The anatomy of modest fashion

Is modest fashion not only for our muslim friends? Far from it! Long hemlines were the height of international fashion in the 50s. Those living in cool climates layer short over long, over sheer. These days it’s equally common to spot layered styles throughout summer or even in the tropics. Modest fashion is in effect, a matter of personal preference. We delve into its significance to certain individuals and ethnic groups. 

By Nabila Azlan

How is this so? Is there a specific group of people who drove the rise? Now, although modest styling is often seen in tandem to a fashion collective – long dresses, scarves, oversized coats, turtlenecks, the likes – there is no direct definition or single cause to its propagation. There are a list of approaches to why modest fashion is taken in; and although a portion of it still narrates religion, people’s embrace of modest fashion, regardless of cultural or religious beliefs – can be driven by other abstracts, including comfort, self-presentation and select aesthetics.



A Spiritual Endeavour

When we think of modest fashion, we would often think of Muslim women in their abayas and headscarves. A religion which teaches humility and peacefulness in its essence, modest wear, among many other things, is regarded as part and parcel of the religion of Islam (a common thread between some other major religions too); thus every motion towards dressing humbly is accounted for as a step towards attaining steadfastness. 

These said, going out in modest outfits does not mean wearing strictly drab, dreary pieces. There is no ‘one right way’ to dress in accordance with this. 

Modest fashion in Islam is laden with intention, it is a journey to renew and reflect. Whether or not the hijab is in the picture, the twinning of fashion and faith has brought out countless style expressions with many creative solutions to covering up, including an elevated layering game – all while staying poised and practical no matter
the occasion
or hour. Cue: The super stylish Marwa Biltagi (@mademoisellememe) who runs digital lifestyle magazine, Mademoiselle Meme and Imane Asry (@fashionwithfaith) a digital creator who was awarded Elle Sweden’s Look of the Year in 2020.


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Scoop Back Gathered Maxi


Scales Skirt

A Symbol of Empowerment

Religious beliefs aside, empowerment through fashion takes many forms – today, we can see it peering through loose-cut outers and chic dresses. Modest styling is undeniably a celebration of diversity – it stems for dressing up in what one feels most powerful in. Some people feel freer all covered up – to put things lightly and this is something we could celebrate, appreciate and respect. There is so much more to this, of course. To paint a picture, think about versatile, sharp pairings that uncover inner boldness meeting their matches. It’s not a passing trend, really if we can take our cue from the minimalistically chic digital influencer, Felicia Akerstrom (@fakerstrom).




An Exploration of Self and Style

The basis of modesty, of course, is never solely tied to one thing. Think about how it paints a picture about how you carry yourself wherever you go, taking into full consideration your temperament and mannerisms towards the world at large. Grounded on authenticity and self-love, modest styling in this sense is wearable personal aesthetics. Today, modest wear is a form of understated exhibit – a beckoning towards artistic expressions and discoveries. It signifies character and ultimately, a translation of style stances.
Cue: Queen of androgynous fashion Hodan Yousuf (@hodanyousuf).

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An Ode To Maturity

Modest fashion is abstractly a nod towards the chicness in life. An embrace towards agelessness in fashion (well, without taking into account your actual age why don’t we) with fluid, free-flowing outfits as statements of their own. Think about the style adopters keen on satin co-ords and ankle-length frocks, maybe even tailored jackets with trousers to match. A dig into the Olsen twins’ personal style diaries, in true fashion. 

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