Fashion’s Big Cover-Up

Modest style is on the rise (as hemlines get longer and necklines become higher)...


by Rebecca Gonsalves |
Published on

We’ve had under-boob, side-boob and full-on flashing – thanks to Anthony Vaccarello’s nipple pasty-strewn debut for YSL – but is it time for the boob backlash? Modest dressing is on the rise; an antidote to the second-skin style of the Kardashians, perhaps, or proof that we all need a little cocooning in these fractious times.

Modest style (think long sleeves and below-the-knee hems, high necklines and opaque fabrics) has always been the defining style of the Middle East, of course, but now it’s catching on in the UK – and with an

increasingly secular, fashion-forward customer.

Take Sienna Miller, who rocked a pair of short-shorts and a strappy vest with the best ofthem back in the day. Now, though, she prefers ‘do not fancy me clothes… The less flesh I can possibly show, the better,’ she told WWD.

And she’s not the only one. In February, the capital hosted the first London Modest Fashion

Week at the Saatchi Gallery, where over 40 designers showed collections that were as vibrant as they were covered-up.

The likes of Lemaire, Céline and Preen sent models in long sleeves and ankle-skimming hemlines ©Getty

And a new website, The Modist, aims to revolutionise ideas of modesty with its thoughtful selection of high-fashion brands. Filled with inspirational photo shoots and covetable click-to-buy designer pieces from the likes of Christopher Kane, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi and Marni, the site is anything but frumpy.

‘It’s a misconception that modesty is dowdy and far from fashionable,’ says CEO and founder Ghizlan Guenez, the ultimate poster woman for this movement, who explains that signing up the 70 or so designers for launch often took some educating. ‘We’ve had to share our knowledge of the woman, and of what

dressing modestly looks like,’ says Guenez. ‘Many a time this changed their perceptions.’

Cannily, Guenez has avoided defining modesty too strictly, all the better to speak to more women, and she’s been overwhelmed by the positive reception. The site’s biggest market is the Middle East, but the US and UK are already second and third respectively.

‘The most gratifying thing has been the response of women from different faiths, cultures and age groups embracing The Modist. It’s a validation of our thinking that modesty transcends a particular religion or culture that is truly universal.’

As well as long sleeves and hemlines, the site showcases layered looks, which allow the wearer’s personality to shine through. London Fashion Week favourite Preen fits effortlessly into the mix.

‘Clients have always found our style to be flattering, and enabled them to layer pieces regardless of body type and modesty. Our shapes have an effortless style that works so well in this market,’ say the designer duo.

As UKIP announced a burka ban that demonstrates just how much ignorance remains about modest dress, Guenez should be applauded for moving the conversation on with style.

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