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What Is a Men's Abaya?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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An abaya is an article of clothing popular in traditional Islamic culture. In the past, these articles were primarily made for women, but lines of men’s abayas have become more commonplace over time. Designed as a covering garment, the particular structure of a men’s abaya often consists of black fabric with embroidery. While their use has traditionally taken on religious significance, abayas have also become somewhat of a men's fashion trend in some regions.

Clothing forms relating to the religion of Islam, such as abayas, are perhaps most prominent in southwest Asia. Muslim culture particularly influences regions around the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia and Iran are the main occupants of this region, and thus major outlets for abaya clothing.

A men’s abaya functions as a sort of layering garment. As such, it should be loose-fitting but tailored to a proper size. Specifically, the men’s abaya usually fits over a dishdasha: a long garment worn by many men in the Arab region.

During manufacturing, a men’s abaya is often made with cotton. The color black is generally preferred, although other colors ranging from brown to ivory are also available. In any event, neutrality usually defines the color choice. Further, gold trimmings or other forms of beaded embroidery may be part of the finished product. Manufacturers tend to place embroidery either on the front of the men’s abaya or on sleeves.

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Shapes for a men's abaya vary. Some varieties retain a traditional caftan structure. These abayas resemble robes, with loose-fitting fabric that may extend to the lower body. Front buttons and long sleeves may also characterize caftan-type abayas. Abayas may be fashioned into a square shape and thus resemble a vest as well.

The abaya may sometimes be worn as an alternative to a jihab, which is a garment that covers most of the body. Both the abaya and the jihab are part of an overall modest Islamic dress code sometimes called hijab. Believers interpret certain verses in the Koran as instructing men and women to cover as much of the body as possible while in public.

Although men's abayas were originally designed as a garment for Muslim men, some manufacturers now produce fashion-oriented abayas. These types are designed to be aesthetically pleasing, and they may be made from materials ranging from cashmere to silk. Fashion abayas are also available in a broad spectrum of colors. In addition, intricate design patterns populate many forms.

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