1) I enjoyed learning about your fashion journey. What inspired you to begin the journey of this book? Have any of your ideas changed throughout the process?
I had written about modest fashion as a journalist for various newspapers and magazines, and was then approached by Neem Tree Press, who were interested in publishing a book about this new niche industry. I was overjoyed! That’s how the journey of the book began (while I was halfway through my pregnancy).
Surprisingly, many of my ideas have changed throughout the process, and even now, after the book has been printed and published. Following a “modest” lifestyle is an ever-evolving journey, and my own definitions and interpretations of modest wear, and what I’d personally wear, often change. For example, while writing the book, I never considered the burkini to be a swimwear piece I’d ever wear. However, since then, I’ve come across some extremely stylish full-coverage swimsuits, that may not be labeled “burkinis” but essentially cover the same amount of skin, and I’m sold!
2) You cleverly include a little black book of all the amazing people and their Instagrams in the back. Could you recommend your top 3 accounts for people taking their first steps into the world of modest fashion and tell us a bit about each?
There’s a Toronto-based fashion blogger named Saira, on Instagram she is @shazaira. She’s a perfect example of an everyday Muslim woman balancing faith and fashion in the modern world. Some days she’ll be in a glamorous dress, others in a hoodie and sweatpants. What’s more is that she’s candid, genuine and relatable.
Melanie Elturk, CEO of Haute Hijab (@hautehijab) is another influential female to follow. She’s the face of her headscarf business, and combines blogging with entrepreneurship and humanitarianism in her posts.
For whimsical, ethereal fashion inspiration, look no further than South African fashion blogger, Nabilah Kariem (@Nabilahkariem). Her outfits range from suits to floral dresses and floaty kaftans, and her styling approach is chic and clever, and can be easily emulated.
3) What advice would you give to your younger self struggling to find fashion choices that worked for you?
I would tell myself to stick with my gut and avoid overthinking – especially about whether or not an outfit was “trendy” enough, because fashion comes full circle, and what may have been previously “unstylish” one year will be all the rage next year! While growing up, layering to achieve modesty was not considered stylish – at least by mainstream standards. However now, layering a turtleneck over a slip dress, or a corset over a blouse, is very much in vogue.
I would also urge my younger self, to have fun with fashion, be creative with it, and to take it lightly – not too seriously.
4) In the preface, you recollect receiving a t-shirt from a friend that says "modest is hottest" and later analyze this saying in your concluding chapters. What are your final thoughts about this saying now?
I wish I still owned this T-shirt, it would have been such a meaningful memento at this stage of my life –I probably would frame it! While many dispute the use of this saying, arguing that it teaches women to look “hot” for men, or instils the wrong intentions in young women, I believe that you can over-analyse any statement and poke holes in it. I’m confident that with this “motto,” the positives outweigh the negatives – having a fun and catchy slogan that validates your fashion choices and faith-based dress codes can really uplift, inspire and motivate young women.
5) On a personal note, I am an American about to move to Egypt. I've never visited Africa or the Middle East. What advice about anything could you give me?
How exciting! I’ve actually never been to Egypt, but from what I’ve heard, it’s a vibrant, bustling city! Prepare yourself for the summer heat – pack clothing that’s lightweight, cotton, and loose. They may have certain “modesty” dress codes for public outings – that will be worth checking. Also prepare yourself for a language barrier – not everyone will speak English.
While you’re in this part of the world, you should take full advantage and travel everywhere! Save up and spend long weekends in other African and Middle Eastern countries.
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