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The Directory: How to do the kandora

One of the region’s top designers gives his top tips on how to fashionably wear the traditional robe and stay on trend

Image Credit: Supplied

The ubiquitous kandora has evolved over the years. And changing trends and fashions does not mean it should be stuck in a time warp. Here’s are tips on how to update it and how best to wear and with what, no matter the occasion.



At leisure:

When not working or attending business meetings, always opt for a selection of mixed fabrics for lounging about. To combat the summer heat, cotton is not only perfectly fashionable but also kind to the skin allowing it to breathe. The Louboutin sneakers Luis are perfect to complete the look.

Never wear long socks with a kandora unless the colour matches the outfit. Also, avoid the Michael Jackson look of white socks with black kandora and stay away from the head dress during leisure times and days off work as they can make you look stiff, uptight and too formal.

For footwear, avoid conservative or classic shoes specially with casual kandoras.




During the day:

Always opt for light fresh colours. White is king and will always reign supreme. Should you be attending either a business meeting or social function, complete the look by wearing the head dress. Avoid kandoras in darker colours such as black or navy — they are best suited for autumn and winter. Avoid wearing baseball and skull caps.

For footwear, stay way from Converse shoes.




In the evening:

Wear the white head dress to complement the Toby by Hatem Alakeel Bohemian style thobe. It will pull together the look. You can also slick back your hair for a more casual, sporty, smart but elegant look depending on the type of function and occasion.

When it comes to footwear, although many find it fashionable and trendy with the kandora, I recommend that one should not wear sneakers, trainers or sports shoes with an evening look as it dilutes the smart, formal, sophisticated refined look.




At work:

To keep looking fresh, crisp and professional at the office, always opt for kandoras made of mixed fabrics as they will withstand the extended hours of wear with less creasing. Avoid 100 per cent cotton kandoras because they will make you look like an accordion by lunch time. By minimising the cotton percentage, you will ensure that the robe remains in a more pristine state as the day progresses until you return home.

Wear either the shomagh (all white) or ghotra (red and white) head dress. They can both be worn at the office and are deemed an important and integral part of the professional corporate look. Not wearing a head dress at the office is akin to a CEO dressing like an intern!

Less is usually more so my advice is to not over accessorise. Do not match cufflinks, studs, pens and handkerchiefs — pick one or the other.

For footwear, do not wear sandals or flip flops to the work place. Not only is it highly unbecoming but it dilutes the slick corporate professional look, which inspires confidence — especially more so if the wearer does not routinely invest in a proper grooming regimen.


*Hatem Al Akeel is based between Dubai and Jeddah. Toby, his line of trendy kandoras, are stocked at Saks Fifth Avenue Dubai (04-5012700) and at O Concept (04-3455557) in the UAE. Go to