With Eid in the air and a paper draft due yesterday, the time felt ripe for some procrastination in the form of photo watching – going through some of the oldest pictures on my laptop (2005 and onward). And with that, I’m very happy I never blogged my own style back in 2008, during my first short half-year stint on this blog. Let’s just say that these were moments of highly questionable style, especially the pictures dating from the period of 2007-2009 (my first years wearing the hijab). Learning to dress with the hijab, minus tacky carinas (long sleeved undershirts), weird multi-scarf creations on top of my head, and garments with unflattering cuts seems to have been a much longer, serious process than what I remembered it to be.
The following are my main styling violations and how I amended them:
*I used to misunderstand the concept of undershirts. Rather than wearing them as another layer covering up under semi-transparent garments, or hiding skin that could be exposed if my scarf got lifted by the wind, I tended to expose them too much, making them a part of the outfit. Seeing how such garments are usually not very aesthetically pleasing, carinas are meant to be mostly covered up, not prominent as they are under halter neck or sleeveless tops or dresses.
*Lack of variation in cuts and types of clothes: I wore one type of pants all the time. My go-to pairs were very wide-legged jeans. That obviously does not contribute to a lot of variation in dressing. I combined these with tunics that were mostly really long (knee length or longer) and empire cut (your typical Forever21 dress). These were also not adding a lot of variation or creativity to my wardrobe, and the baggy-on-top, baggy-on-the-bottom combo made me look extremely frumpy. So I learned to do one or the other, or to do bagginess moderately. And more importantly, I realized I needed to buy different cuts. To experiment. There’s not just one way to look modest in pants.
*Somehow I thought hijab fashion was managing to color coordinate my hijab and outfit, and preferably to tie multiple scarves in unusual DOs: Basically, the head scarf was my main concern, the clothes was built around the head scarf. Now I dress using the opposite strategy. I put together an outfit, and then I choose the scarf that is the most harmonious with it. I allow only one scarf on my head at the time, and it usually ends up being a solid color (although I’m definitely not opposed to prints).
*I wore brown – lots of brown. Why did I ever have such an obsession with this bland, sad excuse of a color? Although brown “happens” occasionally even these days, I’m never ODing on it as seems to have been the case back then.
*Exploding head in a restrictive scarf: I used to tie hijabs super tight on my head so that when wearing them the “normal” way – around the neck – I would almost suffocate. And there was absolutely no volume – it looked like a swimming cap on me. Now I’m not saying you should go overboard with the volume like I did for a few years until very recently, where the hijab increased the size of my head threefold. That looks (almost) comical. But a little volume, both on the sides and in the back will do almost anybody good. I downgraded my flower clip to a scrunchie this fall, but I still think it looks much more decent with that than nothing there (without anything, I sort of feel like a turtle).
*The forehead shaver: underscarves are like undershirts – better left unseen. If you do need to wear them, please keep them away from your forehead, unless you have an overly prominent one, in which case the scarf may help you to manipulate your proportions. Especially terrible are the super-tight lace ones. Those are so sha3by I don’t even know where to start, and they always mush your face in some strange way. Personally, I used to wear the scarf in a way that cut half of my forehead, but still left a lot of my temples exposed, leading to a really unflattering look. Seriously; a hijab neatly adjusted to my face shape versus the old styles makes me look like a different person.
Phewww. Those were the greatest styling offenses, although other improvements have certainly helped as well. Number one, America added several kilos to my face and body. Gaining weight is definitely not always a bad thing, and although I wasn’t underweight from before, the extra pounds made me look healthier (in my opinion) and younger (eat and be happy, guys). Another thing is that I grew my eyebrows. Although I kept them a little too close to each other for the longest time, getting longer and thicker brows really added some character to my face that was previously lacking. Thus, I’m careful about picking those brows too much. Lastly; I learned to smile. If there’s any one big and quick fix, that is it. Smile. Be happy. Be comfortable with who you are. If I only could do this earlier, I’m sure my revisiting of the visual evidence of the recent past would be much less traumatizing. Of course we all have a lot of potential to lure out in terms of styling, but nothing beats a shiny heart and happy face.
Here’s a recent outfit I wore for a study day on campus. As I’m in a phase of reusing stuff I bought one to two years ago as I’m trying to cut down on shopping, the outfit details will likely not be as helpful for you, but I’ll include them in any case.
Chain, leopard, and pastel print scarf: River Island, faux fur: H&M, boyfriend tuxedo jacket: H&M, lavender tunic: Vero Moda, mint pants: New Look, bag: Guess, platform pumps: Aldo, accessories: Boohoo, Icing.