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Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?

posted on: Mar 13, 2019

Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?

By: Shayma Amour/Arab America Contributing Writer

The world is a huge platform congested with various civilizations and cultures that revive and beautify it. Each culture has an array of traditions differing it from one another, including traditional clothes that would date back to thousands of years.

The Arab world is a vivid universe containing multiple cultures within its borders. Each of the 22 countries has its unique traditional dressing. Arab women’s wear is elegant, stylish, and diversified due to the long unique cultural heritage. Some outfits like Abaya and Thobe are common among several countries but have some different regional expressions, while other dresses are unique depending on the country of origin. However, Embroidery is the main component of most Arab dresses.  It is defined by the woman’s environment, traditions, heritage, religious beliefs, and a statue of her tribe, in addition to her personal taste.

The MENA region nowadays is a complex reality where local traditions and Western fashion mix. In the 21st century, fashion there has become more westernized. Nevertheless, you can still spot some traditional garments.

Inspired by the cultural fashion and heritage, contemporary fashion designers are aiming to modernize and reinvent the traditional vogue. They keep in mind honoring their mores and culture and staying true to the traditional design identities while adding their own taste on the progressive pieces they are reinventing. The overall effect is a vast collection of clothing traditions adapted and adjusted to new social orders, local climates, and activities.

Below are some examples of reinvented traditional dresses:

1. Thobe

Thobe is defined as a “loose, long-sleeved, ankle-length garments like men wear. However, for women, the neck and front can be embroidered and decorated with beads.” Many designers have turned traditional Thobes into blazers, caftans, and dresses.

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Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback? Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?

2. Abaya

Abaya is “ a large, black cloak worn over the clothes either loose and flowing or wrapped around the body”. Nowadays, Abayas are being produced in various designs and colors with different patterns, while maintaining the modesty required at the same time.

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Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?

3. Caftan

Caftan is known as “a long garment having long sleeves and tied at the waist by a girdle, worn under coat in the Middle East, especially in North Africa”. Many contemporary designers are reinventing Caftans in a fancier and more luxurious and glamorous way that suits the activities in this era. It is commonly worn in occasions such as in weddings and henna parties.   

Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?

4. Jebba

Tunisian Jebba is an embroidered costume with colorful threads seen as a masterpiece. it is also decorated with different patterns which have a symbolic meaning laid into each element. You will likely see women wearing traditional garbs in events such as religious events, circumcision ceremonies, and weddings.

Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?Arab Women’s Traditional Clothing Making a Comeback?

 

5. Jewelry

The Arab World is rich in heritage, culture and charming crafts. Jewelry is considered as a vital element in the middle eastern women wear culture, as it reflects the enormous diversity and dynamism of the region and continues to be an inspirational source of design for the world. Emerging Arab jewelers and designers seek to show their rich authentic heritage in their accessories.

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6. Denim Jackets

A jean jacket is a jacket made from denim. It was first introduced in the United States as casual apparel with men and women and has been described as an iconic element of American fashion. Young Arab designers are following the trend nowadays as they add some Arab touches and designs to the denim jacket, such as Arabic calligraphy and oriental patterns, giving it an authentic and traditional look.

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