Full disclosure before I write this blog… I’m a 30 year old Somali man!
Three years ago when my sister and I decided to start Xarrago, I knew nothing about diracs. I was baffled by everything. Why are there three pieces? Is the gorgorad the shawl? Or is that the garbasar? What the hell is Digital. I had all these questions even though I grew up with 5 sisters.
Now after throwing myself in the deep-end and immersing myself into the rich Somali culture, I hope to pass on some of that knowledge to help you. So spare me a few minutes, sit back and indulge in the basics of Somali diracs.
The first thing to note, is that a traditional Somali outfit is in the main made up of a three-piece set (apart from Hido Iyo Dhaqan which I’ll talk about further in a future blog). The dirac is the main aspect to any outfit. All diracs are 3.5 yards long and either Bac Wayne (58inch width) or Half Bac (44inch width). All diracs are made to be free size as their large width allows for any body shape to be modestly covered, similar to a Kaftan.
Diracs are grouped into the following 4 types:
- Will dirac – Traditionally a cotton based fabric (but more recently we have seen the introduction of polyester) with a digitally printed image.
- Xareer – A sheer polyester fabric which as the name suggest is made from thin thread and thus semi-transparent. Xareer diracs tend to have embellishments and sometimes a digital print to enhance the look.
- Fransawi – You have two main types of chiffon which Somalis currently use. The traditional fransawi dirac is made from silk chiffon with a lurex print and can cost anything up from £100 per metre. However, as diracs tend to only bee worn once, you are much more likely to come across the more affordable but still stylish polyester chiffon fabric with a lurex print.
- Maqbal – A velvet fabric with hand or machine painted prints.
As I mentioned earlier a Somali outfit is only complete when the dirac is combined with the final two complimentary pieces. I will write about the two other elements in later posts but very briefly, you have the gorgorad which is the underskirt and the garbasar which is the shawl you can either wear as a hijab or wear over the shoulder.
But before I wish you well on your journey to styling your very own statement dirac, remember that matching a dirac with the right garbasar and gorgorad is an art in itself. Finding the right recipe can sometimes be difficult, but when you find the synergy between the three pieces, you will most definitely exhibit the timeless elegance of Somali fashion.