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Modest Fashion

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Cultural fashion that is considered "modest".

Standards of what is proper for a woman to wear have varied over time and culture. In many cultures there are resemblances between a number of fashion traditions which dictate what a "modest" woman should wear.

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1 review about Modest Fashion

When a Veil Is Not a Veil: Fashion, Modesty and Evolving Rules

  • Sep 2, 2009
  • by
Just as France begins to consider prohibiting women from wearing niqab, or a full veil, fashion designer Riccardo Tisci features a very attractive young woman wearing a sort of pseudo-veil in his new collection for Givenchy, seen at left as shown in The Globe and Mail.

The juxtaposition throws a spotlight on the place where fashion and ideas about modesty—religious or not—intersect. As I’ve said before here, wearing a veil may be a signal of Muslim belief in some quarters, but it doesn’t stop women from caring about how they look.

And, as I’ve just learned, the veil is not only a Muslim thing. It has been a strategy to avoid harrassment in other places, and has gone through some interesting transformations elsewhere too.

I’m reading Louise Levathes’ fascinating When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433 as I research my book about the Portuguese Making Waves. After the great period of Chinese maritime adventure, its defences against attack from the sea declined until its coastal areas were prey for pirates and raiders in the 16th century, frequently called wako.

“China’s coastal famers and fishermen...who had been robbed of their livelihood as well as, at times, their wives or daughters, never forgot the wako. Young girls in the Hui’an peninsula ... to this day tie blue scarfs tightly around their heads, hiding their faces...it has become the local fashion,” she writes. “But the stories, passed down for generations in villages, of a time when yong women fled from the lecherous glances of the bandits who came from across the sea in ships with red sails, have not died.”

Hui’an women are reputed for their beauty, and now wear very short jackets which show their navels along with their scarves. “Sexy Lady on the Sunny Beach – Hui'an Women” one story about their traditional dress says. Fashion trumps all!

Photos of Hui'an women from Chinavista.com and Chinaculture.org. Photo of Tisci creation from onsugar.com

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September 02, 2009
Yeah, and in some communities 50 years ago when people hung their clothes outside to dry, they always put the underwear on the inside!
September 02, 2009
It's interesting to see how fashion and what is considered "modest" has evolved so drastically over the centuries, heck, even within the past decade.  I never understood how women in those countries could wear veils like that all year round due to the sheer fact that it can get sweltering hot.  Thanks for reviewing such an interesting topic!

I have an interesting fact from days as a human sexuality student: in the Victorian ages, the legs of pianos were covered up because they were considered to risque to look at.
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