Modest Fashion and Anti-Fashion

Authored by: Reina Lewis

The Routledge International Handbook to Veils and Veiling Practices

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472455369
eBook ISBN: 9781315613734
Adobe ISBN:


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Modest fashion has emerged as a commercial term, an ideological concept, and a category of critical analysis. For some who participate in forms of modest fashion the term also signals a style of dressing; an attitude to covering and displaying the body. But although some religious adherents would argue that for their faith there are particular ways of achieving modesty, few would think that modesty denotes a specific aesthetic. In contrast, despite the oft-voiced injunctions against revealing certain parts of the body and against certain colours or degrees of pattern or embellishment, the variety of ways in which modest presentation has been achieved in the past and in the burgeoning and highly varied contemporary commercial niche market for modest fashion today reveal the variety and creativity with which modest fashion is achieved around the world and across the faiths. These developments in modes and styles of modest dress are rarely without controversy: in-group and out-group attempts at surveillance, regulation, and control are a constant feature of how women, and men, plan, discuss, and experience their modest self-presentation.

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