I’ve teamed up again with the amazing Sheela Goh to show off floral outfits for the mid-fall weather, when the wind starts to hail and the rain falls. I’m also bringing up the issue of modest fashion. I’m not one for controversy on the blog, but this topic has been stirring up lots of issues in society, from feminism, to sex symbols, to sex objects. You name it, what we wear is always the centre of attention. As fashion bloggers, we know that all too well.
Florals in Mid-Fall Weather
Sheela and I did a feature last month about wearing florals in the beginning of fall, where I also showed you how to DIY a floral crown perfect for any weather. This is the second edition. A third one will be posted next month. Stay tuned!
We’ve already determined that florals aren’t just for the summer. Fall can very well be blooming with roses…on your clothes that is. Here’s my version of how I would layer up against the colder weather this October/November.
Following with the modest fashion theme, as you can see, I paired my shorts with opaque tights as I prefer not to show off much skin when I wear shorter pieces. Why? Simply put, it’s more comfortable for me, work approved, and it protects me against the cold. Triple duty!
Although I’m in Ontario, Canada, we’ve had a good fall until a few days ago, which is why I could go jacket-less.
This is how Sheela’s mid-fall version plays out. Great addition with the denim jacket. Given that she’s in Houston, lighter pieces still work well for this time of year. Sadly, the same can’t be said about where I live.
Modest Fashion in Society
Women are often looked at, defined and judged by their clothes. If you’re wearing too little, and assaulted, you were asking for it. If you’re wearing too much and not uncovering certain body parts, you’re not conveying to Western society’s expectations. That leaves many women in a rut, but probably more those that decide to cover up, rather than show off skin. Women who want to dress in modest fashion, should do so freely without being reprimanded for it. Modest clothing stores started to pop up to cater to that market and help these women feel fashionable while covering up.
While I myself love to dress in sexy clothes (yet not overtly exposing my skin), modest fashion is just as great on a woman, making her look powerful and attractive at the same time.
A Fashion Choice
Every woman has to make a fashion choice based on religious beliefs, personal preference, work rules, age or shape. Who a woman wants to dress like, Beyonce or Hillary Clinton, is entirely up to her.
Many have opted for modest fashion lately. Take Kate Middleton for example. Never overly exposed yet always looks impeccably well-dressed. She’s not 10, nor 60 years old. Whatever she wears is always age appropriate, proving that modest fashion isn’t just for kids or senior citizens.
This is nothing against the Hadid sisters, the back in the day Hilton sisters, or even the Kardashian sisters, who’ve always opted for more revealing clothing. If you like to show it off, go for it, but if others prefer not to, and let them be.
Backed by Personal Reasons
Reasons for covering up in modest fashion can vary from complying to religious beliefs (this goes for Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Mormons and other conservative Christian denominations), personal preference, or even work requirements. I’m excluding women that may be forced into it by family members as this post is only focusing on those that adopt modest fashion via their own will. Being forced into it is a whole other topic that should be addressed on its own.
A Growing Movement
Going against the tide of uncovering certain body parts to be sexy and appealing is tough, but there’s a growing trend of modest fashion that’s taken off lately. Could it be due to the slew of refugees in recent years from the Middle East fleeing war-torn areas and are swaying fashion in their favour?? Maybe…
I’m no sociologist but I do recall in my society and trends class in University that fashion swings the way people take it, and trends begin far in advance of becoming mainstream. Fashion historian Patricia Mears, deputy director of the Museum at FIT, New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, seems to agree, according to USA Today.
“If anything it’s gaining more traction (now),” says Mears. “Many women do not want to walk around in a bandage dress or show their midriff — the Real Housewives look that has permeated the workplace.”
So let me make this assumption safely, as it seems I’ve studied it in school, and the experts also agree.
Covered up Western-Style Clothing
Offering Western-style clothing that are MORE covered up has been making lots of ladies happier, and more comfortable, and they are not all refugees from war-torn areas. Sales of modest fashion have been growing, thanks in part to social media spreading it to women who’ve been searching desperately for fashionable modest clothing.
For me, growing up and not always wanting to done whatever my schoolmates did in junior high school, partly because I developed ahead of them, was tough. I had to find alternatives which weren’t necessarily available in stores. So I became good at patching things together.
For many women that adopt modest fashion for religious reasons, it’s always been a struggle to find something that abides by their faith’s regulation.
Modest Fashion in High Fashion
Not all modest fashion customers seek it for religious reasons. Many do it to assert female empowerment, self-confidence, and a way to let their personality shine through rather than their cleavage. Even high fashion jumped on the modest fashion bandwagon:
- Hijabs are not only showcased at Islamic Fashion Week in Indonesia, take New York Fashion Week for example; designer Anniesa Hasibuan showcased her collection with hijabi models.
- Vogue featured a clad of hijabi ladies in their best street styles photo ops.
- Notice the new trends of modest maxi dresses and midi skirts currently hitting stores, summer and winter alike.
- The Olsen twins, Mary Kate and Ashley, almost exclusively design loose, over-sized, maxi clothing in their The Row line.
- A-list designers and big chain retailers such as DKNY, Oscar de la Renta, Zara, Mango are producing one-off collections for Ramadan, taking cues from couture designers who’ve selling their designs for decades to middle-eastern women.
- Dolce & Gabbana and Uniqlo each released a collection of hijabs, abayas and other covering up accessories.
- H&M featured a Muslim model in a hijab in one of its video ads last September.
- Elle Magazine has a contributing writer that owns her a modest fashion clothing shop, Melanie Elturk.
- Niche magazines like Jen Magazine and Cover Magazine feature modest fashion.
- Several other modest fashion shops have popped up all over the Internet catering to this niche market.
Is it a fashion movement or breaking down barriers? Who knows. What I do know is that modest fashion is not outmoded or dressing biblically. Women who don’t want to sacrifice style to dress more conservatively, can now do so fashionably.
The Gist of it
The reasons for modest fashion choices can vary from religious, to self-empowerment, to comfort. Whatever it is, it has been largely swaying the fashion scene and bringing forward styles that are not confined only to the mother of the bride. Mass retailers and designers have all taken notice of the popular trend, largely brought over by women looking to express themselves in less revealing clothing, and the influx of migrants from war-torn areas into Western nations.
I leave you with one of my modest outfits from my Instagram feed. Check it out and Instagram and let me know what you think of it.
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This is Grace
Grace from Color & Grace. Based in Troy, Michigan, Grace is a 41 year-old petite woman who loves colours. Born and raised in China, she moved to America for love in 2007. Her day job – teacher. Her dream job – fashion blogger. Make sure to go and check out her blog and leave her a comment on her awesome outfit.
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Tiina L says
I kind of resent the term ‘modest fashion’, and I certainly would never describe my own style this way.
I’m going to plead cultural differences here: by my Nordic standards there is no such thing as ‘modest’ dressing. There is no need to feel covered up; but there is no need to flash skin, either.
Your post made me realise how much we are all products of our own cultural background, and I need to explain where I’m coming from in this issue. So, we Nordics/Scandinavians would find overtly sexy, revealing clothing a bit cheap, try-too-hard, maybe even ridiculous. It would certainly affect the way I see the person wearing clothing that exposes as much skin as possible (i.e. ‘Somesort of wannabe c-list celebrity, not to be taken seriously). But, also because of my cultural background, I would think a woman covered head to to as suppressed… As I said, we all tend to judge other people by our own standards, and I am very much a product of the equalitarian Scandi ideals. I’ve never thought of dressing from the point of view of ‘modesty’, it’s just incomprehensible to me. We Nordics have no problem showing skin when it is appropriate (on the beach, we go to the sauna naked, wear sleeveless tops and short skirts when it’s hot etc), but we don’t do that in order to look sexy. Nor do we cover up in order to dress ‘conservatively’. We simply wear whatever is seasonally approprate and suits our personal tastes. And yes, I think Nordic women do have a style of their own, but it is neither provocative nor conservative, and we don’t see ourselves in those terms at all.
The Wardrobe Stylist says
Thanks Tiina for your response. I appreciate giving me insight into other cultures as we only see things from where we stand as much as we try to be global and worldly. You’re right, it’s probably completely relative to perceptions and culture. Perhaps here we in North America attribute showing off skin differently than in Europe, where possibly skin is showed off without taste at times by some people. And you’re right, it doesn’t mean that if you are wearing a bathing suit to the beach or shorts and a tank on a hot day that you are being provocative. Yet for some women, these pieces would not be comfortable for them and they would rather wear pants or longer shorts for example on a hot day. The point is, whatever you want to wear is your choice, but that modest fashion doesn’t have to be segregated or unfashionable because someone is more comfortable wearing looser or longer clothing. As for women covered head to toe, again I believe it is a choice and if they’ve made it, I don’t believe they are oppressed. Take Melanie Elturk who’s a veiled woman but flaunts her beautiful modest fashionable outfits all over Instagram and sells them to other like-minded women. If she were oppressed, I don’t believe she would show it off as she does.
There are so many chic and stylish modest fashion options! I love the look of midi dresses and maxi’s are always my go to!
Doused In Pink
The Wardrobe Stylist says
Much more than before, Women can totally feel fashionable in modest fashions.
I definitely appreciate modest fashion inspiration. As a mom, I just want more coverage when I am out and about!
The Wardrobe Stylist says
I totally understand. Where there are times I want to show off, often, especially at work, with the kids, or at gatherings, I’d rather cover up a little more.
Sheela Goh says
Modest fashion is such an interesting way to coin a style of dressing which has been somewhat forced down my throat growing up Catholic in a Muslim country. Despite Sarawak (where I’m from) being an ex-British colony, we are still part of Malaysia, a developing nation of Islam devotees. So you might discern that I am somewhat anti the entire concept 🙂 purely from a religious standpoint. The whole idea of dressing modestly is to avoid attracting attention and inciting lustful thoughts (eye rolling). That being the case, why dress modestly and cover up, and then go to town with enough make-up to rival a Kardashian? Do you see why I’m perplexed? To me, modesty is a state of mind, not a style of dressing. How you feel always translates into what you wear, and the amount of fabric you use to cover your body (or not) is a clear indication of the inner workings of your mind.
The Wardrobe Stylist says
For, sure, many women share your feelings. But I think there is definitely a growing demand for women who indeed really rather not show off any skin and I am not just referring to muslims, I’m encompassing those with various religious backgrounds, and others, who are completely secular but really rather be covered. What I mean by covered up is not necessarily head to toe but I mean looser clothing, less body forming. While I myself love showing off at times, I do respect those that would rather not, as I know I feel that way sometimes too. As for the makeup part. I totally get where you are coming from. It takes a certain cultural background to know what you are referring to but I understand and I don’t agree just like you. However, again, it’s all about choices and ones we should respect as long as everyone is able to express themselves freely without imposing their ideologies on others.