There are many misconceptions about Muslims, including how they dress and why. Many non-Muslims often think that women are required to wear the headscarf, called hijab, but this is just another misconception.

It is true that practicing Muslim women are supposed to dress modestly, by wearing loose clothing that does not reveal the shape of one’s body, while covering arms, legs and hair.

These Cal Poly Pomona hijabis are showing Muslims and non-Muslims that dressing modestly doesn’t have to be boring. Far from it.

(Victoria Gonzalez | The Poly Post)
Seham “Sam” Hajhussein |  Third-year aerospace engineering student

What is your fashion inspiration?

Probably what I see on different TV shows, like ‘Friends’. I love the stuff Rachel and Monica wear, it’s very simplistic.

Where do you buy your hijabs?

I actually buy mine overseas, but there are a lot of companies here where you can buy them. There are a few shops as well, but you really won’t find them unless you’re in an area that’s densely populated by Arabs. If you go to Anaheim, there’s a whole section of the city that’s called Little Arabia and it’s just filled with a bunch of Arab restaurants and bakeries and hijab places.

Do you go to regular stores and just buy scarves to wear as headscarves?

You can, but I prefer to get mine overseas honestly, because there’s a lot of patterns and colors. More options, basically. They’re also different types of material. There’s like the one I’m wearing which is pretty soft, and then there’s like a stretchy kind, like the jersey ones. There’s quite few.

How did you pick your current outfit?

My thought process was I wanted to wear something comfortable, so I went with the mom jeans. Those are a classic, a staple, you need to have those. I also think that basic solid shirts are another staple.  I usually don’t wear patterned scarves, but I did a little twist today.

Pretty sure a lot of this is from Wet Seal and the scarf is from overseas.

What does dressing modestly mean to you?

I think everyone should wear whatever they feel comfortable in, whether it’s considered modest or not. Because what I consider modest is not modest enough for other people, surprisingly enough.

In what way?

Like say, my shirt isn’t long enough. I know there are a lot of hijab trends where some girls will show the front part of their hair or like they’ll have their hair really high up, so you can see their hair defined underneath. Honestly, you do you.

How do you feel about wearing your hijab?

From the moment I put it on, I felt really comfortable with it and I’ve never had thoughts of taking it off one day because. I just feel like it’s part of who I am. I feel like I’d lose a part of my identity if I didn’t have it with me, and I like that I’m able to recognize other Muslims and they’re able to recognize me, because I wear the scarf. I’ll be walking and out of nowhere they’ll be like, ‘oh salaam,’ and it always feels nice, it’s like an instant connection.

(Victoria Gonzalez | The Poly Post)
Reem Mehtar  |  Third-year English literature student

What is your fashion inspiration?

Well, I go thrifting a lot. I don’t really have a specific inspiration. It’s just like whatever I find thrifted and I just try to put it all together, but besides thrifting, I usually shop at Uniqlo and a lot of my inspiration comes from there. Also, a lot of streetwear, like skating. I’m into sneakers, stuff like that. I’m too broke [to collect sneakers] but I look at them online. I’m becoming a sneakerhead.

Where do you buy your hijabs?

Usually, I wait for people to go to the Middle East or something like that to get me hijabs. This one is from Malaysia. But usually, online. AliExpress sells hijabs for like super cheap, like $3 or $4 and you can buy them in bulk.

Where did you get this outfit?

Jacket from Depop, pants from Goodwill and the shoes are from the Pasadena City College flea market. I got them for like $25.

How did you pick your current outfit?

I saw the blazer and I thought I should do an entire red outfit, so here we are.

Do people react when they see the way you dress?

People get shocked when they see someone like me. ‘Is she even really Muslim? Is she practicing properly?’ Especially in Muslim spaces, when people see me dressed like this they are shocked. I get a lot of compliments, but they act like they’ve never seen anyone like this before.

How do you interpret modest dressing?

You can do a lot. There are so many modest pieces everywhere. You don’t have to limit yourself to just like a cardigan or a long shirt. And people are already staring at you anyway because you wear the hijab, so might as well profit off of that, you know?

It’s becoming like a thing, actually.

How long have you been wearing the hijab?

Since I was 11. My mom wore it and everyone I knew wore it, so I just did it. I think back then I didn’t really know why I was doing it and I didn’t really care for it, but I just did it anyway. Now I’m used to it and I like wearing it. I can’t imagine myself without it.  It’s part of my personality, and especially because people know me as a hijabi. The way I dress is only cool because I wear the hijab. People don’t expect a hijabi to dress like this and they’re always shocked by it, so if I didn’t wear the hijab I would just be a regular white girl trying to look cool, low key.

(Victoria Gonzalez | The Poly Post)
Husna Ridha |  Third-year nutrition and food science student

Describe your style.

Right now I’ve really been liking a good pair of mom jeans and a long sleeve Vans shirt. I’ll go to the men’s section and they have really good long sleeve shirts and those are loose-fitting, so I like those. And then a pair of Vans because I skate so I need something comfortable. That’s my go-to.

I can make anything modest. If I see something that I like, I just figure out a way to make it work for me. Usually adding a long sleeve, a jacket. You know, cover the butt and you’re good.

What’s the idea of modesty for you?

The requirements for an outfit are that it’s loose fitting and doesn’t reveal the shape of your body. Because if you’re wearing hijab, but then wearing super tight jeans and a super tight long sleeve shirt, it kind of defeats the purpose. But, at the end of the day it’s more than what you’re wearing, it’s how you act and carry yourself.

What’s your take on hijab trends?

Like everyone does their hair differently, everyone does their hijab differently. There are different interpretations of it. Some people think you can show your neck. Personally, from what I’ve read in the texts and holy scriptures, I prefer not to show my neck because I think hijab covers that whole area. Nowadays on Instagram everyone is starting to do the turban, you know, show a little curl of hair, but I don’t think that’s hijab. I prefer not to do that.

What is your fashion inspiration?

Random hijabi bloggers on Instagram. Two of my favorite scarf companies are Vela Scarves and Diamanté and they sell them online. Sometimes they do pop up shops. I really like the style of the owners of those two brands, so I take a lot of inspiration from them.

How would you describe your hijab style?

This is the California style. Very loose, very chill. No one calls it that, but I’m calling it that.

(Victoria Gonzalez | The Poly Post)
Sumaia Abedin  |  Fourth-year international business with a minor in apparel merchandising

What’s your take on the ubiquity of headcovers on runways these days?

I’m aware of it and I’m happy to see it, but at the same time what hijab really stands for is slowly getting mixed. I appreciate that they [fashion designers] are going down that path, but it also takes away from the actual meaning of the hijab. Even I don’t wear it as properly as I should. Like, you’re not supposed to show hair, but I have mixed feelings about the whole situation. I like it, but at the same time, it feels like people are taking my religion as a trend. It’s a complicating view.

What’s your take on hijab trends?

I do wear the turban style, but it’s more like tying it back. Usually I’ll wear a high neck. I’ll just try to cover my chest as much as I can so maybe my neck will show but not my chest. That’s my preference but everyone has an idea of what the hijab is and for me, that’s not a problem, but true hijabis obviously consider any skin or hair is considered not proper. Being a hijabi doesn’t mean you can’t be fashionable. You can play with it. As long as you know what it stands for and why you’re doing it, that’s the most important thing.

Do other people react to the way you wear your hijab?

Especially in the Muslim community, people love to criticize hijabis and how they wear it. If you go on Instagram and you’ve got the top hijabi fashion bloggers, the most hate comments are coming from their own Muslim brothers and sisters. That’s one of the biggest issues right now, that hijabis are dealing with right now.

Where do you buy your hijabs?

I sometimes get them free from companies who send them to me. I actually go to places like Marshalls, Ross, and I see their scarves and use those too.

Sometimes, my mom and I, we tend to go to textile stores and we’ll just make our own. I’m just wearing it because I love to wear it and I love to dress up with it. We’re going to get hate from people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, because we also represent the Muslim community very visually, but people who want to give up on wearing it because of these things shouldn’t.

Interviews conducted and photos taken by Victoria Gonzalez.

Oct. 4, 2018, 4:58 p.m.: This story was updated with a new image.

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