Pious Fashion: How Muslim Women Dress by Elizabeth Bucar - review by Ramita Navai

Ramita Navai

Faith & Finery

Pious Fashion: How Muslim Women Dress


Harvard University Press 235pp £23.95 order from our bookshop

How do Christian women dress? How do Jews dress? Atheists? Who knows? Such questions are so broad that they rarely offer revealing answers.

Judging from the photographs in Elizabeth Bucar’s book, which presents a series of case studies of female dress in several cities where Islam is the predominant faith, ‘Muslim’ women in Tehran wear a combination of fur-lined Gucci loafers, Tom Ford sunglasses, Timberland boots, Zara coats and Top Shop trousers. So not that different from how ‘Christian’ women dress – if that’s how we must now describe Westerners, no matter how secular. The only real difference is that these (bling-loving) kids in Tehran must cover their hair with a hijab and, according to the law, cannot flash much flesh. If they do, they face fines and sometimes even lashings or imprisonment. A number of women in recent months have taken to the streets without a hijab to protest against this law.

A good proportion of Tehranis are middle class – educated, web-surfing, Hollywood film-watching, TV soap-loving, alcohol-drinking consumers. And Tehrani society has been evolving at spectacular speed. In just a few years, the phenomenon of ‘white marriage’ – living together before tying the knot – has become so common

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter