“ American Beauty” is a new series in which Yahoo Lifestyle takes a virtual cross-country journey to discover what beauty means — reimagining the American flag through the diverse group of faces that make up the United States of America. For our first installment, we’re focusing on Muslim-American women, highlighting what makes this group unique while showcasing the common threads that bring us together.
Muslim women have leaned toward pious fashion, many wearing a hijab that conceals their hair and various body parts because of their religious beliefs. However, there are multiple ways to uniquely wear a hijab, so while many in the Western world may find them a limitation on creativity, the reality is fashion has no limits when one has a unique perspective or imagination.
The true expression of one’s identity in fashion lies in the idea of uniqueness; it doesn’t have one look, or style, or trend. One
can dress modestly and and still be stylish — the two are not mutually exclusive, and it seems the fashion industry is finally beginning to catch on.
This is certainly not the first time faith and fashion have intersected. Just this year, the Met Gala’s theme, “
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” explored the impact of religious art on fashion, tapping into the work of designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Thom Browne and others who have used spiritual and religious references in their sartorial collections. As times have changed culturally and politically, fashion has as well. Culture is slowly catching up with the times and needs of Muslim women, largely due to influential hijabi bloggers who have used their platforms to normalize Muslim women embracing their style.
Dolce & Gabbana’s hijab and abaya line to H&M’s modest collection full of frills, pleats, and sass, designers for brands have begun to understand that fashion options are a necessity whether there are religious aspects or not. And more Muslim women are stepping up to show it is possible to both follow your faith and find fulfillment in fashion.
Fashion bloggers such as
Saufeeya Goodson, Habiba Da Silva, Dina Torkia, and Amena Khan have drawn hundreds of thousands of followers who tune in to their daily #OOTDs (outfit of the days), demonstrating that fashion is its own language and identity, and that anyone can experience it in their own way. Truly, that’s what fashion should be about — making honest self-expression work for you — however that looks and feels. Yahoo Lifestyle interviewed six Chicago Muslim women to discuss their personal connections to faith and fashion, as well as the misconceptions they face about their their identity while living and working in America. Photography: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle Read more on Muslim-American women in our American Beauty package:
Jamie Berg captured the unique styles of six Muslim women and discussed how their fashions are connected to their religion. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) How would you describe your style? Sometimes classic and simple, sometimes straight street style, and often somewhere in between. My style is reflection of my mood, where I’m from, and ultimately what makes me most comfortable in my skin. I try not to overthink it. If I feel good in whatever I’m wearing, I can focus my energy on the more important things in my life. Follow Abeer Najjar on Instagram. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) In what ways does your faith influence your fashion choices? My faith influences me to be more conscious in how I express my sense of style. In some ways, that is choosing more modest pieces, wearing [a] hijab, and being confident regardless of whether I fit into ideal standards of beauty. But my faith also challenges me to be conscious about what brands I support, what conditions my clothes are being made in, and how the size of my closet affects the environment. The way faith and fashion intersect for me personally is a lot more than just dressing modestly and putting a scarf on my head. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) Modest fashion is … freedom to decide and express what that means to each individual person, and supporting others in their agency to do the same. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) How would you describe your style? Clashing colors from head to toe in patterns and prints inspired by Iranian people and architecture in “menswear” cuts and silhouettes. Read Hoda Katebi’s blog JooJoo Azad and order her book “ Tehran Streetstyle,” Chicago. Ancestry: Iranian.” (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) In what ways does your faith influence your fashion choices? Islam is a lifestyle choice centered on mindfulness and self-awareness, modesty in appearance and consumption, and appreciation and value of life, among other values — meaning the more religious I’ve become, the less I excessively buy clothes and the more I pay more attention to who makes my clothes and in what conditions. An understanding that trends and material goods are not more valuable than the people who make them strongly shapes how I choose to present my body in public spaces and with what clothes. But, of course, Islam is not the sole influence on my fashion choices; I’m also inspired by my culture, art, and surroundings — and the weather! (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) Complete this sentence: Modest fashion is … knowing that your body is yours and you don’t have to prove s*** to nobody. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) How would you describe your style? When it comes to dressing for work, I like to keep it simple and fresh. Follow Nadia Danielle Hasan on Instagram. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) In what ways does your faith influence your fashion choices? My culture brought me to love makeup and all things beauty. On my first trip to Pakistan, my aunts had me covered in blue eyeshadow and red lipstick. I knew I wanted to pursue a career that brought me the same joy playing dress-up did. I’m so happy I get to do that every day — and it’s called work! (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) Modest fashion is … timeless. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) How would you describe your style? My style consists of comfortable, casual clothes that I feel great wearing. I love classic colors so I can mix and match everything in my wardrobe while still keeping it simple. Follow Yvonne Maffei on Instagram. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) In what ways does your faith influence your fashion choices? Faith blends into my fashion as I try to incorporate scarves, shawls, and skirts that are somewhat on the looser side, and also carry designs and patterns found throughout the Muslim world. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) Modest fashion is … personal. Everyone has their own interpretation and opinion about what’s modest and what they feel comfortable wearing. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) How would you describe your style? Eclectic, boho, carefree, with a touch of glam. Follow Zahra Sandberg on Instagram and read her blog Love Zahra. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) In what ways does your faith influence your fashion choices? I regularly incorporate the modest styles that originate from Muslim culture into my outfits — long dresses and flowing fabrics are so comfortable and incredibly elegant. My faith also encourages me to be a conscious consumer, so I try my best to make sure the clothes I wear are made doing the least harm as possible to people and the Earth. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) Modest fashion is … not a trend. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) How would you describe your style? My style is classic, but I like to incorporate edgy pieces and trends to keep things modern and relevant. I’m a huge fan of adding a fun hijab like the Framed People feather hijab to pull my look together. I believe fashion is in the eye of the beholder. We’re in a world where we get on social media for outfit inspiration and can easily replicate an outfit we saw on a celebrity. This can be a double-edged sword, because while it can solve our dilemma of needing an outfit, we may all end up looking the same and can lose our originality. If there’s one thing I live by when it comes to style and fashion, it’s to be daring. Challenge yourself and don’t be so hard on yourself, because in the end, what matters is feeling beautiful and comfortable. Check out Framed People. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) In what ways does your faith influence your fashion choices? As a woman who wears hijab, I never wanted to sacrifice fashion because of my hijab. When I was in fashion school, I remember staying after class to design and stitch together hijabs. I would see certain trends on the fashion runways and wish I had a hijab with those designs on it. I knew I couldn’t be the only one wanting these fashion-forward hijabs. It was then when I decided to start my own modest fashion company, Framed People. I started Framed People with the idea that on-trend hijabs are a necessity and a hijab-wearing woman can be fashionable in every aspect of her wardrobe, including her headscarf. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle) Modest fashion is .. evolving. I remember five years ago when I was on the hunt for modest clothing, I came across a few options, but so much of it was not fashionable and I just couldn’t get myself to wear any of it. Sure, it did the job of modestly, covering the body, but not in a fashionable way. Fast-forward to today, I see modest clothing in mainstream fashion brands and hitting fashion runways. Modesty fashion has definitely progressed and continues to evolve. (Photo: Jamie Berg for Yahoo Lifestyle)