The first of (many) posts to come following our recent trip to Marrakech, and the second in our Wolf & Stag travel series (read all about what I’m talking about here). The city itself is one of many extremes: beautiful and messy, friendly and hostile, brash and conservative, all wrapped in the feeling of the exotic, of faraway places, of adventure. I can’t really describe it all that well, so instead, while I get my mind together, I’ll focus on the clothes.
Figuring out what to pack for Marrakech was actually the biggest challenge of the whole trip. According to weather reports (which were, in fact, all wrong), when we went in the last weekend of May, it was meant to be hovering somewhere between 30-35 C (86-95 F — which for us Londoners is bloody hot, thank you) without much respite from the heat, while also being quite cool in the evenings. Not the easiest to pack for in a tiny suitcase.
It’s also important to point out that — while one of the most liberal Museum countries — Morocco is also a place to dress conservatively. That means covered shoulders, décolletage and knees (no shorts), for both men and women. For a culture based on modesty (and with many locals not having much themselves), flashy fabrics, lots of jewellery and anything else ‘extravagant’ looking will also make you stick out like a sore thumb.
Not that this stopped most of the other tourists we saw dressing totally inappropriately. Frankly, I was shocked at some of the apparel. At one point I even saw a teenage girl with her family dressed in a mini skirt, bare midriff and spaghetti-strap top. To each their own, I guess; whenever I travel, though, I always aim to respect the culture of that country and ‘blend in’ as much as I can.
As you can imagine, I did a lot of research on what to pack for Marrakech before we left. And, in total-me style, I spent a better part of a month buying and returning so. many. dresses. Because dresses are the worst.
In the end, I only ended up bringing one dress for a ‘nicer’ evening, and that was really all I needed. I can’t speak for everyone, but I felt a lot more comfortable wearing trousers and a top around Marrakech than I did a dress. For one, Marrakech is a bit, well, dirty. And two, I felt less exposed, allowing me to focus more on the bustling city rather than worry about my apparel.
That said, many people often suggest wearing long skirts and dresses and do so without issue. And I reiterate: I ran into no problem while there with whatever I wore. I just felt more comfortable in trousers, as a personal preference.
See below for what I’d recommend to pack for Marrakech and my picks of the best bunch.
What to pack for Marrakech (Late Spring/Early Summer)
CASUAL TEE | MADEWELL
DRESSY TOP | MILLY AT THE OUTNET
STRAW HAT | ESPIRIT
SUNGLASSES | RAY-BAN
DRESSY TROUSERS | MANGO
DENIM JACKET | LEVI’S
ESPADRILLES | H&M
COMFY TROUSERS | HUSH
LARGER BAG/TOTE | BOHEMIA
SANDALS | H&M
MAXI/MIDI DRESS | AND/OR
SUMMER CLUTCH | JOY
SCARF | AND/OR
— Loose, Comfortable Trousers —
I am a denim lover through-and-through, but man, did I love wearing nothing but cotton trousers while in Marrakech. Comfortable, effortlessly stylish, and ideal for being in a hot, my-stomach-is-kind-of-always-on-edge country like Morocco. Also, paired with a pair of espadrille wedges, they look smart enough to wear out to dinner. The ones I brought with me were these ones from Hush and these (sale!) ones from Kirei Clothing.
— A Denim Jacket (or some other Wrap/Scarf/Etc) —
I’ve always wanted a Levi’s jacket (if you’re going to have one, have a Levi’s, right?) and splurged on one right before our trip (although mine was £40 — seems to have sold out now!). I was so happy to have it with me. A denim jacket looks great with loose cotton trousers, and trust me, it does get pretty chilly in the evenings, even in late Spring.
— Plenty of T-Shirts and Dressier Tops —
Marrakech has a slightly — how do I put it — dirty feel to it. I mean that in the best, most culture-rich way. But let’s face it; you come back to your riad smelling like the souks. I therefore didn’t re-wear shirts as much as I would normally on a trip, and I preferred to change into something a bit nicer for the evening.
— A Maxi or Midi Dress —
Again, you may prefer to wear these during the day if you like dresses or skirts. I quite happily only brought one ‘dressier’ maxi dress to wear in the evening. If you don’t like maxi dresses, midi/knee length is fine — just use your common sense, and think elegant dressing, not party dressing.
— A Pair of Espadrilles or Trainers —
I read so many pieces of advice to wear closed-toe shoes while walking around the souks, because they can get a bit messy. I was a bit dubious how true this would be, but I can attest that yes, they do get pretty grimy. A long day walking around is best done with espadrilles or sneakers; anything quick should be fine with sandals.
— A Pair of Sandals —
For when you’re lounging by your Riad’s pool. I even ventured to wear my H&M slides (similar) one day while taking a (light) trek through the souks, and they didn’t get too filthy. On a side note: you’re fine to wear shorts, shoulder-bearing tops and swimwear around your Riad.
— A Large Tote Bag —
What surprised me most was how safe of a city Marrakech is. My shock is nothing as a prejudice against Morocco; I just generally am wary with all major cities about personal safety, pickpocketing and theft. So you needn’t worry about having expensive objects out and about, such as phones/cameras. However, the people of Marrakech aren’t very fond of having pictures taken of them or of their souk stalls. We were even told this by a guide. I thus preferred to have a place to store my camera when we were walking about, as to not offend anyone — as sad as I was to not take a picture of every stall we saw! It’s also handy to have a larger bag to carry water, maps, toilet paper (some public toilets won’t have any), etc.
— A Hat & Scarf —
Of course, I remembered my hat (this Gap one was amazing on the one sunny day we had), but I forgot my scarf. A scarf would have been so useful to throw over any shoulder-exposing top and to keep the sun at bay.