Friday, December 8, 2006
Since we were on the topic of "clothes" I thought I'd share some lovely arabic styled Jalabiyas that many women wear on fancy occassions. There are simpler versions made of cotton and other fabrics decorated to certain degrees for wearing indoors, they're actually very practical and comfortable, still indoors many younger women and girls today have adapted more western wear (including myself ;)) like jeans, tops, skirts and sweatsuits. When visiting friends or relatives it's very much required to dress up, that's when muslim women have a chance to show off their fashion sense in all women gatherings and parties.
When I was younger I vividly remember this tradition every thursday, since in the Islamic world Friday is a holiday people often spend thursday nights as westerners do their friday night going out and socializing.
As early as seven years old I was very much involved in this tradition, the closest thing I can compare it to is an episode of "Pride and Prejudice" where the Bennet sisters run around in their slips whinning and throwing their clothes around trying to find a descent outfit for the occasion. And that is pretty much what went on in my house, I would spend the whole day after returning from school sorting through my closet trying to find the right outfit, accessories, stockings, shoes, hair clips, jewellery and handbag. It would take hours upon hours and my sister and I would ask each others' opinions over and over, then ask mom's opinion and I remember times when at the last minute before getting into the car I'd run back in and change my scarf or skirt, or grab another handbag after feeling uneasy about the one I had chosen earlier. Dad of course thought we were insane and he often rolled his eyes or shouted at us from the door to "hurry up!!!" and that we were only visiting friends and not preparing for a fashion show in Paris!
It all seems so silly thinking back at it now, but it was fun and though we've tuned down a lot since then and especially because it is so much harder to visit relatives while living in the west, everyone seems farther apart, busier and people just don't make the time, and even when they do there isn't that sense of "culture" and hospitality that I've become so accustomed to growing up in the middle east.
*sigh* That's what I really miss, the holidays, the weekly visits, the socializing in it's own special way, I believe that will always stay with me and I hope to properly present those traditions to my own guests and friends.
Visiting the Emirates mall in Dubai I saw some exquisite jalabiyaat, and amazingly even in Yemen at the Aden mall. I could not resist so I picked up a really traditional looking one with a beautiful copper and turquoise beaded bodice for around 16,000 YR (it was on sale!), I thought it was well worth my $80 though most local Yemenis would not share that opinion and they tried so hard to discourage me or at least laugh at me when all else failed. Regardless I walked off really happy with my new Jalabiyah which I look very much forward to wearing whenever a suitable occassion arrises.
Below is a selection that I picked out from a womens middle eastern fashion forum, many of the garments are sewn and hand-done in India giving that south east asian feel.
Simply beautiful ....