I’m pretty sure that to outsiders all covered women look the same. But actually how a woman wears an abaya tells a lot about her. Of course this is a cultural issue and as such can be given to many interpretations. Another point before you read on, is that in order to explain culture, I have to generalize but this does not apply to individuals. To make this even clearer, some in the western world would say that mini-skirts are slutty but hopefully you would not assume that every woman you meet with one on is a slut.
After most descriptions, there is a link to a photo that illustrates what I’m trying to explain. This by no means means that I’m passing judgement on the women in the photos or their intentions. It just happens that their photo explains my description.
If a Saudi woman wears it tent-style over her head with her face uncovered it means that she is Shiaa.
If she wears it tent-style over her head with only her eyes uncovered in a niqab, it means that she belongs to a conservative Sunni family and most probably she is wearing it this way because of family or work pressuring her to or to raise her chances of being proposed to. Link
Women who wear it on the shoulders with a niqab but have the headscarf on top of the niqab in what reminds me of how nuns wear their headdress, usually come from middle-class families and are both patriotic and religious. Link
Undecorated abayas worn on the shoulder with a niqab mean that the wearer is forced by her spouse to cover and she doesn’t care about outsiders opinions. Link
An undecorated abaya with the head scarf wrapped or held to cover the nose and mouth mean that the wearer comes from an upper middle-class westernized family and has been asked by her father, brother or spouse to cover for fear of being gossiped about. In the latter case, the more the abaya is decorated, the more likely the wearer is pretending to come from an upper middle-class family. In this case, she’ll get into a lot of trouble if caught by a relative.
Last but not least, a style that has given many children nightmares; tent-like over the head with a thick cover on the face area and one hole for one iris to peek out of. The hands and feet are covered with black gloves and socks. In this case, the wearer is either an ultra wahabi fanatic or a man under disguise, especially if he/she is begging.
If you have photos or have seen photos of any of the above, please send them or the link.