“What should I wear?” – I often get this question from travelers coming to Morocco, particularly women, wondering what to wear in Morocco. While the country does not have a dress code, it is always a good thing to understand the culture before packing your suitcase.
I was born and raised in Tangier. When I was a kid, my cousins and I would wear our bathing suits from our doorsteps all the way out to the city beach, which was about a 20-minute walk. On the sand, there were families, couples, groups and some loners dressed in all sorts of ways, from long robes and dresses to shorts and bikinis. This was in the 80s. Back then, Tangier was yet another liberal little corner of Morocco, perhaps a bit more Mediterranean in spirit than much of the rest of the country.This is just to give you a little background and, if you don’t mind indulging me a bit, gives me a little moment to sigh and daydream about the Tangier of my youth.
Today’s Morocco is still a liberal Muslim country. Religion, of course, has always been highly present in people’s daily lives here. However, over the past couple of decades, men have started to become a bit more verbally aggressive with their catcalling while women started to dress more conservatively — some in the hopes that it would ward off unwanted harassers.
Needless to say, these days, I can’t make that same walk to the beach with my girlfriends in our swimsuits. What to wear in Morocco has changed, even for Moroccan women! Deciding on what to wear means respecting Moroccan local traditions and norms, opting out of overly-revealing clothing, and always dressing for the weather.
As you travel around Morocco, you will see that women dress in a variety of styles —from traditional jellabas (ankle-long robes with a hood), to skinny jeans, dresses, and even crop denim shorts, especially in coastal towns during the summer. Highly touristed destinations, like Marrakesh, are infinitely more tolerant of some skin-showing than smaller towns in the countryside.
That said, for most people visiting Morocco, they would probably be well-served to keep it a bit more conservative than they might back home. As a general rule of thumb, the rural regions are much more conservative in spirit and dress than the cities — probably just like where you’re from! You can check out our blog post about what is appropriate to wear in smaller villages and in the Sahara desert.
Below are a few dress essentials for you for your next trip here, depending on the time of the year you are traveling. I am a big fan of linen and organic cotton fabrics. Depending on your style, you can pack different colors or stick to neutrals that can be easier to mix and match. Just remember that once in Morocco, you can also find many clothing options with a local vibe – a good excuse to shop for some marvels in some of the most charming towns and cities like Fez, Marrakesh or Essaouira!
I have included at the bottom of this post a list of some of my favorite Moroccan designer shops as a little bonus. Enjoy!
What to Wear in Morocco for the Summer and Spring
Morocco is warm and gets pretty hot in the summer. You may find it tricky to choose your covered-up outfits while not suffocating in the heat. But long sleeves and longer summer dresses are actually a bit more weather-appropriate. In general, covering your shoulders and avoiding any plunging V-necks is ideal, although you will still be able to wear your sleeveless shirt or dress around the big cities. Just make sure the material is breathable!
Long, maxi dress and skirt
Maxi dresses will protect your legs from the sun, and from any unwanted attention. They are great to wear when it is hot. Dresses or long skirts with buttons can be versatile as you can decide on how much they reveal depending on what you are doing: touring a city, having a drink by the pool or in a rooftop terrace, or visiting a local family in a village. If possible, avoid spaghetti straps. Sleeveless can be fine if you keep a scarf around (read on the next point).
In Morocco, covering the head with a scarf is not mandatory. You will see women with head scarves and women without. Niqabs are scarce and burqas are prohibited by the State. That said, traveling with a scarf is a good idea. It is such a versatile garment that you can use to cover up your shoulders in conservative areas and under the scorching sun, or to wrap around your swimsuit as a pareo cover up on your way around your hotel to the swimming pool or to the beach. You can also use it as a shawl or blanket for those surprisingly chillly evenings in the desert or when you go out for a nice dinner. If you happen to forget your scarf or not have one, don’t worry! Local shops carry many beautiful options to choose from once you arrive. The 2-meter cotton weave ones are my favorite and they come in an array of gorgeous colors. And depending on what time of the year you are traveling, you can pick a warm or a light-weight scarf – or maybe more if you can’t resist the temptation of getting them all!
Loose-fitting tops and pants
Awesome travel pants are a must for what to wear in Morocco, I include here light-weight, wide-legged flowy pants, such as gauchos, culottes, crop pants and the like. You can also pack loose-fitting jumpsuits or hiking pants. For tops, I would recommend light cotton or linen T-shirts and tank tops. I prefer to have the a white linen button-up blouse and a couple light-colored shirts and tanks. Keep the tanks as modest as they can be. That is, you’d be better off avoiding spaghetti straps unless you’re planning on going out for fine dining or clubbing. Linen is great for the weather and is breathable, but it does get wrinkly. That’s when you bust out that life-hack of hanging your linen clothes in the bathroom as you take a shower… or your Riad host would happily iron them out for you.
Tunics and leggings
Light tunics, shirt dresses and kimonos are another great alternative to conservative-yet-comfy dress for what to wear in Morocco. Make sure they are long enough to cover your bottom, or thighs. You can wear them with leggings, or tie a belt around to turn them into dresses on occasion. These are things you can also buy as you walk around the medinas. Bazaars and traditional clothing shops abound with Moroccan-style tunics outlined with beautiful embroidery and sfifa, a handmade ribbon braid.
Definitely not Daisy Dukes! You may see young girls wearing crop shorts at and around the beach. The kind of shorts I’m referring to here are more the mid-thigh Safari kind – comfortable for bopping around the medinas or hopping out the beach is good.
If you re traveling Morocco in Spring, it is a good idea to pack a light jacket for the occasional rain shower, chilly early-morning hike or late-evening camp fire in the desert. My favorite for travel is this waterproof windbreaker and rain jacket.
A wide-rimmed hat will protect you from the sun as you set on your adventure to discover the hidden alleyways and ancient sites in Morocco. Needless to say, because it is a warm country, the shops here also sell handmade reed hats. In the north of Morocco, you can grab what we call a sheshia. And if you head to the Blue City of Chefchaouen, check out the Hat Man shop for some funky style knit hats. But everywhere around you can find a more plain version of the sheshia. Riads and some rooftop restaurants often offer these to their patrons while they are basking in the sun, a fresh-squeezed juice at hand.
What to wear in Morocco for your feet… well… you will probably do a lot of walking. You will need good, comfy pair of walking shoes. You can bring sandals too. Closed-toe sandals are best. The feeling of tiny sand digging between your toes isn’t that agreeable. These will also protect your toes from any hazards. In many spots, the streets and sidewalks are uneven. That said, you will also want to have your Havainas flip-flops with you as well when you head to the hammam, swimming pool and the beach!
If you go to Marrakesh or Essaouira, make sure to check out the artisans making handmade raffia shoes. They are becoming trendy, which hopefully will revive the craft carried over mostly by elder masters. I have included a couple addresses at the end.
What to Wear in Morocco for the Fall and Winter
Overall, Morocco in the fall is warm, with the occasional showers and chilly breeze. The winter can be very wet and cold, particularly in the mountains and along the coast. You can still pick a few clothes from the list above, like a warm scarf, loose-fitting pants, tunics and leggings, a lightweight jacket and a hat. This is what I will add to that:
Jeans and pants
While denim jeans may get too sticky and warm in the summer and spring, they do make a versatile garment that you can dress up or down as you’re traveling. You can wear skinny jeans, just make sure you have a long top to cover up your bottoms if you know you will be visiting villages and popular areas.
Shirts and tops, Coat
Long-sleeve is best for the weather. You will always have the option of rolling the sleeves up if you feel too warm. You can dress up in layers as the weather may change from one location to another during your trip: an undershirt or tank top, a short sleeve shirt and a long-sleeve button-up shirt are a good start. It does get cold, so maybe also pack a hoodie and a couple sweaters and a warm coat.
Knitted, wool cap
For what to wear in Morocco on those cold windy days, a knitted cap will help keep you warm. As a bonus, it doesn’t take too much room in your luggage. If you forget yours and happen to be in Chefchaouen, stop by the quaint hat shop in the medina. You will find a colorful collection of fun and funky hats for all tastes and all ages. I am adding a link for it below. You will still need a hat for when the sun is hitting hard, though.
A pair of waterproof shoes will come in handy when you are walking around or hiking. My favorite pick are ones like these. You will need them to be comfy. And don’t forget your flip-flops to go to the hammam or your hotel’s swimming pool if it’s not too cold.
Where to Pack for Morocco Year-round
No matter the time of year, you will also need these:
- One black dress. This can come in handy for your to dress it up or down. You never know when you’re going to go out for a nice evening out!
- Underwear. This goes without saying!
- Day bag or cross-body bags. You’ll want to have something to pack essentials for you while heading out for the day… and ideally have some room to stuff a few souvenirs.
- Reusable shopping bag. If you are conscious about reducing waste, make sure you carry a foldable bag like this cotton one. I do like the classic, slightly fancier ones. Otherwise, just grab one of the woven palm straw bags from a store in Morocco. They come in all shapes and sizes.
- Jewelry. I love my silver and tribal jewelry. Jewelry is fine to wear, but you probably want to leave the precious jewels at home. A wedding ring, one or two necklaces, and 2 or 3 pairs of earrings is what I generally travel with.
- Sunscreen. You can bring yours or buy it in Morocco from a pharmacy.
- Swimwear. Morocco is a warm country. Although swimming outdoors may be a little challenging in the winter months, you can pretty much do so year-round, especially at hotels. Though you might think to wear a one-piece, a regular bikini (not a string bikini) is a good multipurpose piece you can bring with you both for the beach, the pool and that much-needed visit to the hammam. For the beach, going to a private one (like in a club or restaurant) is highly recommended for the good infrastructure. You can wear your bikini there no problem. Public beaches are generally more conservative, so a one piece suit is probably a better option if you’re feeling a little more… adventurous.
What to Wear in Morocco for Hiking and Exploring
Morocco offers gorgeous landscapes. The geography of the country is so diverse that you can go from the depths of the Sahara to snow-capped mountains in one day. Opportunities for hiking abound everywhere you go, but you do have to expect to know what to wear in Morocco for the outdoors!
In addition to some of the other clothing listed here, if you know you’re going to spend some time exploring the mountains or taking long treks through some of the countryside, you’ll want to also consider adding the following:
- Loose hiking pants to protect against the sun and small needles and other pokey plants and bugs. In the spring and summer, a pair of shorts with knee-high socks is another option.
- A sturdy pair of hiking boots will come in handy year-round, particularly in wetter weather.
- A fleece top is almost essential in the mountains, no matter what time of the year.
- A warm, waterproof coat if you’re going to the mountains from October – May.
Now on to a little selection of some of our favorite shops in Morocco. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but just a little something to get you started on where to look and what to look for. It’s always better to visit the shops in person, but if you want to get a feel of the products and maybe purchase one or two things before coming to Morocco, definitely check some of the websites for international shipping options.
Moroccan Designer Shops: Top Picks
This is an ethical brand that promotes Moroccan craftsmanship through high-quality, handmade and fair-trade products with a modern, chic touch. If you’re looking at what to wear in Morocco, Chabi Chic sells straw hats and bags, sandals, caftans, accessories, and a lot of other goodies. Every time I visit, I end up getting something precious! You will find a large selection of products in their website, including timeless fashionable clothes. They have a handful of shops in Marrakesh. Check the location of their stores on their website.
Salima Abdel Wahab
TANGIER: Salima is a very creative Moroccan designer, native of Tangier. Her collections draw their inspiration from many cultures. Salima’s main shop is in Tangier’s mythical Kasbah. When you visit her store, you will see how Salima’s creations celebrate freedom of movement and diversity. She also has a shop in Marrakesh!
Address: Bab Kasbah 13, place Jouba, Tangier
Rafia shoes by Abdellah
ESSAOUIRA: Abdellah makes beautiful and comfy shoes, purses, bags and other accessories made out of raffia, a natural fiber sourced from palm tree leaves. His creations are customizable in color, size and style. If you’re looking for a pair of breathable summer footware, you will find a large selection in his shop: mocassins, sandals, derbies, Moroccan-style slippers and much more.
Address: Rue Abdelaziz Fachtali (sawaraj), Essaouira
MARRAKESH: In the heart of the Marrakesh medina, you will find Hanout Boutique. Push the doors open because you’re in for a treat when it comes to dresses, tunics and caftans. They come in all styles and shapes. All unique, handmade by local artisans, and with a chic minimalist Moroccan touch. Meriem Rawlings is the designer behind all of this. Her dresses are modern and original, with new collections on regularly display. They are easy to wear, breathable in the hot months and have that “freedom” feel to them.
Address: 194 Rue Mouassine, Medina
The Hat Man
CHEFCHAOUEN: One of our favorite place to shop is the Hat Man. This funky shop is located toward the top of the medina on the main thoroughfare, Rue Targui on your way uphill from the main square. Hand knitted hats are available in many shapes, sizes and various levels of ridiculousness. There is a sign that reads “Hat Man.” You can’t miss it.
Address: Rue Targui, Chefchaouen Medina
I will just throw this out there since we talked jewelry and accessories and what to wear in Morocco. Rhita is a young designer from Rabat. She makes all her jewelry by hand, in silver 925. Her creations are minimalist. They draw their inspiration from traditional Berber tattoos, Arabic calligraphy and Moroccan geometric shapes. Get an appointment if you want to visit Rhita’s showroom and workshop in Rabat. You can find Rhita Creations accessories for sale in different indie stores in Casablanca, Marrakesh and Tangier. Check out her website for the addresses.
To sum it up, when you’re packing, just think of the culture and the weather. These are the two main factors that will help you decide what to wear in Morocco. What I have given you here is not an exhaustive list. We all have our preferences and individual styles. But I hope it will provide you with some helpful tips. The Moon Marrakesh & Beyond guidebook has a wonderful shopping guide for Marrakesh if you want some more addresses for when you’re on the ground! Not only that, but you’ll definitely get a deeper insight into the culture.
But hey! The most important thing is that you are comfortable and that you enjoy your trip! Back what you need and happy travels!
About the Author
Amina Lahbabi is a proud Moroccan, feminist, mother, climate change activist, and promoter of education, equal rights and freedom of expression. She is at the forefront of all of Journey Beyond Travel’s NGO initiatives. She loves art, freedom of expression, and is an accomplished photographer in her own right. She holds multiple graduate degrees in translation and communication and was a Fulbright Scholar at Michigan State University. She also obsesses about her wardrobe from time to time and how to make it more eco-friendly. She lives in Tangier. You can check out her Wikipedia or find her online: http://www.aminalahbabi.com.