To Jilaba or not to Jilaba…

by Tina on September 28, 2007

in Fashion, Morocco


This question has been plaguing me for almost nine months… should I wear the traditional dress or keep to my modest yet Western clothing?  I have seriously been considering this question after a few conversations with the locals.  My conclusion is that I can get by with my Western clothes because I dress young and look young (a friend told me that- thankfully the stress of moving to another country and learning a new language hasn’t caught up with my face yet!)  Haha!  But, and of course, there is always a but, women once they get married almost always wear a jilaba.  I don’t know why I’ve been fighting it so much.  Maybe because it just looks like a big frumpy robe and I don’t want to look like a sack (I’m just being honest!)  And maybe a small part of me wonders if I will look weird- like I’m trying to be something that I’m not.


Well, after all that being said my next mission is to find some pretty material that won’t make me cry every time I wear it and have a jilaba made.  I tried to scan the cover of a magazine and one of the pages to try to show you roughly what a jilaba looks like.  These are some of the prettiest jilabas I’ve seen and very fashionable.  (The top picture, though, with the cleavage showing is about like walking around nude!)  I wanted to go out on the streets and take some pictures, but people are very sensitive about having their pictures taken and I don’t want to offend anyone.  After all, I have to actually live here, unlike a tourist who breezes in and out.

My language teacher who has really become a friend went with me yesterday to look at some fabric.  She seemed to think something in a solid would be a good idea (after I kept pointing at huge patterns and polka dots!)  What can I say, I like to make a statement when I go out… though I am trying to draw attention AWAY from myself.

Anyways!  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Maybe now that Jack is coming back I can get the camera from him and snap a few pictures (when it seems appropriate, of course!)

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

fran September 28, 2007 at 11:59 am

Here’s a language question for you – how do you pronounce “jilaba?” I always thought they were black robes. These are very pretty!


tinafuss September 28, 2007 at 1:02 pm

What a great question! It’s pronounced more like “Jeelaba” but the j is is soft and pronounced like a French J. Like in Je t’aime. The black robe that you mentioned is likely what you may have seen in pictures from Iran or Saudi Arabia. It is called Abaya and I have only seen one or two women wearing those here. My friends have told me that the abayas come in all different styles, such as the cut, placement of lace, and such. The jilaba also comes in many different styles and fits, though the basic shape is the same. I love the fact that the ladies here love color and almost every color can be seen around town. Thanks so much for your interest!


Amy September 28, 2007 at 1:32 pm

How long down do they go? Is it knee length? These look pretty. Take a deep breath and go for it. You might enjoy wearing them once you give them a try.


tinafuss September 28, 2007 at 2:28 pm

Thanks so much for the encouragement! Normally they go all the way to the ankles. I’ve seen a few at calf length and a few knee length. I saw a younger girl today in the taxi that had a really cute one on that was knee length with a pair of jeans. I might try one of each and just go from there.


Laura Bohler Forman September 28, 2007 at 3:56 pm

When I visited India, I wore the traditional dress there and it was actually kind of fun!! We had clothes made and loved it. I was only there for a month though and don’t know how I would feel about giving in to it all the time. I would say go for it though and enjoy having fun things made!! You must promise to take pictures though and do fashion shows for us 🙂 You never know, you might start a trend over here and cause us to get them made in the states!! 🙂


Ginger February 11, 2008 at 10:37 pm

So, it’s 10:30 pm, I’ve just gone to bed; but I can’t sleep for thinking about the jilaba I almost at the souk today in Tetuoan. I thought to myself, why pay 500 MAD when I can buy the fabric and make one on my Bernina Artista 200 that cost an arm and leg to get thru customs when I arrived in Morocco 1 1/2 years ago (has it been that long now?) So I get up to google jilaba patterns and I run across your website. Hello, I live in Cabo Negro, just out of Tetuoan (which is an hour from Tangier). I assume you live somewhere in Morocco. My husband and I moved here to build a tourist resort on the Med coast. The project will take about 5 years to complete; so we are here at least another 3 years. I’d love to get to know you. By the way, I haven’t found a jilaba pattern yet. I’ll continue my search tomorrow. Good night~


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