While many of us contemplate whether to look like a 1930s newsie or a 1960s secretary this fall, for observant Muslim women, says The Guardian's Homa Khaleeli, the question is a simpler one. "What" she queries, "will be autumn's key hijab look?" An ever-expanding number of blogs like Hijab Style, Hijabfashionista and The Hijab blog, Facebook groups and YouTube tutorials advise on new ways to tie the headscarf. And more to the point, how to integrate this visible mainfestation of faith into the realities of living in a modern world where the hijab has taken on, perhaps, undue significance to the non-Muslim population. Says Jana Kossaibati of Hijab Style, "Muslim girls are very conscious of the way they dress. When you wear a headscarf you stand out as a Muslim, so what kind of message are you also sending out if you look drab or messy?"While these sites present Muslim women with readily available modest yet chic clothing options from high street retailers, without exception they address the hijab: styles like the "Spanish", "simple braid" and the "Flower Wrap" are discussed and demonstrated; forums discuss the best wraps for athletics or for wear under a a baseball cap. Writes one commenter on hijabstyle, "For me, spanish hijab is more convenient when I need to look 'westernised' :) Like in the airport security, or dealing with non-muslim people whose judging can affect my life (like oral exams and so on)... And I'm 50-50 mix, my mom is not a muslim, so her family and she likes it better that way :)." These outlets, one presumes, are liberating not merely for the modern Muslim women living in Western societies, but also for those, like Iranian women, who are constrained by law to "modesty" and want to express their creativity through dress. Of course, this playful attitude towards the hijab has aroused some ambivalence. Speaking of the new "trend" in hijab chic, Muslimah Media Watch blogger Faith writes, "For one thing, isn't the one of the objectives of hijab to take the focus off of outer appearances? One of the most common arguments given by hijab apologists is that the hijab prevents women from only being judged by how they look. It allows women to be judged for who they truly are. If headscarves are suddenly made into the latest fashion trend, doesn't it suddenly lose that purpose? Hasn't it become the latest commodity that women must have? As Muslims, should we support that?" Further, she objects to the head scarf as a tangible harbinger of "modesty." "Is the wearing of the khimar (which is the actual headscarf) the sole indicator of modesty? What about women who do not wear the hijab, both Muslim and non-Muslim? Are they immodest? Isn't modesty also related to our attitude? What about hijabis or other "modestly" dressed women who have horrible attitudes and look down upon anyone who doesn't agree with their line of thinking on how women should dress or act? Arrogance isn't modesty at all." While this is obviously a highly personal and thorny issue, a friend, Sumerah, told me that she appreciates any trend, however superficial, that serves to 'normalize' the Muslim image in contemporary American society. "We're portrayed as so sinister now," she wrote, "that anything that shows us to be normal people is a positive, however sad that might sound." Oh, and the 'look for Fall?' "Those complex folds are seriously labor-intensive," she wrote. "Who has the energy?" The hijab goes high fashion [Guardian] IslamOnline's Modesty Chic [Muslimah Media Watch]
Can I ask a question of the lovely Muslim ladies here?
In terms of full-body covering, where do opaque tights fall on the scale? If you have a knee-length dress and opaque black tights, is that acceptable or because the tights are, well, tight is it considered to be not modest enough? Which I guess is a way of asking: which is more important, whether you're showing skin or whether you're showing shape?
Or, alternately, if you have an ankle- or tea-length dress, are tights then acceptable?
This is genuine curiosity. Thanks!!