The term modest fashion refers to a fashion trend of wearing less skin-revealing clothes. The exact interpretation of ‘modest’ varies across cultures and countries. There is no unambiguous interpretation as it is influenced by socio-cultural characterizations of each country. Beyond the various interpretations, all agree on the idea that modest fashion means loose clothing, comfortable dressing and covering of the body according to person’s own comfort.
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding modest fashion or modest style, per se. People tend to believe that modest fashion is akin to boring and dull attires. They also tend to believe that modest fashion is just hijab fashion. The term “modest” may have varied interpretations across religious boundaries and even within them. What modesty or modest fashion may stand for a Muslim woman, can be quite different from that of an orthodox Jew or Christian. For example, a Muslim woman may be express modest fashion by wearing loose-fitting pants and covering one’s head with a hijab, while an Jewish woman may wear skirts or dresses only and cover her head with a wig. It is the shared interest in staying covered up, while still looking stylish is enough to define modest fashion.
“There’s a general misconception that modest clothing is inherently oppressive,” said Michelle Honig, an Orthodox Jewish fashion journalist and the keynote speaker during fashion month at New York University for the Meeting Through Modesty fashion symposium. “But if women in so-called ‘liberated countries’ still choose to cover their bodies, then they have made a choice. They have agency.”
On a general, people may have different standards on modest fashion, as long as it does not involve flashing the flesh. Modest fashion across religions has a great point of consensus that it should not be experienced as a limiting factor in style. Today, modest street style is thriving and can be visibly noticed during fashion weeks and high-end events. Brands are indulging in churning out designs and collections that an orthodox Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu can wear in style. Dolce & Gabbana, H&M, and Uniglo are just a few names that have entered the modest fashion segment, making clothes that earnestly cover most parts of the body, while allowing women to experiment with the latest trends. Recently, Max Mara showcased a collection that is an easy match for hijabs.
Modest fashion came to limelight thanks to many fashionistas like Dina Tokio and websites like Unique Hijabs, Haute Hijab, MODESTyle, etc. Some new startups like wore.io/ are making it easy for women to find modest fashion from the high street brands by curating it on their website.The kick-start of Istanbul Modest Fashion Week, London Modest Fashion Week, Singapore Modest Fashion Week has helped modest fashion to boom. Not to forget, Indonesian designer Anniesa Hasibuan created history at the New York Fashion Week by presenting an extremely modest collection where every model walked in a hijab.