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Modest Fashion vs Islamic/Muslim Fashion


Phrasing is everything. A simple change in a word can mean a totally different thing. And so it begins. Today we’re taking a look inside the difference between Modest Fashion and Islamic/Muslim Fashion. The two aren’t the same. Many think they are but they aren’t. There is a fine line between the two.

The modest fashion industry has taken the world by storm. So much so that mainstream designers such as Dolce & Gabbana are trying to take a piece of the pie.

Modest fashion is all about longer sleeves, longer hemlines; essentially clothing that covers what you want covered – the choice is yours - hence maintaining your modesty. This modesty is subjective and doesn't necessarily include the hijab. Some feel covering up till the ankles is modest, some feel its ok to cover just below the knees; some feel long sleeves are modest, whilst some feel short-sleeves or three-quarters are enough to maintain their modesty – ok you get the picture (I hope). It’s all up to your interpretation of what is modest to you. Fashion or style is personal and so is modesty.


PHOTO: KATE MIDDLETON IN A BELOW-THE-ELBOW CHECKERED KNIT DRESS (GETTY IMAGES)

Fashion enthusiasts define Kate Middleton’s style as modest and well, without the plunging necklines and too much skin showing, yes, it is modest – again that depends on what you define as modest. Modest wear can be worn by anyone regardless of race or religion. It isn’t necessarily religiously driven although it is evident that Muslim women make up majority of the consumers in this industry. And that’s simply because modesty is a big part of our spirituality. At this point, I would like to clearly state that even among Muslims modesty in itself is subjective depending on where you stand on the religious spectrum. We are not all the same and that’s beautiful.

Islamic/Muslim fashion on the other hand (and tbh I personally don't like calling it Islamic fashion cos it just feels wrong making something religious into a fashion statement but anyways...) has a religious undertone to it. It is bound by religious standards - no ifs and buts about it. That includes the hijab, the niqab, etc - they are symbols of faith. Islamic fashion has its rules/standards and is not subjective and not up to interpretation - meaning covering all the way to the ankles (so no short dresses below the knees), covering the arms (so no short-sleeves), and of course the hijab.


PHOTO: HATTA X YUNA COLLECTION ON FASHIONVALET.COM


PHOTO: ANNIESA HASIBUAN AT NEW YORK FASHION WEEK (GETTY IMAGES)

So as you can see, there is a subtle difference between the two. Modest fashion encompasses a broader range and doesn’t distinguish between race, religion, culture, levels of faith, etc. We shouldn’t be conflating the two.

Juliana Iskandar is the Editor-in-Chief of GAYA Magazine.

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At GAYA Magazine, we champion the voices of today's Muslim women living through the complexities of today's social climate. Our doors are always open to new and exciting voices so if you're interested in becoming a contributing writer, hit this link!


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