Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's all about hijabs

When I first took shadadah in the 90's there wasn't an abundance of Islamic clothing sites or any Islamic clothing stores in my city. My friends and I, who had no sewing experience, used to go to the fabric store and buy material to "make hijabs". I chuckle to myself when I think about how we'd buy hemming tape and iron down the edges, lol. During that time the only way a new, Jamerican Muslimah like myself could get a "real hijab" (i.e. one from overseas) was to rely on immigrant sisters to bring them from back home. Also, at that time hijab pins hadn't made it on the scene so a sista was constantly buying safety pins which easily snagged on the fabric (thereby ruining it.)

So, after going through some changes and not wearing hijab for many years(another story in itself), I came back to find that there were so many different varieties of hijabs. There were different fabrics, colors, shapes, and types. What's more, they were completely accessible to me. I could buy them online or I could go to a store and purchase them. With so much variety it's often very confusing to figure out where to begin or what type of hijab to purchase. Fear not sisters, I am here to give my hijab advice. And trust me, I've tried 'em all...So I dedicate this post to the newly converted sisters, the sisters who are returning to wearing hijab, or putting it on for the first time.

The most common types of hijabs are:

-The Al-Amirah Hijab or "two-piece hijabs". It basically consists of an underscarf and tube-shaped piece you pull over it. (I usually wear these for working out). Al-Amirah hijabs tend to stop just above the chest. However, there are some that are longer.

-Similar to the Al-Amirah hijab you have the Kuwaiti hijabs which combine the shawl/oblong with the al-Amirah underscarf. I own a couple of these and what I like most is how they stay put throughout the day.

-Square hijabs. This is basically a scarf that is folded into a triangle and placed on the head and then pinned under the chin. It can be wrapped several way but I prefer to wear mine like this. Not only does it cover my chest area but I like the way the fabric frames my face.

-Triangle hijab. No need to fold or wrap this one. It's already in a triangle and it is simply pinned under the chin. (I usually wrap it the same way I do the square hijab mentioned above).

-Oblong or shawl styles hijabs which are rectangular in shape but can be wrapped around the head. Some sisters are so good at wrapping these that they don't even need a mirror to put it on! I'm not one of those sisters. Though I tend to wear the square hijabs most often, when I do wear the oblong ones I find myself fixing it throughout the day. They don't stay in place all day like the square ones. Some sisters don't use any pins when they wear the oblong hijabs. This is another thing I can't do. I usally pin it under my chin, wrap it around and then secure it with a stick pin which I place on the side.

As I mentioned you have so many different types of fabrics; chiffon, cotton, georgette, polyester, rayon, satin, lyrca-cotton combos, silk etc. One of the most frustrating things for me (if you haven't guessed already) is when the hijab won't stay put all day and constantly has to be readjusted. I also don't like it when the hijab just won't "lay right". For this reason I like the georgette fabric . You really can't see it in a picture but you can certainly feel the difference in the fabric. One type of hijab that I always find myself tugging on throughout the days are the Italian satin hijabs. They're so pretty and sure to make an outfit look dressier but oh man...they slip and slide all day.

Similarly, there is much variety in terms of color. You have everything from the standard black to orange, green, ocean blue and everything in between. I'm not one of the sisters who believes in wearing only earth tones, black or white. I like colors (and most earth tones make me look sick. I stay away from beige, light olive, and certain browns.) Though I love black hijabs, for some reason people are more afraid of a Muslimah in black than in any other color. I usually won't wear a black hijab if I have a presentation, am traveling, or attending an event for work. It really freaks people out! Anyhow, apart from the colors you have hijabs with embroidery, sparkles, fringe etc.

The way I see it, just because I have to be covered doesn't mean I can't have fun with it. I like to experiment with color, texture, fabric and style. I think the best way to end this post is to leave you with some pointers I've picked up along the way. (Feel free to add any in the comments section).

-Don't use safety pins on light or delicate fabrics. Not only do they poke holes in the hijab but they can rip or snag it. I recommend using hijab pins.

-Consider different fabrics and their use for different situations. For instance, the Italian satin hijabs I mentioned above can be really hot in the summer time. I once wore one in South Florida in July. Big mistake!

-For my African-American, Caribbean, and African sisters: Don't wear cotton hijabs or cotton under scarves on a regular basis. Also, be careful with the polyester and chiffon hijabs as well. They break our hair off. Most likely the friction from the fabric will thin out your hair around the temples and sides. I learned this the hard way. I was living on Organic Roots Stimulator's Fertilizing Temple Balm. Oh, what a tragedy.

-Also, for my African-American, Caribbean, and African sisters: Wear a thin satin or silk underscarf with hijab. I went to the beauty supply store in the 'hood and bought a "lady do rag" and small satin scarves that are used for bed time. Alhamdulillah, no more breakage. (And to think, my non-Muslim hair dresser was saying I shouldn't wear hijab anymore, hmph).

-Use the shoe holders (that hang on the door) to keep your hijabs organized. I've found if I can't see a hijab then I may forget I have it. This also prevents your hijabs from taking up space in your closet.

-When I lived in Florida, the sisters and I used to have "hijab swaps". That is, we would bring the hijabs we normally don't wear (or don't like anymore) and trade them with each other. You'd be suprised at how much someone might appreciate the hijab you no longer wear.

-One trick I use is to not always wear the same hijab with a particular outfit. Apparently, people think you have on a different outfit if you switch the hijab. I thought this trick only worked on non-Muslims but it appears to work on Muslims too. I don't know how many times sisters have asked me if I had on a new outfit when I just wore a different hijab with the outfit. (BTW, I always tell them it's a different hijab not a new outfit).


otowi said...

I wear mostly al-amiras and squares. How exactly did you pin that square?
I am partial to natural fabric when possible, but really that is sometimes hard to come by in a form that isn't extremely wrinkle prone.

I also can't get the rectangles to stay in place - I am fidgeting with them all day if I wear it.

But, one thing that really helps with an odd shape or a less-than-ideal fabric is an underscarf. I wear al-amira tubes under every scarf, and they really help them to stay in place and ensure full coverage.

Anonymous said...

Salaam sis, i have been following this blog and i just love it. As a budding Hijaabi- Fashionista lol i really appreciate all the advice, reviews that you have provided sis. Keep up the good work. Would it be too much to ask for you to take some pics of some hijaab styles of women you know or even yourself (wink)...........


Chennette said...

As another tip (for those who can sew a little) Mom always sewed ties onto the triangle hijabs (or square ones when folded into a triangle). The ties would be made of cotton (which stays in a knot) and attach from the hijab just behind the ear. That way you can tie the hijab down behind your head and then wrap or pin to suit, and it stays put.
Even before we ever saw the 2-piece al-amira hijabs being sold in Trinidad or in the US, Mom always made "hats" to wear under the hijab to keep it steady, especially works for the silky satin ones. You tie one of those hats on, and pin the satin to it on either side of the head before wrapping - voila it stays put.
Of course now, as the sister above said, you can get the al-amira tubes without needing to know how to sew.

mommamu said...

We had a few hijab swaps back in DC-they were great! Man I really miss them...

Jamerican Muslimah aka Muslim Diva said...


Here is a link to show you how to pin the square hijabs:

Thanks for your comments. Insha'allah I'm going to post some hijab styles.

I know which hijabs you're talking about after being around so many Trinis. I like the way some Trini women tie a piece of fabric around their hijab to keep it in place. I feel like a princess when I do it. *smile*

I miss the hijab swaps too. Insha'allah I'm going to start one soon.

Anonymous said...

You should take a look at as well!

Jenny said...

How do you wrap the kuwaiti hijab? I'm having tons of trouble figuring it out even when looking in the mirror?

Anonymous said...

There is this video on youtube that shows how to wear hijabs in different styles including kuwaiti hijab i think the username is videomecrazy