- Formats, fabrics, and fashions: Muslim headscarves revisited
- Material Religion
- Volume | Issue number
- 8 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Changes in the sartorial practices of Dutch-Turkish women who wear Muslim headscarves may be summarized as a shift from sober, religiously inspired forms of dress towards colorful, more fashionable styles. A focus on the materiality of headscarves indicates, however, that the relation between Islam, dress, and fashion is more complex. The main motivation for the women to adopt headscarves, including the fashionable ones, is religious. They do so because they consider it a practice prescribed in the foundational Islamic texts and because presenting a pleasant, up-to-date look can be considered as a form of visual da’wa. At the same time, however, wearing particular styles of fashionable headscarves also performs other, non-religious, identities and forms of belonging, such as those pertaining to status, ethnicity, and professionalism. This is evident in how fabrics (such as silk) and shapes of headscarves (square or rectangular) matter. An investigation of headscarves as particular items of dress is, in turn, helpful to understand the limits of a focus on aesthetic styles and fashion. The headscarf format makes these items of dress easy to acquire and hard to discard, because they are often received as gifts. A woman’s attachment to particular headscarves-materializing social relations and functioning as souvenirs-goes beyond aesthetic styles and mitigates the force of fashion.
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