Nikki’s Inbox: Hijab-Friendly Asian Fashion

I love your advice. I hope you can help me! I’m a student currently and there’s no uniform at my school, and it’s not easy picking outfits. I really like Asian, especially Korean, fashion. I really want to buy these styles of clothes. However, it seems they focus on the legs and tight clothing. I’m Muslim so I don’t wear revealing clothing. I don’t know how I’ll make them look good while being modest (like wearing a “boy” jacket and dress/skirt). What are some good alternatives? What do you recommend for a Muslim who wants to be in style? Thank you!

Aisha, 16/USA

As-salam alaykum, Aisha, and thank you for dropping by! I’m a firm believer that fashion is for everyone, and you can still express yourself even when following certain modesty guidelines. I do wish you had told me a little more about yourself though, like your height and measurements, because that would’ve given me more clues on what I can suggest for you.

Contrary to what you think, Asian fashion isn’t always about tight and fitted clothing. If you browse YesStyle, there are a lot of boxy, loose and oversized clothing (I’m in favor of the first two, but not the last) as well as very feminine styles. Not only are there are lots of skinny jeans and leggings in Asian fashion but there are also classic, regular cuts of jeans and trousers, and less form-fitting dresses and skirts. So yes, you can definitely look trendy without fear of breaking any rules.

Aim for the maximum
My first tip for you, Aisha, is to go for maxi and midi dresses and skirts as minis are a no-no. To review, maxis fall to or past the ankles, while midis end mid-calf. Both may be longer on you if you’re under 5’2. You can definitely take full advantage of these styles as they usually have a more flowing, figure-friendly, A-line silhouette, either starting from the waist or the bust. There are also maxi and midi dresses with long sleeves and in knits for winter so I highly suggest you snap up a few.

To contrast their fluid styles, try to wear something more structured with your maxis and midis: a boxy sweater, a denim or leather jacket, a peacoat or a preppy blazer. The textural contrast of winter knits with these outerwear pieces will look very cool. In spring and summer, patterned and more colorful dresses abound so team these with tops and jackets in bright or neutral colors to ground them. You can always wear a slipdress and leggings underneath for modesty. Finish with your choice of footwear like ballet flats, lace-up boots, sneakers or wedge sandals.

Let loose with pants
You read that right, Aisha! With the appropriate style of pants, you’re certainly not limited to wearing dresses and skirts all the time. Just like with the dresses, go for wider, relaxed and more fluid silhouettes such as palazzo pants (yay, 90s!) and even harem pants. Harem pants are a big thing in Asian fashion and they’re anything but tight. With the warmer seasons around the corner, you can be confident of looking seasonally appropriate in these bottoms. As both styles are more relaxed, it’s best to wear them with more fitted (but not tight) tops. Patterned palazzo pants do look better when paired with a classic button-down shirt, while harem pants get more street cred when teamed with a graphic print or patterned long-sleeved top or tee. Wear the palazzos with a low heel, platform or wedge to counter the width of the pants with some extra height. The harem pants have a more street-style flavor, so something low-cut like sneakers, canvas slip-ons or ankle boots will definitely go with their vibe.

Go over with tops
You certainly don’t have to limit yourself to just long-sleeved tees, Aisha. Aside from those and button-down shirts, you also have the choice of tunics, sweaters and peplum tops. Peplums will look great with straight maxi skirts as the flared hem creates angles. Button-downs add a structural element to palazzo pants and flowing A-line skirts. If you opt for regular, straight-cut jeans or pants, tunics are good because their hip-length cut gives you more coverage. With tees, you can layer your usual short-sleeved printed crewnecks over plain long-sleeved ones or henleys. Easy-breezy!

Amplify with accessories
I know plainer head scarves or hijabs are the rule but I’m also seeing more Muslim women with really ornate, beautiful head scarves so I say go with the flow! You can wear a hijab that complements an element in your outfit for symmetry but there’s really no hard or fast rule. The same goes for accessories. Since you’re mostly covered up to your wrists and ankles, some beautiful and eye-catching cuffs and bracelets should be in order. You can also pin your hijab with fancy jeweled hairpins and further accessorize your top with layered necklaces and brooches.

Remember that you don’t have to strictly conform to a trend to be in style. Give it your personal stamp and wear it with confidence. Good luck!


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