My abaya & I

There is never enough talk about the women traveller’s way to dress.

Or at the contrary, yes, there is.

Maybe even way too much because to tell the truth, when you are a woman, you are only talked about the way you are dressed.

When you wear a covering suit, you are criticized for not taking care of your appearance or you are suspected of being a religious fundamentalist. When you opt for something lighter, you are suspected to want to catch the eyes and when you wear a relaxed outfit, you are never rather elegant.

This topic of dress code has almost always been an issue for me since I began my adult life, not to mention abroad.

That’s why I will always remember the day when my eyes crossed this stunning pearl-embroidered abaya at the Waqif Suq in Doha, Qatar.

Its black color enhaced my Mediterranean face, the pearls which decorated slightly his shoulders gave me of the look and once shortened by some centimeters, its ample shape even succeeded curiously in flattering my silhouette.

This long black dress opened on the front and worn by the women of the Middle East is a Bedouin heritage. Originally it aimed to protect the body from the hard living conditions in the desert. Over time, it was linked to the Muslim traditions which invite women and men to be modest.

Today in Qatar, the abaya is absolutely not imposed on women but the majority of them, attached to their country’s traditions, choose to wear it with a black veil covering their hair.

Personnaly I have found in this outfit a way to be elegant in both East and West. Worn as a long vest, it ads an elegant touch to the most basic of my “western” dresses and allows me to be fancy without offending the habits of Eastern countries.

Now living in Turkey, it happens that Middle-Eastern women tourists sketch a smile when they meet me dressed in this part of their cultural heritage in the streets of Istanbul.


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