If you are a woman who dresses “in a way that satisfies
your spiritual and stylistic requirements for reasons of faith, religion or
personal preference,” then you happen to be ‘Modest Dressing,’ a term
recently coined by London College of Fashion researchers.
The Guardian 16 June 2011).
According to Professor Reina Lewis and her team, 'Modest
Dressing' is a phenomenon growing among UK women of different faiths,
particularly of the young, trendy headscarf-wearing sort.
“This is a generation who have grown up with consumer
culture, and who expect to express every aspect of themselves through
participation in consumer culture,” says Lewis. “Many of this generation are working modesty in relation to
mainstream fashion trends, not through wearing so-called ethnic or traditional
It’s not hard to see how Muslim fashion online has
steadily grown over the last few years with blogs such as UK-based
and Hijabs High
and, closer to home, Australian blogspots such as Hijab
Revival and Coco’s Pearls.
One only has to Google ‘Modest Fashion’ to find sites that interpret
“modest” in different ways, a point put forward by Professor Lewis.
“There is no single definition of modest; different
faiths have different parameters, but there is also discussion and dispute
within faiths and denominations,” she says.
Aussie Muslim women, students and professionals alike, are
showing the world that religious women are no exception when it comes to
following fashion and looking good. And
you don’t have to live in Lakemba or catch a Melbourne train to Broadmeadows
to figure this out.
The spectrum of fashion trends that regularly hit city
streets – from skinny jeans to full-length road-sweeping skirts – is not
lost on Australia’s female population who also choose to wear headscarves.
The latest designs are simply ‘converted’ (sorry, couldn’t resist)
into outfits that are more wearable and that suit the fashion-conscious
hijabi’s sense of style.
If anything, they are probably a relief to our sore eyes,
constantly attacked as we are with images from the fashion and advertising industry
of women painfully depicting ‘what’s in’ images that have us reaching for the
While Lewis and her colleagues’ research continues to
discover the newest modest brands transcending their original intended audiences
- for other faith groups and beyond - the rest of us patiently await for
Sportsgirl’s first headscarf-wearing model to grace their store windows.
Until then though, I need to figure out how to work combat boots and
‘jeggings’ with the rest of my attire.