Hijab Fridays: How to Build a Transition Wardrobe

Good morning everyone! This week I am kicking off my new blog scheduling, and I am super excited to start my new series: Hijab Fridays!

First a little background on where that name comes from…

When I was in the very first months just before I did my official shahada and for a few months after, I used to keep a blog. Some of you might remember me as the Secret Muhajaba (because I hid everything from my family!). Anyhow, on that blog, I did a series called Hijab Fridays. Basically the thing was, I didn’t wear hijab full-time back then. But what I did do was wear it for Jummah prayers and then just not take it off for the day. Hijab Fridays was where I wrote about my experiences, how it made me feel, how others reacted to me, sometimes even my outfits, and basically just anything hijab-related. I think what I said about it was that it was “like casual Fridays at work, but better.”

Ahhh, 21 year old Ashley.

Unfortunately the series died when I stopped writing on my old blog, but I am here to revive it!

This week, I want to kick off Hijab Fridays with a series of Hijabi How-Tos, basically my tips as someone who has gone through the whole transition from zero to full khimar sets to someone who is just starting out on their journey.

And today I would like to write about how you can use what you already have in your closet to begin to dress more modestly.

I know it is super hard starting out- you probably have lots of whatever is on trend now. For me it was skinny jeans and cute little dresses. New clothes can be expensive, and don’t even try to jump right into buying from most Islamic clothing stores unless you have plenty of cash to burn!

So here are some tips that I used when I first started out, on how you can use what you already have and try to make it more modest.

  • Skinny jeans/ tight pants in general: My go-to outfit when I first started wearing hijab was my jeans, with one of my dresses over them. You can use a cardigan or kimono to get some behind-coverage, but I have always preferred to use a dress or a long top over my jeans. This way, you not only get coverage over your bum but also in the front! Obviously, the longer the dress the better, but if you only have bum-covering dresses then go for that until you can get some longer things in place.
  • Sleeveless tops/dresses: My best friend from the time that I started wearing hijab until the time I finally transitioned into two-piece khimar sets, was the all-purpose cardigan. I have seen a lot of new hijabis wear a long sleeved T-shirt under their sleeveless pieces (which is totally an option!) but I always preferred to wear a cardigan or a long kimono in order to get that little extra bit of coverage. The great thing about the cardigan is that it is loose in the arms, so more modest than a T-shirt there, plus you can get “maxi” cardigans that will cover almost all the way down the back of your legs. Plus they are snuggly and comfy; I still wear them under my khimar!
  • Low-neck tops/dresses: This was a super difficult one for me to figure out as well. You can get neck-covery things for a decent price from places like Ummah Couture, but I have always super hated layering and having tons of fabric piled on top of me. So one thing I started doing, in addition to wearing a light cardigan over most of my tops and dresses, was wrapping my scarf in such a way that it would cover my chest. You will have to experiment with what works for you, and there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that you can look at! What I ended up doing was going for a pretty traditional wrapping style, but instead of letting the ends hang, I pinned one end so it hung securely across my chest to cover everything, and I let the other end hang down in the back to give me some extra back coverage as well. This can also be solved with the long-sleeved T-shirt under your shirt/dress trick, but like I said I wasn’t a fan of that much layering.
  • Formal wear: This is not a problem I have much experience with, but I have known sisters who have had to transition a lot of short, sleeveless formal dresses into something hijab-friendly for family, school, or work occasions. One of the things you can do, instead of trying to buy new, expensive long gowns, would be to go pick up some wide-legged or loose work-style trousers, in a complementary colour to your dress. On top you can cover up with a decorated cardigan or a fancy kimono, and for the scarf there are plenty of sparkly, shiny options out there!
  • Active/Swimwear: This is a struggle for almost every hijab-wearing woman I know, whether born Muslim or convert. For me personally, when I am doing something phsyical I like my clothing to be as functional as possible, and as little as possible. To go to the gym I used to wear tight compression leggings, a tight, built-in bra sports top, and my hair as far away from touching my skin as possible. So transitioning into wearing a lot more fabric was not my favourite thing ever (and probably half the reason I have gained weight since converting). My best advice is to get what coverage you can in the beginning. I can’t workout in loose, baggy pants. I just can’t do it. So I kept the compression leggings, and started putting long sleeved (ugh), long, bum covering shirts on the top, with a sports bra underneath. For the scarf I prefer to use a jersey one that is light, but will stay in place without a dozen pins sticking in my head while I try to jog. It is still not comfortable at all for me, which is why I mainly do yoga in my own house, or take an all-women aerobics class now, haha. As far as swimwear, I used to be doing the “burkini” thing, which is a good option if you can find one that fits well and is made well, which mine didn’t. So now I have been wearing the old burkini leggings and long-sleeved shirt under a light dress that my mother-in-law gave me. It is supposed to be a house dress, but the material is oddly similar to that of swimwear and it covers almost all the way to my ankles, so it has been working pretty well for me. Plus I still wear the little cap that attaches to the burkini top for my hair.

One of my biggest tips for you is to take it slow, and figure out what you are comfortable with. You don’t have to follow every “hijabi fashion” blogger if that’s not you, and you also don’t have to go bankrupt buying abayas straight from the manufacturer in Dubai. The same tricks won’t work for everyone, just like I don’t like layering you may hate cardigans! But don’t beat yourself up: it is about the journey, and God knows your circumstances and how hard you are trying!



2 thoughts on “Hijab Fridays: How to Build a Transition Wardrobe

    1. ashleybounoura

      Aww wa iyyaki 😊 I can’t imagine why more people aren’t more merciful, I mean yes, I may wear a jilbab now, but just two years ago I was at the very beginning of the road just like many others! It’s all about the journey 😊


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