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Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem
Oh…alhamdullah I am finally able to do this much anticipated review of the swimsuit which Al Sharifa graciously sent me AND will finally have entry details on the swimsuit GIVEAWAY which Al Sharifa is doing in conjunction with the Old School Hejabi blog! (giveaway details will be below, after the review)
The swimsuit which Al Sharifa sent me was from the Laguna series in the navy and medium blue color. I had considered one of the designs with a longer tunic but decided on the Laguna because of the color options that were available as I did not want a black swimsuit. I already had an all-black covering swimsuit from Speedo which I purchased while living in Saudi and wanted some color this time! As I am on the average height side (5ft4) I figured the tunic would hit a bit above the knee but still be modest while remaining suitable for swimming. I recieved the swimsuit only 3 days after they shipped it (yea USPS Priority Mail!) and it came nicely packaged up in a clear bag with several sheets of paper inside…one was care instruction and one was the printed reciept sheet…which in my case said.. “sample”. Thats about it. The care sheet just had basic care instructions on it and mentioned that you cant wear it in the water if you plan to return it. Nothing major on that front, I’m glad they included care instructions as some people really do not know how to properly care for their clothing…be they swimsuits or jilbabs or abayaat! Ive always been a fan of the hand wash-air dry method of suit care anyway…
One of my biggest fears about this suit was wether it would fit me!! One major problem I had with the Speedo swimsuit I have from Saudi is that its cut to fit slender to the body and outside of the water really is not very modest. I used it-a lot while in Saudi at the compound pool but to do so, I generally swam during “off-peak” hours and would literally wear my old Kuwaiti abaya ra’as up to the waters edge and take it off of me, as I got into the water. LOL…then when I got out…I had to put the abaya ra’as around me as the suirt absorbed water and would plaster itself to me. Uh, not cool. It was good IN the water, but outside of it…no way! Hence…I worried about the fit of this one and whether it would glue itself to me as I got out of the water.
As it turned out the fit was FANTASTIC!!! alhamdullah…the sister who runs Al Sharifa has made a suit which takes into consideration sisters who are either apple or pear shaped! Yea! The cut of the suit is like a perfect A and is very wide at the hem…it will definetly skim over ample hips, rumps and stomachs if needed while not being baggy and uncomfortable around the shoulder area. Infact I was worried it would fit too straight on me or be baggy around the shoulders… au contraire…it fits the shoulders perfectly while gracefully flowing over the lower parts, covering everything modestly! The bottom part is a good 8inches larger in the hips than the top part is. Once I established it fit, I told the kidlet I would be taking him to the local city pool tomorrow to try it out (yes, it tried it IN a city pool…I’ll have that experience below!)
The construction of the suit was impeccible…everything was well serged, stitched and areas of stress were heavily reinforced.
Onto each aspect of the suit. The top and bottoms come with clips which you can attach to keep the top from riding up in the water. The clip from the shirt is quite long while the flip from the pants is very short. All I did was make a simple loop with a knot to get the desired length for the clip. As you can see below. I found that when I lifted my arms then, the suit top did NOT ride up and stayed down, covering everything while giving my arms free movement…I found this was similar while IN the pool…no riding up and nothing being exposed. alhamdullah. I like that design feature and think its extremely useful…the one-piece suits can be sooo bothersome to get into and out of (i.e. the Speedo suit I have)
The pants are a good length for me, with them worn with the drawstring out…they drag on the floor but when I draw the drawstring they fit suitably and again, I love the drawstring aspect as you can swim and not worry about the pant legs floating up in the water! The strawstring cord is made of a sturdy nylon, the toggle is plastic and the hole in the pant legs is very very tiny and well-reinforced and as the hole is much smaller then the toggle, there is really no way it would go through the hole. As seen below.
There is an atttached hood with this suit. Personally thats the only aspect of this suit I was not too hot on and its because I am used to my scarves covering most of my face and consider the chin as part of the awrah, not the face…so I cover my hairline, cheeks and chin with my scarves and am not used to scarf styles which expose more of the face. Hence, I found the head area a bit too “exposing” for me. It covers perfectly find and covers like a typical Al-Ameera hijab…so if you normally wear those…then the fit of these is the same. Also, the hood is very easy to pop on and the design keeps everything coverted and in place. I simply put my hair back into my usual pony tail and popped up the hood…voila…it fit fine. But, as I like more coverage…I put on an al-ameera under the hood to show how it looks. When I went to the pool I popped on a plain black al-ameera, worn how I like to wear my scarves, but tucked into the suit and the hood back. As I wasnt diving or swimming UNDER the water, that was suitable. Obviously if I were to dive or pop on googles and go under the water I would pull the swim hood up over the al-ameera.
In this regard, I wish Al Sharifa made a option for a hood with more coverage around the face for those of us who wear our scarves more up and around the face. Do I think its a big deal? No…as most sisters dont do that anyway…so I’m in the miniority in this regard. Otherwise the hood fit well, no qualms there. definetly one perk to an agttached hood is you cant loose it!! I lost the swim hood to the Speedo suit ages ago…LOL
The fabric is perfect for a swimsuit. It actually repells water…like it really absorbs next to no water…even when swimming! How awesome is that!
Here I tried out how the suit handles water by dripped water onto the arm, as you can see it just beads and sits there. There is no water absorption.
Al Sharifa has two videos which show this aspect of their suits. For nthe record the Speedo “Islamic” swimsuit I have from Saudi does absorb water…a lot of it and it glues itself to you when you get out of the water.
and this one…yea, apparently East Essence uses regular jersey for their swimsuits…?
Now, my experience wearing this suit to the local city pool.
So, we have a large city pool like 5 blocks from my house (like each neighboorhood here has a pool) and we always walk by it taking the kidlet to the playgrounds and stuff and he always begs me to take him to swim…since I can swim but his dad cant. While we were in Saudi I swam like twice a day! Once with the kidlet (to teach him) and once by myself to give and do laps (which btw, that was a shocker for most people on the compound. The Arabs were in awww that a hijabi could swim and the non-muslim expats found it funny that I swam all covered up…LOL! The only other women on the compound who knew how to swim were the Lebanese and Iranian/Persian women…all the other Arab and Pakistani women would just sit around the edge of the pool and either wouldnt get in, couldnt get in or even couldnt swim!)
Anyway, I was a bit apprehensive about stompin’ up to the pool and being like…I’m swimming in this and then having them nix it…BUT as it turned out, they were fine with it and said that many women come to the pool in similar attire. Not only does my neighboohood have a large Muslim and Middle eastern community but there is a huge Orthodox Jewish area nearby and many of their women cover too and some swim in long suits as well. So noone raised an eyebrow. Now, I dont own a regular swimsuit but didnt think I needed one anyway under this suit. All I did wear wear a liner tank top and shorts under the suit. By liner top and shorts I mean like what youd put on under your skirts and shirts or jilbab in the summer. I didnt put on a tank swimsuit or anything else. It ended up working fine as the microfiber used in the liner tanks and shorts really dont absorb much water/sweat anyway. All I did was tuck the tank top into the suit pants and pop on the al-ameera hijab (in black!) and pop on the tunic, snap the clasps and snug the bottom of the pants and I was ready to go! Simple as pie!
Once I got INTO the water…it was wonderful…I was able to swim around with my sun and I did a few laps by myself while the kidlet sat on thew sidelines with some fruit. As it was ramadhan and I was fasting I made an effort to NOT put my head under the water or drink any of it…which I didnt, so my fast wasnt affected. I had free and easy arm movement and the tunic did NOT float up, nor was my liner tank top exposed at all! when I stood in the water the tunic didnt float up more than 1 inch, so it didnt even go up over my upper leg area. It stayed quite down. The pants didnt float up due to the toggle and drawtsring. The real test was when I got out o the water…would it cling to me? As it ended up…no it didnt, as I got out, I pulled the suit sort of away from me (cuz im paranoid) and it did, easily, it didnt glue itself to my arms or body, infact it looked almost dry and what water had been absorbed beaded on the surface of the fabric and fell off the suit. I sat around the pool for 10min to dry while my son had…another snack! LOL…and within 5 minutes I was basically 100% dry.
Interestingly enough, there were like 3 orthodox Jewish women at the pool that day with their kids and all there sat around the waters edge in their skirts, leggings and long shirts and scarves while their kids swam and they kept looking at me, finally as we got up to leave one lady went up to me and asked where I got the suit as she wanted to swim too! cool huh…so its not only Muslim women who would like this suit but also women from other faiths who cover and even those who want protection from the sun.
When Al Sharifa told me they would send me a suit to review, I obviously asked a few questions about how they got started with the swimsuits…and here is the response from the owner Kelly.
“We want to promote an item (the swimsuits) to give women the option to be modest and be able to participate in water sports at the same time. We didn’t feel that you would have to show the details of the figure in order to have a swimsuit, and I hope inshaAllah we have accomplished that.
Alsharifa began as a concept in 2006. As a revert I wanted to take my children swimming even though I had covered. There really wasn’t anything good available easily back then. (Essentially the only companies were overseas, while we are a US based company). They also weren’t swimsuit material either necessarily. One that sticks out in my mind was basically a tracksuit (you know the thin nylon kind that swishes when you walk?). It was pants, a zippered knee length jacket, that were both lined in something like flannel. Then there was a seperate two piece hood (that totally didn’t stay in place on land). I felt like a stuffed sausage!
Our typical customer for a swimsuit is a Muslim woman, quite often one who is just learning how to swim. We also definitely have non Muslim customers. Sometimes they’re concerned with sun exposure, other times they are just concerned with the amount of skin shown in typical western style suits. Our suits are multi purpose: you can defintely swim laps or do water aerobics in them (for this I typically would suggest the sportiva as the sleeves are a bit more fitted and the tunic is a bit shorter so it creates less drag) and if you’re just hanging out poolside with the kids, you can really wear anything you like, but often times a customer would gravitate towards the Laguna suit, as it’s slightly longer on the tunic.
We also have a line for girls, juniors and petites, which goes down to about a size 8/10 girls.
All of our suits feature a great fabric with four way stretch, high SPF factor and chlorine resistance, which has special characteristics to help it dry quickly, clips to connect the tunic to the pants, an attached hood (so you don’t have to worry about losing it, and you can leave down if you don’t wear scarf, or you can also disguise). Also everything has a drawstring ankle to help control the height of the pant leg, and also not expose the leg if you want to go down a water slide.”
Personally…I cant wait for next summer as I plan to get a neighboorhood summer pool pass and use the suit to enjoy my love of swimming and water sports!
Now, onto the fun…
Al Sharifa is going to give away a swimsuit in any size and design chosen to one lucky reader of Old School Hejabi!
To have a chance at winning…
1) Go to the Al Sharifa website and jot down the names of the 5 styles of swimsuits which they produce.
2) Send me an email at OldSchoolHejabi@gmail.com with your name, city/country and the names of the 5 styles of swimsuits which they produce in the body and “Al Sharifa Giveaway” in the subject line.
**If any information is missing, you will not be included in the giveaway!**
I will draw the winner on Friday evening, August 24th (EST, USA), winner will be announced and then will be contacted! (The giveaway is open to entrants from around the world)