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The Different Styles of Abaya

In the world of Islamic fashion, the abaya holds a special place. Traditionally, it’s been viewed as a simple, flowing garment worn by women to maintain modesty while in public. But with the wheel of time, the abaya has evolved, morphing into an ensemble that not only adheres to religious guidelines but also displays style and sophistication.

Today’s abayas come in an array of styles, each suited for different occasions and personal tastes. While we journey through the diverse styles of abayas here, remember: although the silhouettes set these types apart, there’s an entire universe of colours, prints, embroidery, calligraphy and beading that add unique touches to every piece.

Closed abaya

The closed abaya is the original, a timeless classic. It is a single piece of fabric with no front openings, often secured with small buttons or loops at the top. It’s versatile and can be worn for daily outings or formal events. The simplicity lends itself to endless accessorising opportunities.

Due to its simplicity, it suits any body type and is very modest. However, it might not be the top choice for those looking for easy wearability, since it requires pulling over the head.

Open abaya

The open abaya is akin to a flowing outer robe with a front opening, often resembling a long coat or cardigan. It brings a level of ease and practicality to the wearer, allowing it to be styled over different outfits.

Leena Open Abaya - Emerald Green - YALLAWORLD

The open abaya is incredibly versatile and easy to wear. The open front, however, may pose modesty and style concerns for some, so layering underneath needs to be planned ahead depending on the event.

Full abaya

This style envelops the body generously, offering ample coverage and comfort. It’s perfect for those prioritising maximum modesty without compromising on style. With a rich fabric and tasteful embellishments, there’s no doubting the breathtaking beauty of a full abaya.

Although super comfortable and modest, its voluminous nature might not appeal to those looking for a more tailored fit.

Sheer abaya

Crafted from lightweight, translucent materials, the sheer abaya is often worn over an inner dress or other attire as an elegant layer. Ideal for special occasions or evening wear, it offers a hint of allure while staying grounded in tradition. The sheer abaya offers a chic, fashionable option for formal wear. However, it naturally requires careful consideration of the underlayers for modesty and to ensure a stylish ensemble.

Kimono-style abaya

Inspired by the traditional Japanese kimono, this abaya features wide sleeves and often comes with a sash that cinches at the waist. It blends cultural aesthetics beautifully. Its structured yet flowing silhouette is flattering for many body types.

However, there needs to be a belt or tie around the waist, which can be restricting, and not all women like their hips and waistline to be exaggerated, which can happen with these abayas.

Hooded abaya

The hooded abaya brings a modern twist with its built-in hood, offering added coverage and privacy, but also with stylish and practical uses. It’s a favourite among younger women or those looking for an urban edge to their modest wear.

On a practical level, they’re handy for unexpected weather changes, particularly if your hair has been styled. However, it may not be suitable for formal occasions.

Batwing abaya

Characterised by its large, draping sleeves, this style offers an ethereal feel and effortless elegance. When made with light materials, the batwing abaya will literally flow as you walk around, creating a striking appearance. 

Ruba Abaya - Cream - YALLA SHOP

Even with heavier fabrics, there remains a sense of animation that’s both traditional and modern. While it’s perfect for those seeking comfort and ease of movement, its distinctive silhouette might not appeal to everyone’s taste.

Prayer abaya

Specifically designed for prayer times, this abaya provides full coverage in a simple pull-over style that’s quick to put on during Salah times. Although they can be incredibly beautiful in their own way, prayer abayas are uncomplicated, traditional and classless.

It’s typically not worn outside of prayer contexts due to its very simplistic design, but as a garment that has respect, tradition and religious focus designed into it, it’s perfect.

Jacket-style abaya

Merging the traditional abaya silhouette with the structured look of a jacket or blazer, this style offers a polished finish suitable for professional settings or formal events. It adds an authoritative edge to modest wear; however, its structured design may not provide the same level of comfort as more flowing styles.

Dubai abaya

Renowned for its opulence, the Dubai abaya is often lavishly embellished with crystals, lace or embroidery, embodying luxury and high fashion. That makes it perfect for those seeking glamour and statement pieces.

The intricate details might require careful handling and maintenance, however – and this probably isn’t the kind of abaya you’d wear in a low-key or solemn setting.

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Each of these abaya styles represents a unique narrative, from daily practicality to sheer elegance, underscoring the versatility of modern Islamic fashion. Ultimately, your choice of abaya will reflect personal taste, with consideration for the occasion.

Irrespective of style, each abaya silently speaks volumes of heritage blended gracefully with contemporary design. Browse our contemporary abaya collection to find the one that suits your interpretation of this traditional garment.