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Hijab and Fashion


The recent media coverage of my blog started with the Guardian, and was then picked up on by several other websites and newspapers. Incidentally, the Turkish media pounced on the fact that I mentioned that Turkish style hijabs would be ‘in’ for Autumn, and I think I may have inadvertently caused a rush for all things square and shiny :D

But this sudden interest, which has driven thousands of visitors to the blog who do not make up my traditional audience, has been a bit surprising. I guess that’s because I didn’t realise that it was some sort of revelation that some Muslim women are interested in clothes that look nice as well as cover up. Us handful of bloggers are not the first, nor the only hijabis who enjoy matching our scarves to our tops, or finding great bargains on the high street.

Some people, both Muslim and non-Muslim seem to find the notion of ‘hijab fashion’ (and my blog is about style for goodness sake, not fashion), a contradictory concept. Apparently, modesty dictates that you look as ‘blah’ as possible. Apparently, wearing hijab means you should shun all worldly notions of ‘style’ and ‘looking good’. Apparently we run the risk of the hijab (well, actually, headcovering) become a mere fashion trend.

Interesting.

So with all this discussion going on, I thought I should at least express my opinions on what goes on here at ‘Hijab Style’.

Firstly, for those of you who haven't visited my profile page, I am a medical student. I am not a fashion designer/stylist by any means. This blog is a hobby, a creative outlet for me when I've had enough of extracellular matrix and pseudo-stratified epithelia. But I digress.

‘Fashion’ is not necessarily about what’s ‘hot’, or the latest fad, or having the most expensive designer gear. For me it’s about being creative within my limits, those primarily being price, availability and hijab-appropriateness of clothes. It’s about combining things tastefully and experimenting with fabrics, cuts and colours. It doesn’t have to be ostentatious. And to say that with the advent of such blogs, hijab is becoming a fashion statement is a bit misleading. My blog was originally aimed at Muslim women who wear hijab, not the general public, so I am simply complementing what already happens on streets the world over.

Secondly, if we think of hijab in terms of headcovering – it’s hardly an uniquely Islamic practice, as I highlighted previously. So just because D&G featured headscarves on their models, I don’t really think it has anything to do with hijab, as some articles would try to suggest (I was being sarcastic in that post). And even if headscarves do become 'trendy', then why should that affect us? After all, most of us started wearing hijab because we felt it was a religious obligation. None of us enjoys getting told to 'go back to your country'. If this 'trend' means we will be seeing more modest clothing in shops, then great. If not, then we'll just carry on what we've been doing all this time - layering and mixing and matching to suit our needs.


My point is that the way I expected most readers to view this blog (and I reckon most do) is that you visit maybe once every so often to get ideas for how to pair different items together, some bargain finds, interesting colour combinations, or maybe you have a special event and you don't know where to find hijab-appropriate clothing for it. I do not (nor do I expect any reasonable Muslimah to) think about fashion and the newest way to tie my hijab 24/7. I believe that we need to have a balance in our lives. If you are constantly in front of the mirror fussing with 5 scarves on your head, and neglecting your duties to Allah (swt), then obviously there is a problem. Nothing in excess is ever good.

But let's not go from one extreme to another: there is nothing wrong with wanting to look presentable and put-together. There is nothing wrong with having a personal sense of style. Islam does not dictate to us which colours to wear or which hijab wrap is the best. The rules of hijab are simple and clear, and we should not over-complicate things.

With that, I do wonder if non-hijab wearing ladies would ever be interested in the blog, purely from an aesthetic perspective? Should it aim to be? Or must the discussion always centre around the hijab itself?

I’d love to hear thoughts and opinions from everyone.

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