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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Travel outfit suitable for landing in cold cold England (with jacket and closed toed shoes) but also walking around Morocco – check!
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!
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.
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!