I don’t shop much when I’m traveling internationally. I’d rather breeze through the airport than fret over losing my luggage or draconian overweight fees. But when I honeymooned in Morocco this summer, I abandoned reason and combed the open-air souks for the perfect souvenir. (A honeymoon isn’t a normal vacation, so my usual rules don’t apply.)
Like many tourists, I was on the hunt for something “authentic” that I couldn’t find at the mall back home. I immediately fixated on finding a djellaba, which is a long robe with a roomy, pointed hood. Every Moroccan male over the age of 5 owns a djellaba – you’ll often see older men wearing them while sipping mint tea in the cafes, and younger men (in their 20s-30s) often wear them on Fridays, a holy day for Muslims.
I found the perfect version in the coastal city of Essaouira, where the souks are extremely relaxed. (You won’t need to hone the hardcore bargaining techniques required in Fes or Marrakech.)
I envisioned using my djellaba as an exotic alternative to a typical bathrobe or beach cover-up. (Although Madewell rhapsodized about wearing the style as a maxi dress.)
But when I returned home, I remembered that I liked my old bathrobe and beach cover-ups just fine. My beloved souvenir was left hanging on the bathroom door for months – until I took it to my tailor. We shortened the robe to the knee, and when paired with a cinched belt, the djellaba transformed from a baggy maxi to a wearable shirtdress.
When fall rolls around, I’ll play with the proportions and pair this dress with opaque tights, a leather jacket and boots. (Keep an eye on the Seasonal Shifts category.)
If you’re interested in finding your own version, the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs sells a remarkably similar robe. (Hem job not included.) But while the robe in the Ace gift shop is $130, I scored my version for 250 Dirhams – roughly $30.