In Saudi Arabian society the Abaya is a symbol of identity.
Today, in modern Saudi Arabia, the Abaya (the cloak that covers the body, worn by women) remains part of the Saudi dress code for women. The cut, colour, fabrics, and how to wear it have adjusted to modern times and purposes. In the past, Abayas had to be black and shapeless; today they are a fashion statement and enjoyable – except in the heat, sometimes 😊They look like a cape or coat, and are a fashion garment that reflects the versatility of modern Saudi Arabia. Some women wear long and widely cut dresses instead of an Abaya to cover themselves. The designs created and printed on Abayas by today’s Saudi fashion designers want to retain their cultural heritage and are translate into contemporary designs.
All these choices gave women a huge variety to choose from. Although it is no longer compulsory to wear the Abaya as in the past https://gulfnews.com/world/gulf/saudi/saudi-crown-prince-says-abaya-not-necessary-1.2190993., many Saudi women – and even non-Saudis – wear the Abaya out of choice.
It is not correct that wearing the Abaya is an Islamic ruling. It is not https://english.alarabiya.net/amp/features/2018/03/28/Saudi-cleric-Al-Ghamdi-Abaya-is-not-mandatory-as-per-the-teachings-Islam. Since the late Eighties, it became a traditional must in Saudi Arabia for all women to cover themselves in Abaya, until this rule was relaxed in 2018.
The Abaya has also a practical function. In some situations it allows the women to dress casually and cover it with the Abaya, avoiding the rigorous routine for getting ready for contact with the outside world. All one needs are the right accessories …
I am often asked why I wear an Abaya in Saudi Arabia, and not when I am travelling. I don’t have to do it any longer, but it is nice to have the choice. We see it as part of our tradition and identity, a cultural statement that most Saudi women identify with.
For further reading: The+contemporary+Saudi+abaya+and+its+alternatives+have+come+to+represent+high+fashion+and+individual+style.\n\nhttps://agsiw.org/saudi-arabias-abaya-signals-a-new-era-of-fashion-empowerment-and-cultural-pride/