My journey to modesty started hand in hand with my journey to Islam. Modesty is a very big part of the Islamic faith. As a Muslim, you are obligated to cover specific parts of your body in public settings - for women this is the entire body apart from the face, hands and feet and for men between the naval and the knee.
Growing up as a non-Muslim, I had the freedom to dress as I pleased. As I researched Islam, not only did I feel encouraged but it also felt like a natural step for me to gradually start incorporating longer, more modest garments in my wardrobe. However, the transition was not as easy as I expected. I remember making the move from jeans and short tops, to longer tops and skirts.
To my shock, I felt very insecure - I was so accustomed to showing the shape of my body. As I started to wear maxi cardigans, midi tops and maxi skirts, the entire experience left me feeling very ‘baggy’ and often unattractive. I was surprised at how much confidence disappeared when I began to cover myself. I felt lost for a while, as high-street stores weren’t catering to my new style and I could only find clothes at local markets which were often poor quality and unflattering.
It took a while to rebuild my confidence, and develop my own style, but after endless amounts of scrolling on social media, I realised that you don’t have to compromise your own personal style and identity by dressing modestly. Instead, you do what works for you. It can be overwhelming when you take the first step to covering, and you may be under the misconception that you just have to wear a long, non-fitting garment but that isn’t the case. You can still wear the cute mini dress you would have worn before, but instead of wearing it alone, pair it with a pair of palazzos or a maxi skirt. Of course, it can take a while to get used to the new look, especially if you would have gone out bare legged before.
I have found the main key to dressing modestly is the power of layering. Layering still lets you buy the beautiful, sleeveless maxi dress, just pair it with a jacket, or a neutral bodysuit underneath if you plan on taking the jacket off.
In the past, for many Muslim women the struggle for sourcing modest clothes that are actually suitable in the Islamic context has been difficult. For every long maxi skirt you found, there would be a thigh high split, or for every beautiful maxi dress you found, you’d turn it around and see it was backless. It can sometimes be hard to see past a garment if it has a slit or exposed panels, but once you invest in some key ‘basics’, it can definitely change the way you perceive dressing modestly.
I feel confident to wear most things now, providing I have leggings underneath, should my legs ever show. I would only ever wear black leggings at the beginning of my journey, but now I have the confidence to experiment with colours/textures and it feels amazing to have a unique sense of style without showing any skin. Confidence doesn’t come overnight, but once you find a style that works for you, you’ll never look back.