THE DIVERSE FABRIC(S) OF MUSLIM WOMEN
When dressing as a Muslim woman, there’s a bit of creativity involved. When shopping, there is the indefinite present thought that you are shopping in stores that aren’t really bothering to cater to you and your identity. Many clothing chains already have a problem with being accessible to women who come in different sizes, abilities, and economic standings. And I don’t just mean clothes for the sake of not being in the nude (if that’s your thing, then by all means, go off sis), I mean clothing that is stylish, comfortable, and gives women the confidence to carry themselves in any capacity. Yes, clothing does not define a person or should dictate how you treat someone, but this isn’t necessarily about how outside folks perceive someone- rather it’s about the perception women who don’t fit the status quo of themselves.
When you exclude women from fashion by not making it available for their needs, you are saying that they don’t belong, and they don’t deserve to be a part of any movements- intentionally or not. On top of dealing with an industry that can be ableist and very classist, Muslim Women make the best out of what’s available and look damn good doing it. What exactly does Muslim Women Fashion ™ look like? Well, it depends on who you ask. To some, Muslim women in fashion look like an ASOS Ad, with a turban, some dangly earrings, palazzo pants, and trainers. To others, it's the outfit of the long burka, or niqab. Both of these answers are correct. Muslim fashion's only requirement is modesty, and because of cultural backgrounds, race, and other factors, what exactly is modest can change. Either way, what a woman wears is her business, and how she expresses her faith is up to her.
If you are looking for a deep think-piece on how Muslim women must be “confused” you will not find it here. This take on Halal Fashion is not meant for you to sympathize or feel sorry for Muslim women. Yes, being able to dress in a way that expresses your faith comes with societal challenges, but having representation and normalizing Muslim women and their dress makes it less weird for us to be ourselves authentically. The idea, however, that Muslim women are the “other” in the world of fashion is absurd. Muslim women stunting in the latest trends are here to stay, but with their own personal twists, of course.
Muslim women (like myself, and the ones featured in this piece!) show everyone, even those who aren't Muslim, that you don't have to give up who you are, and that there are no limits to self-expression. The pop-of-colour hijabs, bold prints, and flowing hems showcase a commitment to expression of faith while making no compromises. Neutral tones, denim, and florals are a must have. The familiarity of jeans and a striped shirt is casual and signifies youth, and the ability to mix and match fashion and faith.
Why is this important? Because accurate representation matters. Why turn to mainstream media, or to male dominated sources for the scoop on what Muslim women wear? At the end of the day, the people who control the narrative on things like culture and clothing should be those who have the most to lose if that narrative is stolen and manipulated. Muslim women are the only ones who dictate what Muslim women wear, and the more we pay attention and highlight them, the more normal women and modest fashion becomes.
Special thanks to Aaisha, Saida, Noor, Ahlam, and Sahar, for being the muses for this article. You can find their Insta’s next to their beautiful faces.
art used as thumbnail is by artist @vvsima on Instagram