Modest fashion tips for the modest budget

Modest fashion is a trend that is gaining momentum as companies like H&M and Zara introduce pieces in their latest brands that are modest fitting. Modest fashion does not particularly use a person’s body shape and play it up. Rather, it incorporates more loose clothing that doesn’t highlight every crevice and curve of a person’s body.

It’s a revolution in the fashion industry that is likely to grow. But as a girl who chooses to dress modestly, it can sometimes be costly and tricky to find clothes that are not only modest in fashion but in budget as well.


Throughout the years, I have come to figure out how to stay current and timeless while not exhausting my bank account. I consider it both a technique and a way of analysis. If you’re looking to dress modestly at modest prices, this seven-step to-do list can help:

  1. Determine the colour scheme that resonates the most with you. Your staple items should reflect that, while also having pieces that are a bit out of your comfort zone. This will enable you to really hone in on what you like and not waste money on impulse items.
  2. Determine the cuts you like. Go through your closet to see what cut styles you already own. If you are starting fresh, you can search through sites for H&M, Forever 21, Zara, and Express and note down what you like next to your chosen colour palettes from the first step. This will help build the foundation of your wardrobe by narrowing down your scope.
  3. Visit stores that already have modest pieces as a place for staples. It’s imperative to get several pieces that can work with any type of outfit — nights out, casual, formal, business, or any other occasion. Personally, I have a few pieces that work both as casual and business, such as my long blazer from Oak + Fort, oversized peplum top from H&M, and kimono cardigan from Forever 21. By investing in these pieces (which cost me a total of $75), I have been able to assemble over 15 complete and modest outfits with seemingly un-modest pieces.
  4. Think quality not quantity, and think about print. It’s more important to get several key pieces that can be reused often than many that will lose their quality over time. That goes for pattern as well. While it’s great to be bold with seasonal patterns, they go out of style fast. Bold colours are always safe, so play up the character with colour rather than print. Bright hues like turquoise, coral, and seafoam green are great for spring and summer, just as burgundy and purple are for winter.
  5. Invest in a good pair of jeans (or two). Nowadays, jeans come in so many different cuts and styles that it’s not hard to find some that aren’t overly form fitting. Luckily bootcut and boyfriend jeans have been in for the past few years, which is good news for the modest fashion wearer. I recommend checking out American Eagle. They carry pairs that last long and come in many different washes and cuts. If you like a skinny jean, pair it with a long top or a short dress that can act as a long top. That way you layer and keep it current.
  6. The hardest part is staying within budget. Tactics I use include not using a credit card — I leave it at home and use what I have. If that isn’t possible, shop with someone who will not only tell you how an outfit looks on you, but who will also keep you on track.
  7. Last but certainly not least, use pieces in your current wardrobe and make them modest. Prior to wearing the hijab, I was not the most revealing dresser, nor was I the most modest. However, I have been able to use old tops by investing in many long-sleeve shirts in essential and well-worn colours of mine — navy, black, white, grey, burgundy. A lot of the clothes I have bought over the years are pretty timeless and current, so I didn’t have to worry about looking so 2005. I can look fresh without breaking the bank. Something else I do is layer. A long-sleeve cardigan with a sleeveless blouse is an easy hack for a modest wardrobe.

These seven steps, while pretty self-evident, have revolutionized how I shop, when I shop and how much I spend. It has allowed me to save money, while simultaneously expressing my personality and individuality.

Photos by Mariam Nouser