Hijabi Struggles: Modest Evening Gowns

You step up to the store and instantly smell a sweet, floral scent. Effortlessly draped waterfalls of material sweep the floor. Rays of light bounce all over the walls as they jump off sequined gowns.

Your prom day will be here before you know it and you’re on the hunt for that perfect, elegant dress. You glance towards the back of the room and catch a glimpse of it. The dress. It’s everything you’ve been looking for. Silky material cascades down to the floor in beautifully stitched pleats. Long embellished sleeves fall down at its sides.

You reach for the gown, but then… your heart drops. You see the thigh-high slit up the side of the dress. There’s no scarf or extra material to come with it either. The back is completely open. It’s see-through from the knees down. How could you possibly wear this dress now?

If this little story gave you déjà vu, trust me, you’re not alone, and this post was made for you.

If you’re a hijabi, you’ve probably experienced the struggle of searching through endless shops for evening gowns that are modest, or easy enough for you to cover up. In this post, I’m hoping to give you some useful tips for things to look out for when you’re dress shopping, that will make it easy for you to style your special occasion look.

I personally do find it challenging to attend formal events as a girl in a scarf. It’s not that easy being in a room full of girls who have their silky hair done up in beautiful curls, wearing dresses that haven’t been patched up with a scratchy material. So in order to suppress these feelings or temptations, you have to find a dress that you feel comfortable yet beautiful in.

When I walk into a dress shop, the first thing I keep an eye out for are dresses that I can easily picture with sleeves on, because the majority of the time you are going to have to add these on.

The next thing to pay attention to is if you can imagine this dress looking just as stunning with a scarf on. There’s no point in buying a dress that has all it’s detailing on the top part of a dress if that’s not going to show. So in this case, you’d have to be comfortable with wearing a turban style hijab, or tucking your scarf in the front of your dress.

Something else to look out for is the colour or colours of the dress. Basically, it’s important that you can match a scarf and sleeves with this dress.

If you’re someone who prefers to break up the colours of your dress, I suggest going for a two-toned gown or one that is multicoloured. This will make it easier for you to decide the colour of scarf and sleeves to wear because you can easily pick a colour from the dress.

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For example, with this gown there is a number of different coloured scarves you could pair with it. You can simply pick any colour from the different patterns of the dress. To make it look a bit more put together and elegant, I paired it with black sleeves.

Wearing a dress and scarf of the same colour can also look good. Especially if the details on your dress are different colours. Another option for a dress of one colour, is to wear either a silver or gold scarf. I’ve found some great formal scarves of these colours in shops like Accessorize, Forever New and sometimes Woolworths.

Another thing to keep in mind when dress shopping, is extra material. It’s always useful to find a good material shop and tailor in advance to your special occasion, just in case it is necessary to cover up a few bare spots on your dress.

When making sleeves for a dress, I advise you not to attach the sleeves to the actual dress. In this way, if you change your mind about either the material or length of sleeves you can always change them without having to mess up the whole dress. I prefer to make a separate top to wear underneath my dress. If you’re worried about the material bunching up throughout the event, you can always go for a bodysuit style.

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Instagram: @kausa.r

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Instagram: @safiyya_desai

As you can see in the pictures above, you can always use sleeves to break up the colours of your dress, or even add a bit more detail to it. Just a find a pretty lace material, and match your scarf to it!

Another tip I have for you is to take your time when searching for dresses, material or tailors. It’s always best to ask around and be 100% sure that the person you’re trusting with your dress is going to transform it into exactly what you want it to look like. It’s really important not to rush into buying material, especially if it’s uncomfortable because there’s nothing worse than wearing a scarf that doesn’t want to stay on your head during a special occasion. You can always borrow a scarf from a friend if you’re not successful at finding the perfect scarf, and carry on searching until you do find one.

If all this information was too much to take in, you can always go for a fancy abaya instead. Sometimes an abaya can look way more elegant than wearing a dress that’s patched up with different material. There are also a bunch of modest dress stores that you can purchase gowns from online, or from Instagram. Two of which are Festoun and Inayah.

I’ve also left a few pictures found on Instagram that can hopefully give you some modest dress inspiration. I hope you found this post useful!

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Instagram: @hijabhills

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Instagram: @dinatokio

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Instagram: @mariaalia

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Instagram: @honeyfordays

Which one of these dresses is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!

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