Fashion, Lookbook

Here’s your definitive guide to modest dressing during the summer

Proving that it's possible to cover up while staying cool all season long.

The arrival of summer is generally viewed as a joyous occasion for fashion. After all, it’s a prime opportunity to revamp one’s tired winter-to-spring wardrobe and explore beyond it. At last, people can bring out the colors, fabrics and patterns they’ve kept tucked away all year because they’re most suited for the sun. Brands advertise bright new summer lines while fashion magazines recommend outfit elements and beachwear. 

But when you’re a modest dresser, summer can feel less like a carefree romp, and more like a dreaded season. How do you get through summer mostly or fully covered up without overheating or sacrificing your unique style? Many of those shiny summer releases and outfit concepts on the internet fall flat, because you can’t wear any of them. From personal experience and testimonials from friends, I know firsthand how easy it is to feel shut out of the summer trends discussion. 

Despite the relative lack of marketing towards modest fashion consumers during this time, there are tons of options out there. It might take a bit more creativity to mix and match pieces, but the end result will be worth it. And since people have been covering up in hot weather for centuries, it’s definitely doable for you.

A woman with light brown skin wearing a brown hijab stands before a green forest. She holds one hand in front of her face and wears a white blouse, a long gray vest, and gray slacks, with one side of the vest thrown up in the air.
[Image description: A woman with light brown skin wearing a brown hijab stands before a green forest. She holds one hand in front of her face and wears a white blouse, a long gray vest, and gray slacks, with one side of the vest thrown up in the air.] Via Indrian Potret on Unsplash.

Beating the Heat

Perhaps the most crucial aspect to choosing your outfits as temperatures rise is making sure you’re wearing the right fabrics. You’ll want to avoid polyester, rayon and nylon – synthetic materials like these trap sweat in instead of absorbing it, making you progressively warmer throughout the day.  Instead, try lightweight fabrics such as linen and cotton, which absorb sweat and give your skin room to breathe.

Denim is another heavy, sweat-repelling fabric that doesn’t fare well in hot weather. Of course, this can make it hard for people for whom jeans are a year-round staple. If you’re craving the look of denim during the summer, you can achieve it with chambray, which is a much more heat-friendly fabric.

As with fabrics, when it comes to wearing colors in summertime, it’s best to stick with lighter options. Dark colors will likely attract more heat, making it harder for you to stay protected from the sun’s powerful rays. And on the creative side, this provides an opportunity for you to venture out of your color comfort zone! There’s no better time to try out shades like mustard yellow and millennial pink, or to spring for a bright pattern.

Crafting Creative Looks

Layering is an important part of modest dressing for most people who adhere to it. While it may seem counterintuitive during summer, there are many ways to execute it successfully. Lightweight fabrics will help, but so will the shapes of your garments. Maxi skirts, loose pants and tunics are excellent choices for the summer. They allow air to circulate against your body, cooling you down throughout the day. A transparent kimono or long vest thrown on top of a maxi dress would be a great way to add variety to an outfit and tie it together. You could even get away with wearing a jacket, as long as you stick to thinner fabrics.

And if you’re trying to disrupt the monotony of an outfit comprised of similar colors and textures, accessories are your friend. Simple details like intricate earrings, a statement necklace, a bright hairband or a pair of chic sunglasses can transform your look from somber to striking. If you feel like you need some inspiration on that front, there are plenty of incredible modest fashion bloggers and influencers you can look to for guidance. In time, you’ll find that your personal style is elevated rather than hampered by factors such as changing seasons.

Whatever reason you have for choosing modest fashion, just know that you have as many options as anyone else to put together a stunning look, if not more. And every day, your voice in this conversation becomes more prominent, because it’s about more than marketing or erasure. It’s about carving out a consistent space in the world of streetwear and fashion, and your bold summer outfits will certainly help do that.