The Arabs of today wear pretty much similar clothing than they used to wear since pre-Islamic periods. Women may have undergone some changes considering the covering up of the head. Traditional Islamic wear for women includes the abaya, the chador, and the burqa, as well as countless other forms of dress and headcovering.
The women wear a variety of different ensembles to cover themselves.
In modern day usage, jilbab refers to a long, flowing, baggy overgarment worn by some Muslim women. The modern jilbab covers the entire body, except for hands, feet, face, and head. The head is then covered by a scarf or wrap, known also as a Hijab.
It is not clear that any Muslim women wore jilbabs in the long centuries between the early Muslim period and the 1970s.
A burqa is a type of opaque veil sometimes worn in addition to a headscarf by Muslim women observing purdah. There are various versions of the burqa according to different regions in the muslim world. In Arab terms the burqa is generally black in color and is of ankle length, if not longer. The arms are then put through two holes with the front open and just layered over one another and held together with their hands.
In some parts of the Muslim world the burqa may also cover the entire face with a see through veil over it, although not necessary by the religion some very conservative regions observe burqa this way, example in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule.
The abaya is an overgarment worn by some Muslim women. It is the traditional form of hijab, or Islamic modest dress, for many countries of the Arabian peninsula. Traditional abaya are black, and may be either a large square of fabric draped from the shoulders or head, or a long black caftan.
Today abaya’s are cut from light, flowing fabrics like crepe, georgette, and chiffon. They are now made in colors other than black.
–::–Various Kinds of Veils–::–
The word hijab comes from the Arabic for veil and is used to describe the headscarves worn by Muslim women.
These scarves, regarded by many Muslims as a symbol of both religion and womanhood, come in a myriad of styles and colours. The type most commonly worn in the West is a square scarf that covers the head and neck but leaves the face clear.
The niqab is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear. However, it may be worn with a separate eye veil. It is worn with an accompanying headscarf.
The burqa is the most concealing of all Islamic veils. It covers the entire face and body, leaving just a mesh screen to see through.
The al-amira is a two-piece veil. It consists of a close fitting cap, usually made from cotton or polyester, and an accompanying tube-like scarf.
The shayla is a long, rectangular scarf popular in the Gulf region. It is wrapped around the head and tucked or pinned in place at the shoulders.
The khimar is a long, cape-like veil that hangs down to just above the waist. It covers the hair, neck and shoulders completely, but leaves the face clear.
The chador, worn by Iranian women when outside the house, is a full-body cloak. It is often accompanied by a smaller headscarf underneath.