The Modesty Movement In 2019

If you check Pinterest searches in the UK, the searches for modest fashion has gone up 500% since the beginning of 2018. Many who believe that modest fashion is not a trending topic are believing inaccurate claims. It is estimated that the global fashion market is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Five years from now those numbers will explode into an even bigger magnitude of profit. But what exactly is “modest fashion”? What are the fall runways suggesting when it comes to covering up? Why is the modesty movement so female-driven? Is the mainstream fashion industry interested in modest fashion?

Modest Fashion In A Nutshell

There is not one main definition that points to what modest fashion means. It varies from person to person. But what it all boils down to is making sure certains part of your body is covered up. Awareness should be obtained when dressing. Modern day clothing tends to porposefully draw attention to your private parts. Extremely tight fitting skirts, cleavage showing sweaters, or shorts exposing your butt cheeks is not considered to be modest fashion. “Modest fashion is a market term, that came to prevalence in the mid-2000s, and this was partly because a number of the brands that first started up came from designers and creative entrepreneurs who were themselves religiously motivated,” says Reina Lewis, professor of cultural studies at London College of Fashion, UAL. The decision to be modest is usually based upon one’s religious background.

Image Credit : Youtube, Fashion Breed

What Are The Fall Runways Suggesting When It Comes To Covering Up?

In the 70’s miniskirts were seen as hot. In the 80’s low-rise jeans were the “in thing” to wear. Now we are approaching 2020. The upcoming year sounds futuristic everytime people say it. What will be trending?

“It’s no secret that Phoebe Philo made it cool to be modest, but what she also did was give women a choice about how we choose to present our bodies in this world and I don’t see women relinquishing that choice anytime soon,” stylist Rachael Wang tells the Zoe Report. “I don’t think the [modesty] market is underserved, per se, but I think there is always room for more options.”

On the Paris center stage, covered-up dressing is becoming popular. Long-sleeved tops are now the norm. And a lot of younger, edgier brands are taking notice. Aalto and Rokh are presenting modest fashions to millenials/Generation Z. 

Many women young or old embrace proper dressing because it gives them a sense of empowerment. You feel more humbled, chaste, lowly, and meek. Your closet wardrobe looks more simple.


Marine Serre Fall/Winter 2019. Photo: Shutterstock

Fall runways are suggesting that covering up is in and dressing like a hooker is not. So prepare this fall to see a lot of head coverings, hemlines, necklines, hosiery, and outerwear. A year ago, on the runway showing what was below the neck was seen as important. But this year, hats and scarves are being advertised.

Aalto Fall/Winter 2019. Photo: Shutterstock

High end brands like Tibi, Nanushka, JW Anderson, and Self Portrait, are now offering many modest types of clothing.

Why The Modesty Movement Is So Female-Driven

Modest dressing is an aesthetic that has gone on for centuries. It has been displayed through many continents and cultures in history. Elizabeth Taylor loved to show off fancy headdresses. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wore many signature Chanel suits. Since the 16th century, the Middle East and North Africa have been rocking kaftans. Muslims are not the only women that love conservative attire. Those who profess to be from a Jewish/Christian background also choose to be conservative.

“It’s not to say that there isn’t a woman that might be being forced to cover, but there’s also a woman who is choosing to cover,” explains Algerian-born Ghizlan Guenez, who founded the e-commerce platform The Modist in 2017 as a luxury style destination dedicated to modest wardrobes. “The issue is that you then start stereotyping a whole religion and a whole population of women [based on one extreme circumstance]. What we try and do at The Modist, and not just through fashion but through the stories we tell, is to break down as much these stereotypes as we can.”

Women have always been into fashion more than men are. They also tend to gravitate towards religion more than men.

Image Credit: Pinterest

Is The Mainstream Fashion Industry Interested In Modest Fashion?

According to the Global Islamic Economy Report, the Muslim fashion industry alone in the UK is estimated to reach $467 billion by 2020. The millennial generation has more spending power when it comes to females. Our women are no longer just stay at home wives. We are no longer seen as the gender that just stays home and gets barefoot and pregnant. We have options. We have talents, brains, and beauty. Many females are CEO’s entrepreneurs, self-made bosses, doctors, lawyers, etc. We now make up a large part of the workplace.

So with a growing amount of women entering the business world, there is an increasing need to have a wardrobe that is full of business casual options.

” Lyst, the data-crunching fashion search engine, has seen an increase in related terms such as “high neck” or “long sleeve” increasing by 40% and 52%, respectively, over the past six months. Meanwhile, the brand notes that even more specific categories, such as “modest bikinis,” are winning out over skimpier styles. (Source:

The mainstream fashion industry has to be interested in modest fashion for it to continue to make a profit. Covering up does not have to be boring. It does not have to dismiss trends. You can still have a lot of colors, prints, patterns, and exotic designs. A lot of modest fashion bloggers go viral because their style resonates with a lot of people. When you set boundaries in your life, even when it involves clothing, your mind will reach a level of peace and comfort. The appetite for conservative outfits is strong.  Women are coming from all different shapes, sizes, and backgrounds showing extreme interest. On an international scale, the need for modest fashion will not slow down anytime soon.

woman wearing white sleeveless lace shirt
Photo by nappy on






From Child Refugee To Supermodel : Halima Aden

She was born in a refugee camp. Now she is the first supermodel to do a modest swimwear photo-shoot for Sports Illustrated. This is the life and fashion of Halima Aden.

From Refugee Camp To Walking Runways

Life was not always glamorous for Halima. Originally from Somali, Halima was born in a refugee camp in Kenya. Aden advice to refugee women and girls is this : “There is one thing that I can say to those girls: Nothing is permanent… have to be accepting of the change and be ready to evolve”. Once she moved to the United States with her family at the age of six, she started chasing after her goals. She entered into the Miss Minnesota Pageant. She became a semi-finalist, and was voted as homecoming queen in her high school. She is a Muslim model who advocates for the hijab . She is the first hijabi model to walk international runways. She is signed to a major agency. She has also been the first hijabi model to be on the cover of Vogue, Arabia, Allure, and British Vogue.

“I want to be known for encouraging other girls to go out and have their own success stories,” she told Paper.

Backlash For Sports-Illustrated Photo Shoot

Not everyone was happy with her modest swimsuit photos.

“Modesty culture is backward & anti-women. Thousands of women are arrested in Islamic countries protesting against veiling & yet your silly mag is celebrating a symbol of oppression…in the most absurdly incoherent way imaginable. Fail.”- Rita Panahi


Image Credit: First Image – Daily Sabah, Images Above- Sports Illustrated Swimsuit

How is it backwards and anti-women to promote modesty? If anything, dressing provocatively and wearing revealing clothes is backwards. How will a man respect you if you dress without leaving anything to the imagination? That is why I always admire African styles in general. It is colorful and full of life. Our headscarves are full of intricate designs. Our skirts are long and flowy.  If you want to feel like a Queen, just walk around at your local African boutique. The designs will fill you with pride.

Somali Fashion

Somali is a country full of diverse cultures. The country is located along a international trade route. Most of Somali people still live in Somalia, although their is some who have migrated to Ethiopia. Other groups of people that are Somali are living in Yemen, Kenya,  Djibouti, and other parts of the world. The strong influence of Islam can be seen in their dress codes. The young and those living in the city/urban areas can be seen wearing Western dress for everyday clothing. But for special occasions they always rock their traditional clothing. In the rural area, wearing traditional clothing everyday is more prevalent.

The woman of Somalia frown upon revealing clothing. Most of their garments are comprised of conservative colors. They have many full-length dresses that come in a variety of styles. In a random day in Somalia , you might see a female wearing a guntiino. A guntiino is a long piece of cloth. You tie it over your shoulder and drape it around your waist.

Image Credit: Art Station

For formal events, women will be seen wearing a dirac. A dirac is a long dress. It is made up of 100% cotton , or a blend of cotton, linen, and/or polyester.

Image Credit : Xarrago

If you are a married woman you wear a scarf on your head. Your scarf is called a shash. Some Muslim women wear a burqa . This garment covers the body from head to foot. (Source: Interesting Africa Facts)

Image Credit: Express Co UK


What Does The Future Hold For Halima?

The trend of being modest has rose in recent years. A lot of older vintage styles are coming back and are in high demand. “Headpieces were being celebrated,” says Aden. “It’s no longer a ‘Muslim women head covering’ thing, you know. Turbans are in.” Many women around the world are embracing that “we are all Africa” and are rocking colorful headpieces. “I believe that the time has changed. For instance, once there were not enough cosmetic products for even adult women and now even 2-year-olds are playing with makeup. This change is coming with the change of times and I’m afraid older generations might have difficulty in accepting that,” Aden says.

Halima Aden: ‘My family doesn’t understand modelling is a real job’

“I’m not Rapunzel stuck in a castle,” she says defiantly. “In today’s society, you’re out and about, and you’re visible, no matter what. So why is it OK for me to be visible in a classroom? Why is it OK to be out in a mall, or just outside, but I can’t be seen in a magazine?”

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Image Credit: Bossip,People, Metro UK

The future holds a lot for Halima. She will be opening many doors for those who are Muslim in the fashion world. She is a designer herself, with a fashion collection that will break many barriers. And she will be inspiring others to believe, that you can be beautiful and modest, for years to come.