What to Wear in Saudi

School is out for the summer and I'm sorting through my closet and packing for a one month trip back to Chicago. I can't believe I've lived in Riyadh for a whole year! As I clean out and organize my things, I realized that I had no idea what to bring with me the first time around.

Things you will need as a teacher in Riyadh:

1.) Long skirts!!! Why I thought all of the dressy/business slacks would do me good, I have no idea. I rarely wore them and I regret bringing so many. Almost all schools/universities require teachers to wear long skirts. Forget about the crisp, white collared shirts. One or two should suffice, invest in casual tops or blouses. Depending on where you teach, most teachers will wear graphic tee-shirts with a cardigan or a bolero to cover their upper arms.

2.) Comfortable shoes!!! Why I left my danskos in the states, I'll never know. On my trip back to Chicago I will invest in some born flats, black danskos, and whatever else I can get my hands on! You will need something comfortable to bear the long hours spent on your feet. The comfortable shoes will come in handy maneuvering the large malls during Ramadan. Shopping is one of the few activities available for women here and it is a great excuse to shed some of the pounds you WILL gain here. Flip flops are okay, but no one really wears them out in public here.

3.) Leggings! I love wearing leggings and a tank top under my abaya. I get bored with my abayas quickly, so I don't like to spend too much money on them. The best fabrics in my opinion are forsan, crepe saloona and georgette. Saloona feels the softest and breathes the best. It lasts the longest and it almost has a dark, charcoal color to it. Check out Royal Mall for affordable abayas in Riyadh (180-250 Riyals is my usual price range). They will tighten, shorten, and add snap closures on the spot, free of cost.

4.) Compound clothes and party clothes. Inside the compound there are a lot of activities, like soccer and swimming so there are no limitations on what to wear. If you attend an all female gathering, almost anything is appropriate. The shinier, the better. (Although tights are usually worn under mini-skirts, I've noticed). Weddings are VERY formal, so fancy dresses are sought after. The second floor of Hayat Mall (King Abdel Aziz Road) is filled with affordable, fancy dresses. The price range depends, but the average price is around 600-800 Riyals.

5.) Warm clothes. Desert winters can be very cold, I don't care what anybody says. You will need at least a few sweaters to get you through December and January. A coat can come in handy, especially if you like sitting outside in the evening with friends.

Good luck and happy packing!

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