Fashion notes: Preparing for a month of modesty
if you’re new to the UAE, you may have heard mixed reviews about living here during Ramadan. Rules such as no eating in public and no loud music may seem reasonable, but when you learn that your dress code may require alterations, you start panicking. Expats often dread the month, fearing how they’ll fair in the searing heat when shorts and strappy tops are frowned upon.
If you find yourself in this kind of mindset, try to change your perspective and embrace the aspect of connecting with a tradition observed by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide.
Living in the Middle East comes hand-in-hand with the responsibility to respect certain religious practices. You may have always admired how regal some women look when wearing an abaya – why not use this month to try wearing one, too? Keep it open in the front for an easy-to-wear look with instant coverage. Shopping malls offer a great selection of fancy designs, or you can venture to the souqs to find one for less than Dh100.
If donning an abaya is a tad too drastic for your taste, don’t worry – there are numerous other ways to keep your clothing in check. Just look to the runways for some up-to-date inspiration. There’s no denying it – in high fashion, modesty is very much in. High necklines and maxi lengths have reigned on the catwalks for some time now, while figure-hugging body-con dresses, plunging necklines and ultra-short hemlines have been demoted to denoting tackiness.
With the abundance of five-star-hotel-hosted iftar buffets and suhoor tents taking prominence this month, it’s a great opportunity to try some of the season’s modest trends in an exciting, culturally charged ambience.
Two that are perfect for Ramadan are the loose-fitting grunge-tomboy-style trouser cuts that have cropped up this summer, and full, ladylike skirts, which have always been well suited to the Middle East market. For the first, get inspired by Tibi’s latest collection, which includes beautiful culottes in pastel and neutral shades, and for belle-of-the-ball skirts, look no further than Oscar de la Renta.
Another fun look to take on is the hippie-like boho style – wear a printed maxi dress or kaftan with strappy heals, big earrings and a turban to glam it up. Contrary to popular thought, minimalism also has a place in Ramadan trends – everything doesn’t have to be over the top. Simplistic fine jewellery paired with basic cuts and plain silhouettes achieve their own wow factor.
In their autumn/winter runway shows, many big-name designers introduced maxi coats. In Paris, we saw these silhouettes from Margiela, Chloé, Sonia Rykiel and Chanel. For summer, high-street stores have a range of duster jackets, which achieve the same look in a more welcoming fabric choice for the heat.
Modesty can be fun and feminine, too – Dolce & Gabbana’s autumn collection showed dresses with longer sleeves and below-the-knee hemlines, coupled with decadent lace and floral embroidery. Modesty can also be refined and sophisticated, such as Valentino’s luxe monochrome creations, which were refreshingly conservative – a word we often equate to “matronly”, an adjective we never want to associate with in fashion. Conservatism is influencing designers internationally – it need not have any negative connotations. Try it out for a month and see how you feel – you may like it.