Saturday, February 15, 2014

SHOPPING IN OMAN: ready-made Arabic/Khaleeji dresses

While these may not be a "fabulous" find to anyone beyond myself, many a person having told me they find the dresses to be gaudy, or in fact, "just untailored piles of fabric", these dresses (still to be tailored, at 3-4 OMR per-dress-to-be-tailored) were on my list of Omani-village-going/living-essentials.

About them: they are a simple Khaleeji {Gulf} style, that is made to be worn in the house. My Omani in-laws are more conservative so normally, floor length floral dresses with matching scarves called "lendi/wael" are worn, with what I consider gaudy floral embroidery. I prefer the more simplistic traditional "tilli" embroidery, or Khaleeji bands of gold or silver thread, more common among Bedouin or other Gulf states which two of these dresses have going on. They don't come with scarves, but I bought matching silk scarves to go with. I am too lazy to buy cotton for 1/12th of the price and pay .200 baiza to get a matching shawl tailored. I hate tailor shops. Going in, going out, them being late, screwing up my fabric. Better ready-made or just one-stop tailoring where they can't screw up the design, only the measurements....

These dresses are ready-made versions. You just buy them, and a tailor sews them. I bought three for 8 omr each in Seeb Souq. Which is a good price for Oman, since they range between 9-16 OMR normally, depending on whether the dress has a lot of embroidery and crystals and whether or not the dress comes with a matching scarf and trousers.

{In our village, we wear "pantaloons" like a civil war era woman might have, only ours are embroidered and crystal encrusted. In my family it is "ayb" shameful that these ankle skimming pants might be seen. Other Omani families, not so much. Depends on the culture of the region ect.... but thus the embroidery and "match-i-ness"}. I usually wear tights/leggings or jersey harem pants. I think the matching ones are super chic though, but since I don't show mine, "ayb" if i do, why spend an extra 3-6 OMR?

So of the dresses, while I don't wear them a lot, as I live in Muscat, I need them. And since the ones I do have are usually gifts from other people or hand-me-downs since I never get dresses tailored for myself, just abayas, it seemed like time to invest.

The normal Omani variety (completely tailored at the tailor shop from fabric you buy from somewhere else---where one chooses their own design from different swatches of examples) are lined with cheap crap polyester satin which is excruciatingly hot in the summer, and people call me crazy for spending 18 OMR just for the lining of one dress in pure silk when the outside printed fabric cost only 3 OMR.... long run on sentance, point of which is...coloured cotton is my best friend. Plus, it isn't always overly zanily printed. I like flat one-tone colour with no pattern. Leopard with florals and then gold embroirdery with crystals is REALLY just too much for me.
However, I do make exception for suri-silk (from Eastern Sharqiyah of Oman). I even let go this terribly tacky village-style floral and cheap crystal thing it has going on (dress pictured below) simply because I love suri silks. This particular dress could be tailored into a Buraimi, Dhofari, or simple jalabiyia style of cut, so it cost like 12 OMR, but since I bought three he gave it to me for eight OMR with some bartering. Love that silky, stripey-Arab-ish suri silk sheen!
This one---below---is my favourite, because it is green cotton in "Aroos" green (bridal green). I love green. I also love the more traditional (albeit machine-done) style of embroidery. (The dresses come with the design on the neck/chest and the wrists. Some also, as stated, come with enough fabric for pants with embroidery at the ankles).
This last one is a bit kitsch. I loved it nonetheless, so, oh well. They have different embroidered designs representing different objects traditional to Gulf Region culture, like an oud instrument, a coffee pot, khanjar dagger, bedouin face masks called burqa... even fake Gucci and YSL, ha ha;p.

I originally wanted a coffee pot one which was available only in white cotton. However, the whole point of cotton is not to get it lined, so in the end I went with a purple cotton version with a khanjar dagger embroidered instead. As hospitality is represented by a coffee pot, and I as a "westerner" "am a horrible host" says my Omani husband, "naturally inclined to selfishness" [which means I don't like people who show up without calling for dinner] maybe the Khanjar, which represents bravery and I-don't-know pride/honour... better suits me anyways since I am stubborn and warlike??? Yes.... fashion has a meaning, even in village dresses don't you know? Anyways...
 The dress detailed at the neck/chest:
 And detailed at the wrist:
We wear these kind of dresses for hosting normal guests, like neighbors, family ect...although these aren't exactly a style worn in my region of Oman, I like them nonetheless. Me dressing up in jalalbyia for guests IS a bit gaudy and kitsch lol, so why not go all out?;).

1 comment:

Sara Hedger said...

Love these, do you know of any shops that would sell/ship these to the US?