The abaya, which can be classified as a kimono in the case of the open abaya, is more than a fashion statement to Muslim women around the world. In Nigeria, it seems like the mainstream kimono trend has come and is on its way out, but for modest dressers, it is here to stay.
To me, the abaya is the best of both worlds. It is on one hand a cultural and religious symbol that has for centuries been used as a cloak to guard a woman’s modesty, and on the other hand, it has evolved into an elegant and stylish addition to any wardrobe.
For women who are on the go but want to remain pious and stylish (yes, I paired these two words), abayas should be the cornerstone of your wardrobe. There are two main types of abayas, one looks more like a bubu and the other like a kimono. Abayas are generally loose-fit and provide full coverage which allows you to do exactly what they were made for, pray at any time.
Originally, abayas were plain black with no embellishments. Nowadays, they come in hundreds of different styles decorated by stitches, stones and made of expensive fabrics. In some countries like Saudi Arabia, abayas are still predominantly black but do not be surprised to hear that some of those plain black pieces of cloth go for thousands of dollars.
Celebrities like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, and many others have worn abayas during their visits to the middle east and many still wear open abayas (kimonos) casually.
Although in mainstream fashion the abaya/kimono is just a trend, many people see it as a cultural and religious symbol. A way to guard one’s modesty and adhere to one’s beliefs. Karl Lagerfeld once said that ‘One is never overdressed or underdressed with a little black dress’ and to me, the same can be said for a long black abaya.
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