How Does Religion Influence Fashion?

The world of fashion takes its influences from many places, which is why each year we see a range of styles hitting catwalks around the world.

Where does this influence typically come from?

  • · Previous trends that are built upon in following seasons
  • · Designers who cater for a specific niche and then influence the mainstream
  • · Individuals who have their own sense of style
  • · Different cultures from around the world, such as hip-hop
  • · Religion

The last point on our list is a controversial one. Religion, in general, finds itself in a strange place around the world. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground between ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers,’ with the latter becoming increasingly less tolerant of the former.

Therefore, anytime religion is credited with having influence in any walk of life, it is likely to cause a stir.

Just how does religion influence fashion?

How Does Religion Influence Fashion

Modest Dress

Perhaps the biggest way in which religion influences the fashion world is in terms of modest styles of dress.

Although this is most common in and known to influence Islamic fashion, the reality is that modest dress is popular throughout the world among those who are committed to their faith, whatever that might be.

Why is modest dress so popular, and how has religion played its part?

  • · The Koran, the Islamic Holy Book, encourages both men and women to dress modestly and cover up at all times, and teaches that only a partner should see their body
  • · The Bible and other religious texts are less decisive, but implicitly discuss modest clothing and the importance of ‘preserving yourself’

Those two points alone show why modest dress is so popular around the world. People of all faiths hold those beliefs themselves, that only their partner should ever see them in a state of undress, and shouldn’t follow trends that will show a lot of flesh, be this on their arms, legs, or chest.

What to Wear

For a man, dressing modestly is reasonably straight forward, as a shirt and trousers does the trick. How can a woman retain a feminine feeling and look while maintaining a modest style of dress, however?

In Islam, garments such as abaya cloaks, kaftan dresses, and jilbabs prove to be popular, as these are often suitable both for professional and casual environments. Hindu’s may wear similar items, too.

Christianity and Judaism is slightly different, as people of those faiths may be more inclined to wear ‘mainstream’ fashion garments, but select those that preserve their modesty. Such examples would be loose-fitting trousers, full-length skirts, long-sleeved blouses and shirts, or knitwear.

Other Influences

Of course, the influence of religion over fashion can stretch far beyond the clothes we wear. Accessories are a key part of many outfits, and although they may be worn for religious reasons, they can still add something to our look.

The crucifix would be the most prominent example, however there are examples of necklaces and bracelets that may be worn in other faiths for religious reasons, too.

There is no escaping from it; religion does have a huge influence over fashion, and it probably always will do.

Aisha Malik is an online content writer with a passion for Islamic clothing, and garments such as the jilbab, that prove that style and religion can co-exist without one having to compromise the other.

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