Monday, December 31, 2012

What to wear in in the Interior and Muscat Oman for Expats: some designer and real-life inspirations

I remember when I first saw this darling little floral chiffon Valentino number floating it's way to the Venice film festival. I though to myself, with the slightest trace of a pashmina or silk scarf tossed on head, my own very traditional Omani mother-in-law would welcome this form of dress which relates very closely to the looser waisted and unbelted but still floral Omani version.
Valentino 2013 resort collection: rated perfect for a trip to the Interior of Oman
Valentino 2013 resort collection: with slightly sheer sleeves and bright colours this frock still rocks for visiting more conservative families in Muscat. Pair with studded flats.
While the fabric of this Oscar de la Renta 2013 collection set of seperates is a bit formal, similar silloughtettes are available in City Center shops like forever 21, Mango, H&M, and Zara in more relaxed prints and colours. Loose shirt tucked into loose light trousers (maybe belted) is sooooo in-style right now it makes Muscat modest dressing easy. To make the same outfit interior worthy I suggest getting a few long sleeve cotton pajama tops. Why pajama? The fabric is light that a regular t-shirt top for layering under other fabrics so you won't boil while covering all your skin!
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, loosely draping a scarf over her hair while still wearing clearly Western-clothing for not-Islamic-purposes. This is the kind of respect that the women from my more conservative region of Oman respect in other women from other cultures. They don't like women to be around the men of their family while not covering their hair (or at least making a gesture towards that). I know alot of girls from the U.S. here in Oman who don loose fitting clothes and scarves on their hair (albeit not tied into hijab) to be more approachable to more conservative or cultural Omani women here in the capital. While it isn't required, I do recommend it if visiting a more conservative village for Eid celebrations ect... It is more likely to get you invited into a home or able to photograph the local populace.

I know alot of women get offened by religious connotation ect, or women are suppressed yada yada, but I personally loved the excuse to dress up like a Princess diplomat as a teen, I don't know about you.

No one will harm your safety, call you names, ect.. if you choose to wear shorts and a tank top or fitted jeans instead. I mean, Oman is very tolerant. But different Islamic sects, like Ibadhi, recommend puting a distance between a practing Muslim and anything contrary to practiced Islam (even and expecially with other Muslims), so that's why alot of Omanis get a reputation for being xenophobic I guess, which isn't true to my own experience of Oman.

Modest outfits composed of pieces from Zara, H&M, and Forever 21:

All imediately below photos are from
I think she's just so adorable.
Australian street style:
 Paris steet style:

 So onto my tips for modest non-Muslim dressing (tips vary depending on region, Muscat or Interior) :

1.) Match the colour of your scarf (for your head) if you choose to don one, to one of the colours in your outfit. Looks chicer that way.
2.) If you are going to have your outfit fitted, choose that it be fitted in only one place. Tight isn't right in public dress for conservative Omanis. A fitted waist or bust-line but not both, or wholly loose on top with slightly fitted mid-calf downwards is best. Thighs and butts and no-nos outside of Muscat if those are your preferred tight spots. Some fabrics, like jersey, and stretchy knits, will always fit themselves to your body in places so you have to watch for that in otherwisely loose designs.
3.) Knee length is the best length for skirts, dresses, and shorts...

...and shorts in Muscat, and loose is better if you are going short in public. Ankle length is HIGHLY highly recomended for the interior region of Oman and other more conservatives towns or villages. Actually some Muslim women (not all) think it is a sin even for women to show the skin of thigh area or anything below the collar bone or even for a woman to look at another woman dressed thusly so keep this in mind when choosing cuts.
4.) Accessories make an outfit when it comes ot modest dressing. Rings, belts, braceltets, cuffs, purses and shoes. The abaya set already know this.
5.) If you aren't keen on a headscarf, why not try a hat? I always wore floppy sun hats and bucket style hats when I was a kid here in Oman and Omanis seemed to find that to be a respectful alternative.
6.) Long sleeved pajama shirts are usually lighter to wear if layering under other clothes.
7.) Shorter dresses make great t-shirts by Muslim standards:)
8.) Invest in light and quality button up shirts and blazers which flatter almost all body types and change otherwise less modest outfits instantly.
9.) I love loose cut trouser pants and jeans and tunic vests worn over them. Very modest and still practical enough for hiking.

If I think of any more I will add them.


Boxie said...

I like your posts about clothing. I remember being at a place in the interior and there where some people in spedoes and two peacea and the locals where looking a bit unconftrable. To polite to say anything. But I did ask if it was normal and one laughed awkwardly no

Anonymous said...

Hi, omani princess..
I am very glad I found your blog to guide expat in terms of clothing. I just arrived here few days ago with my omani husband which is my first time as well. Seriously, I am having problems in clothing, non of my western cloth fit in here according to my in-laws, and I was not covering my hair in front of my sister in law's husband which made her really upset even though I did apologize, and my father-in-law just told me yesterday to cover up myself totally. Before we came, my husband promised that Oman is very tolerant, I have my choice to cover or not; somehow, everything turned out differently. My in laws tell me they are really worried that the families will not accept me. Why?? What have I done ? I have cried out my eyes...Please, tell me how did you fit yourself in this place?