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!