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So Many Clothes and Nothing to Wear: Why 'Modest Curves' Matters

by Ginella Massa

We’ve all been there. Opening up our closet, thumbing through the various articles of clothing we’ve accumulated over the years, and sighing in exasperation.

“I have nothing to wear.”

We know this isn’t true. What we really mean is, “I have nothing that makes me feel confident, beautiful, and ready to take on the world.” AKA: I need to go shopping.

But for a Muslim woman, shopping in a society filled with cut-off shorts, plunging necklines, and see-through outfits can be a bit of a minefield. Muslim women who observe hijab (and even many who don’t) also aim to dress modestly – meaning they look for outfits with long sleeves, loose material, and longer hemlines. But that doesn’t mean they still can’t be on trend.

In recent years, style-savvy Muslimahs have aimed to intersect style and modesty. The emergence of the Mipsterz proved that Muslim women could be fierce and fashionable while still observing their faith. Hijabi bloggers like Dina Tokio have racked up millions of hits on Youtube, offering fashion tips and trendy clothing lines for young Muslim women. Even mainstream designers like Donna Karan have begun to offer modest silhouettes with Muslim women in mind, tapping into this lucrative market. Muslim women are craving cool clothing just for them. And as the New York Times put it, “the hijab is having its moment.”

But the modest fashion movement has made one mistake along with the mainstream industry. Many have left one demographic out in the cold: plus-sized women. (I use that term with some disdain since the average woman in North America is a size 12-14 – the top end of what is offered at most retailers.) While I applaud these women for offering Muslims the opportunity to be trendy too, it can be frustrating to exclusively see slim figures and small sizes when looking through pictures of modest designs.

I struggle daily to put together outfits that fulfill all my needs. Trying to find flattering clothing that adheres to my religious obligations, satisfies my creative style, AND actually fits my frame is next to impossible. Every invitation to a wedding, party, or event is filled with dread about what to wear. Women of ALL shapes and sizes deserve to feel beautiful and confident in the way they present themselves to the world.

That’s why I’m really excited about my sister’s newest endeavor (cue the shameless plug!) Frustrated with the lack of clothing that ticks all the boxes -- fashionable, flattering, and faith-conscious -- she and a friend have decided to offer elegant clothing that is truly one-size fits all. It’s called Modest Curves and you can find them on Instagram @ModestCurves (yes that’s me modeling some of their dresses!)

Don’t get me wrong: I love that Muslim women are turning the fashion industry on its head. Muslim designers offer an outlet for those who feel excluded by the mainstream fashion industry. But let’s not leave out a huge demographic of Muslim women who want to be stylish too.

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About the Author

Ginella Massa is a Canadian journalist, producer, and media trainer. She became Canada's first Hijab-wearing reporter in 2015. Ginella  has worked for CityNews, CTV News, Rogers TV, and NEWSTALK 1010.  She frequently writes about issues affecting Muslims in North America. 

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