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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Women’s Clothing in Islamic Countries

We’ve been in Morocco for seven days now and I still can’t figure out how to dress. First, I read the Lonely Planet’s advice: neither shorts nor sleeveless shirts are appropriate for either gender. Okay, so I’d wear pants and short- or long-sleeved shirts for the whole trip to Morocco and Egypt. The only problem is that I don’t really wear short sleeves and most of what I’d brought were tank tops. I’d also emailed Ginny’s sister, Sarah, who said that she thought that Moroccans have gotten pretty accustomed to Western tourists. She didn’t advocate running around in my underwear, but thought as long as I wore something knee length or longer, I’d be fine. All of my shorts are mid-thigh, so I figured that wouldn’t work. So I bought two white long-sleeved tops in Tangier to wear over my tank tops with long pants.

However, there were very few tourists in Tangier. When we got to Marrakesh, I was *shocked*! Brits running around in camisoles and short shorts, French women in strapless tops—oh my!

I’ve been really torn: I want to show respect for a culture that is completely foreign to me, but also agree with Yann that there’s something to be said for representing your own culture as well. (i.e. Muslim women wear their tradition dress in the US.) And god forbid I don’t properly represent Britney Spears and other scantily-clad Americans on our world tour! More than anything, it’s just really hot here and I’d like to be more comfortable.

For now, I’ve been wearing pants or my knee-length dress (for dinners out). On top, I’ve been wearing short and long sleeves or covering my tank tops with a white linen wrap that I bought (to double as desert sandstorm protection if it proves necessary).

Anyone care to opine?


  1. I think it's just like any other party. I'd rather be overdressed than under, or in this case, overly cautious than disrespectful. I always opt for more over less when traveling in other countries, although in the bigger cities where there are more tourists I relax a little.

    It's just never seemed worth the potential bother to me, and I'm sure there are plenty of Britney representers to even you out.

  2. While in Morocco and in the cities in Egypt we were careful about what we wore. It is more respect than anything else.

    In Sharm el Shiekh, the beaches are bikini friendly so don't worry about that. I think that I wore sleeves at night, but I don't think that it was necessary there.