The Tipsy Gypsies recently went to Morocco for about a month. We traveled from big cities like Marrakech and Fez to remote villages in the Atlas and Riff mountains. Having now completed this amazing journey, we realize there is a lot of misleading information out there about what the suggested dress code is for female travelers in Morocco.
So here are some useful insights and tips from The Tipsy Gypsy Queen.
We have met many beautiful and powerful women in Morocco. They are smart, hard working, sophisticated, and know how to get things done.
The first muslim woman that we came to know in Morocco was the housekeeper at our riad, or "guest house". You could clearly tell that when she came to work in the morning everything was in order. The men working at the riad were asking her many questions and she had all the answers. Nobody questioned her. You can tell when somebody is in charge and you don't fuck with them. She was always on time and very polite but also stern. She served us breakfast wearing the equivalent of a traditional Moroccan house outfit which that pretty much covered her from head to toe. When she would go out to run errands she would put on another dress over her house clothes. I guess the outfit that she had around the house either was not formal enough or perhaps not proper to show on the street. When she returned with fresh produce she would take the formal dress off again to be more comfortable.
While she always remained covered up, I typically showed up at the breakfast table located in the communal courtyard wearing nothing but a sarong. Sarongs were the most comfortable thing to wear especially when the temperature outside was plus 40C ( 105 F) . Needless to say, the house lady (and the men), did not care what I had on.
Most Moroccan women, especially in the old medina of Marrakesh, wear very conservative and traditional clothes called jellaba or caftan. A jellaba is a long dress/shirt, that doesn't include any head or face coverage. But most of women also wore a hijab, which is the head scarf. You will also see many women wearing the full burka. It might be called something different than a burka, but it looks the same and is basically a long dress (often black) with a big head scarf that fully covers everything from head to toe, including the hands. The only thing you can see are their beautiful eyes. But not every muslim woman dresses this way. We didn't witness it first hand, but apparently in cities like Casablanca muslim women wear western clothes like jeans and blouses. So as you can see, not all muslim women wear the same clothes and even for muslim women the rules can be different.
A lot of western women traveling to Morocco have big misconceptions about what to wear. I did too. I read a lot of blogs and travel sites about the dress code for women before traveling there. I read that as a western woman I should be covered up. Long pants and long sleeve shirts with a scarf were suggested by all. I have to say this is the biggest B.S that I have read!!! First of all, I am proud to be a western woman. I do have a lot of respect for women who want to be covered from head to toe, but it is my choice to not dress that way.
Even though I was afraid of how I would be received by the locals if I wore my western clothes, I want to tell you ladies that there is nothing to fear. Some muslim women might look at you simply because you look at them too, and as soon as you catch their eye, they give you the biggest and most sincere smile. The fact is that western women wear different clothes and there is nothing wrong with that. Moroccan people are used to foreigners and no one is going to shame you or think that you are disrespecting their culture for wearing shorts or an above the knee dress.
Moroccan Men meet shakira
Moroccan men are not shy to flirt with women and call them beautiful. The common cat-calls are: "nice", "nice babz ( boobs)", "good size ( whatever that means)", "wow" etc. Moroccan men also call all tourist women "Shakira"(my husband was Ali Baba). If you have been to Italy or Spain before you will know how men act there, and Morocco is no different. I would say Morocco is actually better because, if you get angry and talk back the men will most likely be embarrassed or run away. The cat calls are sometimes funny or annoying , but I don't think they are dangerous. I do have to admit that, to my advantage, I was with my husband most of the time and I was not harassed as much as a single woman. The truth is that a woman in male company will be much "safer" in Morocco.
I saw many female tourists in Marrakesh and other cities wearing summer dresses, shorts and tank-tops. I am not saying that you should go out in your booty shorts (save those for Barcelona), but your summer clothes are totally okay! Especially if you travel to Morocco between June-July when the weather is unbearably hot. On most days the temperature was 45 C (115 F)! Sorry, but this is were I say "fuck it". Either I am going to be miserable and faint wearing pants and a scarf or I give zero fucks, and wear what I like, dressing comfortably and appropriately for the weather. Plus, being a Gypsy, the more you tell me I can't do something, the more I will be inclined to rebel and break the rules.
But enough explanations! It's time for the proof. So hide your kids, hide your wife and hide your husband because below are a few "scandalous" examples of what this Tipsy Gypsy girl wore while in Morocco.
To all the ladies out there, don't be afraid to travel to Morocco. It's a wonderful place and you can safely wear your favorite shorts and dresses. If you're traveling alone, just use the same common sense you would in any other country. I hope this post helps you all!