Surviving the Heat as a Modest-Dressing Woman
Beat the heat this summer by looking for loose-fitting clothes that also allow you to dress modestly and comfortably. (Illustration by Yana Ramos Cutrim, George Fox University)

5 Tips for Surviving the Summer Heat as a Modest-Dressing Woman

Shopping for cute clothes that also cover up your body during the hottest season of the year can be tricky. Here’s what you can do to make it less challenging.

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Surviving the Heat as a Modest-Dressing Woman

Shopping for cute clothes that also cover up your body during the hottest season of the year can be tricky. Here’s what you can do to make it less challenging.

While summer might be a popular season, it rarely favors hijabis and other modest-dressing women. If you dress modestly, you know the challenge of creating outfits in the summer while trying to avoid sweating buckets, especially since modest outfits often include multiple layers and heavy fabrics. To avoid the struggle this summer, read on for tips to look your best and to stay cool while doing it.

1. Limit Your Layers

Over the years, hijabis and other modest-dressing women discovered ways to cover up while also wearing clothes that are usually not modest on their own. These hacks include clothing items that are deceptive to the unknowing eye, allowing them to maintain modesty while keeping cool. One such clothing article is the mock neck. This garment is perfect for when a neckline is too low for one’s liking, but it’s too hot to wear a whole shirt underneath. It allows for a person to cover her chest and neck area without becoming tangled in too many layers. The mock neck also comes in a wide array of colors, styles and fabric types.

Another clothing hack developed by women is the shirt extender. Shirt extenders allow a woman to wear a short top without getting excessively warm. Instead of wearing a longer shirt underneath, modest-dressing women can wear the shirt extender to give the impression of another shirt under the first top. This garment often comes with either elastic or a drawstring to secure it around the waist.

For tops with short sleeves, modest-dressing women often wear arm sleeves, also known as oversleeves. These allow women to cover their arms when wearing tops with sleeves that are too short. They come in different styles, colors, lengths and fabric types. Some arm sleeves may be patterned or plain, with cuffs and buttons or without. They’re usually secured to the arm with an elastic band, allowing one to move around comfortably without worrying about the sleeves slipping or falling off. These sneaky yet incredibly useful garments are perfect for anyone trying to avoid the heat this summer.

2. Pay Attention to Fabrics

The good thing about dressing modestly is that it already involves wearing loose-fitting clothing. This is especially useful for the summer when you can’t stand anything touching your sweaty skin. In order to avoid sweat and irritation, stay away from wearing any synthetic materials. Some fabrics also carry toxins that can transfer to the wearer; others take years to decompose, leading to long-term pollution. Instead, go with natural, lightweight fabrics and blends like cotton, linen and chiffon. These materials are breathable, making them perfect for keeping cool and staying modest. Items like linen, carrot and harem pants are both loose and made of light fabrics, allowing one to avoid form-fitting clothing and the heat.

Luckily for many modest-dressing women, loose clothing is currently in style. That includes baggy pants, mom jeans and oversized T-shirts. All of these options allow women to stay trendy without overheating. Billowy blouses, flowy maxi dresses and lightweight cardigans are also useful and allow for a non-form-fitting look that keeps the wearer feeling refreshed. For women who wear a hijab, the same rules apply. Choose scarves made from breathable and natural material, like chiffon, cotton and jersey hijabs. Avoid tying your hijab too tightly, and instead try loose styles that’ll still cover everything.

3. Make Use of Online Search Tools

When shopping online for tops or dresses, try focusing on one aspect at a time. For modest-dressing women, this usually means prioritizing the garment length. If you’d prefer not to wear arm sleeves underneath a short sleeve top or dress, prioritize long sleeves. If you’d rather not wear pants or leggings under a dress or top, you may prefer a longer garment. This is where search tools for online stores come in handy.

Search tools for popular sites like H&M, Shein, ASOS, Boohoo and Forever 21 allow the user to sift through hundreds of products to find items that work for them. For example, you can select only maxi dresses when searching through dresses on Boohoo. H&M allows you to pick only long sleeves when shopping for tops on their website. Some sites, like Shein, even allow you to filter out the fabrics you don’t want, meaning you can avoid synthetic fabrics and focus only on the natural fabrics that will keep your body feeling cool and comfortable.

4. Don’t Break the Bank

Many modest clothing brands sell cool, loose-fitting pieces that meet all the needs of modest-dressing women. However, these shops are often expensive due to their exclusivity and high demand. Although buying from such stores may be nice to treat oneself, it isn’t sustainable for an entire wardrobe. Luckily, you don’t need to go broke to build your summer outfits. As with online shopping, it’s important to know what you want when shopping in-store. Perhaps you really need loose-fitting pants, which you can find in mainstream stores that cater to such looks. Or maybe you need more maxi dresses to wear for a stroll along the beach.

Modest-dressing and hijabi women also struggle in finding appropriate swimwear. Many prefer wearing swim shorts, tankinis, swim shirts and/or rash guards. Burkinis in various cuts, colors and patterns are available to hijabis. They can be expensive, however, especially if they come in trendy styles and designs. Although this may discourage modest-dressing women, there are still ways to enjoy the pool without breaking the bank. Enter athletic clothing.

Athletic leggings are often made of material similar to swimwear, such as Nike’s Dri-FIT line and Adidas’s Climalite technology. Long sleeve sports shirts are water-safe and breathable, making them perfect for swimming while covering up. When shopping for such items, don’t be afraid to look through the men’s section for a looser fit. You may also want to size up accordingly in women’s sizes, depending on how tight the cuts and materials are. For those who wear a hijab, look for hijab caps made of breathable, water-repellent material. This writer managed to build a cute, matching swim outfit by pairing together a maroon Adidas Men’s pullover with black leggings decorated with maroon decals. For her hijab, she wore a black hijab cap, tying a black and white bandana over it. This allowed for a burkini-like look at half the price, allowing her to enjoy the summer sun and waters without overheating.

5. Pay Attention to Color

Although many hijabis and other modest-dressing women love to wear dark colors throughout the year, summer is the time to explore different colors. Shades of beige, white and light blue are good for repelling the hot sun. They’re also perfect for beachwear, as they match the colors of the sand, sky and water. The same goes for scarf colors for hijabi women: Avoid dark hijabs so as not to overheat your head. Instead, use your religious covering to your advantage by wearing light-colored scarves that will reflect the sun away from you and keep your head and neck cool.

The only times this writer recommends wearing darker clothing is at night and when swimming. Though this sounds like odd advice, lifeguards like @splashofhunny on TikTok recommend wearing darker swimwear in the pool or ocean, since it’s much easier to spot in case of drowning. She even advises viewers not to wear bright-colored swimsuits, which may be mistaken for a toy, pool floatie or simply the sun reflecting on the water.

@splashofhunny

Better safe than sorry, better visible than cute. #SimlishSessions #guardtok #lifeguard #summerfun

♬ original sound – hunter 🙂

Following these five tips can help one continue to dress modestly this summer. Knowing where to look and how to use modest clothing hacks and search tools allows women to avoid frustration when shopping, as well as discomfort when showing off their outfits. By being mindful of fabric types and colors, modest-dressing women can create an abundance of summer-ready outfits without breaking a sweat — or the bank.

Writer Profile

Salma Heram

George Washington University
Biology, minor in Korean and Public Health

Salma is a sophomore at the George Washington University and lives in Richmond, Virginia. When not juggling her college course load, she loves photography, writing, exploring different cultures and trying new foods.

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