For a while last year I toyed with the idea of wearing an abaya but in the end I decided against it. Obviously, in Saudi Arabia pretty much all the women wear abayas or jilbabs of some sort so I was wearing a black abaya and black shayla for 3 weeks on our recent trip to umrah - boy was that hard! I have been to Saudi Arabia for 5 or 6 weeks at a time before but never did I miss my wardrobe so much!
I have to say kudos to you young ladies who give up your 'normal' clothing to wear the jilbab/abaya full time outside of the house because it must be bloody hard. I have never really thought about it before but I genuinely hope that every Muslimah living in the west who decides to wear an abaya for the pure sake of pleasing Allah (SWT) receives abundant rewards in this life and the next. Seriously, I have a new found respect for abaya-wearers for not conforming and putting their religion and desire for modesty first. I know people who say that what you wear does not reflect your religiosity and I kind of agree; what I will say though is that to wear an abaya/jilbab every single day requires serious jihad al nafs (" jihad of the self") that deserves so much more reward than a girl like me who just dresses modestly with a headscarf. Allahu a'lem.