On the Alexandrian Fashion Sense….


Depending on the day you might find someone describe the Fashion sense in Alexandria as “it’s like everyone went to the same flea market/yard sale and bought whatever they could find”

ON a good day I think I would call Alexandrian fashion “tacky chic”… what I mean is that somehow these women make it work for them.  On any given day you might find an Alexandrian woman with an outfit like this:  white skirt with Indian-themed red and black designs, with a red shirt that is not quite the same shade of red as the skirt… gold ballerina flats and a red and black and greed striped hijab….   I promise you I see things like that all the time.

Not everyone of course is that daring.. fashion sense, I think is tied to class, it seems to me that the upper classes tend to where very different kinds of hijab in terms the patterns and style of the wrap.

Most of the upper class women (in their twenties) tend to wear a simple one toned cotton cloth (it might be layered with another base collar, usually black or white) simply wrapped around the head. They also tend to wear simple patterns and their outfits in general look like anything you would see someone in the states wearing- picture stretch jeans (yes stretch even though she is a hijabi), a white t-shirt, red cardigan, white shoes and white scar with red  undercap… Big difference.

Lower classes tend to wear scarves adorned with all sorts of trinkets, mirrors, glitter, knick knacks all sorts of lace etc.  They also tend to use layers and layers of fabric.  For the most part layering is really cute.  But there is a particular style that I can’t get myself to like.  I call it the gout look. Because it involves so much fabric that just sits under a woman’s chin that it makes her look like she has a growth on her neck.  How that became a big fashion, I have no idea.

In general though, people love the idea of “matching” apparently even if the colors are a little bit off (like not quite the same shade of green or blue or comletely different shades altogether) and as my two examples illustrate, it’s a successful venture for some and not at all for others.


But one thing that you will not see people wearing unless they are Fresh of the truck from the village or super reliigous is traditional Egyptian dress called a gellabiya.  It’s one of the biggest things that stood out to me in terms of fashion when I got here.

Man in a gellabiya… I usually only see gate keepers/maintenance men called bawabs wearing this


In every other Arab country I have been to, people of all social classes where their national dress quite openly and often.  But here, only the really low classes do.  As a matter of fact we had a gellabiya party at the beginning of the school year at the apartment of some of our classmates.

I wore my Moroccan djellaba (pretty much the same thing as a gellabiya) to the party.  The Egyptians wore regular clothes, changed at the party and put their regular clothes on before returning home.

I don’t know, maybe that’s why Alexandrian fashion sense seems so strange to me… the same girl that will refuse to wear a gellabiya would rather go out with a stripped skirt, polka dot shirt and floral print scarf all part of the same ensemble!  different concept of chic! To each his own.

I would wear this than a lot of the outfits I have seen Alex… to each his own

hmmm, I just thought about something, I’ve noticed that Copts don’t seem to have as much of a love for all these different patterns and colors as Muslims do… although I have seen some interesting creations from them as well.


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