In a world where fashion trends come and go, some fashion pieces remain timeless. Standing out for its elegance, versatility, and cultural significance, the abaya is one such piece. The loose flowy, robe-like garment is often worn by women in the Middle East and Muslim-majority regions.
But why is the garment so popular in these regions? Why do people wear abayas instead of dawning Western fashion? And is the garment reserved for certain cultures, or can anyone wear an abaya?
To start off, an abaya can be worn by anyone. Although it is often recognized as a staple for religious Muslim women, it is not an exclusive religious garment. Most Muslim women would welcome and even encourage non-Muslim women to try out the abaya trend and find their abaya style. And while the abaya is often worn by Muslim, Arab, or Middle Eastern women, the loose flowy fit of the garment is appealing to women who prefer to dress modestly, whether they have a religious affiliation or not.
So Why Do People Wear Abayas?
1) Cultural Identity & Traditions
While an abaya may not be a religious garment, it certainly is a traditional one. And while different countries have different versions of abaya styles, fabrics, and more, the abaya garment carries a rich cultural, traditional, and even historical significance for people in Muslim-majority regions and beyond.
Historically, it was used to protect women from heat, environment, and weather elements. Culturally and religiously, it was used to promote modesty and shield women from danger. For some regions, the abaya is considered the national dress for women, making it carry great symbolic, cultural, and even patriotic significance.
And although culture is ever-changing and adapting to fit modern times and understandings, many women still wear the abaya today to honor their families, traditions, cultures, ancestors, homelands, and history.
2) Modesty & Religion
Since abayas are usually full coverage, loose-fitting, flowy, non-transparent, maxi, and long-sleeved, the garment carries a strong appeal for religious, hijabi, Muslim, or modest women. Abayas are also usually made from lightweight breathable fabrics that make them the perfect staple for women living in hotter regions like the Middle East and North Africa.
Female tourists often opt to wear abayas when visiting the Middle East. Many choose to wear abayas for cultural assimilation, modesty, or for protection from the sun. Trying out abayas is a great way to show cultural respect to the destination country’s customs, and is a trend often encouraged by the locals.
4) Special Events
Coming in all shapes and styles, fancier abayas are often the custom outfits for special events that are rooted in culture or religion, like Ramadan, Eid, weddings, and more. For religious holidays and celebrations, abayas often make the perfect choice for those who are looking to be fashion-forward while still being modest.
5) Comfort & Convenience
Anyone who’s worn an abaya knows how easy it is to wear. It’s comfortable, breathable, and easy to wear; the perfect wardrobe essential for when you are in a rush. Just throw it on top of your casual wear, loungewear, or even pajamas, and enjoy a fashion-forward look without compromising on comfort.