Muslim women have a wide variety of options for dressing modestly. Hijab refers to the general practice of covering all but the hands and face with loose garments but is also used for garments that cover the head, neck and chest. Jilbab usually refers to a full-length, long-sleeved garment that goes from the neck to the ankle. Many styles of each clothing type are available.
Hijabs are traditionally square or oblong shaped, and are wrapped, tied, tucked and pinned into place. Turkey is known for square, brightly patterned scarves in a soft, slightly translucent fabric known as Turkish chiffon or Turkish gauze. Rectangular scarves are traditional in the Gulf region and are referred to as a shayla or milfeh. These are often black, and may be embroidered or beaded to match the abaya -- the garment that extends from the neck to just below the ankles. Square and rectangular hijabs may be layered or shaped into elaborate forms for formal wear.
Hijabs may be shaped to slip over the head like a tight-fitting cowl. The Al-Amira hijab comes in one or two parts, and slips over the head and drapes over the neck and chest. The Mona or Kuwaiti styles slip over the head and are twisted before draping over the neck and chest. Hijabs designed for athletic wear may slip over the head or close with Velcro. Hijabs are also shaped into bonnets or turbans that can be worn with a high-necked dress or a second rectangular scarf. These are sometimes designed for bridal wear as the bride can purchase a hijab before the ceremony, eliminating the need for an on-site hijab stylist.
One Piece Jilbabs
A jilbab is a full-length garment that extends from the neck to just below the ankles and covers the clothing a Muslim woman wears in private settings. Many jilbabs are a duster style, resembling a long blazer with buttons down to just above the ankle. Some have vents on the sides to make walking easier. Some are closed from the mid-chest level down and have a zipper or buttons from the neckline to the chest. Jilbabs designed for nursing mothers may have a zipper from the neckline to just above the navel. Jilbabs for casual and athletic wear have been available since the early 2000s.
Multiple Piece Jilbabs
A jilbab may have pieces designed to be worn under or over the jilbab. Some jilbabs have decorative sleeveless dusters, or may include trousers, a skirt or dress in the same fabric as the jilbab. A jilbab may resemble an ankle-length vest and have a blouse designed to match. Some ensembles include a jilbab, trousers or skirt, shell and coordinating hijab. The jilbab, trousers, skirt and shell are all made of the same fabric, similar to wardrobers, but the coordinating scarf will be made of a lightweight material.