I have learned something by observing Moroccan society that surprised me somewhat, but that, upon reflection, does actually follow how things are done in the U.S.
In the U.S., most women dress casually when on a normal day. When I say casually, I really mean casually. Some even go so far as to extend this casual dress to occasions when it is really not appropriate: weddings, funerals, and court appearances, to name a few.
Wealthy women, therefore, to silently announce their appearance as women of wealth, substance and power, not to mention class, dress formally and traditionally at all times. The most relaxed you will ever see them dressed is ‘business casual,’ and that is a formal casual, indeed.
Here in Morocco, I expected more of the same, of course – what I was used to. Well…yes, and NO. Here in Morocco, most women dress formally and traditionally, in garments that completely cover them from neck (a lot still cover their hair, too) to wrist, to ankle. Very limited skin showing. That apparently means that Moroccan wealthy women silently announce THEIR wealth, status and prestige by dressing as untraditionally as possible. A shorter skirt scored wealth points. Shorter sleeves, or even sleeveless, scores more points, and a low-cut neckline adds even more to the perception of wealth and prestige. Here, the more that traditional modest dress is flouted, the wealthier the woman is perceived to be.
Takes a little getting used to.