Modest dressing is taking the world by storm

These covered-up sartorial choices have mostly received the thumbs up from fashion editors

By Sujata Assomull (The Fashionista)

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Published: Sat 26 Aug 2017, 9:17 PM

Last updated: Sat 26 Aug 2017, 11:23 PM

Long billowing sleeves, high necks and longer lengths have become fashion's new favoured silhouettes. And it is a style that I have come to appreciate not just because it is fashion's current diktat but thanks to the fact I have been living in Dubai for the last couple of years. Modest dressing is a part of Dubai's cultural fabric.
Monday, by the way is, Emirati Woman's Day, and I think it is important to celebrate the chic style of women from this region. Having made a few good friends from this region, I have found that the one thing they all have in common is a love of fashion. Of course, we all know that women in this region love to shop. A survey done last year by the fashion app Shedd revealed that while Western woman spent 15 per cent of their income on fashion, Arab women spend 43 per cent. While economics could be the reason for fashion labels Dolce and Gabbana and Oscar De Renta's decision to launch abaya-styled collections, these figures are not reason enough to explain the mainstream momentum that modest fashion is enjoying.
When Dakota Johnson wore a gorgeous gold Gucci gown with a high neck and long sleeves to the Oscars this year - there were a few fashion critics who felt this dress was too covered for a young Hollywood star. It was fresh, understated yet had a feel of vintage Hollywood glamour. The girl who first gained attention as Fifty Shades of Grey's Anastasia Steele proved that you do not need to show skin to make a statement on the red carpet. And there have been many others who have decided to go modest during this year's awards season. These covered-up sartorial choices have mostly received the thumbs up from fashion editors. I mean who could not be happy to hear about the death of naked dress!
There is something ultra elegant about this look, when done correctly. (When it is not it just looks frumpy and matronly.) If you are looking for modest style inspiration then look no further than women of Dubai. Be it Shiffa's founder (who is a real beauty herself) Lamees Hamdan; Cinema Akil's chic Butheina Kazim; or Maha Gorton, the half Egyptian and half English owner of children's wear brand Little Farasha. These women make conservative dressing seem cool. But it is not just the Arab women, even the women who made Dubai their home are happy converts to the principles of modest dressing. Harper's Bazaar's editor Louise Nichol adds a feminine and flirty take to modest dressing or Sally Matthews, creative director of, a website dedicated to luxurious style, manages to inject some sass and high fashion spirit into modest dressing. The fact is that there is something very alluring about this more covered style of dressing. Not only does it leave something to imagination, it also proves that woman no longer feel the pressure to dress just to make men happy.
You must have noticed how teenage girls are embracing the slogan t-shirt trend. 'We should all be Feminists', 'Girl Boss', or 'The Future is Female' are just some of the phrases you will find across on women's t-shirts. And this more covered up style of dressing is in sync with these slogans. Women are now dressing for themselves and if they feel more comfortable and chic covered up that is what they wear. When you dress according to what makes you feel good, you will always look more beautiful. If like Adele you are not stick thin-dressing more demure can actually turn you into a style diva. This is something women from this region have known for many, many years. Modesty is a virtue, and fashion is happy to acknowledge this.
Sujata Assomull is Consulting Fashion Editor at Khaleej Times

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