Moroccan djellaba for women and men




The word Djellaba or Jellaba in North African Arabic means a garment. In central and eastern Algeria it is called qeššaba or qeššabiya.


The word “Djellaba” would be an alteration of the word djilbab which, in ancient Arabic, would designate a draped garment. In Oman, the gillab form refers to the woman’s veil. The disappearance of the first b would have been done identically in the Maghreb and in Oman. This etymology is quite acceptable although the djellaba is not at all a draped garment but a sewn garment. In teh mountains of Morocco they call it tadjellabit which is a Berberized form.

The moroccan djellaba is widespread for both men and women.



The origins of the traditional Moroccan djellaba for women and men


Like many Moroccan traditions, the djellabas are deeply rooted in Berber culture and history. The traditional Moroccan djellaba was originally made of coarse wool and was intended to be worn exclusively by men. The patterns were much simpler at the time, and the djellaba or tajellabiyt (in Amazigh) was based on a neutral color scheme, mainly white with minimal stripes.


Some djellabas were woven from unprocessed sheep’s wool, while the woven patterns consisted of alternating white and brown checkered stripes. In addition to the authentic Berber djellaba, men also wore coats of undyed wool, called asilham.



Djellaba men winter

Traditional moroccan djellaba for men made in wool

Some djellabas were woven from unprocessed sheep’s wool, while the woven patterns consisted of alternating white and brown checkered stripes. In addition to the authentic Berber djellaba, men also wore coats of undyed wool, called asilham.


The color white was and still is very widespread in Moroccan culture. It symbolizes purity, virtue, good fortune and honourable moral qualities. This is why the first drawings of the djellabas, made by Berber women for Berber men, were all variations of white or cream color.


The djellaba was also a public symbol of the transition from childhood to adulthood. Amazigh women presented their male offspring with djellabas when they reached the age of thirteen or fourteen.


When the boys are “strong enough,” they are allowed to wear their djellaba and accompany their fathers in their daily activities, whether it be going to the market or spending nights in the desert. It goes without saying, then, that the Moroccan djellaba is a symbol of virility and manhood that any mature young boy will wear with pride.


The djellaba played a major role in the Moroccan women’s emancipation movement in the 1940s. In fact, they would take what was supposed to be a “man’s outfit only” and begin to wear it as one of their own.


As soon as Morocco gained independence in 1956, Moroccan women swapped the Haik for the Djellaba, which was, above all, a masculine garment. They exchanged the haik: a large cotton or woolen fabric of about 5 meters long by 1.60 M wide which covers the body of the woman and her face. The djellaba, as simple as it may seem, would serve as a symbol of women’s liberation from pre-established gender roles dictated by patriarchy. And so, the djellaba became a basic element in the wardrobe of every Moroccan woman.


This dark-colored garment, accompanied by a muslin veil and a hood covering the hair, has continued to evolve with the lifestyle and mentalities, while retaining its authenticity.


To shape it, it is all the know-how of the Moroccan heritage that is mobilized in the small hands of young craftsmen who exhaust their eyes to make different embroidery canvas or to make multiple Akads (kind of small buttons very aesthetic) one by one.




Innovative Designs in the Moroccan Djellaba


Nowadays, the outfit of the city dwellers as well as the rural woman has become the Djellaba being one of the most popular forms of traditional Moroccan clothing.  


Moroccans feel very proud of the majestic beauty of their national costume, an extraordinary heritage, which not only continues to exist, but has been worn over time, to evolve and adapt to each era thanks to the passion and know-how of great Moroccan figures of stylistic creation.


Proud of its course, the Moroccan Djellaba has kept up with the evolution of lifestyles and mentalities. Adopted in Hollywood by Elisabeth Taylor since the 80s, carried by Attar Hakim, Ilham Chahin and Nabila Oubeid as well as other emblematic figures in major events of Arab Cinema. Yes, it’s been a long time since the Djellaba tamed other horizons by taking to the open sea, but our Moroccan designers continue to keep their copyright, to dream and reshape it with finesse and a beautiful breath of emancipation while preserving its authenticity by combining tradition and modernization.


How are the moroccan djellabas for women nowadays?


Moroccan djellabas have since evolved from their first coarsely woven undyed wool. Today, there are djellabas made from all kinds of materials, whether silk, cotton, linen, synthetic fabrics or others. These clothes have massively progressed from a symbol of virility to a symbol of emancipation, to a sign of modesty linked to religion, to what we can only count as a kind of avant-garde or exotic fashion.



Djellaba women

Modern moroccan djellaba for women

There are winter, spring, summer and autumn options in the djellabas. Intelligent creations made of light and breathable materials to best adapt to the warm weather. Others are made of wool and fleece to protect from the rigours of the cold. There are even djellabas designed for shopping, which you can put on to go to the local grocery store or to watch the neighbors visit.


The choices are endless, especially with the growing number of aspiring Moroccan designers and their yearning to revive this style of clothing. Many of them have succeeded in modernizing such modest and minimalist clothing.

With the use of extravagant embroidery, beads, sequins, transparent fabrics such as organza and knitwear, as well as tassels, the urbanized djellaba is rising from the ashes of a past trend to become a powerful force in contemporary Moroccan fashion.

You may notice that the more formal the djellaba becomes, the more complex the design becomes with its delicate details and subtleties. Thus, djellabas designed to be worn on special occasions, such as engagement parties or religious festivals, will have more ornaments. This can range from a beautiful hand-made seam around the collar to imposingly ornate pockets, or embroidered hoods with colorful beaded tassels.


How are the moroccan djellabas for men nowadays?


In the man, clothing is a little simpler since one can reduce it to the Djellaba worn with slippers.


Modern style short djellaba for men


With a slight variation: for some special occasions, men can wear a tarbouche or fez, a kind of hat, garnet color, with a small black tail.
Men of Berber origin wear turbans, goatskin sandals and, at the belt, a finely worked dagger.

As with any other garment, there are casual djellabas, worn on a daily basis, as well as more expensive and formal djellabas, specially designed for special occasions. In urban areas, women tend to wear these dresses every day.
On the other hand, it is increasingly rare to see men wearing djellabas. Men wear it mostly at the mosque for prayer, during the holy month of Ramadan or religious holidays such as Eid.


Difference djellaba and kaftan


Contrary to other traditional dresses such as the Kaftan or the Takchita, the djellabas are distinguished by their wide and loose hood, called kobb.
Traditionally, the hood is pointed and used to protect from the sun or desert winds. Although today, the hood is mainly used for decorative and aesthetic purposes.


Where to buy a Moroccan djellaba?


If you are looking for an authentic traditional Moroccan djellaba, you can find in the souks a wide range of models with all kinds of patterns and colors. Although the ready-made djellabas that are sold in the Moroccan medinas are very “commercial”.


If you wish to wear it in a relaxed setting, it is quite suitable. But if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious and personalized, we highly recommend that you take a look at our modern and elegant djellaba collection.


The brand is composed of a mix of haute couture and ready-to-wear djellabas made by Moroccan fashion designers from noble fabrics and carefully selected textiles. Saba’s spring/summer and winter 2020 collections are really beautiful. The color palette is very lively and uses a lot of minimalist patterns mixed with 70’s designs while keeping the overall look classy, elegant and suitable for every opulent (and not so opulent) occasion.


Moroccan djellaba for women white


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▷ Moroccan Djellaba women & men
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