The Diversity and Evolution of Modest Clothing Across Cultures
An agreed upon definition of modest clothing is surprisingly elusive.
If you google "modest clothing" you’ll get a digital runway showcasing a spectrum of styles. Mormon inspired fashion, hijabs, abayas and a flurry of mainstream looking dresses from the world of both luxury and high street fashion.
The Cultural Tapestry of Modest Fashion
Dig deeper and you’ll see African styles alongside Malay, Indonesian and Turkish interpretations of the concept in culturally unique shapes, colours, prints, and cuts. You might even notice differences in intergenerational ideas of modesty and modest dressing. Ideas of modesty are an ongoing discussion of a principle applied to different cultures and times giving us creating a gloriously rich tradition of ideas and influences on creativity.
NAAYIB: A Melting Pot of Tradition and Modern Fashion
NAAYIB weaves together a faith-based perspective, a soulful connection to London, and the traces of an Asian heritage. This unique blend acknowledges the dynamic nature of modest fashion and the creative opportunity for a variety of interpretations and applications.
There are many column inches that have discussed the phenomena of modest clothing and most articles make mention of the diversity of approaches to modest fashion.
The Unwritten Codes of Modesty in Fashion
From all this it would seem there is no single compelling idea of modesty. Yet adopters of modest clothing do have an unwritten code of what constitutes modesty for themselves and probably their circle of friends and family. At NAAYIB the design parameters include for styles to be loose fitting, have a high degree of opacity, provide coverage and layer-ability.
The Social, Cultural, and Spiritual Dimensions of Modest Clothing
Navigating the Complexities of Modest Fashion
The concept is topical, sensitive even amongst it's adopters and not without opposition to it as an idea that make up political positions on the subject. From the inside looking out it looks to be a moving negotiation with modernity, mainstream fashion and shifting cultural norms.
In creating the brand, we believed that there were many people who opt for a modest look for lots of reasons and it’s a real source of joy to know that we have customers from across faith traditions, the Abrahamic and Vedic traditions but also Humanists and for people for whom modesty is cultural. Perhaps modesty is simply more common and less exotic than it might appear to be - an undercurrent of life that makes it easy to be and live in community.
The Philosophy Behind Modest Dressing
And perhaps searching for definitions will always be like navigating shifting sands because of the diversity of motivations. It’s just as interesting to explore questions posed by the idea of there being a genre of fashion categorised as modest.
What are we trying to say with our clothes - especially when the choices we make are considered modest by todays fashion standards? To what degree do we want to be noticed (if at all) and by whom (if at all) when we dress in this way? What are the spiritual foundations and motivations of our clothing choices?
Having talked to women about these ideas there are people who have very different perspectives to these questions and yet will choose the very same dress and outfit as speaking to their values - a very interesting meeting point of different ideas!