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Ramadhan Mobarek sisters…how is it going for you all? For some reason by 4pm my brain turns to mush! I have been wanting to update this blog now for a few days but everytime I sit down to do it, I feel sapped of all energy. LOL. regardless, I will try to get out the posts I have been meaning to get out and I’m also going to be doing a review for a US based hejab company over the weekend so I’m excited about that!~ *woot! woot*
Anyway, those who have read this blog for a long time know I have a thing for overhead overgarments…be they overhead abayaat or the French overhead jelbabs…I really think they are both awesome and find the overhead abayaat especially elegant.
But…they are not alway easy to wear, particularly if your clueless about how to wear them and think if you just pop one on your head and stick a pin in, that you will miraculously rock one. LOL. I know…I sound mean…but I know several western sisters who try to wear them but always have problems with them and then wonder why…like they slide or get in their way. Ive worn them enough in my life to know you cant just pop one on, and instantly feel at home in it! So they do take some expertise and knowledge. Ive found certain cuts, fabrics and styles are more comfortable than others.
Anyway…I’ve posted a lot about them and will below put up a few of my previous posts relating to them. For comfort reasons I have elastic in all of mine and all of mine are from Saudi, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iran. I find the Bahraini and Kuwaiti ones the most comfortable as the head area is wider which I find more suitable to wearing with elastic but, call me old fashioned but I like the traditional square batwing with the internal seams! I have my old standbys from Saudi that I wore daily while over there, and the Iranian and Lebanese ones which are good too, but a bit too baggy and lacking in the drape, weight and elegance the Gulf ones possess…yes…a garment can be a huge square and have a stylish look!
This post was prompted by the sister who runs the blog Muslimah in Solace where they mentions buying an overhead and having a hard time with it.
Anyway…here are some tips/tricks Ive learnt over the years through wearing them, lived in the Gulf and watching sisters who have worn them since childhood verrryyyy closly… (lol, that sounds weird, but really, mimicking those who “know” often provides the best education)
1) NO PINS!
Please…your asking for a ripped abaya ra’as if you do cuz if you sit down, stand up or move and dont know how to do so in an overhead AND you have a pin in…RIIIIPPPPPPP…..or at minimum…head yank syndrome…not cool!
2) PUT ELASTIC in the abaya ra’as…yes Iranian chador wearers started the trend and its frankly a good idea! If worse comes to worse and you move wrong the thing will just come off your head, nothing will rip…the elastic will help to keep it on and you can push a stroller, do grocery shopping, pick up a crazy child, buy food, eat food…even go down a water slide and the thing will stay on. Trust me…I know this!!! LOL
3) RIGHT WEIGHT…yes…the best overheads have a good cut and weight to the fabric. I’m not talking super thick, hot fabric which makes tyou roast and gives yopu a headache…but a properly made, high quality overhead does have some weight to it, as traditionally they are just rested on the head and then slide around as worn…anything which is made of a material with no weight-i.e. some cheapo, super thin fabric (unless its the traditional Kuwaiti abaya ra’as which is made in a semi-sheer georgette like crepe-yes its thin, but due to the internal seams has weight…so…voila!)…then they will be harder to control. I’m talking mostly about the more updated, Saudi style ones which have the curved hem and no internal seaming for weight. You either need the internal seam with the light fabrics or something with a bit more weight if there is no internal seam.
Oh…if your confused…like whats in internal seam… its this style…i.e. the old school abaya ra’as style where the thing is curved from the inside via seams around knee-level.
4) MOVE RIGHT…you can be very active in an overhead-contrary to popular belief…but you just have to know “their language”…like you dont just plop down and randomly stand up…there is a method of gathering the fabric for sitting and standing back up. I have read online some western sisters do not want to do this for fear of showing the clothing they have on under it or showing the body, but guess what…in the Gulf…the women have no problems gathering their abayaat up around themselves for sitting, praying or standing…thats just what you do and you dont show the body when doing that anyway.
For example…in Saudi many of the abaya ra’as wearing women will walk holding a portion of their abaya in their hand to keep it up off the ground in the front. In Bahrain the women will literally wrap their abaya ra’as around themselves, tucking excess fabric under their arms…in Iraq and Kuwait they leave it open, over a house dress but pinch it slightly closed in the front, but otherwise…its open and blowing in the breeze.
Thats just how its done…
5) Wear the right stuff under.
Again, contrary to popular belief amongst some Muslim women in the west…you dont layer 10 things under your abaya ra’as…in the Gulf most women wear either jeans and a tunic or teeshirt OR a long, loose house jalabeeya…depending on conservativism and location and style of abaya ra’as, Obviously…an open traditional Kuwaiti abaya ra’as requires a bit more clothing on under than a modern, closed, Saudi one. In the Kuwaiti or Bahraini (or Iraqi) open style ones you need a long jalabeeya or atleast a knee or calf length tunic and jeans to cover everything incase it opens while walking (obviously youd hold it shut while walking…LOL)…the modern Saudi ones are basically like a shoulder abaya but go up over the head so you can get away with a teeshirt and jeans and a scarf.
…If the wind blows and you dont want your form shown…what they do in the Gulf is hold it away from themselves in the front a little bit. Voila.. no hassles.
May I also add that you dont have to be a niqabi to wear an overhead…again, here in the US Ive noticed its usually niqabis who wear them, but in the Gulf…women who do and do not wear niqab wear the abaya ra’as…and personally ive had some sisters come up to me – esp at the masjid I attend, asking why I wear them but dont wear niqab. LOL…well, overhead abaya doesnt necessarily equal niqabi…one can wear niqab and a shoulder abaya and vise versa…so…obviously non-niqabis can wear the overhead too. Personally I wear mine a lot like the British Bahraini TV hostess Zahra Al-Alawi with the colored scarves under the overhead…which I think look really nice and kinda more “friendly” and “unique”.
Previous related posts…
1) Putting elastic in an overhead abaya.
2) Overheads in KSA and my take on them