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Wardrobe Essentials

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Wardrobe Essentials
Time to Go Shopping!

Welcome back to Style Watch! Are you done going through your closet? Having narrowed your wardrobe down to Hijab-appropriate pieces, let's go over what essentials you need to have in the closet for timeless style. We're talking about neutral colors that we can build upon, items that will form the basis of your wardrobe while still giving room to express yourself later on.

We're going to stick with neutral colors for the wardrobe essentials, so they can roll through all the seasons. Think black, white, chocolate, beige, charcoal or light grey, navy, and dark denim.

Since the essentials will be matched with other prints throughout the year, keep the items in this list solid or in muted prints. (No huge florals please! Save that for a seasonal piece.) Keep the base simple, and you'll be able to wear the piece for ages.

After building your basic collection, you can bring in other colors and textures with scarves, bags, and a new shirt now and then to liven things up. You won't have to buy a whole new wardrobe every time you want to change your look, because the essentials will work with almost everything, and the neutral colors will work with each other too. You'll have a great basic collection you can work around.

Take a look at the list, and consider what fits your lifestyle and existing wardrobe. Then, keep an eye out for sales on the items you need, and collect them gradually to space out the costs.

Shop Smart

When shopping, remember to go for high quality, as these essentials will be worn the most, across a variety of circumstances. A pair of black pants can serve you at work, in school, at a restaurant, and during travel, with a variety of different tops and looks. Those pants better last!

The economic slowdown has brought about some great clothing sales, but we still need to be careful and compare prices. Besides looking online at sellers like Overstock.com and Amazon.com's clearance sections, places to consider checking out are clearance sales at department stores, outlet stores, retailers like Winners and Marshalls where you can find designer-wear at heavily discounted prices, and end-of-season sales.

Sometimes you can find the perfect loose and long top in the strangest of places, like the maternity department! And if you plan ahead for next winter, you'll be surprised at how cheap some full-length wool coats sell for in the outlets during summer months.

On the other hand, it can be very tempting to grab something just because it's such a good price. Who can turn down a high-quality sundress that's being cleared out for $5.99? But if you don't wear dresses, resist the impulse to buy it for yourself just because of the price. You won't wear it and will end up owing Khums on top of that next year, so why bother?

Our Version of the Little Black Dress

While our list here only covers Western clothing, an item you may consider getting is a simple neutral-colored Abaya, even if you don't normally wear one. It can be useful for wearing over your school clothes when you need to rush to mosque or out on a quick errand, not to mention when you want to cover up glittering eveningwear on the way to a ladies' Eid celebration. If it's a pullover style as opposed to a button-down, you can top it with a stylish cardigan for a different look, or a trench coat if it's cold out. Many sisters call the Abaya their "little black dress", to dress up or down as a girl wishes.

If you do wear an Abaya full-time, then all it takes is a different colored scarf and new purse to make your tired black Abaya and flats feel like a whole new outfit. By keeping the basic piece Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE AR-SA MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} – the Abaya Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE AR-SA MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} – simple and neutral, you can change things up easily. Of course, in our quest for Hijabi style, an extravagantly bejeweled and rainbow-feathered Dubai Abaya does not qualify as a wardrobe essential.

The List

Here is Islamic Insights Style Watch's list of wardrobe essentials, with detailed articles on the individual pieces coming soon! Colors to stick to here: black, white, chocolate, beige, navy, charcoal or light gray.

Flat-front, straight-leg, boot-Cut or wide-leg pants: in black, beige/khaki, and dark denim. (It's okay if they are tighter along the thigh, because your shirts should be covering that area. Just ensure that the lower leg is loose.) Make sure the hems fall properly on the shoes you will wear with each of the pants. Steer clear of tapered legs and skinny jeans. Later on, consider adding gray, navy, white or brown pants.

Loose, long-sleeved cotton shirts: in black and in white; useful on their own if loose and long, and for layering. Avoid skin-tight sleeves, and get a bigger size if you need to. Make sure the white one is opaque enough in the sun; wear turtlenecks under your shirts so you can use the shirts in winter too.

Cardigan: short ones can be worn over Shalwar Qameez, Abaya; long ones can be worn over those too, as well as sleeveless or short sleeved dresses and t-shirts. Choose a light neutral color and a lighter weight that can be worn in all the seasons indoors or outdoors.

Crisp white button-down that doesn't hug your curves: get a shorter one if you will wear it with a skirt, but not so short that when you reach up for something, your stomach shows. Get one that reaches at least mid-thigh to wear with pants.

Loose black or gray top: same criteria as white blouse; don't bother buying any tops that need to be tucked in to pants or skirts. Consider a dressier fabric for this one.

A-line slit-less dresses and skirts (if you wear them): consider a black dress that can be adapted to different occasions, or at least a black skirt; also get a denim skirt. Avoid materials that cling to limbs, get a flowing fabric. Avoid pencil skirts, and watch out for skirts that are tight at the rear, as they will require longer tops.

Tunic or short dress: wear over pants as an alternative to long shirts; can be worn with a knee-length cardigan or open trench coat over jeans. Consider a muted print here instead of a solid color.

Classic suit: a dark, conservative color like black, brown, gray or navy; for interviews and presentations, but can be dressed up with accessories for other formal events. Jacket needs to cover thighs if worn with pants (which should be loose), or get a matching slit-less long skirt instead. Jacket can be worn more casually too, over a long shirt and jeans.

Wool coat: Knee-length or longer, in black, charcoal or navy; when buying any coat, watch out for clinging at the rear, and keep in mind how many layers of clothing you will wear underneath that will add bulk to your look. A looser fit might be required. Will you wear your headscarf tucked inside the collar or over?

Classic style trench coat: in any neutral color, 3/4 length; avoid very belted styles that are tight at the waist. Try a slightly flared style and see how it looks. Avoid overly fussy details that will make the coat look dated after a while.

Author of this article: Aliyyah Rizvi-Bokhari
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