Understanding Eastern Apparel

It is a mistake to assume all Eastern apparel is the same. As is the case with so many different cultures and religions, the group is not identical in what they wear. Variations exist among the different groups and sub-cultures within a seemingly homogeneous entity. Sometimes, it may be the name given a price of clothing; at other times, it may be the style, fabric, length or cut of the attire. There also tends to be a substantial gap between traditional dress and its modern adaptation.

Women’s clothing is what most are familiar with. Yet, men’s clothing is also a reflection of their culture. What they decide to wear will reveal a modern or traditional concept of eastern apparel.

Basic Men’s Eastern Apparel
Men are able to wear a choice of several different types of clothing. As was the case with Eastern Cloths for Women, the selection was limited in the past by fabrics and other restrictions. Today, the selections available are more expansive. Yet, essentially, like women’s clothing, men’s attire remains described under specific headings. These include the Thobe (Taub) or dishdash, the kufi, and other head coverings. In addition, shirts are also an integral part of many traditional and non-traditional clothing.

Traditionally, the thobe is a long, white robe. It hangs down to the ankles but features a tailored top. Today, it is possible to find thobes in a wider variety of colors including blue and black. Although men are not supposed to wear silk thobes, the robes now are available in other types of fabrics including denim.

If a man wishes to drape something over his thobe, a possible choice is a bisht. Most frequently, those of a higher status or class wear this piece of Eastern apparel. In essence, it resembles a classy cloak.

Kufi and Scarves
Kufis are a type of hat. They come in various shapes and types. They can be representative of a specific country e.g. a Palestinian kufi. Stereotypically, they are the muted colors of black, white and grey. Cotton is a popular fabric. Many sport elaborate or simple embroidered patterns.
Scarves can be more flamboyant. It depends upon their purpose. Many resemble shawls. Square in shape, they are draped over the shoulders. Colors and patterns vary. Many, while traditional in purpose and/or design are modern in one sense. The materials comprising them are machine-washable.

Men’s Robes and Suits
The dishdashah or thoub is a long-sleeved long garment that covers the entire body, worn by Muslim men. During the hot summer months, white cotton is used for the garment to keep the wearer cool, and in the colder winter months from heavier fabric in dark colors is used. Other men’s garments include salwar kameez, with a knee-length tunic and baggy trousers typically worn by Muslims in Pakistan and India, as well as long kurta shirts, to be worn over trousers.

These are loose trousers that go down to the ankles. Traditionally part of Eastern apparel for men, they are usually part of a shirt or long tunic combination. Colors may vary. White has been traditional but this has changed. Cotton is a common fabric.

When it comes to Eastern apparel for men, while designers are slow to capitalize, it is still possible to make a choice between traditional and modern styles.

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