Open Abaya as Fashion and Conflicts of Identity

Open abaya is a key symbol of both religious as well as national identity in the Arab countries. In the past two decades, there have been new trends in abaya as fashion and its adaptation from traditional black abaya into fashionable, individualized garments that are tailored to suit the trend and taste of the wearer.

The traditional black abaya and the westernized abaya as fashion should fit into these specifications to be considered as judicial abaya:

  • The fabric of the open abaya should be thick and non-clinging.
  • The abaya should be covering the whole body and should be loose as it should not describe the contour or silhouette of the body.
  • The black abaya should be open only in front and the opening of the sleeve should be small.
  • The open abaya should not contain any embellishment or ornamentation, which become a source of eye attraction and thus should be free from decorations, symbols, drawings, and writing.
  • The clothing of women or men and abaya should not have any similarity.
  • The abaya should be placed on top of the head.

The description of the judicial black abaya and the abaya in fashion in today’s time is directly opposite. The open abaya in trend has its multitude in the cuts, adornments, and colors of the fabric and the material used which does not fit to the description and specification of judicial abayas. There are arguments supporting the specifications for abaya in trend in which it is said that similar to judicial abaya, the trendy abaya is also all covering and thus there is no harm in using embellishments and adornments in the garment itself.

The abaya online is understood to be a great equalizer among the women who wear it and it is a symbol which eliminates the class distinctions and also reduces the conflicts by creating the same level for all women.