A week in Jeddah: Under Cover Style Challenge

Stud abaya by Malaak, courtesy LaModa Dubai


I am back after a week in Jeddah for a meeting of the Islamic Development Bank.
Quite a test it was for my fashion ingenuity! How to be stylish (can’t be otherwise) and adequately conservative?!

Having considered various dress code options, and not willing to spend some 400 euro on an abaya, like the one from Malaak recently featured by la Moda Dubai, I have come up with my own version for conservative dress appropriate for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—inter seasonal coat by BNG from Istanbul complimented by a scarf. Luckily I have quite a collection.

This common sense approach worked quite well. Since I had one coat for a week I changed scarves and shoes. Wearing a head scarf wasn’t a drag actually but quite an enjoyable style exercise as every morning I tried out various ways of tying my scarf in an attempt to be creative. A worthwhile effort apparently as I had compliments from the local women.


Lunch at the Hilton during IDB conference


Interestingly wearing a scarf makes you more contained and demure. People refer to you as “sister”. You lower your gaze and after a few days start feeling completely anonymous, which has a certain advantage to watch the world around unobtrusively.

Shuttling between Elaf Red Sea Hotel and the Hilton I did not have the time to explore much of the city, except for a few opulent shopping centres filled with musky incense and black clad local ladies in vertiginous heels.
Designer bag on their arm and a Philipino maid in attendance they lounge around the malls languorously. The shops carry anything and everything, be it indie, new, edgy label or the usual luxury suspects. There are rows of boutiques with most elaborate gowns in the brightest silks and chiffons and exquisite beautifully cut abayas incrusted with Swarovski stones.
Makes you wonder about ladies only receptions and coffees.


Jeddah Collage


The prices are on the exaggerated side but I guess money is a totally different concept here. Sales go up to 85% percent. Such huge discounts did not spur my shopping instincts, on the contrary…if a luxury label goes down at 85% you start asking questions. And with questions, the desire is gone…

If local malls and their fashion offering did not excite me, Spa Clarins at Qasr-al Sharq Hilton, left me speechless. The gilded grandeur of the hotel aside the Spa was heavenly and the two hour treatment I had with Eni, a therapist from Bali, was the ultimate bliss. An appropriate reward for a week under cover.


Pool Area Spa Clarins