There is a new movement in the fashion world that many people may not have heard of and it’s something that, unlike jewelled Crocs, we can all get behind.
‘Modest fashion’ is the term used for a style of dressing that is more covered, worn not only by the religiously devout, but by women who are choosing to take their style cues more from a classic Kate Middleton rather than a half-dressed Kim Kardashian.
One of the most recent examples of modest fashion is London-based model and media star Mariah Idrissi, a cool young woman of Pakistani/ Moroccan heritage who rocks a hijab with a nose ring and an enviable urban wardrobe.
A photo posted by Mariah Idrissi 🇬🇧 (@mariahidrissi) on
Idrissi was scouted by an agent in the street who realised she represented a very beautiful and contemporary face of Britain, one which had long been ignored by the fashion world.
Many of Idriss’s Instagram posts have the hashtag #ModestMonday and she favours fashionable but understated items like sneakers, flares, and oversized denim jackets.
Her headwear alternates from turbans and baseball caps to eye-catching coloured scarves or a more traditional hijab.
There is even a new term “Mipster” meaning Muslim hipster.
The fashion world is beginning to open its previously myopic eyes to the vast landscape of beautiful and varied ethnicities that make up their customer base, and is beginning to understand that for reasons of faith, or just of discretion, not every women wants every body part on display.
Houses like DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger and Dolce and Gabbana have all launched collections of fashionable abayas and hijabs dedicated to the Middle Eastern, or Muslim customer (although nonsensically D&G chose to shoot the campaign on a white, pale haired model).
The modest fashion movement is being embraced not only by those belonging to religions that require more coverage but also by women who genuinely prefer clothes that cover arms, legs and collarbones.
“I find being covered up more liberating to be honest,” confirmed one woman I spoke to who is Christian, but not especially devout.
“I feel more empowered when everything is not on display. I like to think that my personality and my intellect are the sexy part of me”.
There are also many women (myself included) who have welcomed the arrival of classically conservative role models such as the Duchess of Cambridge, with her knee-length skirts, coat-dresses, hats and sensible wedges.
“As the mother of teenage girls, I felt like she was a real breath of fresh air as all the other style stars continued to look skankier and skankier,” a friend remarked to me.
Given Kate Middleton is now considered a trend setter, the high street stores have responded by providing some very pretty Duchess dress knockoffs, nestled amongst the cut-off shorts and crop tops.
Australian fashion designers are also responding to the modest fashion demand.
Designer label Integrity was established in 2010 by sisters Howayda and Hanadi, who saw a need for modest yet fashion-forward clothing.
They were invited to show at Indonesian Fashion Week in Jakarta this year and paraded clever design elements on very sensuous evening wear, including ankle-length capes and cowls to cover the head.
Flawless models in our latest designs at Indonesian Fashion Week! @kedubesaustralia #integrityboutique #follow #l4l #integrityistimeless #hijabfashion #igers #instagood #instadaily #amazing #modest #fashion #winter #2016 #hijabootd #sydney #australia #countdown #fashionforward #ig #fashionblogger #exciting #fresh #vogue #couture #eidcollection #models #indonesianfashionweek
A photo posted by INTEGRITY BOUTIQUE (@integrityboutique) on
More than just a backlash against the Mileys and the Kylie Jenners, the idea of modest dressing is being seen across the board, as oversized cotton shirting and ankle-length day dresses look to dominate again this coming summer.
Covering up as a fashion concept – a breath of fresh air indeed.