Trendy headscarves provide Muslim women a chance to adhere to age-old customs and modern style

When you’re looking for a modest style, it’s easy for a girl to get it right with her hijab. Muslim women are increasingly blending their hijab, the headscarf, with fashion. Considered an obligatory accessory for girls in Islam, the hijab today has received a modern makeover. Fashion bloggers, online tutorials and hijab stores have given a name to these hijabi fashionistas — hijabistas.

College-going girls in the city can be seen using different types of Turkish, Arabic and Iranian styles of wrapping the scarf and accessorising them with headbands and brooches. “I team up my jeans with a long casual shirtdress and a printed scarf in contrast. To make sure that my arms are covered I wear a full sleeve shirt inside, says Aisha Ameen, a Fine Arts student. “This way I can wear funky clothes and stay within the limits of my Islamic regulations.”

Contemporary and abstract printed scarves are popular. Easily available in square and long shapes, they pose a problem of plenty to the enthusiastic shopper. The more common checks, floral prints and stripes have always been available to fall back on when nothing else seems to match the outfit.

Misbah, an architecture student at Jamia Millia Islamia University says, “I like pairing Mariyam style scarves with long skirts. Keeping it simple and sober gives an added advantage to your personality. Also, I don’t wear very colourful scarves but mostly black.”

There are scarves for special occasion embellished with sequins and beads. Readymade bridal hijabs offers girls a comfortable option for their big day. Afroz Syed, owner of Al-Hijab store in Jamia, keeps a wide range of scarves in chiffon, silk, pashmina and cotton. The colourful scarves fluttering outside her establishment help identify it from a distance among the long line of shops. “A large number of girls want a variety of hijabs for their daily dressing. We have to make sure that there are all sorts of colours and prints available for their choice. I import scarves from Dubai too, as they are of good quality and exclusive,” she says. To keep the garment from falling off the head, artistic pins beautified with stones are the favourite option.

However, not all women require fashion stores to supply their headscarf. Shaista Parveen, a homemaker, wears her dupatta as her hijab. She explains, “We are bound by the family traditions to wear ethnic clothes. So, it is easy to use the dupatta of my suit as the head cover.”

Many Muslim girls in Jamia start wearing the hijab as soon as they join the campus, maintaining the sanctity of the university’s culture. Too shy to confess the reason for wearing the hijab, Roohi says that she feels safe and contented. With her head draped in a crushed cotton scarf, she smiles while adjusting the cloth. Moreover, Erum Shakeel, a student who doesn’t wear a hijab but admires the way it looks on many, says, “There is nothing wrong in being chic while you follow the guidelines of your religion. It is rather difficult to pair the two. It’s a freedom of choice.”

Alina, an avid follower of hijab fashion bloggers, makes sure she gets the folds right. She says, “My favourite blogger is Pearl Daisy. I used to feel very low on not being able to look stylish wearing the scarf. Getting tips on what scarf suits which face shape, and which fabric is best for which weather, helps. Also I am well aware of the reason I cover my head, which gives me an immense sense of closeness to the Almighty.”

They may stand out in a crowd, but these girls do not let the hijab fall, come sun, rain or wind. Yet they walk with pride and panache, adhering to the dictates of their tradition even as they innovate their own fashion statement.