Did You Know: An abaya is the long, often black, robe worn over daily clothes. The burka is similar, but likely also covers parts, if not the entire, face.
There are 3 questions I get asked all the time: how I was treated as a woman in the middle east, did I feel safe AND “did you have to cover up the whole time”.
I hope I’ve done a good job clarifying, go to this post to see my answers to all 3 of those questions if you haven’t already. (We went to the public beach on this trip & there were girls in thong bikinis & topless tanning, so I think people are comfortable doing whatever they please.)
For me, I wanted to fit in. I wanted to act like I’ve been there before & I know what the fuck I’m doing. There’s something powerful in that. Also, for any destination, isn’t it fun to fit in? Wear what they wear. I think it makes you appear well traveled, like you know what you’re doing in you life. So that was my goal this trip. I stuck to coverage. When I was living there, I pushed this boundary w my cut off shorts & dresses all the time, because I was bored of being covered & it was HOT AF. Being that I was just visiting, I had a different approach this time.
The theme: BLACK BLACK BLACK. If this is the color of your wardrobe, you’re in luck! I like bright colors, florals, sparkles, drama – so I had to go shopping. An abaya & burka are black, so that’s the colors you’ll see a lot of when you’re out. I asked someone why black? Why not beautiful colors + design on the abaya? I was told the original purpose of the abaya was to avoid attention. Bright florals & colors will do the opposite, drawing attention to the people wearing them. So black is the theme!
TOP 5 ESSENTIALS TO PACK – DUBAI!
This cardigan in particular happened to work for literally any outfit & any outing. I brought it everywhere. And I’l likely travel with it forever. It’s chunky & big enough to look nice on a plane/in the airport but also comfortable to sleep in & wear for hours x hours. I particularly think it was a perfect piece for the middle east because it’s black, & full coverage. If you’re wearing something that shows any skin, have the cardigan tag along so you can throw it on if you so desire, but still be able wear whatever you want. If you wrap it tight, it’s super warm. If you let it hang, it’s more of an accessory. Dress it up, dress it down. I happened to forget this sweater in Bahrain (and ordered another one on my flight home). I don’t think there’s a more versatile piece I can recommend. It’s oversized, chunky, with big bell sleeves, and comes in other colors too!
Because – black. My theme of the trip. I don’t know if you can get away with leggings as easily in the states, but you can in the middle east. Leggings are the best choice because they’re comfortable & can work with anything! I would wear an oversized t-shirt during the day, or a crop top at night. Just anything really works. I wore these faux leather ones from Asos almost everyday. They’re the less expensive version of SPANX faux leather, which I hear are amazing. But not everyone (me) wants to spend $100 on fucking leggings. So try these instead. The waistband isn’t that flattering on me, because of my lil tum tum, but no one sees the waistband & I still love the pants. (They even wash well!)
These freaking shoes went with literally every single outfit I wore + stepped it up a notch. It was SO easy to dress when I had these shoes on. I almost returned them when I first received them in the mail, but I’m so glad I didn’t! At one point I paired them with H&M black sweatpants, tucked into the boot – and got away with it! So well, that I wore the same combo to the airport too & actually got a compliment… for wearing sweatpants! I don’t know if it gets better than that. These boots are worth the measly $20 they cost! And they’re comfortable w a perfect lil heel… Really? NEED I SAY MORE?!
PS, when you’re wearing a lot of black it’s nice to have a subtle, eye catching piece thrown in – that isn’t ting tang skin. Shiny shoes was one of those pieces for me. An overall suggestion when dressing in the middle east is full coverage, black or neutrals, but those few shiny pieces to take it next level 🙂
FOUR: G O L D Logo Stud Bangle
It’s time to shine! Bring out (or buy) your nice shiny gold jewelry. I wore this bracelet the entire time I was there. It’s all about the detail! If you notice what locals are wearing, it’s a similar wardrobe. Lots of black, lots of full coverage happening, but say hello to the fancy watches, bracelets, rings or earrings. And gold in particular, goes so well with black, really makes you feel like you know what you’re doing in Dubai.
FIVE: F L O R A L Maxi Dress
I brought a black flowy maxi dress & a floral one. I would say the floral one belongs in my top 5 essentials, but any maxi will work. The front of the dress fell right below the knee & the back cascaded to the ankle. Having one dress was the perfect curve ball. As soon as I was sick of wearing my leggings, I spiced it up with the floral maxi and threw my cardigan over it. For example, if you’re going to the desert, miracle garden, beach lounge, ect. The dress works! But can still be manageable anywhere else on your trip too. It’s that one extra piece to the puzzle. The exact one I wore isn’t available anymore but these are similar: here & here
Most definitely my top 5 pieces to pack for my trip to the middle east. I packed these 5 things in my carry-on to Bahrain too! And they all helped me look like I actually knew what I was doing. Being with Wafiq, a cool Arab dude, I don’t want to slack! Wearing (owning) the appropriate clothes also helped me be more comfortable this trip compared to when I was living there. Although you absolutely can wear pretty much whatever you want, I do find it a little silly and odd that people do the complete opposite of the locals when vacationing? For me, it never felt right. If you’re limiting yourself to your hotel, then I can see where you wouldn’t even notice a difference in clothing choices. (but go exploring!)
I’ve also linked all the outfits I could find under favorites in the shopping tab on my homepage: HERE
Any other clothing curiosities about the Middle East? Send the good, bad & ugly my way! I’d be happy to help answer them 🙂
Happy MONDAY, go out & be thoughtful today!