Words by Sebina Hussain
As a woman who chooses to wear the scarf, I’ve always found it difficult to find summer clothes that fit with my modest dress code. It actually came as a surprise, when 5 years ago, I first decided to wear the hijab and suddenly realised that despite the vast number of shops and endless rails of clothes, finding an item of clothing that I could wear without having to layer up was like looking for a needle in a haystack!
Autumn/winter was never an issue because I genuinely love layering in the chillier months, but I found it impossible to find a decent dress to wear in the summer time or take on holiday with me. If I found something that was ideal and long in length, it most likely had vest sleeves and would require layering with a cardigan on top; if I found something that was perfect because it had long sleeves it would probably have a slit all the way up to the thigh so I’d have to pair it with leggings or jeans; and on the odd occasion if I found something that was both long in length and long sleeved, it would either be made of super stretchy skin tight material or transparent material! Can you see my dilemma?
The popularity of social media and the rise of modest fashion and Hijabi influencers highlighted this gap in the market and created the boom of the “Modest Fashion” space. With fashion shows dedicated to modesty taking place around globe; designers, influencers and of course, consumers, emerged from every corner. It wasn’t long before main stream fashion caught wind of this; fast forward 5 years later and the landscape has changed considerably. Can you imagine my delight this summer, when we were basking in highs of 32 degrees, and I discovered that my favourite stores had row upon row of dresses and skirts and shirts that were just perfect to pair with the headscarf and fitted with my modest dress code *swoon*.
Modest dressing is no longer just appealing to women of religion, actually more and more non religious women are opting for this style. As a modest fashion influencer, this doesn’t surprise me at all as I have women off different faiths (and those that don’t follow any religion) follow me on my platform. The trend for dressing modestly hasn’t only seeped into main street fashion stores and runways, but also been openly embraced women everywhere. This was evident from last week’s London Fashion Week street style – full sleeved maxi dresses, long pleated skirts and oversized sweaters were the most popular go to outfits for attendees gathering outside 180 The Strand. I followed the shows closely to see whether the low hemmed and oversized trends we’ve grown to love will be blessing us again with their presence next summer, and I’ve highlighted some of my favourite modest trends below.
Boho dresses are here to stay, and I for one could not be more happier about this! Beautiful prints, floaty cuts and fanciful fabrics were used by a range of designers to create pieces that are not only eye catching but allow the modern modest dressing women to abide by their dress code but to still feel feminine. Bora Aksu’s SS19 which was inspired by Romani poetess Papuza, is a prime example. A romantic, delicate, feminine collection boasting bright colours, low hemlines and plenty of frill and ruffles. Aksu created a collection which is ideal for someone like me, distinct dresses which don’t need to be paired with anything on top or underneath so you really get to celebrate the dress. Personally, the tiered ruffles and ruched seams are a hit for me because they transform something as simple as a dress into a statement piece; theres only so many dresses you can opt for before becoming bored with the same old structure, which is why Aksu’s collection is a breath of fresh air.
Another theme amongst designers on the runway was co-ords. These two-piece outfits which can come in varying forms – sweater/skirt combo; shirt/pants combo or even dress/trousers combo which I saw a lot of this season – are once again ideal for modest outfit wearers. Aside from requiring minimal effort (you don’t have to worry what to pair the shirt or skirt with as the pieces come matched out already!), the varying combinations of co-ords mean that you can wear them again and again, and adjust them as necessary during the unpredictable British Summer Time. Some of my personal favourite co-ords this season were by Malene Odershede Bach. Bach’s collection which was inspired by Natalie Portman’s movie Annihilation was not actually dark, creepy or sinister as I had initially imagined. The collection was feminine yet bold; structured pieces with hints of floral and a colour palette that was an ode the “The Shimmer” (which I guess was the inspiration she took from the movie).
Dresses on trousers
J JS Lee’ s collection could have been discussed under many trend sections in this article, but I wanted to highlight the whole dresses on trousers concept – because I am all for it! I remember when I first started wearing the scarf, this was a trend I tried – and failed at miserably. I actually sent a runway shot to my cousins with the caption, “can you remember when I wore dresses on top of trousers and you told me it looked stupid? I was just thinking ahead of my time :)”. Aside from actually also featuring a Hijabi model (extra brownie points to Lee for choosing such a diverse cast for the runway!), the collection was actually wearable and practical. The theme was protection with Lee stating that inspiration came from deconstructed furniture to create pieces that were smart and chic; a neutral colour palette featuring creams and hues of navy, with a few pieces in brighter shades of mustard and red thrown in meant an outfit from the runway wouldn’t look out of place in real life. My favourite pieces were the navy patterned dress paired with loose trousers or the grey dress paired with grey trousers which featured a pop of colour in the form of a yellow vest was topped of with a grey shoulder piece.
There’s an art to wearing something oversized without looking like you’re drowning in it – it’s something I’ve not tried to master until recently and it’s a trend I love personally because aside from being modest it also means I don’t need to worry about loosening my belt or buttons after lunch 😉 A trend with many designers this season, most notably JW Anderson, oversizing not only means comfort but makes the whole process of shopping easier – whether that’s when I’m shopping online and not sure if the item will be true to size, or whether I’m physically in store where my scarf always gets super creased when I take it off to try on outfits in the changing rooms! A few of the pieces in the collection, which featured head bands and netting are reminiscent of Jack Sparrow vibes and not something I deemed practical or fashionable for day to day wear. However, some of the pieces in the wider collection are undeniably modest, and yet also practical and trendy. Anderson has been able to adopt the oversized trend to create pieces that are complimentary and don’t just look like you brought the wrong size! I love the shirts/dresses featured below, which are oversized in nature but still feminine and floaty.
Trench coats were not something I expected to see on the runway for spring summer collections, but in reality probably that something is practically needed knowing what British summers are like. Alexa Chung’s debut collection was centred around transitions and layering, and featured many variations of the classic British wardrobe staple. Trench coats in different materials, colours and cuts were featured in her collection and I can’t wait to feature this in my wardrobe next summer as it will be an easy piece to throw on top of vest dresses or vest jumpsuits to complete a modest look; and also handy for those days where it’s sunny when you leave the house in the morning, but raining by the time you make your way back home!
A relaxed casual blazer is a great spring summer wardrobe addition for pairing with an outfit that requires a little more coverage. Victoria Beckham opted for a beautiful camel coloured blazer to wear herself for her first ever London show to mark the 10 year anniversary of her brand. Her pieces were modern, sophisticated and contemporary – and she added her own personal VB twist to the trousers and blazers featured in her collection. She featured several blazers, some longer in length than others. Similar to the trench coat, these long line blazer are ideal for me because they allow to me add that extra coverage to an outfit whilst keeping it smart and elegant.