During a heatwave, a gesture as simple as walking down the street to buy yourself flowers can result in becoming a pool of sweat and feeling as though you can no longer go on. Until you look up and see a hijabi, niqaabi or anyone who dresses modestly doing life so effortlessly in the heat.
Other than presuming that Muslim or Hasidic women, or anyone else who chooses to cover up, are baking in the heat and leaving it at that (as of course they are, being human and all), wouldn’t it be more useful to discover how these women do it?
We spoke to those who are within the modest fashion scene for tips and tricks in staying cool in the summer - for the days you don’t fancy getting your legs out.
Before anything, remember your pre: herbal beauty remedies.
Remaining cool in the summer is more than the clothes you put on your body, it also includes your bodycare. Nasreen Shaikh, artist and founder of Variant Art, a collective and archive for and of female Muslim artists, suggests showering with peppermint oil to keep your skin cool. “I recommend the Oud Milano Peppermint Oil as it’s a must for summer. I only use a little bit across my shoulders, neck and a little massaged into my scalp as it helps cool the body under the hijab,” she says.
Shaikh also carries a face mist with her: “You can buy rose or mint water at any local Asian supermarket and fill an empty spray bottle and keep it in the fridge for an extra cooling effect.” But if you don’t have time for that, 21-year-old student Nafisa Khalique approves of the Avene Thermal Water. “It’s especially useful on public transport, especially when you have to get the train before heading into work,” she says.
It’s all in the material.
When the air conditioning breaks down on the train, it’s not ideal. But Khalique has found the material you choose to wear during the warmer months can help. “Always choose linen and cotton scarves” she suggests, while Mariah Idrissi, the first hijab-wearing model, proposes to not layer. “Stick to thin materials. I see girls on the street wearing a T-shirt under a dress but opt for choices that are flowy and long if you want to cover your arms.”
She laughs as she adds: “This is not our time to shine as hijabis! Winter is our season! But in all seriousness, keep it light, in material and colour. I’ve been keeping it simple with shirts and wide legged trousers - plus pastels are in.”
Add the scoop.
Textiles designer, stylist and modest fashion writer, Nusaiba Mohammad, says the “most precious secret and practical invention” is creating “bib-like neckwear” that covers her upper chest, back and neck. “This means I don’t need to wear another layer of clothing under my low-neck top,” she explains. “I simply pull the neck bib down my head and voila, it covers everything beautifully and I don’t have to worry about compromising my style.”
Don’t forget the accessories.
Though Ibrahim admits “the heatwave is atrocious, no matter what you wear, even when you don’t wear the hijab or dress modestly”, she points out an accessory that tends to be forgotten about where hot weather is concerned: an umbrella.
It doesn’t have to be your typical black Marks and Spencers one either, umbrellas can be detailed and beautiful, the new fan, even to a simple outfit.
Oh and twist, twist, twist.
If you prefer to cover your hair, Idrissi suggests wrapping it around in a turban style: “Instead of wrapping it around your neck, tie your scarf backwards to keep as much of your neck covered as possible.” Meanwhile Zara Ibrahim, 30, suggests using pins to keep your scarf in place if you prefer traditional draping.
Do you have any more tips in staying cool but also dressing modestly during the warmer months? Share them below!