10 Modest Summer Outfit Ideas & Tips


First of all, let’s start this post with the reminder that all of us who consider ourselves “modest” or conservative dressers have our own interpretation of what that term means for us personally, whether it’s based on faith, culture or personal preference.  On that note, today I’m sharing 10 modest outfit ideas that help me beat the heat while still looking cute! In the case of my babes in hijab, you may find you can easily rock your headscarf with these looks.

Before you scroll, these are my top tips for modest summer style:

1.) Invest in lots of timeless full-coverage dresses. Personally, I sweat A LOT and can’t stand tons of unnecessary layers in summer. As best as possible, I try looking out for sleeved maxi dresses that already cover everything and won’t require any slip dresses etc. When you put on a dress, you’re already dressed and it’s an awesome lazy modest girl hack to looking great. People always think I’m so dressed up, when really, I didn’t feel like coming up with an outfit or breaking a sweat! Keeping them classic will mean they’ll last you for many summers to come.

2.) Wear natural/organic fabrics as much as possible, an example of this is cotton. Linen is also a favourite! This will allow your skin to breathe easily so you’re less likely to sweat.

3.) Invest in printed pieces, whether they’re dresses, skirts, trousers or tops. As a modest dresser it’s so easy to feel frumpy or like your outfit is boring. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can’t make a stylish statement; prints keep things interesting! Print mixing also looks really great but isn’t necessarily for the faint hearted. Personally, I love it. I’ll unapologetically mix stripes with leopard print and call it a look, but if that’s not your style, you can always team your printed pieces with something more simple and basic.

4.) Learn to accessorize. This is so important, and can take the simplest of looks to the next level! Don’t always feel like you need to shop for more clothing, since accessories can truly change everything. Take something as simple as a small scarf for example: tying it around your neck can give you a chic and sophisticated look. Tying it in your ponytail or wearing it like an Alice band can come across more girly, summery and day-time appropriate. Tying it like a bandana can give you an urban edge. All of those have such a different vibe, yet the accessory remains the same. Furthermore, woven/straw accessories like hats and basket bags are some of my summer favourites when it comes to accessorising, especially when paired with cute espadrilles.

5.) Find a great seamstress/tailor. Customising your outfits can feel like a mission but I recommend making it a big project you commit to, and doing it all in one go. Take all those dresses that you want to add sleeves to or lengthen all at once. And while you’re at the fabric store getting those add-ons, buy some fabric to make a few custom designs. It could even be one simple, classic shirt, skirt or dress that you make in a variety of prints and fabrics. Customising existing pieces and custom-making new ones can be a more affordable way to give yourself a revamped modest look.

Now, these are some of my go-to summer looks!


These are timeless and chic. I love that that a shirt dress can be worn both as a dress and worn open over trousers. I got this one from Sarah Feldman, also known as @rabbis_wife on instagram.



It can be hard to find a caftan that isn’t sheer, but I’ve managed to build up a good collection! These are so great for vacations and those extra hot days since they really tend to cover everything while feeling ultra lightweight. I got this pure silk one from Roso Caftans at roso.co.za. It’s a little on the pricey side since it’s made of a luxurious fabric, but you can definitely custom-make or find something similar and more affordable elsewhere.



This is one of my favourite ways to make a day-time statement, on both a smart and casual level. When I’m not in a dress, this is my go-to look for meetings! If you’re worried about prints making you look heavy in certain areas, wear prints on your slimmer areas of your body, and keep things plain and simple around heavier areas. In both of these looks I’m wearing items I’ve had in my closet for years now, and I still love it!



Much like the dress, when you put on a jumpsuit, you’re already covered, all you need are accessories and cute shoes! This linen one below is my current obsession from Nala Cape Town (available here), and the denim one I got on sale at NastyGal.com a while back. The latter ties in nicely with the utility trend that is currently dominating, yet still has a classic feel that won’t date.



Depending on just how hot the weather is, white and blue denim always looks cool and chic. Of course, you could skip the denim and do all-white everything. Another awesome white and denim look could be a light wash denim maxi skirt teamed with a white tee. I got this dress below at a market in Thailand, while my jacket is from Zara Man.



Like I said, I try hard to avoid layering, but on cooler days or in the evenings, there’s room for that. I still love a good overall moment and pairing a fun print under a simple strappy maxi (or vice versa). For both of these looks, the tops I wore underneath were 10% sheer but I’d hardly call them revealing. This makes them lightweight and perfect for layering. All of these items I’ve also had in my closet for many years! 


Which is your favourite look? Do you have any tips to share with the rest of us to make modest dressing in summer a little bit easier? Let me know in the comments below!



By sharing her personal style, fashion and beauty advice, written reflections and more, Fashion Breed is a place for women to learn, relate and connect.

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