Fashion, Lookbook

Shopping for hijab-friendly clothes is a pain in the backside

The effs I give about finding suitable clothes are more than I need to give.

I hate shopping as much as a bored husband being dragged around by a shopaholic wife at the mall. I hate shopping as much as I do schoolwork, exams, and a dreaded upcoming presentation.

You can never be prepared for the outcome of your shopping spree, and for me, the outcomes are usually not very fruitful. It’s a responsibility that I have towards myself, and unfortunately, no one else can handle it for me.

I love looking sharp and stylish as much as the next person, but when I go shopping, I’m usually disappointed at the scarcity of hijab-friendly clothes.

I think of shopping as a set of complex algebraic graphs and unfathomable mathematical problems. If the fashion industry is a four-quadrant graph, my needs, represented by lines, seem to intersect at a certain point in quadrant one, but the stuff I actually find all happens to fall in quadrant four.

There’s seldom a piece that actually ticks all the required boxes of opaqueness, looseness, and length at the same time – and that’s not even including the color, material, texture and finishing requirements.

If a blouse is loose, it’s too long for a skirt, yet not long enough for pants.

If a skirt is long and loose, it will have side-slits.

If a blouse is a right color, it will be opaque or come with annoying three-quarter sleeves.

There’s also some weird inherent inverse relationship between long blouses and long sleeves. The longer the blouse, the shorter the sleeve; and the longer the sleeve, the shorter the blouse is.

And what’s the deal with jeans? I couldn’t buy a decent pair for 5 years. Everything is slim, skinny or ripped.

It’s like fashion designers are conspiring against us, beating around the bush just to spite us hijabis.

And because I’m left with these half-assed solutions, I end up buying them out of need, and then I do more shopping rounds for “supplementary pieces”. No, I don’t mean accessories or cute optional extra pieces to make my outfit pop. I mean actual clothing pieces to patch up the fragmented outfits I bought. Detachable sleeves for the three-quarter sleeves, light-weight cardigans to wear over short sleeved blouses, crew-necked tank tops to wear under wide necked blouses, long-sleeved basic tops to wear underneath sheer shirts, patches for loose but ripped jeans. Sh*t like that.

The previous conundrum results in a tedious situation I find myself in every morning. One complete outfit usually involves at least four pieces instead of just two or one. Multiply these pieces by every outfit you have, and you get an overwhelming mass of details.

But, I’m no fashionista, and style and clothes don’t occupy a substantial area of my thinking as I would want them to. I admit that mixing and matching that ton of clothing particulars is a talent and a capability that I do not possess, as it requires a super good memory and an organized wardrobe – neither of which I have.

So, I rack my brain every morning in front of my closet trying to assemble an outfit to wear. I can’t be bothered to think about it the night before, because I usually have something else to do with my time.

Some mornings, I consider following into the footsteps of Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs, not in terms of tech entrepreneurship but in terms of wardrobe transformation – a collection of identical tops and bottoms to put on in two minutes and hit the street.

Speaking of tech people, I wonder why no one has stepped up with a technological solution to this problem an indefinite number of other hijabis and I have?

As a person living in the age of mobile applications made for every worthy and not-so-worthy purpose, I want to be able to type in “maxi black skirt no slits” and get search results with brand names and shop locations for every long no-slit black skirt in the market.

I want to type in “sales” and get directed to all the good stuff and maybe, possibly, buy them online? There, I just gave out an idea for a killer application free of charge.

I can suggest another idea to international fashion designers and big clothing retailers too. Here’s a hint – hijab-friendly clothes? I mean I’m no marketer, but as far as I know, if you are a European/American brand and you want to invade a non-European/American market (which is the current case in Egypt), the first thing you should consider is the needs of the target consumer – of which a large percentage happens to be hijabis in the Egyptian case.

How about catering to their needs?

This might have been applied, but I can’t really see it from my experience.  I’m talking basic proper hijab clothes, full-length sleeves purposely attached to long blouses as well as creative, fashionable clothing lines or sub-brands positioned for hijabis.

Easy AND profitable. And believe me, non-hijabis won’t be repelled by more modest clothing (i.e. Kimonos have been all the rage for the past seasons).

As a modest hijabi, I still don’t feel that my needs are being catered to, and speaking for thousands like myself, I feel something has to be done about this.

Because the effs I give about finding suitable clothes are more than I need to give.