Types of Muslim Clothing

Updated February 21, 2017

For men and women alike, traditional Muslim clothing is about modesty. Men's and women's clothing is loosefitting and in some cultures, both men's and women's garments include a head-covering. In an essay called "Islamic Dress and Norms of Modesty," Ingrid Mattson writes that in many Muslim societies across the world, women's and men's dress are similar in design and cut, but different in colour, decoration and fabrics used.

Women's Head-coverings

The hijab is a headscarf worn by many Muslim women. The word itself, actually means "barrier" or "cover." Most often, it's worn pinned around the head to cover the hair, ears, neck and bosom. Some other types of headscarves worn by Muslim women include the shayla, al-amira and khimer. The shayla is rectangular and often worn by women in the Persian Gulf region. The al-amira consists of two-pieces, an extra-large headband, and a tube-shaped scarf worn over the top. The khimer is longer than the other styles and often worn for prayers or pilgrimages. Some women combine veils and headscarves with the niqab. The niqab either covers the entire face with a transparent material, or the lower half of the face.

Women's Garments

The abaya is a long robe worn by Muslim women over clothes with a headscarf, whereas the jilbab is a dress worn by itself. These garments come in dark and neutral colours and are required by law in some Muslim countries. In Iran, a similar garment is the chador, a large open robe that drapes the body to the feet . The burka is a robe that covers women from head to toe with a mesh or transparent material over the eyes so the woman can see. In Pakistan, women may wear a combination of baggy trousers with long shirts, called salwar kameez.

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 colours 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.

Men's Head-Coverings

In some Muslim countries, men as well as women wear head-coverings. In the Gulf region, men many wear a three-piece head covering consisting of the tagiyah, the shumagg, and the ogal. The tagiyah is a small cap worn under the shumagg to keep the hair in place. The shumagg is a scarf worn over the tagiyah and fastened with the ogal, a black fabric band. Some Muslim men may wear turbans.

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About the Author

Based in Barcelona, Spain, Chris Ciolli has been writing professionally since 2003. Ciolli's work has been featured in "The Tipton Times," "The Joplin Independent" and She received Bright Flight and Curator's scholarships in 2001 and was a Fulbright finalist in 2005. Ciolli holds a dual bachelor's degree in communications and Spanish with a minor in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia.