I have promised several people to do a post about the fashion I see here and I am certainly going to do that, but it is an important point that fashionin Egypt, for women in particular, is a highly complicated thing. It incorporates elements of religion, culture, outside (read: Western) influences, and history, among other things. Once again, this is not intended to be a reference for all possible means of attire in this country, just reflections on what I have seen so far. Today, (so as not to be overshadowed by the more controversial ladies’ side of the equation) men’s fashion:
While men here tend, for a large part, not to look too different from their Western counterparts, there are three distinct groups of street style.
- The traditional: Some men wear the more traditional outfit of a galabia (الجلابية), which is like a voluminous tunic, often of cotton, with an open collar of a slit going down to the middle of the chest, making it an ingenious garment for beating the heat. These tend to be neutral in color—green, brown, tan, and white, but sometimes have elegant and subtle embroidery, pleating or other small decoration. Sometimes, this is worn with a skullcap or cloth head wrap and sandals.
- The average: Many men prefer a somewhat nondescript version of Western attire: shirts, long pants, leather shoes, and usually subdued colors. Wearers of this style tend to be professionals or middle-aged to older men but can include basically anyone. They would not be out of place anywhere in the US, apart from the absence of shorts, even in the heat. I don’t know where the long-pants phenomenon comes from, but it is an unexpected side of culture shock—not too many bare gams to be seen here! I have even heard tell of shopkeepers joking with shorts-wearers: “Can’t you afford the other half of your pants?” This isn’t to say that ALL Egyptians wear long pants, but I rarely see shorts as I would in the States and if I do, it’s usually on a tourist.
- The gregariously cool: This final group contrasts strikingly with the other two: tight pants, a modicum of manscaping, fancy sneakers, and loudly-colored tight t-shirts bearing images or phrases–often in inappropriately-applied or unfortunately-phrased English. Many guys in this group look like cross-continental posse-mates of The Situation or DJ Pauly D (bloggods have mercy on me for referencing Jersey Shore). This group seems to me to be made up of teens who don’t look like they need “Perfection: Secrets of Touches” or “Warning! The bomb will explode!” emblazoned any clearer across their chests to announce their colorful brand of cool. It’s a lot of fun to see the flair with which each guy in this last group interprets this style, especially while half of me hopes for the day when one of them starts fist-pumping or announces offhand his adoption of the GTL life…
I end up seeing some fantastic T-shirts, though it’s hard to surreptitiously snap a picture.
Couldn’t get a picture of this beauty on the street, but I reiterate my point: Hmmmm…
This one is kinda cool.