Amena shares not only her journey of changing her life – and wardrobe choices – when she started wearing the hijab, but also tips to overcoming the ‘challenges’ in finding a hijab that suits you for every occasion.
Donning the hijab was one of those spur-of-the-moment decisions that I recall with fondness to this day.
It wasn’t like me to make such a huge decision within a matter of a few seconds. For someone who had grown up enjoying the process of hairstyling and had few personal restrictions on clothing, the act of covering up all but the hands and face was a big step.
Apart from the challenges that come with drastically adapting my wardrobe – a change that has always been a reminder of my relationship with God and His religion – this newfound style impacted how I would view fashion in general.
I have always loved self-expression through various mediums, including clothing style; to begin to use this as a constant reminder of the new promise that I had made with God made it far more manageable when the time for special occasions arose
Whilst some people like video games and others don’t, and some like Harry Potter whilst others aren’t so keen, fashion is a hobby that some people enjoy dabbling in whilst others find it an insignificant sidenote. I have always loved self-expression through various mediums, including clothing style; to begin to use this as a constant reminder of the new promise that I had made with God made it far more manageable when the time for special occasions arose.
I hesitate to use the term ‘difficult’ but it can certainly be challenging to find hijab-appropriate attire for parties and for Eid. Here are my top tips on making the challenge easier to tackle:
Plan ahead of time
Don’t wait until the last few hours before the party to pick out your outfit. Chances are, your definition of ‘tight’ may have changed since the last time you had worn your favourite blue maxi dress, and chances are you won’t have a shrug the right shade of gold to match or the cardigan won’t be the right style.
Try to pick out or buy your outfit in advance, so that you’re confident and comfortable when you’re wearing it. The last thing you need is getting flustered and frustrated pulling something together in the last hour, and it’s those times that shaytaan tries to convince you to ‘just keep off the hijab this one time’. Beat his waswas by being prepared.
Don’t think ‘I haven’t got anything to wear’; think ‘how can I make this outfit hijab-appropriate?’. There are loads of looks that can be ‘hijabified’ to your taste – it’s just a matter of finding your comfort zone and some fiddling with how a garment is styled.
If you’ve exhausted all choices of adaption and a particular garment really doesn’t work with a hijab, move on! Break that attachment to your favourite outfit and make something else your favourite. Find something that you can adapt to your hijab that’s still ‘you’ because feeling confident and happy in your clothing choice is key to sticking with hijab for the long term.
Balance it out
There are certainly times where it’s fun to try out an extravagant new hijab style, but remember that sometimes simplicity works better. Think of it this way: when you wore an extravagant frock before your hijab-wearing days, did you do an overly-accessorised, complicated hairstyle with it, or did you style a simple ‘do? Hijab styling is similar to that, in that there should be some balance so that one part of your look is the central focus and the different elements don’t forcefully compete with one another. If the clothing isn’t ‘loud’, go for a shinier scarf or fancier hijab style, or vice versa.
If you’re used to wearing a particular type of cultural clothing, now is the time to expand your horizons to find other styles of hijab-appropriate clothes. If you can’t find any Western clothing that strikes your fancy, try abayas or South Asian outfits that often have a larger selection of loose-fit clothing and can be more forgiving and flattering when worn.
If, to me, an outfit won’t allow me to remain within the limits of the hijab, it’s rejected and I move on
I recently recorded my first ‘get ready with me’ video for my YouTube channel showing how I styled an outfit for a wedding I was attending. It’s here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKE5cEFli-c.
I almost always start with the outfit and build the look around it once I’m comfortable with the style and fit of it. If, to me, an outfit won’t allow me to remain within the limits of the hijab, it’s rejected and I move on. That initial step allows me to work around something in which I feel confident whilst being in hijab.
For me, like hijab styling, makeup is something that I enjoy as an art form. I definitely don’t believe it’s a ‘must’ for everyone, but it is an accessory that I personally like to use and also adapt.
On this occasion, I played up the eyes so that one element stood out in colour amid a white and grey outfit. Since the churidaar (Punjabi trousers) had a fair amount of stonework on it, I didn’t want to wear a glittery or ‘loud’ hijab, and working with the classic white colour, I styled a simple hijab style that didn’t detract from the rest of the look.
Since this was a wedding and much of the stonework on the top part of the dress was covered by my scarf, I wanted to balance out the visible gems on the churidaar with an accessory. I used a necklace in my hijab to act as a headband/flat tiara. This definitely made the look more suited to an occasion where the women really enjoy dressing up and wearing beautiful jewellery.
Speaking of jewellery, I think I can speak for a lot of hijabi women when I say: I miss earrings! I think some women in hijab can get away with earrings but a lot of hijab styles just don’t suit them and it can require a bit too much effort (for me anyway) to style a hijab style around earrings.
I like for the accessories to be styled around the hijab, not vice versa. But that’s just a case of personal choice, and over time, alhamdullilah, the urge to want to fit a pair of earrings or a choker around my hijab has dwindled and now I prefer other types of accessories. I keep the rest of the accessories minimal with just a simple ring.
Often, we find challenges in things because our hearts are set on them and we forget the context of this life. We aren’t perfect and we all have improvements to make in ourselves, but if we work on untangling our hearts from the love of this dunya, giving up certain luxuries without feeling the pinch of that loss, very soon we find ease and contentment in that decision.
May Allah (Great and Glorious is He!) strengthen our convictions in the things we do for Him, and purify our intentions for Him alone. Amin.