Morocco as a Woman
If you have done any research at all on how to dress appropriately when visiting Morocco, you have most likely come across the recommendation that you should “cover up.” It’s really straightforward: men shouldn’t remove their shirts in public places other than beaches.
As is the case in a great number of other Muslim nations, the clothing restrictions for women seem to be more conceptually and practically problematic.
The advice that it is wiser for women to travel in attire that is less revealing has been given to us a thousand times.
The use of insulting language is common, as it is in many other parts of the globe, and it is possible for it to occur regardless of the attire that one wears. However, dressing modestly is recommended as a way to attract less unwanted attention by travel experts.
Although I personally think that women should be free to wear whatever they like, whenever and wherever they please, I do not object to the practice of “covering up” for the same reason that many other people do.
It is unjust that women are held to different norms and expectations in different parts of the globe; why should we have to cope with this while we are on vacation? In Morocco, the law does not restrict how people may present themselves to the public.
You could see other visitors or models on Instagram wearing similar designs in tourist spots even though there is no rule that prohibits wearing shorts with an inseam of two inches or crop tops.
Nevertheless, I believe it to be more courteous to local ladies to wear in accordance with the local norm. The term “dressing conservatively” does not mean the same thing as “covering up.”
The majority of young girls and women in Morocco do not cover their hair or wear scarves on a daily basis. Instead, you’ll see them going about their day wearing short sleeves and thin jeans.
Moroccan women, in contrast to those in several other Muslim nations, do not wear other kinds of traditional Muslim headgear (such as a niqab or burqa). The jeleba is a cultural icon of Morocco rather than a religious one, despite the fact that it has less of a defined form than Western attire does.
Many people wear it for no other reason than the fact that it is comfortable. In the summer, it is made of a fabric that is lightweight and breathable, and in the winter, it is made of a fabric that is heavyweight and warm.
When we dress in a way that is in accordance with the standards of the community, this does not signify that we are passively agreeing to a predetermined set of political, social, or religious institution norms that are not our own.
Instead, the fact that we are prepared to temporarily adapt demonstrates that we are eager to learn, comprehend, and not make fast judgements on societal practises that are not our own.
If we wish to be welcomed into other communities and encouraged to participate as welcome guests, then we need to demonstrate respect and tolerance to other groups.
You should always be aware and conscious of how your appearance and behaviour affect the message that you convey to the society that you interact with.
Of course, how you ultimately decide to dress is a personal decision that is up to you, but you should always be aware and conscious of how your appearance and behaviour affect that message.
My go-to Morocco outfit consists of three to four shirts with either long or short sleeves that cover my shoulders and chest, a pair of lightweight skinny jeans (where the fabric is not too thick!) and a pair of linen slacks.
I find that cotton blouses photograph better than t-shirts, so I choose for them when building the rest of my wardrobe in Morocco. The remainder of my wardrobe is built on where I want to explore in Morocco.
What to Wear in Morocco Depends On Where You Go
When packing for a trip, you should consider the following in order to be sure that your clothing will fit you comfortably:
What to Dress in When Visiting the Medina
Harem trousers and torn T-shirts are not appropriate attire for navigating Moroccan medinas, despite what our minds have been led to believe by the content of Instagram feeds.
They will just make it easier for you to blend in with the other visitors; if that’s not a problem for you, then there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with dressing in this manner!
However, this is a fashion advice, not a national executive edict, and I am absolutely certain that you will look better, feel better, and experience less stress when packing if you stick to the clothes that you would wear at home if you were travelling.
I’m wearing a cotton shirt from ASOS, skinny jeans from Madewell, and a cardigan from Massimo Dutti right now, and those are the exact same pieces of clothing that I would bring with me to Morocco if I were preparing for a vacation right now.
You should also invest in a strong pair of walking shoes since you will be on your feet for the most of the day.
What to Wear in Urban and Urban-like Environments
Consider the shopping malls, upscale restaurants, and boardwalks in Marrakech, Casablanca, and Tangier; these are the kinds of places that Moroccans visit for vacation as well, either for the purpose of domestic tourism or as a kind of local amusement.
Wear whatever makes you feel the most at ease, and keep in mind that these are the kind of situations in which you may surely dress to cover less skin (think: shorts for both men and women, or a cute sundress).
If you wish to dress in the same manner that the natives do, here is the place to break out your best European style, complete with a swipe of red lipstick for some added feminine flare.
Dress Code for Entering Mosques
The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is the only mosque in Morocco that non-Muslim visitors are permitted to enter. This is due to the fact that all other mosques in Morocco are regarded more as places of prayer than as tourist attractions.
However, you shouldn’t worry about it since the Hassan II Mosque is the most interesting mosque to see. It is the biggest mosque in Africa and has the second highest tower in the world.
Ensure that your shoulders, chest, and knees are covered at all times (both men and women). It is not required for women to cover their hair.
How to Dress Appropriately in Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen, often known as Morocco’s “blue pearl” due to its well-known blue architecture, is one of the most visited tourist towns in all of Morocco.
You’ll want to follow the recommendations for dressing for the medina (see above), but this is also going to be one of the medinas in which you’ll probably take a lot of pictures, so be sure to dress appropriately.
Choose clothing colours that are more neutral, since this will allow the vibrant hues of the city to take centre stage.
What to Wear to the Beach, Particularly If You Plan on Surfing
The beaches of Morocco are a famous tourist attraction for both Moroccans and visitors from other countries.
Men may feel at ease wearing the swim shorts they normally wear, while ladies have the option of wearing either a one-piece or a bikini swimsuit. This is notably the case in the beaches of Tangier, Essaouira, and Agadir, which are quite popular.
If you go off the usual road, you could find that some of the Moroccan beaches are solely visited by native Moroccan lads, who spend their time on the beach playing with their mates.
Despite this, you shouldn’t allow it stop you from going since some of these beaches offer the smoothest sand and the most breathtaking landscape.
In situations like these, a one-piece swimsuit, as opposed to a bikini, could make a woman feel more at ease in the water. In general, while traveling to Morocco, I like to carry a single one-piece swimsuit that I can hand-wash and get dry relatively fast in the hot heat.
This allows me to be prepared for any situation that may arise, while also keeping my luggage to a minimum.
There is often no need to bring your own equipment to surf locations since there are numerous local stores that provide surf rentals (no need to bring your own equipment), in addition to full-body wetsuits.
If you would rather wear a rash guard instead, you should bring your own in case you change your mind. You should also carry along a travel towel with you. The ultra-light towels from Nomadix, which can be packed down to an extremely small size and come in a variety of stunning patterns, are some of my absolute favourites. (The term “Casablanca” is also given to one of their designs!)
What to Pack for a Vacation in the Sahara Desert
You will either go camel riding for a day trip or “glamping” overnight in luxury tents if you are vacationing in the Merzouga Desert, which is the more precise name of where tourist trips into the Moroccan Sahara begin. Glamping is an abbreviation for “glamorous camping,” which refers to camping in luxury tents.
Be prepared for warm days but freezing nights, as is typical of conditions found in desert environments. If you want to sit out on the beach at night and look at the stars, you should get ready for the cool temperature by taking an additional layer of clothes with you.
Do not wear your best pair of white Adidas, since you will always discover sand in them when you go back to your house. This is something else you’ll want to keep in mind about your footwear: I would suggest wearing open-toed flip-flops since they are both easy to pack and easy to clean.
Dressing Appropriately for the Country
Rural areas and villages in Morocco make up the majority of the country’s land mass, despite the fact that visitors tend to avoid visiting these parts of the country.
They also tend to have a more traditional outlook. Shoulders, chests, and knees should be covered in this area, and you may find it more comfortable to wear clothes that are a little looser.
Packing make-up for Morocco
Because the humidity in Morocco may easily remove makeup from your face, several female travelers choose not to wear any makeup at all during their vacations there, particularly during the summer months.
A variety of cosmetics that is resistant to heat are something you should look for if you are not quite keen on leaving your makeup at home.
I suggest packing as little as possible since you will want lots of space for souvenirs and other items, and taking along a bag that just contains the things that are required.
I would suggest a lightweight BB cream with a high SPF coverage if you are searching for anything to cover your face. You can get the same hue on your lips with a solid blush stick, and waterproof mascara will become your greatest friend.
In seasons other than summer, it is simpler to choose the appropriate cosmetics to bring with you since you won’t have to be concerned about your makeup melting an hour into the day.