Travel & Tourism

Al-Dera’a: A Traditional Yemeni Women Dress

National Yemen

By Tamjid Alkohali

Yemeni fashion varies according to the place and climate, and there is a strong relationship between the Yemeni fashion and the region where it originates. Due to the development of contemporary fashion, many people are following modern fashion trends, leaving traditional Yemeni fashion a forgotten heritage, used only on national or social occasions.

However, the situation is very different with Dera, or the women Adeni dress, which is still exists today and is worn by Yemeni women on occasions and on a daily basis. Indian is known to be the source of this dress by history, it still exists in the Aden province for a long time. It’s tall and wide and is made with a beautiful transparent fabric.

Rowan al-Ariqi, a 25-year-old teacher said, “In my opinion, I haven’t found a fashion as beautiful as Dera. Despite Dera coming from Aden, it’s very popular in Sana’a and the rest provinces.”

Usually, dresses become popular when they appeal to the largest number of people, and that could be achieved by Dera. “It has many advantages. It’s very comfortable, suitable for women of different ages, and can be worn by slim and larger women,” explained al-Ariqi.

Al-Ariqi added that Dera can be worn at home or on different occasions, depending on its fabric. “The fabric is always transparent. Dera that is worn at home is made by soft fabric without embroidery, while on social occasions such as wedding and parties, women wear Dera with embroidery and beads.”

According to Al-Ariqi, in the past Dera was made with a special fabric called al-Waill, a fabric painted by floral decorations without embroidery. “It is rare to find women who still wear al-Waill. Now, they prefer modern fabrics with different colors.”

On other hand, Al-Ariqi said, some families in northern areas thinks, only married women are allowed to wear al-Dera. “There is no reason for that decision, it’s only a tradition inherited ideas that single girls are not allowed to do many things, and wearing Dera  is one of that. Therefore, many girls love wearing Dera, we have parties for single girls where they come wearing it without the knowledge of their family members,” said Al-Ariqi.

In the past, al-Dera  had one design, but now tailors have become more creative in designing it. “Unlike young women, older women don’t like the modern designs they prefer to wear old designs with a gold belt around their waists,” said Al-Ariqi.

Abdul Rahma, a worker at al-Kahlani fabrics store, spoke about the development of the fabrics used for Dera. He said, women in the past used to buy al-Waill fabric, while now any transparent fabric is considered suitable for making Dera  such as chiffon and pure silk. “The fabric comes to us from Egypt, India, and Sudan. Its prices vary from $100 to $25. However, the price that is given to the tailor isn’t more than $7,” he added.

Abdul Rahma confirmed that Dera fabric has achieved the highest sales, more than the other kinds of fabric.