Ramadan Reflections '13, Day 15: In Search of Modesty

There are many two-word combinations that can be used to describe the current fashion trends seen in stores today. Too short. Too sheer. Too open. Too revealing. Too tight. Too skinny.

Unfortunately, they're all in the negative, especially during the summer months where the need to bare it all or most of it is present.

For a gal who is in search of modesty, and 5 ' 9" at the same time (since most stores don't cater to this height), it can be more than challenging to find clothing that fulfils my modesty requirements. Long enough to cover the tush, long sleeves, high crew neck or button down, not see through, skirts with no slits, and pants that aren't too tight yet also NOT reminiscent of the MC Hammer era. Are these requirements too much to ask for?!

Apparently, yes.

And while it would be easy to don men's clothing or wear an abaya 24/7, that's not me. I do believe that one can look modest AND polished at the same time. Clothing should also reflect your personality.You just need to get creative about how you wear what you do and where you purchase it from. Here are a few strategies I've come across in my search for modesty:

Tip #1: Layer

Yes, the one way to combat shirts that are too short or sheer is to layer. I have a good multi-colored stock of thin tanks that I wear pretty under anything that needs to be more modest. These tanks are also tush covering for those that are too short. In the summer, it can get a little hot but then again, if I can wear long sleeves in a hot yoga studio and survive 75 minutes, then layering doesn't really compare! I was also glad to see when Lululemon made their cool racerbank tanks come in an extra-long length. I have a handful of these and they're awesome in the fall, winter and spring since they provide some extra warmth and coverage. They come in neutrals and patterns, thus are worth the investment. I've had some of these tanks for 4 years now and there are NO signs of pilling.

Tip #2: Hi-Lo tops

YES, this is one trend that works to the modest seeking sister's requirement. I love the trend of hi-lo tops, as long as the hi end of these tops is NOT crop-top short! These tops are perfect to layer over pants or skirts and require little fussing. You throw one on and you're good to go! They're also good to layer with a contrasting colour. There's also the continuing trend of over-sized hi-lo sweaters that are coming out on Pinterest for the fall and winter. Yup, that's double the modesty!

Tip #3: Invest in maxi skirts and dresses

Yes, these two are super easy to wear since they require little to no effort. Throw a jean jacket or chambray shirt over a skirt or dress, or a cardi to dress it up and you're good to go! Just a word of advice: many skirts and dresses are either sheer or are made of thin jersey fabric that clings to one's nether regions when you walk. PLEASE wear a skirt or full slip under it! Slips prevent the clinging and allows you to walk without revealing everything underneath. Without a slip, your undies may also be visible in the sunlight. Just a head's up because I see far too many women not knowing what a slip is!

Tip #4: Know your stores

Ah yes, it can be frustrating to walk into stores and they don't have anything you can wear, meaning that you rarely purchase anything from them. Good! Now you know not to waste your time there! Banana Republic, Guess, and Express are those stores that I rarely buy anything from. BR's clothes are too short for my long torso, Guess is way too clingy and Express in the summer is way too revealing.The stores that I DO have luck in are H & M, Joe Fresh (love their prices!), Zara (sometimes!), The Gap, Winners, Tommy Hilfiger (for jeans and khakis), and sometimes Smart Set. Oh, and of course, Lululemon...how could I forget?!

Tip #5: Think about buying online

Yes, online stores have MUCH more variety and their prices are more competitive, even with shipping. A few that I've come to love are (but can also be hit and miss) are Ruche (www.shopruche.com), HauteLook (www.hautelook.com), and more recently I've discovered SheInside (www.sheinside.com) and a small boutique run by a stay-at-home mom called Amuse Me Boutique (www.amusemeboutique.com). For dresses that are trendy and modest, try Abaya Addict (www.abayaaddict.com), since they have HUGE blowout sales around both Eids and most of their dresses are 50% off or more around this time. Inayah Collection (www.inayahcollection.com) is a UK based company with high-trend Islamic inspired clothing at OK to above average prices, but they do have sales often. A quick Google search or look on Pinterest will reveal MANY websites where you can order modest clothing with greater style variety and better prices. Just follow their size chart measurements! Alhamdulillah, I've never had to return something because it didn't fit me.

Tip #6: Be creative

I sometimes feel as though I'm wearing a uniform of monochromatic colours, which can get boring very soon lead to a sense of blah in how I'm feeling. Because admit it...clothes do speak about who we are and have an impact on our self-esteem. Don't believe me? Check out how many contestants cry at the end of TLC's What Not To Wear because they have a new-found sense of belief in themselves and their self-esteem is finally high enough to think that they deserve to invest time in themselves. Ok, back to the point! There are many ways to get inspiration to help with your shopping needs. For example, I mentioned Pinterest as one option. Another is following fashion blogs. I've recently started following J's Everyday Fashion Blog (www.jseverydayfashion.com). Even though her clothes don't fit my modesty requirements, her ideas around colours and clothing combinations provide a launching pad to search out similar yet modest items. The same holds true with Pinterest. Lastly, if the clothes aren't working, then take a pair of scissors to them! I've bought sheer long sleeve tops that I can't wear standing alone, so I've hacked off the sleeves and used the new longer-length tank top to layer! For items that I love but their neckline doesn't work, I'll layer a crew neck tank underneath OR ask my mom to sew in a patch of fabric that has been cut to match the hemline of the shirt that provides extra coverage. Clothes don't have to remain the same, they are adaptable! As long as you're ok with hacking them up a tad or adding on.

OK, so yes, it is possible to be a modest and trendy dresser. And if you're someone where shopping can get a little out of hand, set a budget and make a list of items that you need (i.e. your jeans no longer fit or are worn out) versus trendy items you may want! There's nothing wrong with browsing online for ideas or asking sales associates for help...just sometimes be prepared to not find anything that would work or that you like. Or, if you ever need a shopping buddy, give me a shout!

Although I'm pretty sure that Asif wouldn't want to hear that I'm spending more time at the mall :)

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