An outfit for Church? What does modest fashion really look like?

Pinterest UK tells me that searches for “modest fashion” are up 500% since the beginning of this year. The global modest fashion market is already reportedly worth hundreds of billions and is set to scale up by gargantuan proportions over the next five years. A specialist online store called The Modist has just launched—full of suitably modest pieces from an incredible roll call of brand names, and every kind of girl is shopping from the site, whether they identify as “modest” or not.

When you step outside of this specific realm, it’s plain to see that runways, cool brands and street style stars alike are also noticeably embracing big shapes, covered-up silhouettes and creative layering. Modest fashion is everywhere. But what exactly is it? As a whole, this movement has been picking up the pace for nigh on a decade, but there’s still a fogginess about what it means to be a modest dresser, what it looks like and how it’s affecting style-conscious girls right now. Keep reading to discover more.

So what does “modest fashion” actually mean?

Influencer Hajra wearing a tonal look with a Burberry bag.

If there’s one thing all of the women I spoke to agree on, it’s this: There is no one definition of what modest fashion means, but it essentially relates to having a degree of awareness when it comes to covering up parts of your body. This chasm of information we cannot categorise and pigeonhole contributes greatly to the mass market’s uncertainty of how to communicate with and supply to women who want modest fashion. It can also make anyone who isn’t personally versed in the concept feel ill equipped to talk about it, but perhaps confirming its ambiguity can help to push the concept forward.

The reality is that everyone has their own idea of what modest fashion means to them.

Model Halima Aden at the CFDAs in 2019 wearing a leather coat and printed headscarf.

Modest fashion as a term, as a market term, came to prevalence in the mid-2000s, and this was partly because a number of the brands that first started up came from designers and creative entrepreneurs who were themselves religiously motivated,” says Reina Lewis, professor of cultural studies at London College of Fashion, UAL. She explained to me that the internet made it possible for savvy, underserved religio-ethnic individuals and groups to start providing both the products and content that they were missing.

Written by: Hannah Almassi

First published 19.08.19:

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