Building A Modest Wardrobe In Ten Steps

Building A Modest Wardrobe In Ten Steps

Building a modest wardrobe rarely happens overnight (and I’m not talking about building flat-pack furniture). Collecting the right modest clothing to create a wardrobe that is functional and appropriate for you requires strategic planning.

No matter whether you’re a revert Muslim, or you’re a sister who has always been practising, we all have one thing in common. We’re all on a spiritual journey striving to gain more and more nearness to Allah.

One of the ways we can work to achieve this is to perfect our hijab. But this task can be pretty daunting if, when we open our wardrobes, we see a sea of clothing choices that we’re not proud of wearing in public anymore.

You can use these ten tips on building a modest wardrobe to get started on your journey comfortably.

Find Out What Haya And Hijab Mean To You

Islamic scholars, Muslims and non-Muslims all over the world have differing opinions about hijab. Many people debate about the requirement of actually wearing it; whether or not it is fard.

To find out what level of hijab you should strive towards, consult with a sheikh and do extensive online research. You can also research evidence from the Qur’an and ahadith to support your view.

Types Of Hijab

Become familiar with the different kinds of hijab that you can wear. Some of these include wearing a headscarf, jilbab, niqab or khimar. Hijab is worn with loose-fitting, non-revealing clothing, a shalwar kameez or an abaya.

Hijab In The Qur’an

The main reason why most Muslim women choose to wear hijab is for the sake of our creator, Allah. He has commanded that women should wear hijab in Surah An-Nur of the Qur’an.

And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.

Quran 24:31

This ayah explains the rulings about women’s hijab. It describes the types of people who Muslim women can take their hijab off in front of and reveal their beauty to.


and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof

Quran 24:31

When in public, sisters should be mindful of their ‘awrah in front of non-mahram men. Their ‘awrah includes everything – the entire body of a woman – except for her face and hands. Some ulema differ as to whether or not the feet should remain uncovered.

and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests

Quran 24:31

The head, neck, chest and hair should be covered.

And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment

Quran 24:31

Muslim women shouldn’t wear things that make noise and draw attention (i.e. jingly anklets, high heels, etc.)

Ulema suggest that sisters should start wearing hijab when they reach puberty.

The Verse Of The Hijab

In this video, Mufti Menk talks about “the verse of the hijab” in Surah Al-Ahzab

O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

Qur’an 33:59

Hijab In Ahadith

Ahadith indicate that the female companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them all) would wear a veil when going out in public.

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin:
May Allah have mercy on the early immigrant women. When the verse “That they should draw their veils over their bosoms” was revealed, they tore their thick outer garments and made veils from them.

Sunan Abi Dawud

Narrated `Aisha:
The believing women covered with their veiling sheets used to attend the Fajr prayer with Allah’s Apostle, and after finishing the prayer they would return to their home and nobody could recognize them because of darkness.

Sahih al-Bukhari

Narrated Um `Atiya:
We were ordered to bring out our menstruating women and veiled women in the religious gatherings and invocation of Muslims on the two `Id festivals. These menstruating women were to keep away from their Musalla. A woman asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) ‘ What about one who does not have a veil?” He said, “Let her share the veil of her companion.”

Sahih al-Bukhari

Narrated `Umar:
I said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Good and bad persons enter upon you, so I suggest that you order the mothers of the Believers (i.e. your wives) to observe veils.” Then Allah revealed the Verses of Al- Hijab.

Sahih al-Bukhari

The female companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) are the pious and noble women of Islam that all believing sisters should try to emulate.

Gain Inspiration

Building a modest wardrobe
There’s a ton of apps and blogs that we can go to for ideas

Having to match additional clothing to your outfits (i.e. headscarves and jilbabs) can be a little tricky in the start of your hijab journey. The good thing is that there’s a ton of apps and blogs that we can go to for ideas.

Have a look through Instagram, Pinterest, online stores, blogs and YouTube. On Pinterest, you can create private boards to pin ideas. Making a private inspiration board is handy if you aren’t ready for the public to know your intentions just yet.

Have a look at the colour schemes that hijab-wearing women wear. Start to form ideas about how you would want your hijab to look. Doing this will help you in building a modest wardrobe.

Throw Out, Donate, Keep

Now would be the time to sort out the existing clothes lying in your closet. Make room for all of the future purchases you intend to make.

If you haven’t worn certain clothing pieces for more than one year, then its time to donate it to those in need. If they’re not in wearable condition, then recycle them or bin it.

Immodest clothing doesn’t need to go to waste. Keep in mind that immodest clothing can still be worn in the privacy of your own home. Maybe you can save them for wearing for your husband.

You can keep any loose-fitting clothing already sitting in your wardrobe.

Coats, jackets, long sleeve tops, loose pants or trousers, long cardigans, maxi dresses and maxi skirts are an excellent foundation to have in your wardrobe. They should cover your ‘awrah and not be revealing, tight-fitting or see-through.

Visit Op Shops (Thrift Shops)

Never underestimate the value of op shopping. When I first started building a modest wardrobe, op shops were my go-to places. I was able to collect good quality, long-sleeved, loose-fitting clothes for very cheap, very quickly.

Another added benefit of op shopping is that it’s good for the environment because it helps to eliminate clothing waste that would otherwise be dumped in landfill. By op shopping, you’re also not buying from fast fashion stores, which would, in turn, be supporting unethical sweatshops.

Go To Muslim Areas

Building a modest wardrobe
[Lars Plougmann / CC BY-SA 2.0]

This one might seem obvious, but usually, where there are mosques, there are Muslims, and modest Muslimahs need modest clothing. So go where they go to buy their clothing.

While shopping in Muslim areas, it’s good to observe what the sisters are wearing there for inspiration.

Shop Online

Not all of us live close to Muslim areas. If this is the case for you, you could be missing out on high-quality clothing at Islamic and modest clothing stores.

It’s always good to be able to try on clothes to find a proper fit and see if they’re see-through. You need to make sure that they meet the conditions of hijab and that they don’t cause fitnah.

But the beauty of online shopping is that you can shop from the comfort of your own home at any time. If your purchases aren’t right, simply return it and get your money back.

Building A Modest Wardrobe

Building a modest wardrobe
Styles that work for one sister might not work for you

Building a modest wardrobe requires a lot of experimentation along the way. Styles that work for one sister might not work for you. Some are comfy, and some aren’t. Some might suit you, and some might not.

Before buying ten rectangle headscarves in every colour, see if square ones work better for you first. Trial each hijab style for a week. Try out a bit of everything and then stock up on your favourite styles.

By using all of the ten steps, you can be more confident about your clothing choices. You can save money and avoid purchase regret by carefully planning and building a modest wardrobe.

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Building A Modest Wardrobe In Ten Steps