I'm a Modest Dresser—Here Are My 7 Wardrobe Essentials

When I was growing up, it seemed that modesty and fashion were an unattainable couple. That didn’t always remain the case, but for a large part of my life, dressing modestly in a way that felt stylish was a struggle—especially as a teenager when everyone my age (including me) wanted to wear whatever Selena Gomez or Hilary Duff had on. Later, however, as I dove deeper into the journey of finding and defining my personal style, I slowly learned that I didn’t have to give up my love of fashion and trends to adhere to my values (16-year-old me also found modest fashion trailblazers like Dina Tokio on YouTube and it all went up-hill from there).

Since then, the industry has also moved in such a direction that made modest dressing easier, as designers and consumers have taken a liking to trends that fit in with the modesty movement. Runways and It brands have embraced looser-fitting shapes, more covered-up silhouettes, and creative forms of layering. Runway trends aside, though, I wanted to dig into the essentials that have become the backbone of my wardrobe—making dressing in the morning (and following my favorite style icons) much easier than you’d think.

In simpler words—I’ve figured out the key(s) to modest dressing. It may require a few more minutes of thinking in the morning, but once you start to incorporate each of these key pieces into your wardrobe, it’s smooth sailing. And, as someone who’s worn the hijab for almost seven years now, I’m trustworthy, I promise.

From the fresh ways to style slip skirts to the ultimate grouping of layering options, there’s a certain art to keeping up with trends while keeping yourself covered, but it’s an art that you can learn easily with the right tools. If you want to read about all my secrets, just keep scrolling.

1. Slip Skirts

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(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

Surprisingly, I don’t own a lot of midi or maxi dresses (which tend to be a big part of the modest uniform), as I gravitate more toward skirts because of their versatility. I like to get multiple wears out of items, and slip skirts are easier to pair for both day and night. For casual outfits, I opt for T-shirts or sweatshirts as seen on me and Sobi above, or I transition the skirt into a more dressed-up ensemble with strappy sandals and a tied blouse.

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2. Longline Blazers

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(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

A long-line blazer is an immediate way to be the most put-together person in the room. Whether it’s a casual or more professional ensemble, it adds an element of structure that a cardigan or other jacket simply can't do as well. My favorite way to wear blazers is over statement tees because it creates a nice juxtaposition of street edge and chic. 

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3. Relaxed Jeans

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(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

I love a good skinny jean, but there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my more relaxed silhouettes. I suggest investing in a good-quality pair because trust me, you’ll get much wear out of them. They look good with anything—whether it’s a strappy sandal or white sneakers—and not to mention they are so incredibly roomy. As you can see above, I wear them in a more upgraded way for the office (a little too often), but you can also see me in them running errands with an oversize sweatshirt. 

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4. Layering Tops

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(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

There are endless ways to style these form-fitting tops, so stock up. It can be easy to see a less modest item that you love in store and think, "There's no way I could wear that," but with these tops on hand, you can work your way around it and make any piece look like it was made for you.

Style Tip: Buy patterned ones, such as stripes or snakeskin, to add an unexpected element to your jumpsuits and oversize T-shirts. 

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5. Matching Sets

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(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

Sometimes you’re just way too tired to think about how to pair items, and that’s where matching sets come to play. Wearing a monochromatic or one-patterned ensemble makes you look immediately more elevated, and people won’t even know how little time you put into thinking about what to wear. The best part is, since they're separates, you can switch them around and pair them with other pieces if you ever get tired of wearing them together. It's a win-win situation.

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6. Wide-Leg Pants

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(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

Finding longer tops to wear with more fitted pants (that don’t swallow me whole) can be quite difficult. Since shorter tops tend to flatter me better, pairing them with a wide-leg pant is my go-to alternative.This silhouette is ideal to build an effortless fall fit with on-trend outerwear and your favorite sweaters, among other layering pieces. 

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7. Button-Downs

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(Image credit: @thatgirlyusra)

Meet your new favorite wardrobe piece. The lighter fabric of button-down blouses makes it a great item to go��over your T-shirts and jeans, or knotted at the ends over a dress. Jackets can be a little stiff, so a button-down is a way to keep an outfit light while still adding dimension to your look. I have a special place in my heart for standout colors and satin versions because of how much of a game changer they can be for a minimal outfit.

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Up next? What Gen Z New Yorkers are buying for back-to-school.

Assistant Market Editor
Yusra Siddiqui is an editor who resides in New Jersey but bounces between the suburbs and NYC. (She's a Jersey girl at heart.) After interning at Who What Wear in 2019, she found her way to the team after graduating from LIM College in 2022 with a fashion media degree. She's also spent time writing and working for publications such as Fashionista, Coveteur, and Nylon, but she always knew that Who What Wear was where she was meant to be. When she's on the job, she's perusing runway shows, analyzing the latest thing fellow Gen Zers are up to on the internet, and sharing what she can about the modest-fashion market. You can also catch her dabbling in entertainment, talking about the costume choices of the latest Netflix series or diving deeper into how the plotline affects the viewers in a myriad of ways. Lastly, she likes to create content for Who What Wear's TikTok. Her personal time is spent doing similar but also different things—deep diving into almost every new TV show (Bridgerton, Gilmore Girls, and Stranger Things are favorites), planning her next local getaway (whenever that may be), and reading the latest Emily Henry or Sally Rooney novel in one sitting.