Switching between styles of attire?

So this is a random topic for this post but is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile, especially after a sister friend and I were discussing it at a womans conference several weeks ago.

Do you think that lets say, if a Muslimah *normally* wears say, for example; long khimaars and skirts that she shouldnt sometimes switch it up with say a regular shoulder garment and say a ample sized shaylah or square OR with a overhead abaya/chador? Or if a sister normally wears overheads she shouldnt say-now and again wear a shoulder abaya?

I ask all of your opinions to this question because I normally get two reactions to this question…

1) NO…when you *choose* a form of attire you *must* always wear it.

example- like if you show up at the masjid in a long khimaar some women will think you’ve moved on to “another level” and to then show up the next day in say a short khimaar or a regular scarf would seem borderline sacrilegious.
As another example, I know this American-born, Gulf descented sister and she wants to wear overheads generally but she still would want to sometimes wear her shoulder abayaat. Her mom, father and grandmom say NO…if you choose to wear overhead abaya you can “never” go back to even shoulder abayaat…i.e. what you choose is akin to a religious vow.

2) YES, this is OK…variety is the spice of life. As long as the sisters attire is in line with the codes of proper hejab then its fine to 1 day wear an overhead, the next day wear a shoulder or a long khimaar.

…example, the said Niqabi sister I discussed this with at a conference mostly wears shoulder abayaat and long shaylahs but in the summer does prefer batwing overheads and she doesnt see why it should matter, as long as shes covered.

So do you all get what I mean…what all do YOU think??? And…what would be the opinion of this in ur community?

**Please note, I’m not talking about switching between wearing niqab one day and no niqab the next day OR tunics and pants one day and long khimaars and skirts the next. I’m talking about gradual variations along the same general form of dress-say sometimes shoulder abayat and somes head abayaat or sometimes long khimaars and sometimes regular scarves. I clarify this as I can *just picture* one reader flipping out over this post thinking I’m advocating changing styles drastically per day. LOL. I’m not…auzhoobillah.


I just wanted to add my thoughts since I’ve recieved quite a few comments on this question. Alhamdullah.

So, personally I think number 2 is good. Like while I *generally* wear overheads of some sort (batwing, sleeved or Algerian jelbab style), I dont *always*…because you know, sometimes I want to wear a shoulder garment too, although I tend to not have too many problems with the overheads as when I have my son with me, I try to wear one of my sleeved styles as frankly its easier with a child and carrying bags or a purse. But, if i’m alone, I do prefer the batwing styles as I feel they cover better and look more elegant.

But, I do know some sisters who truely think once you choose a particular style you must-indeed stick to it. Like I know a sister who wants to now and then wear the long Egyptian-style khimaars, but is fearful because her husband, inlaws and even the Egyptian masjid community will think very-very poorly of her if she say, one day didnt wear them. I know another sister who is half Moroccan who said when she switched from long khimars *daily* to those extremely long and wide shaylahs that she got some confusion/slack from other Muslims.

So I guess… whatever. hehehe


21 thoughts on “Switching between styles of attire?

  1. Assalamualaikum Umm Ibrahim. I agree with the second opinion. What I understand about awrah and hijab is that, to cover properly is wajib but how you cover it is flexible so in that case, you can wear whatever kind of clothes as long as they can cover your awrah properly. However, we usually wear clothes that are most comfortable and suitable with our taste and style. For example, I’ve been wearing shoulder black abaya almost everyday and a few days ago I choose to wear a floral printed jilbab. Someone said, “why did you change?” LOL…

  2. Assalaam waliekum.
    I go for option #2.
    As long as the “switch-up” is within Islamic dress standards.
    Personally, it depends on what I’m doing at the moment. Insha’allah, Im visiting the masjid or shopping or visiting: abayas & empire style dresses (the Regency kind) Or Im planning on walking & running about outside: a long tunic w/ loose pants. My only always-option is a tie-back khimar due to it’s easy to put on.

  3. Yup, option #2 is what I’d go with. I can’t think of any reason why someone shouldn’t switch up their style. I do it all the time; one day I’ll wear a skirt and tunic, the next day I’ll wear a jilbab, and the next day I’ll wear a jumper dress and cardigan. Some days I’ll even go for pants and a long tunic. Like Gail, pretty much the only thing that remains consistent are my elbow length or longer two-piece khimars; it’s when I wear something that isn’t a khimar that people notice!

  4. Since I live in an area with extreme seasonal weather, I switch according to season. Skirts are cooler in hot, humid weather and impossible in the winter. As long as the covering is appropriate, I never feel there is a problem. I love overheads, but they are not always practical.

  5. Im with #2 as well. As long as it still meets the requirement of hijab then I don’t see the problem. I tedn to switch styles with the weather. In the winter I find myself wearing more dark colored shoulder abayaat, but in the summer I’ll wear lighter colors or even a maxi dress with a long khimaar. It’s what makes you comfortable at the end of the day.

  6. I have a question about hijab and appropriate attire but don’t see a way to ask other than as a comment on your blog. As you’re discussing changing attire day-to-day in this post, maybe this is the right place to ask.

    I am a non-Muslim Westerner (currently living in the US), and I’m moving to the UAE this summer. I’ll be teaching in the Abu Dhabi Emirate. My question is, is it appropriate for me to wear hijab? Abaya & shayla is my plan, particularly for work, but I have heard it could be offensive for me to dress this way. Considering your point one above, I guess it could bother some people.

    Thanks for your insight!

    • I think as far as UAE goes…you should ask some women who already live in UAE. Like I llived in Saudi for a year and I can tell you, like there all women have to wear an overgarment when out, and most women wear shoulder abayaat as they are the most commonly available. But, I have heard that in UAE the local women dislike foreigners wearing abayaat as they few abayaat as “their attire”…and I even know some western MUSLIM sisters who wear abayaat here in the US or Canada or UK going to UAE to work and getting rudeness from local women for doing so. So, you can always see once you get there, I dont think-to me-there should nbe any problems but if you do get slack or issues from local women and esp as you dont have any religious reason for covering in an overgarment you can always wear a long tunic and loose pants or a skirt.

      Hope you enjoy it! Just be aware of sandstorms and dust, so do bring a scarf with you anyway when going out to drape over your face during dusty times.

      • Thanks for your input (and that of your other readers as well!) – wait and see is no doubt the best advice. I’m certainly storing up scarves regardless for that sand (and to protect from the inevitable sunburn).

    • HI , i did live in the UAE Dubai for view month and so far i did as europan i did not wear any type of muslim dress , i did wear Jeans and long shirt , i saw many tourists as well in singlet and women live there some wear mini skirt , but i personally did got in Jeans and long shirt quite a lot harrasment special at late afternoon on my way to the shopping . The shopping centers was ok , in the street was a different story , so i swiched to the long abaya what was open in the front with jeans under and a very lose black scarf lying in my head, then it got better . Frinds of mine who live in Sharjah the neigbour City of Dubai there is it more conservative and usefull to wear the traditional Dress. I think Dubai and Abu Daby is very open , but some men are quite rude on the street without a bit muslim dress such as long open UAE abaja they think you” free range ” and get less respect .

  7. I agree with Kakchik’s comments- as long as the Islamic dress requirements are met the rest is just personal preference. If it confuses others we shouldn’t take much notice.

  8. I have no problem with option #2, and even #3 (extreme switchs) depending on what is correct hijab. For example, I love makeup so I wear niqab. I also think niqab is mustahaab but I haven’t 100% committed to full-time wearing. So some days I wear it and sometimes I don’t, usually depending on how many men will be around ect. With makeup I always wear it. I don’t think there is a problem unless a sis herself believes a garment in a part. style is fard. Of course, then she chooses something else, she’d be going against her own beliefs & knowledge.

    • Yup…I agree, infact most niqab wearing sisters I know feel its mustahaab but not fard and so do switch it up at times. like I personally feel-based on evidences from the school of thought I follow that an overgarment is required-but I havent found anything that says overhead or shoulder is better-they leave it up to personal interpretation. But, we do have the women of the Sahabah, the Prophet SAWS family female scholars to look up too and from them, I reckon that most likely an overhead garment of some sort is probably the best. But, I dont feel its fard and so thats why I dont think I should only *just* wear overheads. But…I do prefer them as I feel they are more modest. So yes, I agree with what your saying. BTW, congrats on the baby. mashallah

  9. @ freyabryson: If I may jump in, I think it’s perfectly fine if you want to wear an abaya and hijab while you’re there. And if you choose not to sometimes, I think that’s probably okay too. I think as long as your clothing is fairly modest by “Western” standards (e.g. slacks or jeans that aren’t too tight, long skirts, shirts that don’t show off too much chest), you should be good to go.

    Good luck with the move and new job!

  10. I find this question with the switch quite interresting , as wearing very long Khimar, some days i’m in amira mood but then i think hey this is the waswas wispering to abandon the very long hijab, i dont know yesterday i had a court and i went with short scarf not to get the juge thinking i’m a terrorist . What is maybe stupide, i dont know , some days i miss jeans with sirt . But all in one wear what you feel good in , and this is for me the very long khimar and long skirt , this from time to time wispering in my head to be more stylish and swich i most ignore. Because i feel bad after wearing the short swich.

  11. Salam alikum ,Umm Ibrahim , could you make some report on eglish speaking Muslim / Women magazin from America or else where? I would be interested what type of Muslim magazin it gives in english language around the world ??? Salam

  12. I agree; do what you want and feel in the moment as long as it fits Islamic dress requirements.

    As for UAE, I’d say people may be confused/surprised if you wear abaya, etc., as a non-Muslim. If you really want to wear abaya or hijab, I’d suggest making it your own style that is unique from the locals based on the issues mentioned earlier.

  13. salam alaik……i too go with 2nd option….as i think that the main thing is that u hav 2 coverurself proprly….and its up 2 u how u cover self by head scarves or khimar or abaya….

  14. Thank you:) though it makes the heat in the Gulf nigh murderous.

    Yeah, I agree about overhead. I want abayaraas all the time and actually find them cooler and less hot but more expensive to get tailored, and I like decorative embroidery, which makes people stare here. If you wear abaya raas they think your only style should be a purse maybe, or some matching black gloves:p ick. so if you want embroidery, you have to do shoulder. Gulf culture is so ignorant of anything outside societal norms, lol. Like excercise.

  15. Asalam waliykum very interesting post sister!

    I agree i am a little confused but agree answer 2 makes more sense, as long as its in keeping with hijab guidelines you should be able to change and mix it up.
    I just started to wear abaya full time, about one year now…. maybe less. I have some long maxi dresses, from Monsoon. That are very modest. Have some colour on them. One is black with a splash of purple and grey on the bottom edge of the dress. It does not show any of my curves, long and modest and i wear a loose fit cardigen over the top and a simple khimar or long shayla. Some people who are critics say its not permissible to wear a dress…
    It looks like an abaya/jilbaba just with a bit of colour…??? its not tight fitting, does not show my chest, waist or hips, thighs… nothing.

    So i agree its not a problem as long as its in keeping of whats required of hijab. Long, loose, modest, opaque and not resembling the dress of non muslims.

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