Sunflower Abaya Refashion

Flashback Summer - Sunflower abaya refashion 1940s intercultural vintage

Although I lived in Sudan about seven years ago, I still have a few garments from there that I've kept.  They're sentimental and remind me of one of the most adventurous, most learning-filled times in my life so far.  They're also traditional garments worn by Muslim women in Sudan.  A couple of the garments I own are tobe, and one of the others I'm sharing today is an abaya, a long robe.

Flashback Summer - Sunflower abaya refashion 1940s intercultural vintage

Flashback Summer - Sunflower abaya refashion 1940s intercultural vintage


This robe is worn by Muslim women all over the world, but the most popular style when I was in Sudan was a satiny, black plain version that could be dressed up with different headscarves and accessories.  In order to be a part of the culture and communicate my morality as a female, I also covered everything and wore head scarves (hijab).

My absolute favorite abaya to wear was this black one with sunflowers and embroidery on it.  Unlike most of the others available in the market, it is made of natural fibers and had embroidered embellishment on it.  I was able to throw it on over any clothes I had on when I went out to meet the modesty standards, and I dressed it up with heels and a matching scarf for nicer occasions.

Flashback Summer - Sunflower abaya refashion 1940s intercultural vintage

I love this abaya, but I haven't had much call for it since leaving Sudan.  I'm not Muslim, so it isn't something I would wear in other cultural contexts.  However, it still holds such good memories for me!  I decided to do a couple alterations to turn it into a vintage style winter dress.

Flashback Summer - Sunflower abaya refashion 1940s intercultural vintage

Flashback Summer - Sunflower abaya refashion 1940s intercultural vintage

I shortened the abaya by cutting above the large embroidery panel at the bottom and raising it to make the robe a below-the-knee length.  Next, I added shoulder pads to create a more 40s silhouette and to fill out the shoulders that are a bit wide for me.  Lastly, I threw on a belt!  That was it.

My new hair cut definitely has more of a 20s/30s vibe, but I think with a 40s hat and heels this dress will have a more appropriately 40s vibe.  Until then, I enjoyed keeping things comfy-casual while visiting this sunflower patch near my grandparents' house.

Flashback Summer - Sunflower abaya refashion 1940s intercultural vintage

What do you think?  I know it's not perfect, but do you think it's got a bit of a 40s vibe now?  Do you have any intercultural-vintage pieces you'd like to share?  (If so, share a link below!)

Outfit Details
dress: refashioned abaya
necklace: gifted, Yemeni silver bead
lipstick: Kat Von D "Outlaw"

14 comments

  1. What a great refashion! It's perfect for everyday wear. I love your hair as well and it kind of gives the dress a 30's look.

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  2. Definite 40s vibes! I love that you are making sentimental items work for you in your current life. That's a great way to go.

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    1. Thanks, Tanith! I think it's preferable to tweak them a bit rather than let them languish in storage!

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  3. This is really beautiful! One of my favorite ones that you have done.

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    1. Awww, thank you so much! That's great to hear!

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  4. Wow! I love it and it's such a happy thought to reuse clothes you have fond memories but aren't able to use on a daily basis anymore.

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  5. I love the restyling. From an aesthetics viewpoint I think bringing up the hemline really showcases the embroidery on the bottom.

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, I didn't want to cut it off like hemming would normally do, and I'm glad. It really adds something special, I think!

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  6. I really like your refashion. It totally works for the 1940's now- and I can see you getting plenty of wear out of it now! Also, I love your new haircut :)

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    1. Aw, thank you Nicole! My hair is taking some getting used to but I like how easy it is to deal with!

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  7. OMG!!!! I am totally loving this and plus, I can't believe you actually live in Sudan for a couple of years. That is like the coolest thing ever. Well, I will be visiting your blog regularly for sure. - www.jamilakyari.com

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    1. Hey Jamila! So nice to hear from you! I'm glad you liked the post and I'll be checking out your blog!

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