July 28, 2013

Reader Request: Eid Evening Gowns

A friend invited me to an iftar night out - essentially, grabbing iftar at a halal-friendly eatery (in this case, the wonderfully satisfying Burger 7 where I had not one but TWO burgers to break my fast). Conversation got around to what and where we're finding Eid clothes. I generally look for Pakistani clothes, which either my mom or me will find at the 11th hour, but I embrace anyone who wears American clothes to celebrate - because being American is part of our identity, in addition to any ethnic or other cultural practices we have.

Back to clothes...one of the attendees, Yasmin, is looking for a sleeved evening gown, and is willing to put down up to $150 for a nice gown for Eid. She wears hijab and prefers not to have to jerry rig any gown to be modest, but will do it if needed. Additionally, she stated she's looking for more "muted" colors, but you guys know me - I live for sequins and embellishments.

I put my finders out there and came up with a few options for Yasmin (and you, if you're also looking for an Eid outfit!). What do you think? What will you be wearing this Eid?

Eid evening gowns

What Women Want (part 1)

Today's goal: get one thing done.

It sounds SO simple, but my attention span is that of a hummingbird's, and to watch a video of me would resemble one.  Right now, I have 9 Google Chrome tabs open, 2 Excel sheets, 1 Word document; I'm in the middle of doing laundry (washing, folding), planning iftar, writing a paper, and figuring out when to leave the house to run some errands.  And it's already 1:15 in the afternoon.

If nothing else gets done today, I wanted to share the first in what will be a series of informational graphics of "What Women Want" - what YOU, our readers, have been saying about shopping for modest clothing.

The purpose of this blog is to make shopping easier for women like you, who literally go to greater lengths to procure items with greater lengths - that being of longer hemlines, higher necklines, or ways to layer and style clothing - to ensure that you are stylishly dressed for American society without sacrificing your personal beliefs.

If you read about me here in Sweet Modesty's post from a few weeks ago, you've learned that my professional mission in life is to make modest clothing options more accessible to the average women.

How am I doing that?  Ultimately, by providing marketing and data analysis services to apparel and brands, proving to them that a market exists for women like you, who are seeking modest clothes but don't want that "paper bag" look.  You answered questions here, on the survey I started in 2012, on your shopping, fashion, and style experience.  I'm still taking responses, so please provide your information!

Here is the first question - Which type of clothing do you have the hardest time shopping for?

Note that overwhelmingly, 36% of women - MORE THAN A THIRD - have the hardest time (characterized by most amount of time spent seeking clothing options) finding clothing for formal events.  Understandably so, as a quick look at any "formal dress" section of a store, in-store or online, reveals that "formal" is synonymous with "revealing."  Everything is a strapless, or body skimming, or "cocktail length" - that is, above the knee.

Close behind is casual clothing - your everyday, heading-to-brunch, running-errands, quick-coffee-stop wardrobe - is 26% of the challenge.  This means that even for those tasks that take up a majority of our day, women shopping for clothing from Target, Gap, Forever 21, Anthropologie, H&M, Marshall's, and many many other stores, are spending a considerable amount of time finding something that is appropriate for their needs.

While this isn't necessarily a revelation for many of us, putting numbers behind our woes is a step towards a day when, similar to the maternity clothing industry, the options for modest clothing will increase to a point where they are status quo.  Looking forward to that day.

For more updates on What Women Want, like us on Facebook and stay tuned for more results in the coming weeks! 

July 1, 2013

The 2013 Black Dress Dilemma

It's the challenge that inspired this blog and my mission:

The quintessential "little black dress," which fashion houses all over America claim every woman owns.

But not this girl.  Not if you're a modest dressing, style-savvy woman who makes a conscious decision that her body is not for show.

While I always hope, and love to hear, that this blog helps women everywhere - particularly those who look for clothes that help them stay covered up with long pants, maxis, and longer sleeves - find stylish and affordable clothing, the challenge of finding the perfect black dress still remains.  To date, especially in the summertime, I don't see black dresses at the usual suspects - the Macys, the Gaps, the Marshalls, the Anthropologies, the Banana Republics, the H&Ms, the New York & Cos, the Nordstroms, and anywhere else in between.

I firmly believe that the market and these retailers can stock items in their stores that stray away from the usual need to equate summertime with "bare it all." If you know me, you'll know my mission in life is to bring modest clothing into the mainstream.

As a tribute to the effort that planted the seed in my head, and to the constant battle that women who choose to maintain a modest and stylish dress code, here are my yearly picks for summer black dresses.  Criteria are as follows:
  • Must be a dress that falls at my mid-calves or lower
  • Must be contemporary
  • Must be wedding appropriate
  • Must be easily styled with a bolero, shrug, or cardigan without looking odd/frumpy to cover up bare arms
  • Must be under $100
  • Should not look like something a witch or your grandmother would wear (unless your grandma is Anna Wintour or Audrey Hepburn)
  • Must be predominantly black
Here are my three favorite finds:

If these don't satisfy, here are a few others I found: