My Islamic style of dressing (a meme)

I got this idea off of Diana of the Otowi blog and Bibi Zaynab of the Tales from an American Nomad of doing a meme on how I dress.

First I gotta say that I tend to jump all over the place and really have no style that I always stick with. I’ve always gone through phases (even at my advanced age of almost 30!!! *screams*) here for a few months I dress in Turkish style and then I switch it up and do the Khaleeji style and then I switch it up and go back to Iranian style and some months I just do the shleppy American style . It’s all good and variety is the spice of life! My husband always knew I was a bit weird and after almost 7 years of marriage he’d stopped commenting when I go through my phases, though that doesn’t mean people who know don’t comment but we ignore them anyway. (as a side note, these Bosnians my husband was working with awhile back commented to him that it’s good I dress Turkish style…the Arab style is so depressing and the Iranian style is so scary. LOL…I guess they didn’t know me too well then, huh!)

Anyway. I can’t seem to find my camera so I’ll refrain from snapping pics of the random stuff hanging in my closet (actually folded up in a suitcase as we are subletting and are closet-less!)

First…my favorite NON-clothing items

Perfume…yes I do wear a little perfume almost every day. No NOT enough that people can really smell it, but just enough so I feel fresh.

I LOVE Harajuku Lovers Perfume. My favorite scent from this line is LOVE. It’s very light, floral and fresh. I tend to just spritz it on whatever I am wearing, let it air out a bit and then wear the item of clothing. The scent lingers all day and through several wearings.


I also really, really love this little lilac perfume balm from France. My husband likes it too and will swipe a bit on his hands when I have it out. It’s a balm so the smallest dab is enough and the scent lasts all day. Sometimes I will rub a little into my hejab before going out, especially if it’s a hot and humid day! I hate sweaty, stinky scarves!


Makeup & skincare.

I admit, I’m a total skincare junkie…I prefer Origins and Physicians Formula for skin-care and makeup. I don’t really wear much makeup, though. Just the barest minimum. For everyday wear I use a bit of sheer powder (to control oil) and some sorma (kohl) or eyeliner and some mascara. I nix everything else unless it’s a special occasions. I rarely use foundation or anything like that as I’ve always found the women who are most obsessed with foundation tend to have the worst skin!

Although, I can’t live without the Origins No-Puffery “cooling mask for puffy eyes” gel. It works to de-puff the skin around the eyes, it’s awesome in the morning and works to keep dark eye circles away. I naturally have very dark eye circles and really need this stuff to appear semi-normal sometimes. I know Kiehls has something similar but I havent tried it.


The other product my entire family can’t live without is…


Unrefined shea butter! It’s so awesome and has a ton of different uses. Not only does it help to soften and protect the skin but it works great on rashes (especially baby and toddler diaper rashes) and sooths minor burns and small cuts. We don’t buy the expensive refined kind that is odorless (or scneted) and a strange petroleum white. We buy the large tubs of wonderfully stinky, yellow raw shea butter imported from West Africa via  Naturally Mimi’s and the African-Islamic store we have here in town.

Purses & Shoes…

Lets just say I wont go there! I tend to find most shoes horribly uncomfortable and so loath shoe shopping to the extreme!

I love purses though and especially enjoy finding normally expensive, designer, leather purses on sale at Burlington or TJ Maxx. Ive found Dooney’s, Saks, Coaches and others this way.

I recently got this Coach wristlet from the Poppy line and am drooling over a fuller sized Coach Poppy purse. I think the Poppy C line is so bright and cheerful and nothing looks funkier than wearing all black with a bright, splashy purse and heels/sneakers/flats!


I also really like purses by Kathy Van Zeeland…now they aren’t real leather but some of them look so good you’d be hardpressed to tell. They are also amply sized, fit a lot of “stuff” and make a big statement. I have one in turquoise I wear frequently.

Onto clothing…


Until about 2 years ago I almost exclusively wore square scarves and maghnehs (Iranian slip-over scarves) because I found them most comfortable and really didn’t know of an equally comfortable way to wear a shaylah.  The only way I knew how to wear a shaylah was to drape one side longer, pin under the chin, wrap the longer end around the head and tuck under at the opposite chin. Like what’s still popular in Jordan or Lebanon. It’s a cute style but can come un-done quickly and the ends that dangle can be a real annoyance.

I prefered Turkish squares or Malaysian cotton voile squares. When I was a teenager and in my early twenties I normally just pinned the square under my chin and brought the two ends around to the back of my head and knotted them. Fuss free and worked pretty well although there wasn’t much chest coverage (but hey, I didn’t really know better!). When I do wear a square I go for a modified Malaysian or Turkish style as seen in this picture:

Right now I’m on a bit of a shaylah binge and wear them almost every day. I prefer plain colors and very simple designs and tend to wear them in the manner that I see a lot of the female students from Saudi Arabia wearing them-seriously, that’s purely accidental. I like how there’s stay out of their way while keeping everything covered…you just keep wrapping and then push the end under a wrapped edge at the top of the head. I like how there aren’t any bits hanging down and going all over the place.

Here are three of my favorite shaylahs…

The first one is from UAE and has a lot of hand embroidery, the crepe is very light yet not slippery. This shaylah was given to me by a sister Ive known for years who had worked there for awhile and was moving back to the States. I literally opened my mailbox one day and found 2 large boxes of stuff from the UAE that she was getting rid of. LOL…talk about a dream come true!

detail1and a close up the embroidery on the back…


These other two scarves are favorites as well, the blue stripes one is from New York & Co. and is made of a high quality viscose material while the black ones with the white/beige and brown yarn ieces is from Turkey, although I purchased it in Iran.


Although I still wear squares about 20% of the time and maghnehs about 10% of the time

In this picture I have on a brown maghneh with my new shirt from Artizara.



I rarely if ever special order hejabs from an online-Islamic store…I find most of my Shaylahs at stores like Target, Burlington or New York & Co. I get my maghnehs from Iran. If I want square I go for AlHannah.

Strangely enough, it seems to me that squares have really fallen out of favor and aren’t as trendy or popular now. Particularly compared to how ubiquitous I remember them being 5-8 years a go. Although they remain quite opular with Lebanese and Iraqi Shia’a women who do the chin-covered and pinned style.

I admit to not be very innovative with the scarf styles. I always wear my squares in the way seen above and I always wear my shaylahs another way. LOL… I figure hejab ain’t really meant to be too trendy, it’s nice to do fun and different styles for special occasions but for daily wear I really don’t mid it up…after all, I’m trying to be modest so why make it all showy and fussy.

I also own a few Turkish silk square scarves which I find so beautiful and are a class unto themselves. But, I don’t wear them too much because I find them a bit difficult to handle and they just don’t give as much chest coverage as I like. They are great for special occasions and feel wonderful to touch and have such a nice sheen and luster . They do require special care, attention and storage (hence are pesky!). I got mine straight from Turkey  (anyone remember hijabplanet?) and they are all Aker brand!


2 very cute books I wanted to mention are;

(picture taken from

(picture taken from

Scarf Styling circa 1994! This book is a classic!  before there was YouTube and homemade “how to style a hijab” movies that are in abundance there was this book! It had the trendiest hijab styles from the 1990’s…several of them I remember eagerly wearing. Unfortunately all the designs are pretty hopelessly “out of date” now adays, it’s still a classic! I’m waiting for some of them to come back in style…

(picture taken from

(picture taken from

This is a very beautifully done ‘coffee table’ book on the hijab published in Singapore…seriously inspirational!


I wear both “western style” hejabi clothing and overgarments…I feel pretty comfortable dressing either way. regardless of whether I have on pants, skirt or a jilbab I am well covered up and I don’t subscribe to the thought that “western dress” is inherently immodest and that if you have on pants your mimicing the “kafiroon”. I also don’t think that jilbabs or abayahs are inherently more modest. I believe quite strongly that it boils down to ones personal intentions. If you want to be showy you will…even in a chador or an overhead abayah!

As far as “western style dress”…I’m not really a skirt person. I move too fast and skirts cramp my style. I find the clothing from Shukr is tops in this category. I LOVE their stuff. Regardless of whether it’s work wear or casual wear their items are seriously top of the line. They last forever, fit good and are very very modest. If I’m wearing pants out I only ever wear Shukr pants. I have yet to find a pair of pants from a mainstream store that feels modest enough. My tops are also really long-atleast knee length and so the combined look of very wide leg pants with a long top is extremely modest. I really can not fathom why any hejabi would wear a tunic with skinny jeans! It looks really silly and just the look doesn’t blend well.

(2 Library School students @ the Library of Congress in DC!)

(2 Library School students @ the Library of Congress in DC!)

There was quite a long period of time (like 6 years) where I only wore overgarments…again not because I felt they were superior but because they were extremely convenient. I could run out the door and be in class basically with my PJ’s on. Seriously! My laundry bill was pretty small and I could wear the same black jilbab or abayah for a week straight and noone would know the difference. hehe.

Once I had my son, I stopped wearing overgarments while he was still young. Only in the past 8 months have I started to wear them again. I had two reasons for this change, first was I take public transit and live in an urban area and I was paranoid that I would trip while holding him, getting on a bus OR that I would look like an “easy target” to some stupid punk. I also “wore” my son…I never had him in a stroller…any time I took him anywhere he was either on my back or in a sling on my hip and it can be very hard getting a jilbab or abayah to work with a carrier. At least I felt so…but more so because I was a new mom and didnt want to be an easy target for a dumb punk w/ nothin’ to prove.

(in an Espoir brand Chunei)

(in an Espoir brand Chunei)

So anyway, I will *hopefully* finally finish this meme in the next few days!


3 thoughts on “My Islamic style of dressing (a meme)

  1. Pingback: Purse | All Days Long

  2. I love this post!

    That perfume bottle is cute!

    I’ll have to try that Origins Puffery stuff, sounds good.

    That’s funny that your husbands friend said that to him. I wonder how he felt when he saw you dressed in abaya?

    You’re right, the Turkish scarves are beautiful, I love them. But, I wish they were a bit larger…

    • i really love your post,it has really given me great ideas about dressing.because i have a few xtra ponds on and the hijab makes me look twice my size .but you’ve given me new and fantastic ideas.thank alot!

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