by - February 20, 2019

Modesty & Elegance 

You may have come across the terminology ‘modesty’ or ‘modest fashion’. You probably have seen glimpses of articles mentioning the new boom of modest fashion. However, you may not have paid too much attention to it, as it’s generally used for a niche group of women within certain cultures and religions. This is where the origins and importance of modesty gets diluted; tying it to a specific group of people only. Though the word modesty can be used in different context, let’s look at it from a fashion’s perspective. 

The general term modest fashion indicates to a style where women wear less skin-revealing clothes, most commonly for spiritual reasons due to aesthetic requirements from religion or even personal preferences. Arguably, one does not have to be of any religious practice to wear modest clothing. In fact, it is not a limiting factor in style. What it comes down to is the styling of individual fashion pieces that are then turned into modest fashion. More so, many brands are blending collections and designs that are considerably modest in style. What’s astounding is that brands always created modest fashion pieces, but it’s not ordinarily labelled as such. Anyone from Zara, COS to Valentino have individual pieces that are full length skirts, long sleeved maxi dresses, palazzo trousers and long-sleeved blouses. Essentially modest fashion is a style open for interpretation depending on socio-culture, individual preferences and experimentation with the newest trends. However, as of 2018 the division ‘modest fashion’ has been considered to be a $250 billion industry. Within the luxury fashion sector, it is vastly the UK and the Middle East Gulf region. A boom since the mid 2000s where brands have designed specific collections for that demographic. Modest fashion is assimilated with elegance more so than what anyone else claims. Modesty is the new elegance. 

It can also be noted that there are more female designers behind practical, modest and elegant clothing. Look at Stella McCartney or the old Celine by Pheobe Philo, even Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior celebrates a form of elegant modest fashion pieces. Women all over the world are embracing this style as a form of defiance to patriarchy and showcase their preferred way of dressing. Revealing less is a form of grace, sexy and an attitude solely owned by individual women. Long coats, culottes trousers, mid/kitten heels, loose knitwear and simple sophistication are seen on the streets and runway. Bloggers and influencers are incorporating modest fashion seamlessly into their style, without the labelling it so. But credit needs to be given, where credit is due, Muslim bloggers and influencers have been the forefront of modest fashion and set the trend when fashion claimed that there is no space for such styles. The most notable ones are Hana Tajima, Ascia, Dalal, Dina Torkia and many many more. Numerous magazines and news outlets covered and still write about modest fashion, linking it majorly to Muslim women.   

There are no easy ways to expressing the complexities of modesty, granting the enormity of the topic. It can be both unyielding and ambiguous, taking various religious, cultural and social rationalisations into considerations. Besides those aspects of modesty, there are more entities that contribute to how a group of people or even individuals perceive modesty. Sociology, philosophy, psychology and religion just being one of the many entities contributing to what modesty is. Modesty is a lifelong pursuit that requires constant revaluation and redefinition. We hope that this article contributed to adding a viewpoint to what modest fashion is and has enlightened you to explore more.  

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