18 Reasons You Should be Wearing a Man Dress

By Mark Wiens 48 Comments

Was it the brutal Egyptian sun rays and the decision to take a 3 day Nile felucca cruise (Egyptian sailboat), or was it the satisfaction I saw in the faces of all of the users, the twinkle in their eyes as the only clue to their secret…What was this secret to success, this comfort beyond understanding?

We went shopping.

gellabiya
Egyptian Jellabiya

After the normal haggling back and forth, inevitably leading to the notorious bit of baksheesh (tip…or bribe), I settled on purchasing a cotton light green fabric, baggy style Egyptian man dress called a jellabiya (الجلابية).

My excitement was now raging out of control and I simply couldn’t wait to explore this novel article of clothing.  We found the secret.

Jellabiya (الجلابية)
Jellabiya (الجلابية)

What is a Jellabiya (الجلابية)?

A Jellabiya is basically an oversize long sleeved shirt that covers the entire body in a baggy piece of fabric.  It is normally loose fitting for ultimate comfort and style!

boy-wearing-jellabeya
Boy wearing a Jellabiya (الجلابية)

Here are 18 of the top reasons you should be wearing a Jellabiya (الجلابية):

1. Cool when hot
2. Warm when cool
3. Blocks the harsh sun rays
4. Substitutes as a sleeping bag or sheet
5. Sways back and forth when you walk
6. Convenient and easy to wear
7. Don’t need to decide what pants to wear with what shirt
8. Don’t need to decide to wear pants or shorts
9. Easily slip out of the entire gown when you need to swim
10. Upstream breeze between the legs
11. You can hide things underneath it
12. Makes playing football challenging and fun
13. Can be used as a block for privacy
14. Can be used as a napkin
15. You can afford to finish the buffet!
16. There is space for growth (after meals or in life)
17. The ultimate garment for relaxation
18. You will get some awesome looks and grins

legs-air
Catching an Up-skirt Nile Breeze!
jellabiya-sahara
Sand Dunes near Siwa Oasis

Due to the length and overall looseness of the dress, there’s a learning curve to walking in a jellabiya.

Instead of a full out walk like in a pair of shorts, it is necessary to do a shuffle to avoid pulling down the dress with a catch of a heel.   Mastery of the jellabiya walk doesn’t take long and with a little practice, you will be an expert.

When you decide to make the step from painful Western pants to an Egyptian hospitality jellabiya, your body will never stop rejoicing in comfort and repeatedly thanking you!

For a river trip on the Nile, relaxing on the beach, or eating dates in an Oasis, a jellabiya will always be the right decision.

Donning my jellabiya was my introduction to perfectly fitting into the culture and traditions of ancient Egypt…well not really, but it was still the ticket to comfort.

We got some funny looks, many laughs and a few compliments.

Jellabiya’s can be found all over Egypt in varying styles.

I’d love to hear from you!  What are your thoughts, Have you ever worn a jellabiya?

48 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Sylvia

    3 years ago

    My husband is always reluctant to take it off long enough for me to wash it! It is just so comfortable that he intends to have a couple more custom made on our next trip to Egypt. But you really MUST get an Egyptian scarf to go with it – especially for the cooler weather.

  • Jorge Samayoa

    4 years ago

    My wife and I just returned from Egypt a couple of weeks ago. I do believe in the adage: “When in Rome do as the Romans.” We took a dahabiya to go and explore the Nile river Valley, the weather was cool, since it was in November; nonetheless, I wore my newly purchased galabiya. Comfortable but i found it difficult to walk while wearing it.

  • Lisa

    5 years ago

    Lived in Egypt several years, and though the Galabiya is traditionally worn by men, I brought several back with me, which I wear as nightgowns. They keep me cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

  • d-man

    8 years ago

    When I was in elementary school, my dad returned from a vacation in Egypt with one of these “man dresses,” which he thought was tres’ chic. He donned it one morning to walk out and fetch the Sunday paper from our front lawn of our Virginia home. I almost died of embarrassment.

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Haha, thanks for sharing. They are so comfortable, I’ve worn mine a few times around Bangkok!

  • Donna Sheridan

    9 years ago

    It feels like you’re wearing a nightgown all the time. I think wearing one will be fun and cool.

  • The Dropout

    9 years ago

    LOVE IT!
    (I can’t believe I missed this one.)
    I wonder if you could ride a motorbike in a man dress though.

  • Egyptian Fancy Dress

    10 years ago

    Great reasons, some are funny and some are cool…

  • Priyank

    10 years ago

    Hi Mark,
    That was a good 101! I am also supportive of dressing like locals since a) there is a reason they dress that way and b) its easier to blend. Also this dress will prevent a jock itch, eh? 😛
    Priyank

  • Adelaide

    10 years ago

    Thank for this well writed article. I will visit this blog more! How can i stay updated? (RSS) or something??

  • Eating Thai Food

    10 years ago

    Im still laughing about reason #16
    wow dude, that does look like comfort to the utmost!!! 🙂

  • Norbert

    10 years ago

    I’ve never pictured myself wearing one of these… Up-skirt breeze sounds like a good perk! I should try it when I go there! lol

  • Red Nomad OZ

    10 years ago

    Well, you’ve won me! Although I might look a little odd down under here in Australia – especially on the farm! BUT … it looks so comfortable maybe I could start a new trend here!!

    Happy travels!!

  • Mark Wiens

    10 years ago

    @Danial: Nothing. Seriously, you need one.

  • Daniel

    10 years ago

    Mark, what do you wear beneath jellabiya? If you say “nothing”, I’m sold. I had to get one of these.

  • Mark Wiens

    10 years ago

    @Lorna: Thanks Lorna, Yes, If I can demonstrate the benefits, it might me a hit in the States too! I never knew the secret to ladies wearing dresses until now!

  • Lorna – the roamantics

    10 years ago

    francisco has! you look fab in yours mark and love your reasons, especially #7 and 11. i can just picture this all camped up as a late night tv infomercial product- fun! seriously though- why do you think we ladies where dresses? mostly for reason #12 😉

  • Mark Wiens

    10 years ago

    @Inka: Yes that’s me! Hehe, jellabiya modeling would be my 1st choice for careers!!!

    @Mutua: Ati you guy shooot! I should have been rockin it in Nai, we could start a business! How’s that company laptop doing? How are the facilities in the office?

    @Caz: Yes, women in Arab countries wear a similar dress, but it’s a little more concealing!

    @Robin: Thanks, hey stay tuned, I’ll be publishing some more articles and pictures about Siwa soon!

    @Christy: It’s the solution to all clothing problems!

    @Jade: Thanks Jade, yes very practical!

  • Jade

    10 years ago

    # 5 and 14 are my favorites!! Too funny, and i’m sure practical!

  • Christy @ Ordinary Traveler

    10 years ago

    I’ve never heard of one of these. But I can imagine all the time I would save by wearing it! Not only that, if a woman becomes pregnant, she wouldn’t have to buy maternity clothes. 🙂

  • Robin

    10 years ago

    They are comfy aren’t they? Would be interested to read about your Siwa experience…

  • Caz Makepeace

    10 years ago

    I like it. Do they make one for women as well? Looks great on you and I think you should wear it when you return home or to the next country.

  • Mutua, Christopher

    10 years ago

    Oh Weeenaas!! That look is fantastic on you, im seated at my desk right now and Nairobi tempreture has exceeded into the lower 30’s. Im fantasizing about that man dress, i shall buy one in the course of this week for sure!! i may even adorn myself with it to the office!!!

  • inka

    10 years ago

    I guess that’s you in the sand dunes. Ever thought about a modeling career? As they say: you are a natural!!

  • Mark Wiens

    10 years ago

    @Ben: Thanks, I’m sure the Indian kurta rivals the comfort of the jellabiya!

    @NVR: It’s a great feeling!

    @John: Thanks, mostly to keep the sun off the head, but also to complete the look!

    @Jim: Thanks Jim!

    @1Dad1Kid: There are many designs and different qualities available. Mine is a plain cotton without any design on it and I paid 50 Egyptian Pounds. A friend of mine bought a fancier one for 90 Egyptian Pounds.

    @Michael: Thanks Michael!

  • Michael Figueiredo

    10 years ago

    Very humorous and interesting post! I love #s 10 & 14! I haven’t been to Egypt (yet!) but think that wearing one will be fun.

  • 1Dad1Kid

    10 years ago

    For those of us going to Egypt, how much should one prepare to pay for these so we know the correct bartering point.

    Loved your 18 reasons. I remember when Anthony Bourdain wore one and discussed the up breeze. When I wear my monk robes, I get a similar nice treat, and it sure makes a difference!

  • Jim

    10 years ago

    Looks good on you Mark. Not sure I could master the shuffle though, I tend to stride out.

  • John in France

    10 years ago

    Good look! What’s the story with the headgear – do you need a licence to do that? Is that for “cool” or keeping the sand off you???

  • The NVR Guys

    10 years ago

    You had me at up-skirt breeze.

  • adventureswithben

    10 years ago

    I don’t have one of these, but I have an Indian Kurta – which I haven’t worn in years. Perhaps I should.

    Great article. Looks comfortable.

  • Mark Wiens

    10 years ago

    @Earl: Yes, I hope to keep wearing it, or just some sarongs around Thailand when I return! We’ll have to rock them together!

    @Jonathan: It is great when locals give you a smile for wearing a jellabiya! Awesome pic, you are wearing it well!

    @James: Yes, hope you get a chance, you won’t regret it!

    @Bonnie: Thanks Bonnie!

  • bonnie

    10 years ago

    i meant 5 stars, oops! Your top 18 reaons are hilarious!

  • James Shannon

    10 years ago

    I would feel so strange wearing one of those … but reading your article makes me want to try it out! 😛

  • retrotraveller

    10 years ago

    I spent a day in a jelabiya in Egypt… very comfortable and funny when you see the people you’re with and the local take a second glance when they see you in it… here is a Facebook pic http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=1281825&l=08a973f87e&id=595315846

  • Earl

    10 years ago

    I couldn’t agree more Mark! Pants are grossly overrated and the jellabiya is the way to go. Just the swaying alone is reason enough.So will you keep on wearing yours once you return to Thailand?

  • AJudi & UBill

    10 years ago

    You definitely rock the jellabiya! Wish we could have tagged along with you on your travels…meals along he way…

  • Mark Wiens

    10 years ago

    @Kat: Thanks Kat!!! I was a little hesitant too, it feels different (loose) at first, but then things just keep getting more and more comfortable!

    @Paulo: It really is a necessity! There’s no article of clothing more suiting. You will surely have a chance to rock one!

    @Andrea: Yes, I also wear sarongs around my apartment. Hmm….I will surely try it out in the West, I am originally from Phoenix (desert weather), so if I ever go back, it will be wonderful to wear.

  • Andrea

    10 years ago

    Looks comfy! Must feel like you’re in a nightgown all the time. They had skirt sarong-type bottoms for men in southeast Asia, but it wasn’t a full dress like this. Do you think you’ll ever wear it back in the west. =)

  • paulo

    10 years ago

    Looking very sharp there Mark. I’d love to try wearing one. It must be an absolute necessity in that weather. Egypt…I must visit!

  • Kat

    10 years ago

    Looks good on you Mark. 😀 I remember Anthony Bourdain donning one during one of his trips to the Middle East. He was hesitant at first, but found it to be a very refreshing piece of clothing. I used to wonder why anyone would want to wear long sleeved clothes in such a warm climate but after it was explained, it does make sense.