In Mali, West Africa,
most women use only short pants for sports and play. These are tolerated
for casual wear, but sometimes not appreciated. Exposing your breasts
is generally more accepted than exposing your thighs.
Sharon, Montreal, Canada
Mauritania, in northwest
Africa is a Muslim country but it is tolerant. Dress modestly and
very understated. Even the cheapest watch that you own will seem
amazing to a nomad child. The women wear brightly colored dresses
or long skirts, their heads are covered but usually you can partially
see their hair. I bought some cotton skirts before my trip. The
heat here is a hot dry heat, so the long skirt kept me surprisingly
cool by reflecting the intense heat from the sand and sun. I covered
my head with a lightweight scarf to protect myself from sun, but
it was also useful to avoid curious stares, as I have blonde hair.
Forget about contact lens, there is often blowing sand.
I would like to add my experiences of travelling to Morocco
and Marrakesh in particular. I took with me a headscarf and wore
below the knees cropped trousers or a long linen skirt, coupled
with ordinary t-shirts with round neckline. I found that I was not
hassled at all by anyone there when I wore my headscarf and sunglasses
– even though I was on my own and wasn’t wearing a wedding
ring and have blond hair and blue eyes. I saw women of many nationalities
wearing extremely revealing clothing and I was offended on behalf
of the locals as I believe in dressing appropriately and respectfully.
Another tip is to wear shoes that cover your feet and not flip-flops
/ thongs or sandals. The streets are not fantastically clean and
the sewerage system was non-existent and so wearing shoes that protected
your feet from manure are essential.
Abi, Cambridge, U.K.
The airline flying me to Morocco
lost my luggage. It came on the next flight - 3 days later. As a
result, I had to wear the pants and shirt I'd worn on the plane
until it arrived. Pants are considered very revealing in some countries
and here my outfit got me a lot of unwelcome comments. Men followed
me and strangers touched me when I was in large crowds. I highly
recommend packing a skirt and long-sleeved shirt in your carry-on
when travelling to a muslim country -- just in case.
Melanie, Alexandria, USA
Moroccan men usually
think that all Europeans are easy and therefore they feel free to
pinch and touch. I discovered that for some strange motive they
didn't bother me if I wore long black skirts and long sleeved black
shirts (even if form fitting). The color black seems to 'cool them
down.' And my hair in a pony-tail seemed better than loose curly
Sofía, Sevilla, Spain
Travel in a Moslem country is very different from that in European
countries. Fortunately, I was with a tour group in Morocco
and we were told what and what not to wear each day. No shorts ever,
no jewelry, a secure money belt and bum pack for other objects.
Moroccan men were very bold about touching and/or pinching foreign
women. They followed us with their eyes wherever we went and so
we had to appear modest and unassuming in public. It pays to be
very careful and aware in Morocco. Children clung to us and held
our hands as soon as they saw us -- maybe they were just friendly,
but maybe not.
Betty, Vancouver, Canada
During my month in Morocco,
I wore long skirts and long-sleeved button-up shirts and was free
from harassment (and sunburn!). Wearing more conservative clothing
made me feel more respectful and less like a target. If you journey
to the dunes, bring along a scarf or piece of fabric to tie around
your face to keep out the blowing sands. Enjoy!
Lindsay, Colorado Springs, USA
My husband is a Moroccan
and I have travelled there once with him. This is what I learned
about culturally correct clothing. It's true that Moroccan women
do often wear Euro fashion. However, please understand that if you
wear tight or short clothing there is a chance for harassment. When
I went there I wore pants and knee high skirts and men did make
remarks even though I was with my husband. From experience I can
say, my best advice is to dress modestly. If you are still attracting
attention you can buy an inexpensive djelleba while you are there.
They are comfortable and nice.
Janah, San Diego, USA
When in Morocco,
some Western women have the idea that it's a strong political statement
to wear western clothes, the likes of which you might see in a park
or on a beach in Toronto or Vancouver. Although I readily call myself
a feminist, I think the unisex Djellaba (long, loose coat worn over
clothes) is a wise idea. Here's why:
1) You can easily string your money/passport pouch under the dress
and while you can easily access the cash and ID via the slits in
the side of your djellaba, a thief will have to work much harder
2) If you get a thick or dark colored djellaba, you don't really
have to wear much under it. Very freeing (also true of the chador
3) If you put on your djellaba the first day, it looks like you've
been there longer than you have and you're less likely to be hassled
4) For the same reason as above, you'll get better prices in the
souk (unless the djellaba is blindingly new).
5) You'll never get to speak to any women, if you appear to disregard
6) It cuts out the "what am I going to wear today" stress
that's a real annoyance when traveling.
And, besides, they're quite cool in the heat and beautiful as well,
in the wide array of colours and variations on the basic design.
Happy souking, ladies!
Buffy, Toronto, Canada
"Western" women are not expected to dress like traditional
native Moroccan women,
and indeed many sophisticated or foreign-educated Moroccan women
have adopted European fashion styles. However, no matter how tight
the pants or short the skirt, they always keep that collar bone
covered up. Your vee-neck sweaters, even blouses, no matter how
chaste you think they are, may be interpreted as risque, disrespectful,
or inappropriate in Morocco.
Pamela, Minneapolis, USA
Advice: Wear loose clothing such as baggy pants or long skirts
and a loose-fitting blouse or t-shirt. Not only will it keep you
cool and protected from the sun, but it will lessen unwanted attention
received by local men. Tight or revealing clothing always invites
attention (the local women get harassed too); short pants are not
worn by Moroccan women.
Note: you will see all dress styles in the large cities in Morocco
from total veiling to revealing. As a foreign woman you will be
an attraction to the local men; wearing loose clothing will reduce
the harassment. Remember that Moroccans are friendly, curious people
who like to find out about you. Don't be afraid to chat with them,
especially the hanout (small store) owners. Many people speak some
English and will be delighted to hear you say a word or two in Arabic.
Final tip: wear a wedding band and invent a husband if you don't
Sheri, Rabat, Morocco
In Morocco, foreign
women should try to buy a djelleba (traditional dress with hood,
that so many of the Moroccan women wear). If you do this, you'll
be very comfy and will not stand out as a foreigner.Covering your
head isn't necessary as many women don't, but you can if you want
to. If you dress to blend in, you will not be a target for the beggers
and con-artists. Please note that Moroccans in Marrakech, Fez and
small villages are more traditional then Moroccans in Rabat, Casablanca
Bailey Varos, Erie, USA
Take along a large, long, lightweight, rectangular scarf is my
best recommendation. I used it to cover my head or cover my shoulders
in the souk, as a cover-up at the pool, it prevented sunburn and
protected my hair.
Gillian, Castletown, Isle of Man
I lived in Northern Nigeria
for one year. Shorts, tight pants, sleeveless tops, clinging shirts,
low-necklines and capris are all BIG no-nos. Nylons or socks are
not necessary, though. Most women there seem to favor sandals. My
typical outfit was a long, loose skirt, and a comfortable 3/4 sleeve
cotton blouse or tunic which covered my derriere. Nigerians are
big on ironing. The "grungy" look will win you zero points.
No self-respecting Nigerian woman would leave the house without
taking a bath first. In crowded and more conservative areas, like
Kano's old city, you might consider draping a sheer scarf over your
head. You still won't pass for a local. You will, however, get more
respect and less harassment, since they will assume you are a fellow
Muslim. These scarves are plentiful in the markets. You can also
buy beautiful fabric by the yard and have a tailor make whatever
outfit you can think of, all very affordable. Things are bit more
relaxed in the South. You might see tank top but women still cover
their legs with long skirts.
Julie, Albany, USA
I travelled in Rwanda.
The Rwandese like to dress well and you should be no exception.
If you have meetings with people, a knee length skirt and a short
sleeved blouse/shirt is perfect. Dressier tops and tanks with skirts
or casual pants go well for moving around town or going out to restaurants
in the evening. For hiking in the national parks, a long sleeved
tee and long pants are important against the stinging nettles. A
light sweater is also useful for cooler nights in the north.
Rena, Vancouver, Canada