The abaya, worn by many women in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states is not just an iconic fashion piece, but is also a cultural and religious symbol. The black, sleek Islamic clothing is a form of identity for many women and can make them feel connected to society. There are so many benefits of wearing an abaya that even makes women of the western world envious.
The abaya is traditionally black, though can be worn in different colours in some parts of the Middle East. It was originally only connected to Islam and worn to cover the form of the female body. However, these days it is so much more than just that. In the last decade, Abayas have evolved to become a fashion statement and come in different styles for the more fashion conscious, such as sheer and tighter fitting. Some are donned with jewels and some are elegant, simple and timeless.
Many women believe that the abaya diminishes divisions between social classes, as it is a lot harder to make socio-economic distinctions when wearing the garment. A lot of women also love the fact that they don’t have to think too much about what they are going to wear that day, as they could be wearing anything under the abaya! In the summer months, some women opt to wear sun dresses, shorts and singlet tops, although Saudi women are known to be very fashion savvy, often donning the latest trends under their abayas. If you look into the closet of a Saudi woman, you will find that she has an abaya for every occasion – casual, semi-formal, black dress and designer. You will most likely also find matching shoes and hand bags to accompany the abaya. The abaya is surprisingly light keeping the heat out in the summer and keeping the heat in during the winter.