Some ideas for staying cool in the summer!

Each summer I get asked by Muslims and non-Muslims alike about how to handle the summer heat and humidity while all covered up!  I love how I’ll be standing at a bus stop in my neighboorhood in a swishy, airy black abaya and some random person will be all like “girl…arent you hot in that thang?”…I love educating people about…no, actually I’m really not any hotter than you (in your tank top and shorts) and then I usually am like, the material used for my garment is very airy and light and the cut lets in a lot of air…half of the time I get a look of sheer crazyness and doubtfullness (possibly because they expected that I would NOT answer…LOL) or they would walk away educated and better understanding…perhaps they wanted to make a comment to be snarky or they truly were curious!  For Muslim sisters, especially new Muslims or those new to covering, sometimes they find covering full in summer to be a daunting idea!  Ive covered since the late 90’s and have never had heat stroke or heat exhaustion and yes, the options for summer time covering have come a LONG way since I was a teenager!

I remember back in the summer of 1999 walking up the hill to the masjid in a thick, winter weight jilbab a sister gave me as sadaqah-it was the only one I had…I probably melted in the 90degree heat! When I got to the masjid I took it off to do wuduh and it was soaking wet and there was literally steam that rose from my body! It was indeed a struggle in those days to find cool, fully covering modest attire!

**Feel free to share your own tips/experiences in comments section!**


Hydration: It may sound obvious but stay hydrated and drink fluids while out and about in the hot weather! Try to stay in the shade and in general, stay inside during peak heat hours. <these are good tips for everybody, regardless of covering!>

I like to tote around a little coffee thermos full of ice water and a piece of fruit when I am out and about during the day!

Fabrics…it may sound obvious but many people dont realize but there are such things are winter weight and summer weight jilbabs and abayaat!  Some garments are made in fabrics suitable for cold weather and some are made in airy, cool fabrics for hot weather. In Saudi if you bought an abaya anytime in the later summer to mid-winter all of the crepes would be quite thick and heavy, whereas in february the summer crepes like saloona and internet would start to appear in abaya shops! You really cant wear a winter weight abaya in summer but unfortunately most sisters in the US are unable to get garments which are more in line with the seasons…but if you can…try to buy from the summer lines of pardesu, jilbabs or abayaat!

Some great summery fabrics are lightweight cotton, viscose, linen and suimmer weight crepes. Koshibo and peachskin WILL be suitable for summer if the material is thin, airy annd lightweight (Al Moultazimoun uses very fab summer weight koshibo!). Any fabric which feels very thin and light yet when you hold it up to the light has no microscopic holes will NOT allow air in, nor sweat out and will be akin to wearing saran wrap!

Styles: The cotton jilbabs from Shukr are really good for all-year around wear and arent too heavy for summer wearing. Sajeda has some nice summer weight manteau and jilbabs. E-Tesettur has all summer style pardesu in right now.

This Princess dress from Shukr would be great for summer…

Or this summer-weight manteau from Sajeda.

With abayaat…the bisht or very A-line styles are great for summer coolness and they really are like walking airconditioner units! hehehe.  I would personally stay away from most of the satin abayaat unless the satin is very high quality or a blend of silk and satin.  I have a very high quality satin bisht from an upscale Saudi boutique and the air flow is good, whereas I have another from a cheaper place which causes me to get dizzy due to how hot it is in the sun!

I would also stay away from most types of jersey for abayat for the summer, unless the cut is VERY baggy and well pleated. They can get very hot, even if the quality of the jersey is high!

Another option is an overhead jilbab in an airy cut… An obvious perk to this style is that you don’t need a separate scarf and because the garment flows away from the head there is more airflow around the back and neck. Also they just look swanky anyway.

A key point is deciding what to wear UNDER your garments! My summer undergarments tend to be like tank tops and linen pants generally ofcourse I change things around depending on what I wear but I find linen pants to be very cool under an abaya or jilbab and a tanktop to be quite airy and light. I dont recommend wearing just your underwear under your garment as one the whole purpose of an overgarment is that its OVER your clothing, to ensure the figure is covered but also because its often not that cool or comofrtable having nothing on under your jilbab or abaya…and what about if its windy or you need to remove something for wuduh…?  Atleast linen pants and a tanktop or a cami ensures your covered minimally yet are cool and comfortable under your garments.

For scarves…anything lightweight and airy is good, obviously anything which is too sheer wont work, but there are summer weight pashminas and light cotton gauze or georgettes in squares work well. I find the squares from malaysia, the silk squares from Turkey and the Turkish Oya scarves to be fantastic and lgihtweight for the summer! The squares which Al-Mujalbaba are really good for all season wear. Modefa here in the USA carries Turkish silk squares along with airy pashminas and oya scarves. Ive also found that the Turkish silk scarves are great for the heat as they are very airy and weigh almost nothing on the head! Just watch about coverage…

I hope you found these tips useful, en’sha’Allah! Feel free to share some of your own!


12 thoughts on “Some ideas for staying cool in the summer!

  1. Linen, linen, linen! I cannot stress enough how great linen clothes are in the summer! They are very lightweight and keep you cool and protected from the sun; the only problem is that it tends to wrinkle easily. Normally I love layering, but during hot weather this is not the best idea; the fewer layers, the better. I will wear leggings or linen pants, a thin t-shirt, and a long dress, skirt, or jilbab over everything, and a cotton two-piece khimar. Put your hair up in a ponytail, braids, etc. underneath your hijab so it keeps your neck cooler. Don’t wear denim pants or jackets unless you want them to stick to your body because of all the sweating you’ll be doing. All but the thinnest pashminas should be retired until autumn. Basically, keep it simple, choose light, breathable fabrics, and wear as few clothes as possible while still maintaining hijab. When at home, take everything off and lounge around in a tank top, shorts, or a short sundress, especially if you don’t have air conditioning!

  2. I have found wearing an overhead or half-jilbaab which is open at the neck with a very thin hijab under (I.e. a very thin gauzy viscose or cotton) is cooler than wearing an overhead or similar which is fitted up to the face. I also have this Yemeni overhead in this amazing Internet crepe, it’s very lightweight but not in a cheap, nasty, static way-it doesn’t cling at all. I wore it in Saudi and was cool as a cucumber. Another tip is to avoid any scarf style that is pinned too tightly under the chin or has a lot of layers over the neck area when wrapped or styled. I agree about the knit fabrics, I do have this polyester tricot fabric which seems as though it would be quite cool to wear at least the underskirt I made from it is.

  3. Umm Ibrahim,

    It’s funny you should do a post like this as I went through my closet this weekend with that very thought in mind. You know how excited I was to finally wear my Nusra jilbab from Shukr (super duper excited)…anyway, recap, I got it in navy color and wore it on Sat. Unfortunately, I prob picked the wrong day to wear it as it’s midweight cotton— great for 3 out of the 4 seasons in US, but not good for 90F weather! I still love the jilbab esp the deep pockets on this but will likely wear it only on cooler days!!!

    Anyway, went through my closet and organized Jilbabs/tops/long hoodies based
    on fabric…it’s amazing what you can find buried in the closet!!! I found 2 shukr dresses (linen) that I hadn’t worn in a long while…they’re a bit snug though so I can’t wear them as “jilbabs” like I want to unless I lose a few pounds:-)

    A note on koshibo. Thanks to Umm Ibrahim’s rave reviews about koshibo, I purchased the koshibo fabric jilbab from Al Muljababa a while back and will use it some this summer. The weave lets in a lot of air! So for those of you who are anti-poly fabrics esp during the summer (like moi), try koshibo fabric…The one down side is that it has a bit of a sheen.

  4. Assalaamu alaikum,

    It’s for this very reason that I almost always buy lightweight abayas because I figure for the winter I can just wear heavier clothing underneath. In the past I was working in an office that the heating system was unpredictable so it was better to wear light weight clothing and avoid the heavier weighted fabrics anyway and just add a sweater if I got too cold. I think I have maybe 2 abayas that are specifically for the colder weather and I unfortunately get very little use out of them because even when it’s cold outside I may go indoors somewhere and the heat is up too high for me to be comfortable.

  5. Yup all my abayaat are in summer weight fabric; I had one spring/autumn weight abaya and it was just too thick even in winter.

    Oh and another tip I have thought of; the turkish satin fronted ‘bone’ undercaps, they now have a version where they are made of an incredibly thin breathable satin and the rest of it is a very thin, meshy tulle fabric (which is really soft too). You cannot even feel its on but it keeps your hair gathered up and out of your face and stops it getting sweaty.

  6. i have found it hard to find suitable abayas for summer, when i visit Morocco i do sweat soo much but i realise even if i was not wearing hijab i would be the same.
    through trial and error, i found that Ali baba/hareem pants are the best to wear. Better then linen pants. why? Well linen pants always feel bulky at the top, zips, strings, hem etc etc and the wide leg can sometimes be moved up and show ur legs.
    I wear ali babas with the elastic at the ankle. you can get them from ebay/amazon for less then 10 dollers/pounds.
    i own about 10 in black and white to wear under abayas. The are loose and modest and cotton with a bit of stretch, they allow air to circulate. are not thick at the op. simple elastic waist. are not transparent. cover my legs no worry of wind lifting my trouser leg up. come just below the ankle and easy to wash.
    i used to wear a long sleeved tshirt and a cotton jersey plain dress to the knee which stops the abaya sticiking to you and helps mininise shape being shown when the wind blows. But that is too much for the summer. So what i did was bye 4 maxi dresses, cotton jersey that have a small sleeves, and wear that alone with the ali baba pants.
    If i have wider sleeved abayas/jilbabs i just wear arm sleeves to the elbow. I only need the arm coverage to mid wrist. I find this works best for summer. Also always bye the abaya/jilbab in a larger size, more modesty but allows full circulation of air. clingy abayas/jilbabs will stop air flow and transperation of sweat so you will only get hotter and feel clammy.

    I am off to Saudi for ramadan to do Ummrah. Do you have any tips? what to wear? how to cope with heat? what to carry with us? take a bag/ not take a bag etc etc?

    jazakallah khier

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