Trends in Modern Iranian Manteau-the “Sonnati” style

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


Unlike what you may assume, if you do not know Persian is that “Sonnati” means”Traditional” and the trendy style of manteau right now is based off of traditional designs “manteau-ye sonnati” is the term.

These manteau often have a very straight and simple cut and are often based off of the Traditional central Asian/Afghani/Persian coat, usually called a “Chapan”. Often these manteau incorporate embroidery or design elements which are from Irans many ethnic and tribal groups. Often Indo-Pakistani Kurti like shirts are included. Historically Persian mens and womens clothing was rather similar to what is traditionally worn in Afghanistan, so its not a stretch really.

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unoIts also become “trendy” to wear the “Sonnati” syle with a calf or ankle length skirt or wide legged pants which is quite different from the trend of a short tight manteau over leggings which leaves very very little to the imagination.

Last summer I posted a picture of me in one of these “Sonnati” style manteau from the Iranian store NewHijab (yes they ship abroad!) and its extremely lightweight and comfortable while retaining some traditional embroidery designs…yup…+ dirty mirrors in the local thrift store!





Trends for modern Iranian Manteau (multi-part series)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


Iranian Kurdish woman

Those who know me and have been reading my blog since it began back in 2009 at its original URL HERE, know that I have a deep appreciation for traditional and cultural forms of hijab and that I have familial ties to Iran and Persian culture hence my frequent Iran-related postings. While perhaps “Cultural Hijab” might not always be perfectly in line with what from a religious viewpoint would constitute proper hijab, never the less they are often beautiful and quite often more modest than what many Muslims wear nowadays.

Anyway, I come from a family with a strong arts background and although I did not choose the Arts for myself as I did not want to struggle like I saw my family struggle, I still have always had an “artists soul” and grew up around looms and charcoal and watercolors, so the current trend in the Iranian “manteau” fashion industry towards a very simplified, loose and casual style which often has elements from traditional Persian culture incorporated really warms my soul.

Ergo, I am going to do a short series highlighting these new designs and hope to inspire those of you who weave, embroider or sew to perhaps add a bit of an ethnic element to your everyday style.

Pre-Revolution: I wont go much into the historical evolution of covering and de-covering in Iran but lets just say before the Revolution in the 1970’s,  tribal and rural women wore their traditional attire which varied and still varies by location, village, tribe and ethnicity, the urban women from religious families (scholarly families) dressed in either a westernized-yet more modest style or wore a chador and the westernized urban women often wore much the same as women in London or France, some were more modest about it, others not so much.


Revolution – post-Revolution: Around the Revolution time women took up wearing rain coats which I can assume were chosen based on their availability and square kerchifs of some sort, some also sewed various types of scarves…this is very broad and general but I just wanted to do a quick overview so bare with me. Some also adopted wearing the traditional chador as well. There seemed to be a strive to design a type of outfit for women which was considered “Islamic” but totally different from the types of covering worn by tribes or villages. Hence “Hejab-e Eslami” was borne.


This rather simplified and “heavy” style was the norm until the mid-1990’s. Its quite frankly the type of “hijab” I remember as a teenager. To me “wearing hijab” meant wearing something in the Iranian style… a square scarf pinned at the chin with ends pinned some way and a midi-or longer overcoat type garment.  For most covering Muslim women the
Iranian “Hejab-e Eslami” influenced their clothing style as well and many Muslim majority countries adopted covering forms which were based off of this style. The “Tesettur” style in Turkey started similarly as did styles elsewhere.

Anyway in the late-90’s things began to change and many women started to wear manteau which were ridiculously short or extremely skin-tight in an effort to forge a personal look which they felt was more in line with Western fashion and the times Ive been Iran it became increasinly more difficulty each time I would go to find manteau which I found ideal-midi or longer, loose and modest.

Instead everything was;

2004scarfdownschoolgirlsand since then manteau became shorter and tighter while retaining its coat-like style.

But over the past few years Ive noticed a gradual change to a softer, looser look which often incorporates elements of traditional Persian culture or embroidery from a regional tribal group.

These designs will be show cased further…





Muslim womans discussion groups…?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Soeurs musulmanes d'Egypte

Ive been thinking about this a great deal lately…I feel quite isolated from a real Muslim community currently…sure I now live out in suburbia now, not in the middle of a bustling and diverse urban envrionment with several masajid with active classes and groups nearby, but there is actually a small masjid in my community and its useful for a quick run to jummah but I do not really *feel* a community there, perhaps because its heavily of one particular ethnic background which tends to not be very open towards those who are not of that background…well, its not just that, I really dont agree from a religious viewpoint with several of the ways in which they do things…. some of which is rather heavily influenced by culture and NOT religion plus they have very few deen-related classes and what they have are either for men only (!!!) or are for women but in the language which most of them speak (!!!), plus I just don’t fit in…I wear a lot of black and wear abayaat or jilbabs or jilbebs and am not down with free mixing in the masjid. Ergo, we pulled out son out of their sunday school program and generally dont have much to do with them.

I try…when I can to attend Jummah in the city, at the masajid ive attended for a decade and a half or more! Where I know the community and where I blend in. Unfortunately while they have plenty of Daars they are all in the evening after Ishaa’ and Id rather not tangle with deer on the roads coming back home late.

So I am pretty much trying to find a community of sisters online to talk with and to learn with and seriously…where have they gone?!? In the 1990’s there was a very active Muslim womans discussion board called SisNet (anyone remember!?) and even a few years ago there were a plethora of active womans list serves or discussion boards. Seriously…I miss them! I miss the excitment of waking up and checking my email to see all the new discussion emails or learning something new; printing it off and stashing it in a folder of beneficial information.

Harumpth…where have they all gone…?  Sure there are groups on Facebook but really….they just arent the same thing.

So is anyone knows of a decent uslim womans discussion group online which accepts new members do let me know!  BarakhAllahFiik!


BintQ and an early autumn day…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

nameI just recently got a few items from the Philly -based business The Islamic Place…I am a rather big fan of their womans clothing line which goes under the name of BintQ or Bint Qamar. The Islamic Place is rather a one-stop shop of irems for the Muslim family from Islamic books to mens thobes to sisters garments…and since they are in Philly which isnt too terribly far from me I get my orders from them in around 48 hours! *woot! woot!*

So here is a hopefully brief overview of what I got and my thoughts on it. I actually have some items from them under the BintQ label which I had purchased quite a few months ago…I will hopefully post up my own pictures of those older items at some point…for right now though I will use pictures from their website.

So ordering from The Islamic Place is incredibly easy…they accept Paypal, shipping is pretty average and they ship incredibly fast and if you are in PA or a neighbooring state its not uncommon to get your order within 48 hours of them shipping?  They also give out tracking as well and everything comes nicely packaged up.

Anyway…my latest “haul” from them is a simple maroon hooded “sporty” abaya, a black “basics” skirt, a black square scarf (the one I had for like 20 years finally decided to bite the dust) and a brown Syrian al-ameera with the chin cover/niqab.

The fabric used in the skirt and the abayah are the same and its basically a very thin poly-crepe…its actually exactly like the poly-crepe which East Essence uses in their garments (those who know EE know they tend to use 3 fabrics…cotton twill, poly-crepe and koshibo)…the poly-crepe they use is very very thin and so generally they double layer it…im actually a fan of this poly-crepe as its incredibly lightweight and is extremely hardwearing and washes/dries in a snap…so both items are made in this same poly-crepe.

The Skirt


The Skirt is from their BASICS line which provides *simple* garments at relatively inexpensive prices so a sister can bulk up their wardrobe on a budget…I think they are like around $12. I assume it would be a basic tube skirt which is suitably wide so easy to wear and walk in with a nice elastic band. Basically what I described is what came + they have strategic pleats at the waist so the entire skirt when worn has a semi-puffy look which works with a tunic or under an abaya/jilbab. These “BASICS” skirts come in a bazillion colors but only 1 size and at 5ft4 they are actually a good length for me…Id reckon a sister over 5ft6 would find them  too short.

Overall…not bad but my only qualm is the poly-crepe used for the skirt is incredibly skin…like super, duper thin so a slip MUST be worn under it if you plan to wear the skirt outside alone with just say a tunic or a skirt….you can darn near see the color of your flesh when the sun shines on the skirt. yeah…I was miffed about that…but again its rather easily rectified by wearing a slip of some sort. Although I feel like given its thinness I will probably just reserve the skirt as an underskirt…to be worn under a dress or abaya vs alone.  My only real suggestion for the skirts from their inexpensive BASICS line is to at least have whomever manufactures them in Bangladesh make the poly-crepe double thickness much like East Essence does.  Id gladly pay double the price for a completely opaque everyday skirt.

Now their other skirts which are not of the BASICS line are not made from the ultra thin poly-crepe…but more on that at the end…

The Abayah


Now about the Abayah…Ive been looking for an inexpensive, everyday “sporty” abaya for awhile…I had been eyeing the Moroccan-style hooded abaya from Shukr for awhile but decided on this as its more of an “Urban style” and more laid-back and due to it being polester I knew I wouldn’t have issues with fading or fabric wearing out (although to Shukrs credit their items ARE basically indestructible but their darker toned items do fade which I find annoying) anyway, since I am on a “everything RED/Maroon” kick…ask my hubby, half of everything ive bought sofar form Fall/Winter has red going on in some way…(I go through color phases…LOL, sometimes its all black everything, sometimes its all green, sometimes its all red…LOL) and since it looked like a deep, rich red which would hide stains and look fab for autumn I was also tired of brown, black and navy as my closet tends to have a lot of those tones in it.

The abaya pretty much met my expectations…the fabric is the same poly-crepe as used in the skirt from their BASICS collection although its nt quite as thin…like you cant your legs when the light hits it…so its a bit thicker although once again, unlike East Essence their is no double layering of the crepe and given how light double layered poly-crepe really is…again id prefer that, esp. given the price which while not expensive is kind of an average price for such a garment and I think the Pakistani manufacturer could indeed double-layer the poly-crepe for added security…I DID wear the black skirt mentioned above under the abaya when we went out but that was because i just wore shorts under the abaya and not jeans or pants so wanted to be 100% sure nothing would show.

The color came exactly as shown and the abaya is exactly as shown as well. Oddly though the pockets at the front are situated very low for me…so whether because I am short maybe my arms are too short or something…*dang the miseries of being petite* or maybe I just heck…have short arms (lol!)…but the front pockets are really low for me and not very suitable for active use although I did at one point throw my cell in the pocket and I felt awkward fishing it out…so yeah.\

The fit is perfect…but I know the size fits me best…now the sizing which goes along with their BintQ line is a bit strange…sure it goes S/M/T/L/XL and maybe higher but their items are cut on the baggy end of the spectrum which again I do NOT mind…id rather get a garment which covers everything properly then be worried that something is sticking out…so the size I got is perfect…its loose enough that it skims the body and nothing is accentuated but not too big that I look like a 5 year old playing dress up in her dads oxford (another issue those of us who are petite have!!) I felt like I could easily layer the abaya over jeans and a teeshirt or even a pair of sweatpants and be assured nothing would pop out…thogh given the fabrics thinness wearing a light skirt or slip under is a good idea so when the wind blows the abaya doesnt plaster itself to your body.

I will probably be getting another of this same design and yes they come in a bazillion colors…even a lime green as I do like the style…its casual yet urban and very very comfy and perfectly fine for everyday wear.

Now this design along with the rather oddly located pockets (!!) has a very ample hood with a working drawstring and a zipper on the bodice which makes it suitable for breastfeeding moms…dueto its A-line cut if one sizes up it would probably be suitable for much of ones pregnancy as well.  They are something like $39 or so, so not terribly expensive but not dirt cheap.

Moi…coming back from  the “Oriental” Supermarket and a walk through a local park.






The ScarvesPhotoGrid_1444614689992

I also got  2 scarves…one a simple dark brown lycra Syrian al-ameera with the handy chin cover/niqab…I own a few of these ive culled from a few different places and always find them extremely comy AND they cover the chin or work as an impromptu niqab…voila! AND a very basic 45in x 45in black crepe georgette square scarf. Can I say I LOVE their square scarves…they are nice and old school and what I remember wearing back in the 90’s and they are very affordable and comfortable and easy to wear…they dont readily slide or require 50 million pins…

No complaints with the scarves at all…very decent…oh, the square scarves are made in Pakistan. I sometimes feel like the only place where the old school 45in x 45in square crepe georgette scarves are still made is Pakistan as anytime I run into them…they always same made in Pakistan…nothing wrong with that but its an observation ive noticed over the years…I remember when a lot of them would be from Egypt back in the 90’s.

Older orders…

Now. Previously ive ordered books from them *yay! huge selection* and two of their “coats”…now they aren’t true “coats” like for winter or fall…but like a old school simple manteau/jilbab style…on me they come to mid-calf. I have a grey and a olive green one and they are made of a medium weight polyester fabric something like poly-melange with a slight sheen under the light.  its in NO WAY like the poly-crepe I mentioned above. The “coat” style is a basically a very basic 3/4th jilbab style…obviously not lined and no shoulder pads but tons of pockets and I do think a cute design…now their “coat” style is cut a bit baggier than their abayaat although according to the size chart they should all be the same. I find their “coat” style to be uber comfy over a teeshirt and wide legged jeans for walking or something which is very active as they seem basically indestructible..they also wash and dry quickly.

They also have several other designs in the same fabric…such a long coordinating skirt and a knee length tunic/kameez…in theory you would get all 3 and a few scarves and mix and match easily.




Ive also gotten several of their square scarves in patterns previously as well.

Overall I’m generally always happy with anything I’ve purchased from The Islamic Place in Philly…given their prices I think the garments they provide are quite suitable and are avaiable in a ton of diferent colors and their sizing is generous enough to be suitable for most women…plus they are local and their shipping is extremely speedy and their garments wash and wear wonderfully.


Now…onto a few snaps taken at a local park this afternoon…the trees are wonderful right now…as its easly autumn you have a wide range of shades form deep orange and red to cheery green…I admit though im NOT looking forward to winter…especially the harsh winter which tends to set in after January 1st when the deeply fridgit temps, ice and snow really set in…but Allahu Alim…right now thought is a wonderful time for a walk as the temps are moderate and the scenery is mashAllah so gorgeous.



And from the East Asian market…dont these Dragon fruits just look so inviting?




Somali Mall shopping…

سم الله الرحمن الرحيم

820629240_somalia_296A few months ago I learnt that a city within a few hours drive of me had the 2nd largest Somali community in the USA…Columbus Ohio, around 45,000-50,000 Somalis call Columbus home…and of course there are dozens of Somali owned businesses and “Somali Malls” in the city and its suburbs.  I am no expert on the Somali community in Columbus nor do I know Columbus very well…but I knew I HAD to get there and go shopping! Through the assistance of some sisters I know online who live in Columbus I located the neighbourhood where many of them reside and where many of their businesses are located, I also found two large Somali Malls…although Columbus has dozens of Somali Malls most of those whom I spoke with recommended these malls.

Ultimately the two Malls I got to frequent the most were Global Mall and Banadir. I got the opportunity to go twice, the first time about 6 weeks ago and then this past weekend where we ended up staying overnight in Columbus to make the trip less exhausting.

When you step foot in a Somali Mall you really do feel like your in a shopping center or suq in the Middle East…its the same lay out…tiny shop filled to the gills with whatever the shop specializes in and it floods outside to the doorways…much like shopping in most places in the Middle East (I say “most”…but not all, obviously) its completely OK and normal to bargain…the better your bargaining skills the better price you can get. Obviously nothing has price labels on them…the price you get quoted depends on how you look, how you ask and who you ask….and the price you ultimately end up paying depends on your level of bargaining skill…obviously though if your in the Middle East chain stores or stores with price tags attached generally dont bargain…c’mon, forget bargaining for that skirt at the Zara in ArRashid Mall! LOL

Anyway, the first time my husband and I walked into Global Mall the first time we went to shop in the Columbus Somali Malls we both gasped and were like…wow, its JUST like Saudi or Iran….I felt instantly at home…I LOVE shopping and LOVED shopping in Saudi…get me to the Thursday suq and I could bargain with the best of them…even bringing down those stubborn Bedu women.

The two Malls we went too have a wide variety of shops although the majority sell womens clothing and accessories and the clothing would make most covering Muslim women drool with glee…abayaat from UAE, Scarves, long khimaars, skirts, overheads, jewelry, accessories…you name it…you feel like a kid in a candy store and everything is much cheaper than buying online (again, this is where bargaining skills come in handy :-)…All the Malls also have a Musallah for salaat, I also saw several tailoring businesses, jewelry shops selling 22K gold, mens and womens barber shops and tons of places selling Attar, Bakhoor, Oud chips or Somali frankincense imported via UAE.

Unfortunately its very difficulty getting pictures inside the various stores…both my husband and I tried but even though I asked first and was in shops where I had purchased items…the shop keepers were very reluctant to let me snap pictures fearing I would take a picture of them…which ofcourse I wouldn’t but Allahu Alim.

Here are a mixture of pictures from Somali Malls…a few are my own and are a few I culled from online.


7 10 11







Baati alone, Baati with gabassar, Baati unstitched…Baati everywhere…part of the Baati gang…no? Well you are now!!!


Here are a few “tips/tricks” that I quickly learnt from my time shopping at these Somali Malls…pretty similar to how it is at an outdoor suq in Saudi or Iran, but never the less…

1) Bring CASH!  No one really accepts cards…and each mall has a money transfer shop which has an ATM but sometimes they are mysteriously closed and so that Baati you are drooling over is so tantilizingly out of reach *weeps*

2) Bring a list of what you ultimately are LOOKING FOR!  trust me when I say if you dont go with a plan or an idea of what you would like to buy or wear…you WILL FEEL OVERWHELMED..rememeber that feeling of being a kid and your mom or dad dumping you down at Toys R Us and telling you can pick any toy you wanted and it just was both exciting but sucked all at the same time…the choices…ahhh, the choices…  Khimaars? abayaat? abayaah ra’as…? check, check, check!

3) Come with a short list of names of things IN SOMALI or atleast IN Arabic…yes most of the shop keepers spoke English or atleast some English but sometimes the terms they use for things is not the same terms we American Muslims use for things and even being able to fall back a little on Arabic helps as many know atleast some Arabic to understand what your asking for.More details to follow…

4) Do a loop and then once you figure out who is carrying what you need and is going to bargain or atleast give a suitable price then go back and actually shop…dont feel like if you cant bargain in one place that you must cave and pay what they ask…keep going…unless a shop carries something very specific or has something which you know you cant easily find at another shop…keep going…that shop is one in a dozen…you’ll find much of the same thing somewhere else and possibly for cheaper and at a shop with a shopkeeper willing to bargain. There is nothing wrong with bargaining fyi…its the norm in many cultures around the world…I know many Americans dont feel comfortable with it…but get over it.

5) Bring a measuring tape…there are NO dressing rooms…so if your buying a dress or an abaya and your iffy about if it;ll fit…your up the creek without a paddle…so knowing your sizing and being able to measure will be a huge help! Some shop keepers may be iffy ok with you trying something on in the bathroom as long as they hold onto something of value from you…i.e. your drivers license or something.

6) Check seams or embellishments on clothing items for how durable they are… just sayin’.

7) Be sure its what you want…you cant return or at least return/exchange very easily…

8) Shops close for salaat…the female shop keepers often pray in their shops and baracade the little entrances with a rack or something…just be patient or sit in the musallah or go do your salaat yourself!

9) Shops can be social places…so be prepared.

10) this goes for everywhere but needs re-mentioning….while I trust that most Muslims aren’t thieves they do exist…don’t be obvious with your wallet or cash…you maybe carrying $800 on you but heavens no don’t flash it around…you wouldn’t do that at Walmart or a regular Mall or at the Suq in Marrakech would you?  Be smart…anyone can shop in a Somali Mall much like anywhere else…

So that sums it up…any more tips.tricks you feel I should include…just include them in comments!