Egyptian woman wearing a burqu’ ca 1923. A look at the historical context of the veil in Egypt, insightful article written by Ahdaf Soueif in 2001 for the Guardian.

The language of the veil : Egyptian society adopted western styles in the 1920s but has, over time, returned to more traditional dress.
By Ahdaf Soueif

Published on The Guardian UK, December 8, 2001

“In the Cairo of the time, women covered their hair with a tarha, a thin material in either black or white. For their faces, they had a choice of the white yashmak, which was drawn across the face under the eyes and connoted the aristocracy and their imitators; the bisha, which could be casually thrown over the whole face and was neutral in class terms; and the burqu’, a rectangle of the same fabric as fishnet stockings that was hung from under the eyes with a small decorative gold or brass cylinder at its centre over the nose. This last was very much the accessory of the bint al-balad, the “native woman” of the working or lower middle class, who had no desire to imitate the yashmak or bisha-wearing ladies.”

The above is an excerpt, click to read the full article.

Charles White, Three Years in Constantinople, 1845

The following is a list of all articles composing the attire of both sexes:—Female Dress: Entary: Gown; Shalwar: Trowsers; Giumlik: Chemise; Dyslik: Linen drawers; Outchkoor: Waist girdle passed through hem of shalwar; Kooshak: Shawl waist girdle; Fotazy: Head dress, comprising fez and kalemker, handkerchief, or yeminy; Tchipship: House slippers (embroidered); Tirlik, or tchedik: Yellow walking boots; Papoosh: Slippers; Ferijee: Cloak; Yashmak: Veil; Seimen: Wadded jacket, for winter; Kurk: Fur pelisse.

The United Service Journal: A Cruise to the Levant, 1840

The appearance of the streets strongly reminded me of that of the native towns of India, particularly of Aurangabad. One feature was, however, different, viz., the number of women to be seen abroad; these were nearly all Turkish, but so strictly veiled in their white yashmaks, sad-colored fridges, and yellow walking boots, and they glided so noiselessly and silently along among the crowd, unheeding, and apparently unheeded of all as to resemble some of the still inhabitants of the sepulcher, who, having burst their cerements, were revisiting the world above.