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Traditional Kuwaiti fashion you should know

Before you visit Kuwait or move there, you should know the basic things about clothing, history, and tradition. Traditional Kuwaiti fashion is probably different than the one you are used to seeing around you. This is because of the law here and the Islamic religion. Kuwaiti men’s and women`s clothing depends more on religious rules than on the popular fashion trends in the world.  It is a smart idea to learn the rules before moving to Kuwait and to be ready to face the new lifestyle.

A mosque.
Traditional Kuwaiti fashion depends mostly on religious rules of clothing, but besides that, people in Kuwait are very fashionable.

Traditional Kuwaiti fashion – rules, and style

Kuwaiti tradition is rich and interesting. The same goes for their fashion, too. There are some strict rules for dressing, both for women and for men. Most people think that there are just rules for women.  But, besides all those rules, people in Kuwait dress nicely, and they love modern clothes. If you are moving to Kuwait, settling into a new city will be challenging, as the new surrounding may differ from what you are used to. Just be patient, as you will come to love Kuwait as much as we do!

Dishdashas is a traditional costume (dress, for women and men) and its style has not changed in the past 1400 years in Arab countries. In the 20th century, the tailor has added the front button, and that is the only change. The dishdasha can make you look beautiful and stylish, and it is an essential piece in traditional Kuwaiti fashion.

Women should not wear tight, see-through and short clothes. There are rules that apply for men too, not just for woman. They must wear pants and a shirt or dishdashas (it is a long dress with a center opening). If you were wondering whether you should cover your head in Kuwait, you can if you want to. But, it is not common practice for expats who are not Muslims to cover their head. On the other hand, dresses and skirts are permitted only if they cover the shoulders and knees, no matter what your religion is. So, when you prepare for moving to Kuwait, it is not a good idea to pack short dresses and skirts.

What to wear and what not to wear in Kuwait

Kuwait is a conservative country when we talk about clothing and styles. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they are not fashionable people who love to dress up, like any others. Also, Kuwaiti care about more than just what they wear. Have you ever seen trending Kuwaiti home decor ideas in person? They are a thing of beauty!

Men`s fashion

Kuwaiti men can also wear a dishdasha every day. They can be white, beige, grey, blue, etc. It depends on the weather. When it comes to the rules, a staple of men`s fashion is a gahfiya ( white knit cap). It prevents the cloth (ghutra) from slipping off the head. On formal occasions, a man usually wears a bisht over his favorite dishdasha. That is a sleeveless cloth that hangs from the shoulders. It can be made from cotton or from wool. When it comes to the accessories, men usually wear only watches. 

Two men sitting in a desert.
Men`s clothing is simple, and they also have to follow the traditional Kuwaiti rules.

Women`s fashion

Black abaya is a long, black dress for women, which covers their clothing underneath and the Muslim women wear it often. You should make a difference between hijab and niqab. It is up to the woman if she will wear the abaya, hijab or niqab. It is not a must in Kuwait, but it is a must in Islam (Kuran requires that you cover yourself).

  • A hijab is a veil (it can be in any color) that covers the woman’s neck and hair. When a woman wears a hijab, she can show her hands up to her wrists and feet, too. Women who do not wear hijab may only wear just an abaya.
  • A niqab (the niqab is a black veil and dress) covers the entire woman’s face and body. It shows only her eyes. Traditional Kuwaiti fashion depends on Islamic rules, but under niqab, they often wear very stylish dresses. 
A woman with a hijab.
Women in Kuwait love to dress up and to wear makeup. You can create beautiful designs with your hijab, too.

On special occasions, a Daraa may be covered with a decorated dress (a thobe). But, for daily ordinary outings, the abaya is very popular. It is interesting that Kuwaiti women are always wearing nice clothing, and they wear makeup almost every day.

Kids fashion

Kids are also fashionable. Boys wear a normal dress every day. During Eid or Ramadan, for example, boys are wearing traditional clothes. Mothers usually want their children to wear cute dishdashas. Small girls wear a routined dress on a daily basis, but on special occasions they wear daraas. They look pretty, cute and elegant. Mothers try to dress their children in beautiful and modern outfits.

A father and a son on Eid, dressed in traditional Kuwaiti fashion.
On specials days, everyone is dressed up pretty, even small children together with their parents.

Moving to Kuwait – expats

After hiring international movers Kuwait, and moving, the question is “how to behave there?”. That is why you should be ready for it. You should learn the Arabic language, Kuwaiti history, and tradition, and it will be much easier for you after moving there. It is, of course, just an option, but it could help you a lot to adjust.

Do not worry too much if you are an expat because there is no official dress code for you. Traditional Kuwaiti fashion can be a little strange at first, but you will get used to it after some time. In the meantime, try to wear different clothing, but do follow some rules. For example, men should avoid showing their stomachs and thighs, and women should not show legs, shoulders and whole arms. Remember that you need to adjust to your new surroundings, which means abiding by the rules of the dominant culture.