Tag Archives: what to wear

What to wear in Oman : Lady Travel

Having been unable to find the information before we went on holiday to Oman last year, and having friends who live there who weren’t overly specific in the way that I was looking for (TELL ME EXACTLY WHAT I SHOULD BE WEARING GUYS. FEED MY NEUROSES.), it seemed like a good idea to write the post I would have liked to read before hopping on a plane to the Middle East. So how should you dress if you’re a lady heading to the Middle East- specifically, Oman- on holiday and you want to be a) respectful, b) comfortable, and c) cute? Allow me to do what I can to shed some light on the situation.

A lot of it will come down to fabrics. When we were in Oman, the average daily temperature was around 100F/40C and cotton or denim aren’t really the go-to fabrics for such climes. Linen or loose knit cotton would have been ideal. Everywhere in Oman has very strong air conditioning, so do keep in mind that a lot of the time will be spent braving the heat just to get in a car with air conditioning, to drive to a place with air conditioning. This is how one gets away with wearing skinny jeans and a tank top with cardigan for a night out – but if you’re planning on wandering around markets or heading to the desert, I wouldn’t make that your go-to outfit.

While our trip was just a little over a week, this is my takeaway on what I’m glad I took, what I wish I’d taken, and what I’d recommend for anyone going on a little Omani holiday.

Things I’m glad I took

Floaty wide leg trousers. I had two pair, one in a cotton/linen blend with a fun print, and the other in a black satin. The satin ones got a bit sticky and wrinkly, but were still good – especially nice for evenings out. So floaty! They were, in fact, so lovely that I left them with my friend in Oman because she could get far more use out of them in day to day life. Highly recommend.

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Lightweight scarf. For mosque visits, mostly. You’ll need to cover every bit of your hair, and it’ll be hot, so the lighter the scarf, the better (go for silk if you can, cotton is too heavy)! You can pick these up for very cheap anywhere in the Middle East anyway – and they make beautiful gifts for people back home, or a souvenir for yourself. Prepare to haggle in the markets to buy a few of your own in bulk.

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This was a gorgeous scarf that I picked up in Istanbul. It was fine for mosque visits there, but probably not big enough for its needs in Oman. You can see the difference between the two scarves – the one above is big enough and opaque enough for head, neck and shoulders, and that’s what you need.

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Not-too-tight jeans: Mostly good for going out for meals or a night out in the crazy air conditioning of a “western” or more relaxed restaurant or night club. The nightlife in Muscat is very open and forgiving, particularly if you are at a place that serves alcohol. Definitely wouldn’t be great for heading to the markets or being out in the day time though – much too uncomfortable. Much like I was in the picture below (despite how happy I look to be in the middle of a resort in the Omani desert).

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Below the knee dresses. Another picture from Istanbul, but the dress still stands! Long sleeves, and even the slit is still below the knee. The darker color wasn’t great – go lighter whenever you can to beat the heat.
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Loose t-shirts: You can get by with short sleeved shirts in a fair few places, but not with truly short sleeves – no cap sleeves or anything like that. Just to the top of the elbow is good, although mid upper arm is usually fine. Make sure they don’t hang too close to the armpit to avoid pitstains, and make sure they’re long enough that nothing shows if you bend over. In the t-shirt I’m wearing in the picture below, I still had to cover up when going in and out of the restaurant, but it was fine inside.

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Bikini: Private hotels are just like their less-conservative counterparts around the world, and you can wear whatever you want, so don’t leave yours at home thinking it won’t be of use. You’ll be sorely disappointed when you get to the very chill hotel with an actual pool!

 

Losers of the trip

-Literally every cotton cardigan I brought. I wish I’d had a loose-knit cardigan that a) didn’t touch my armpits b) went to at least elbow-length (but no need to cover up to the wrist unless you’re at the mosque), and c) wasn’t in a dark color. (See the black and white cardigan in the mosque picture above – it covered everything but I was absolutely melting. I ripped it off the second we got back in the car with the air conditioning, panting like a dog.

-White. Cotton. Maxi dress. Too heavy, too hot, too see through. The worst of all worlds really. Would not bother with again.

 

Things I wish I’d brought

As mentioned, a 3/4 sleeve, loose-knit cardigan in a light color would have been ideal.

Long shorts. Especially if you plan on going out in the desert. I’m talking all the way to the knee here!

Capri pants. I hate them in my day to day life, but they would have suited so well!

Peasant tops – again, loose, floaty, 3/4 sleeved.


Have I missed anything? I know that the rules for dressing as a female in the Middle East and other conservative countires can vary dramatically depending on exactly where you find yourself (for more on that, read my post on what to pack for visiting Marrakech), but hopefully this serves as useful for any of you heading to Oman any time soon.

 

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What to wear in Marrakech, Morocco : Lady Travel

how to dress female in marrakech

So you’re a lady going to Marrakesh and you don’t know what to pack? Allow me to help! I’ve got opinions. And pictures. And I recently went to Marrakesh!

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Morocco is a conservative country, and that obviously has an effect on how woman traveling there should dress. However, it isn’t as conservative as many of its African and Middle Eastern neighbors (I’ve got a “what to wear” guide coming up for Oman soon, speaking of, and it is much more conservative). This gives female travelers a bit of leeway. There is no real “dress code”, ie. you will not get arrested for dressing a certain way. But you could get a lot of stares, and more harassment than usual – you’ll definitely get harassed anyway, so keep that in mind.

how to dress if you're a woman in morocco

You will be dressing for modesty and heat here. During our trip, the average temperature was 96F, so 35C. And that’s early October! In the heat I wasn’t surprised to see many female tourists in shorts and tank tops, but while I wrestle with the morality behind forcing women to cover themselves while men can wear whatever (hint, it’s immoral, and if you can’t handle looking at female skin without feeling ownership of it, that is YOUR problem) it’s nice to have one less thing to worry about abroad by dressing respectful of the local culture and mores. Blending in can be a blessing, and definitely makes it easier to make the most of your aimless wanderings.

what should women wear in marrakech

In Marrakech that meant loose trousers for me – one “harem pant” style and one linen pair that was wide-legged and flowy. T-shirts are fine but aiming for a looser, longer fit around the upper arm is both more modest and more cool. Sweating profusely into fabric directly in your armpit isn’t nice for anyone! I saw lots of skinny jeans, but there is pretty much nothing worse in my imagination then stuffing my little sweaty stumps into some fitted denim. Nah. I’m good. But you do what works for you – and if you are planning to hit up any of the night clubs in the new area of the city, you may be perfectly happy in skinny jeans and a cute tank top.

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Now for the real MVP. I aimed for dresses that hit below the knee, and these ended up being the most comfortable, particularly during the day. Maxi dresses get very dirty and are heavily weighed down, while their midi-counterpart gets more airflow. I chose to travel in one of my favorite maxi dresses with a t-shirt over it to hide the strappiness. But I avoided wearing this otherwise. Your mileage may vary.

solo female travel dress in moroccoTravel outfit suitable for landing in cold cold England (with jacket and closed toed shoes) but also walking around Morocco – check!

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I picked up a few more pairs of very kitschy cotton harem pants in the souk as well – I haggled down to a good price and while they aren’t the kind of thing that everyone wears, I work from home, and travel quite a bit, and I love them. They have elephants on!

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When it comes to shoulders, it’s easier to cover them up. Jon and I went out for drinks and dinner a few times, and in many of these places, you won’t be judged for showing a bit more skin while inside (this, of course, is dependant on their clientele). So be versatile and prepared. Pack a scarf that is both big and light to cover yourself on the streets and in the taxi on the way to and from dinner, and remove it when you get in the restaurant if you feel like that’s acceptable. Easy! Light material is the key here though – it’s still very hot at night in Marrakech, and strong air conditioning isn’t much of a thing, so you don’t want a scarf that makes it even worse.

how to dress solo female travel morocco

Other miscellany that I brought – a bikini for the hammam, a few pairs of sandals (although you may prefer something that doesn’t let your feet get as dusty – I don’t mind), good sunglasses, some high SPF, and many hair ties. I couldn’t handle having my hair down in the heat, it would have been just too much. And that’s it! Have fun – the Red City is unforgettable, you’re gonna love it!