Pious Fashion: How Muslim Women Dress

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Product Details

Harvard University Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.6 X 0.9 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

Liz Bucar is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Northeastern University.


A smart, eye-opening guide to the creative sartorial practices of young Muslim women who live in Tehran, Istanbul, and Yogyakarta. Bucar's lively narrative illuminates fashion choices, moral aspirations, and social struggles that will unsettle those who prefer to stereotype rather than inform themselves about women's everyday lives in the fast-changing, diverse, and historically specific societies that constitute the Muslim world.--Lila Abu-Lughod, author of Do Muslim Women Need Saving?
Islamic dress is in the news. Either as a symbol of female oppression or as a new, colorful statement on the global fashion stage, Islamic dress can be misunderstood because it seems singular and monolithic. This book offers first-person observations from the stores and streets of three cities in Muslim-majority countries. Through vivid descriptions of styles and shoppers, readers realize that Muslim women dress in as many varied ways as non-Muslim women do.--Carla Jones, University of Colorado Boulder
Pious Fashion is a look at contemporary dress and how it can help us see the 'Muslim community' as a vast array of individuals rather than an inscrutable monolith... Bucar disabuses readers of any preconceived ideas that women who adhere to an aesthetic of modesty are unfashionable or frumpy.--Robin Givhan"Washington Post" (08/24/2017)
In Pious Fashion Elizabeth Bucar adds her voice to a growing body of literature that seeks to move beyond simplistic and polemical arguments for or against 'the veil' towards an exploration of the complex and thriving world of Islamic fashion...[Pious Fashion] manages to be informative, ethnographically rich and highly readable, and to those unfamiliar with the topic, it provides an engaging introduction...[Bucar] brings out both the sensuality and pleasure of sartorial experimentation and also its politics.--Emma Tarlo"Times Literary Supplement" (11/24/2017)
I defy anyone not to be beguiled by [Bucar's] generous-hearted yet penetrating observation of pious fashion in Indonesia, Turkey and Iran...Outlining how young Muslim women in Tehran, Yogyakarta and Istanbul shape urban cultures of modest dress, Bucar uses interviews with consumers, designers, retailers and journalists alongside ethnographic vignettes of outfits to examine the presumptions that modest dressing can't be fashionable, and fashion can't be faithful.--Reina Lewis"Times Higher Education" (09/21/2017)
The brilliance of Bucar's book is that she goes beyond the hijab, showing how seamlessly (pun unintended) an entire outfit can carry multiple resonances, simultaneously revealing truths about piety, the body, gender, and politics. She shows how women's sartorial choices within Islamic norms--and their interpretations of those choices--reflect and shape the values of a faith tradition, create spaces for agency and judgment, indicate or obscure economic status, secure or foreclose access to political power, and allow for individual expression...She blends history, anthropology, personal experience, interviews, and stunning photographs from fashion blogs to present a vivid cross-cultural picture of the complex relationship between clothing, faith, and beauty.-- (09/13/2017)
[Bucar] comes across as warm, engaging and funny. The women she studies trust her and she has an eye for minute details: the book is packed with them, and this is where Bucar comes into her own. Amid the descriptions of fabrics, colors and styles, she really gets under the skin of how [Muslim] women like to dress...There are fascinating insights too.-- (07/01/2018)
At a time when Muslim women's clothing is discussed in terms of freedom, oppression, and piety, Bucar...explains that modest clothing in Muslim cultures means much more than religious authority and social conformity...Bucar reveals an underexplored segment of the fashion industry and excellently exhibits the ways in which Muslim women engage with their faith and the world of fashion by choosing head coverings, clothing, and accessories that are both reverent and in vogue. Featuring street style photos of fashionable women, this book adds some much-needed frills to debates surrounding the hijab.-- (10/09/2017)
[Bucar] argues in this fascinating read that pious fashion is much more than modest dress standards imposed on women. It is a way that Muslim women claim their identity and express their faith in a world that is rapidly westernizing.-- (11/01/2017)
It's thrilling to learn of the often extraordinarily complex meanings accompanying different varieties of dress...Truly an eye-opening book.--Megan Volpert"PopMatters" (10/11/2019)