Posts Tagged ‘Clothing’

I like to look at what people wear around the world, now as well as in ancient times, and try to figure out why they dress the way they do. Why did the people of Europe wear things with so many layers and such long sleeves? Why did the druids wear long robes and carry staffs?

This article isn’t trying to make a religious statement. It simply takes note of some things I’ve discovered in my travels and musings. So sit back, grab a cuppa and muse with me.

There is a lot of talk these days about what the women of Islam wear, the abaya and hijab, or headscarf. Since I’ve visited the middle east, including Saudi Arabia, I feel I may have a hint of understanding some may not.

In Saudi Arabia, by law women must wear an abaya in public. This is a long robe-like garment of fairly thin material which covers  a person from the shoulders to the ground. Most women choose to wear the hijab also.

When I visited Saudi Arabia, my husband was working there. I did not have to go. I chose to go.  And in so choosing, I accepted the law regarding dress while I was there. I saw no point in being angry or bitter.

I learned a few things about the Middle East and the climate there. I discovered dust storms, which while similar to the sand storms in the American deserts in the southwest, differ in consistency. Sand has fairly large particles. It hurts when it is driven into your skin.

The dust in Saudi Arabia and the UAE is very fine. Imagine your bathroom when you’re fresh out of the shower. Think about the humidity in the air. Now imagine puffing talcum powder up into the damp air. Walk through this cloud of powder and let it settle on your hair and clothing.

This is the Middle Eastern dust storm. The abaya keeps this gunk off your clothes, the headscarf keeps it out of your hair.

Just for fun, I tried the niqab, or veil. The one I bought was the three layer veil. The outermost layer can be tossed back over your head so the eyes are seen through a slit in the fabric. Worn down, the eyes are not visible, but you can see through it. The fabric is very thin.

I found it worked wonderfully as a change from sunglasses. I could see just fine and my face stayed clean as well.

I haven’t yet determined whether the clothing–at least the style of clothing–or the religion came first. I do know that it works remarkably well in the climatic conditions of the area.

Isn’t it too warm? Yes, unless there is a breeze. With a little bit of air movement, it helps keep you cool.

But also look back at the people of Ireland and Scotland in ancient times, before mosquito repellent. They tended to wear clothing that covered most of their bodies, too. Long full sleeves, long skirts, and capes were the thing then. Look at the ancient druids, with their flowing robes. Maybe it wasn’t all for show.

Back here in the states, I live in the southeast. This summer has been a banner year for mosquitoes. Since I’m developing a sensitivity to insect repellent, I have to do something different to prevent bites. So when I walk over to our daughter’s house up the street, I slide on the abaya from Saudi Arabia.

The long sleeves protect my arms from mosquitoes and biting flies. The collar protects my neck and throat. And the hem creates enough of a breeze to keep the little buggers off my ankles as well.

I normally carry a jo staff or dead tree branch along to sweep the area ahead of me for spider webs. There’s nothing like a face full of web to liven your day.

So whether our ancestors lived in the middle eastern deserts or the British forests, perhaps their fashion was dictated by the climate and the indigenous wildlife of the area.

Mind you, I’m not making a religious statement here. I am not Muslim, nor do I intend to convert. I will, however, wear an outer covering if I should visit the Middle East in the future.  And I’ll wear a scarf.  There is a limit as to how often I want to wash my hair.

And the druids? They lived in the woods, like I do. I think they had mosquitoes and spiders–hence the robes and staffs. Oh yes, they did have some strange religious rites, too.

But like I said, one good face full of web…

Think about it.

While you ponder this, go take a look at my new novel, Gambler’s Folly.



Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: