1. How does wearing an abaya feel?
Truth be told, the first few times that I wore an abaya in public when I was new in Saudi Arabia reminded me how much of a klutz I can be. I kept on tripping on my abaya because I insisted on an abaya that is a few inches longer than me. And I kept on forgetting to tuck it inside the car; the hem gets caught in the car’s door every time. Thankfully, months and years of wearing it has produced a better abaya-clad me. It’s actually pretty comfortable. Yes, it gets warm especially when we’re under the sun but it actually protects us from sunburn and sandstorm. It gets in the way of some activities like carrying stuff while climbing the stairs but nothing we, ladies, can’t manage. Being able to go out the house without thinking of what to wear can be very liberating sometimes.
2. What do you wear inside the abaya?
This is one funny question because apparently, there are some guys who think we don’t wear anything under the abaya apart from ermn, our underwear. Hahaha! C’mon guys! Imagination much?! While there might be a few (very few) who do this, most women wear clothes under their abayas that range from from pajamas, jeans, blouses, skirts, office attire… to the more elaborate gowns for special events.
3. How many abayas should a lady have?
A minimum of three: one for errands (grocery/market day, shopping, etc.), one for going to work (simple, easy to remove), and one for formal occasions (embellished, laced, etc.). You can have more, of course. I have 6 as of the moment which I alternate depending on where I’m going.
4. Where do I buy affordable abayas?
And here comes one of the many answers: in Al Akariyah Mall along Olaya Road.
(In true Saudi Arabia fashion of spelling names in various ways it’s quite confusing but as long as you pronounce it the same way, it’s a-okay… Al Akariyah [the way they spell it in the mall 1 signage] can also pertain to Al-Akaria [the way they spell it in their website], Alakaria, Al-Akariah, etc.)
The Al Akariyah area in the corner of Olaya Road and Musa ibn Nussair Street is divided into two Al Akariyah Malls… the first one built is the one along Musa ibn Nussair Street near the Al Akaria Compound while the second one is the one facing the Olaya Road. (see map below for visualization, hehe.)
This is the Al Akariyah Mall 2…
|The lobby of Al Akariyah Mall 2|
|The abaya stores on the second floor|
The abayas in most shops range from SR100-SR250. If you’re lucky, they’re even on sale. And even if they’re above SR100, we know you Filipinas out there have polished your haggling skills so put them to good use. Most of the abaya stores are located in the center of the newer area of the mall (entrance is along Olaya Road). You will see this fountain in the middle and on the second floor, you’ll see a few abaya shops. There are some who sell expensive abayas embellished with swarovski crystals and made of premium fabrics.
|Affordable abaya stores|
|If you want to buy wholesale…|
|Expensive but really nice abayas|
|Different styles and designs|
|Sometimes, it’s just all about the sleeves|
|SR 90-100 abayas with cutout, colorful sleeves|
|Quirky abaya on the right|
Prioritize the kind of cloth in an abaya. Choose the one that doesn’t wrinkle immediately and is soft to the touch (not silky). The clasps of most abayas are flimsy so I suggest you sew them on again after you get home.
Look at the design of our new abayas! We’ve always wanted the style which has a clincher making it an empire cut. They look like monk robes, hehe. We bought it for SR140 each at an abaya store in the old Al Akariyah Mall 1.
|Sundrenched and Shoegarfreeruby in our new abayas! Yey!|
And as an added bonus, we found a store selling high heels beside the store where we bought our abaya! Fashionista love!
|Strut your stuff!|
To those who are new to Riyadh and the Al Akariyah Mall, here’s the map:
|Click for a larger version.|
The smaller circle in the map is Al Akariyah Mall 2, the newer one, which is where the place on this first photo in this entry is located. The abaya stores are gathered in their lobby. The larger circle indicates the old Al Akariyah Mall (the first to be built) and houses a few abaya stores as well. The two malls are connected by an easy-to-locate pathway. Don’t confuse it with the Al Akaria Plaza which is the newest mall in this area housing Bulgari and other high-end, luxury brands. 😉
Happy shopping! ~ Sundrenched