What Is An Abaya?

The Abaya, What Exactly Is It?

The social origins lab has done some investigating into what the Abaya is, what it represents, and why women like to wear this certain item of clothing.
What we have found is both intresting and uplifting while showing wearing the abaya is a trend that will only continue to grow.

The abaya is a long cloak like garment that covers the whole body, similar to a robe that covers the whole body except the hands and feet that is staple of clothing in the Muslim and Arab world, it originally dates back over 4000 years and some of the styles now are similar to the style that would of been worn by ancient women all those years ago.
In Saudi Arabia the law used to state that women must only wear an abaya and it must be black in colour, but Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman revoked this law saying it is upto women to choose what clothes they want to wear as long as it is respectful, it was at this point a new fashion trend emerged and the abaya was revolutionised into different styles and colours.

It is mentioned by name is various holy texts the Abaya and the importance of wearing it in dressingly modestly; hence you can see why the abaya is so popular is muslim countries and often associated with traditional Islamic clothing.

"“And say to the believing women to lower their gaze and to guard their private parts and not to show their beauty spots except that of it which is normally shown and to draw their veils over their chests. They shall not show their beauty spots except in the presence of their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, other women, their slaves, the male attendants who have no carnal desire and the children who are yet to attain awareness of women's bodies. They shall not strike their feet so as to reveal details of their hidden beauty spots. You shall repent to God all you believers so that you may succeed.” (24:31)"

The two main styles of abayas are:

  • The Abaya Dress

The abaya dress is a modern style of abaya that is often embroidered with different colours around the wrist and neckline that typically consists of floral design or traditional arab geometric patterns, in Morocco and other northern African counties it is known as a "Caftan" and is generally a much more brighter colour engraved with stones and gems.

  • The Open Abaya

As the name may suggest, an open abaya is basically a normal abaya with and opening down the middle that is usually tied together with a belt or zip.
Its very popular in the western world as you can just wear jeans and a t-shirt underneath and put the open abaya over it to showcase a modest style.

Today, the abaya is not just a body covering garment or piece of clothing, it has evolved into new designs represantive of each region and similar to the hijab or jilbab, signifies ones stance on modesty. Abaya designers such as Noor Mendili from Arabian Boutique have taken the abaya to a whole new level with her ecliptical new designs which represent east meeting west , traditional meeting modern.

The abaya industry has evolved just like the abaya itself, it is no longer an ancient black cloak only worn by some women, it is now a fashionable item made by top designs such as dolce and YSL and the celebrities of the world are often photographed wearing tailor made abayas.

The social implications of wearing an abaya tend to be higher respect levels from all around as well as a feeling of empowerment and gracefulness, if you have not tried wearing an abaya now would certainly be a great time!