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Part 3: Modest dressing according to Nabilah Kariem

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’

That’s quite a hard question. It’s like asking what it means to dress provocatively. Different people will give you different answers depending on their opinion and sensitivity to the matter. The concept of modesty has been around for thousands of years and modest dressing has changed over time. What is commonly accepted as modest dressing is affected by religion, culture, geographical location and many other factors at any point in time. For me, like many others, modest dressing was prescribed to me by my religion. So for me specifically, as a Muslim, the meaning of modest dressing is very closely tied to the guidelines given by Islam on how one should dress. I regrettably don’t always follow these guidelines correctly so while at those times I still consider my dress ‘modest’, I’m very conscious of the fact that there is room to improve my modesty.

What do you think has led to modesty as a fashion trend dominating runways across the world?  

The market. The market has always and will always decide what retails in the mainstream. With D&G Abayas what was happening was that the luxury market in the Middle East Region was buying luxury Abayas from local designers and spending less on European designers. A very easy way for D&G to get this market back was to make Abayas. With Nike’s hijabs, it was a similar situation. The Muslim woman as an athletic apparel consumer had just kept growing and hundreds of small companies offering a ‘sports hijab’ were starting to pop up all over the world. Nike was smart, they moved quickly, before Adidas, Puma and the rest, and created a product that would inevitably be a staple in every major sports brand. 

 As for the runways this past season. That has less to do with the market and more to do with inclusivity. Either these designers and being inclusive or they are simply trying to seem inclusive. They either have good hearts or want good press. There is no way of really knowing so I won’t begin to assume either.

Do you have any styling tips to dress modestly?

Tons. I literally make a living off providing styling tips to dress modestly. The best tip I have would be to follow some of the top modest fashion bloggers on Instagram and Youtube. You’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of inspiration and advice. My favourites? @ascia @eslimah @mariaalia @feeeeya @sauf.etc @marwaatik @shahdbatal and so many more!

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?

Yes, it does, definitely. I’ve been taught about the power of modesty my whole life. As I grew up and started to implement modesty in my life, I then witnessed first hand the power of it. It has also allowed me a very clear perspective on how the vast majority of the female fashion industry makes women feel like their body shape is central to their identities.

Anything you would like to add about modest dressing?

Don’t be afraid to dress modestly if that’s what you want to do. On a more lighter note…If you’re starting out, have fun with it. Play around and see what works for you. Don’t take it too seriously, it’s just fashion.

Love Nabilah’s style? Check out her Insta  here!

For more fashion inspiration for modest dressing check out 

Want more fashion inspiration? Click  here!

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