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Part 1: Modest dressing according to Aqeelah Haron

It’s a common misconception worldwide that women who wear hijabs, headscarves, or veils aren’t fully expressing themselves through fashion. What does modest dressing mean in 2018? It’s not just about religion. Here, three fashion bloggers share their own definitions.

Define ‘modest dressing’
Modest dressing is a concept that stems from moral or religious standing and then extends to one’s sense of fashion. Since morals and religion are deeply personal, so is modest fashion. I’ve had many people debate over whether something is “modest enough” but I always say the same thing: modest dressing is based on intention rather than “levels” of coverage. I think it’s the effort of covering up more than usual that counts more than how much you cover. I know Christian women who believe a knee-length skirt is still modest, while Jewish women often tell me they’re not allowed to wear trousers. It’s a very subjective style concept, but generally it means to cover up more than most people might.

What do you think has led to modest dressing becoming a fashion trend dominating runways across the world?

I think more than modesty being a trend, it’s individuality and practicality that is taking over in the fashion world. Fashion and beauty have both been given back to the people, which is why we see trends like sneakers, natural hair and make-up and androgyny coming back season after season because the people refuse to let it go, and designers are giving us what we want. So on the one hand, modesty is another branch of that individualism coming through, but at the same time, the fashion world has always held a mirror up to socio-economic issues. Islamophobia for example is a real issue and so we can see the modest trend as defiance against that in the same way that androgyny seeks embrace gender fluidity. On the other hand, websites like Business of Fashion and Forbes have noted in recent years that the modest market is significantly untapped, it is worth tens of billions and is set to grow by 50% by the year 2020, so it could just be a smart business move. Modesty is having a moment, but for the rest of us, it’s been a way of life for a long time. So I hope instead of it being a trend, it becomes a long-term market that accommodates and includes everyone instead of just having a seasonal moment.

Do you have any styling tips to dress modestly?
Dresses are your BFF when you lack inspiration, and shoes and accessories will take even the simplest of looks to the next level.

Victoria Beckham recently said (about a looser silhouette) that “it puts power back into the hands of the wearer rather than the observer.” i.e. a longer hemline is now seen as a badge for women who don’t feel the need to make their body shape central to their identities – is this something that resonates with you?
It definitely resonates with me. I’ve always thought of it this way: you only see what I want you to see. Some people see that as oppression, I see that as power.

Anything you would like to add about modest dressing?
If anyone is interested in designing for the modest market, I wish they would stop designing things we already have, for example, abayas, kimonos and things that resemble traditional pieces we already own. As modest dressers what we really want is the same dope, HIGH-END looking trendy things “normal” people want to buy; we just want the modest version of it. When it comes to robes, sameeras, caftans and so on, we already have tons of those, so please don’t bring us more!

Love Aqeelah’s style? Check out her blog here!

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Glamour International