Before the Revolution
For non-Muslims it is difficult decoding Middle Eastern Fashion. Women practicing the Muslim religion wear the hijab (head scarf) as a symbol of respect. When wearing the muslim hijab, women must have their arms and legs covered. If they choose to wear Western clothing without a head covering they must have their arms covered to the elbows and skirts covering their knees.
On a trip before the revolution to Egypt and Jordan you could see a blending of Western and Muslim (Islamic) clothing styles. In large cities like Aman and Cairo some men and women said that “women have a choice as to what to wear here; the hijab (head scarf), traditional Muslim clothes/Islamic clothes or Western fashions.” You see both types of clothing on the streets.
In rural areas and small towns you see more women wearing the hijab, the traditional Muslim dress. However you see the influence of Western dress on women choosing to wear the hijab. Many Egyptian and Jordanian women are wearing clothing items popular in the West like, jeans,” t” shirts, etc. and carrying metallic handbags with head scarfs the traditional Muslim/Islamic clothing.
A man can ask his fiancé to wear the hijab, head covering. Then she will be covered up. Also a husband can ask his wife not to wear some article of clothing , for example, a bikini to the beach.
Based on my small sampling of both men and women, it seems that women’s fashions in the Middle East are influenced by religion, politics, the West and men.
As you can see the Middle Eastern women love color, are experts at layering and love Western fashions like, denim, large handbags, metallic accessories, etc.