The American Way of Hijab

Really! What do we wear??? One end pulls us to fit in and the other drags us in clothes we loose ourselves in. For born American Muslims, choices can be simplified because they can turn to their culture for modesty options. But, even then we still struggle between our American culture and our parents culture way of dressing. For converts/reverts or born Muslims reverting to Islam, when we first come into Islam, the way we dress isn't always at the top our priority list. We are too worried about learning how to pray and trying to figure out what all the Arabic words we hear around us mean. Some of us carry our little notepads around like detectives.

Picture via Fashion Finest

After we start getting comfortable with our essentials, we start exploring the hijab.  Once we become serious about our hijab, we start hitting the same stores to keep our current style but to hijabfy it. The only thing that happens is we hit a brick-wall and end up looking all funky wearing a long turtle-neck in the summer with a wedding dress and stilettos. Ok, maybe I am being a bit too extreme, but you catch my drift. We just look like we couldn't figure out ourselves this morning, but in reality we have never been so sure of ourselves then ever before. For converts/reverts, we tend to adopt the culture clothing of our neighboring friend or husband that has been by our side throughout our conversion leading to a bit of loss of identity or like a Christmas tree without lights or like in high-school trying to find ourselves in the pile of layers we are wearing. Some born-Muslims end reputing the image of auntie in the classic Abaya and headscarf because they just feel they won't integrate with work or school. These are all natural feelings at the beginning of our hijab journey. There is nothing wrong with that image of auntie, but as starters and it can be pretty hard jumping into it. So, what do we wear???

Picture property of Sweet Modesty

The first thing you need to know is that you have to be open to change and know that you will have to make  outwardly changes that require courage.There is nothing wrong with adopting the clothing of any culture as long as it serves the purpose of hijab properly and that you are happy with it. Being secure of oneself doesn't require an outfit, it requires a minset. And, in reality culture is the last thing we should worry as long as it doesn't transgress the rules of hijab. But, I also know we can't go to an office job dressed in a sari or a Dubai style abaya or khaleeji everyday. How do we deal with keeping our identity, dress around our non-Muslim family, friends, co-workers, classmates and events while meeting our hijab standards? And how do we do it with style? Oh! and let's not forget, and how do you start coming to peace with auntie's outfit?

As far as style the sky is the option because as Americans we are made up of a vast variety of cultures and styles, but there are certain basics where we meet common ground.

The most important thing before style is our religious modesty guidelines. So, start with long-sleeve tunics or shirt-dresses over wide-legged pants and skirts and remember the point is to hide the lines of our contour. Depending on the style of the tunic, it can go from work style to sisters-night-out and to casual hang-outs with the family or friends.

 Primo Moda, $49

 Primo Moda, $25

When dressing for the office, you can always pair up a tunic like the one below to a blazer or suit coat that is 3/4 length.

 Primo Moda, $45

If you are passed the trouser wearing phase or just don't do trousers. Try these styles for the work, school, hanging-out with the family, running errands and so on. I feel they are very much inspired by our American culture of keeping it simple and it keeps us modest and integrated as best-as-possible throughout our transitioning.

Sometimes, we have special events with our family and co-workers. These styles are also good options to keep on our hijab journey and incorporate.

Above pictures, Sophia Jennah, prices for these items start at $23.

Now, we also have weddings to attend where sometimes the majority of people are non-muslim and we can run into a rut trying to look presentable for the occasion and at the same time keeping our hijab. These are some suggestions.

I think the whole concept is to be elegant, dress modestly and integrate with the event's style without stealing the show. Look for dresses that have an empire, high-waisted and A-line cut and flowy of course. This gives you good coverage and also works well with all body types.  Now, in the western market, we will find these dresses uncovered from the top. Options for this is to use a short cape, sassy blazer or even a bolero. If the dress is too simple, glam it up with a sequins. 

Other great options for black-tie events, weddings, engagements or even a night-out with the husband. 

Designer Nzinga Night

Designer Nzinga Knight

Another area we bumped into is the fitness one. For the most part, one can still find a gym that is women-only. But, even there we like to be modest. These are some items that can be helpful in school and in the gym.

Capsters makes headgear for our fitness routines whether it is running, aerobics, swimming or hiking.

We have a culture and sometimes even two. The one we are raised in and the one our parents inherit us. I know for the most part that for some of us converts/revers and American born Muslims living on this side of the world dressing in our cultural outfits can look a bit like a costume because even in our parents countries we don't wear them unless it is some kind of event. But, there are cultural influenced clothing designs and if they meet our hijab standards, we don't look like we are about to put a show, then why not? Embracing who you are is the best feeling ever and really it doesn't have to compromise your religion!

Happy Hijab journey!.......  


  1. As salaamu alaikum, i just luuuuuv the black blazer. Can u pleeeeaze help me find it, insha'allah! I've looked everywhere for it!!