In the tumultuous world of fashion, only the people who have the audacity to push limits and constantly take risks are the ones who stand out and stay ahead of the rest. Samantha Elauf, 22-year-old fashion blogger from Oklahoma, is one such unapologetic champion of fashion. But what’s unique about her is her fashion-forward approach to embracing her religious driven values of modesty. For Elauf, there is almost no fashion trend that can’t be “hijabified.”
Elauf started working for Forever21 as a sales associate in 2008, and was eventually promoted to a visual merchandiser. She has been doing visuals for the company for three years now, and is known for her “make it work” attitude. Such a determination is also echoed in her personal style and openness to the boldest of fashion trends. From tutus to bustier tops, she has adapted the most daring trends to fit her modest dressing code. “I tend to make anything that I must have in my wardrobe hijabified,” she says.
When asked to start a fashion blog by a Muslim hijabi girl that lived in her community, Elauf couldn’t resist. “The majority of the feedback to my blog has been positive. But no matter what there always has to be some ‘hater,’ and there is no reason to take people’s negative comments too much to heart. Because at the end of the day, it’s you and God.”
Wearing the hijab from the age of 13, Elauf was inspired by her cousin who is 3 years younger than her. For her, the hijab is a symbol of modesty and a reminder of her faith. Working in an environment where so much emphasis is placed on visual appearance, she naturally gets a lot of questions about her hijab and modest dressing from her coworkers. “I love the questions. I love informing others about my faith. This also means I have to represent Muslim girls in a positive manner on a daily basis.” She is an advocate of being a strong voice for Muslim girls and believes that “hijab” can also be a symbol of expression.
“I have had people come up to me and tell me they have never seen such a cute hijabi...not sure if I should take it as a compliment or not. Hijab is a symbol of modesty and respect, but that doesn’t mean that as Muslim girls we can’t speak with the way we style our hijabs into our daily outfits,” she says. “It’s important to let people understand that even though you wear hijab, it doesn’t mean you are that much different from the average American girl.”
Although she foresees herself as growing with Forever21, she also plans to open up a store one day geared toward Muslim women. “I love seeing Muslim girls start trends within their community. We can still be good Muslims with a passion for fashion.”
While her story of embracing the hijab as a personal choice only dates back to her teenage years, her love affair with fashion goes further back. “When I was younger, I remember I would cry when my mom would not let me pick out my outfit. She remembers it too [chuckles]. I have always loved clothes, and as soon as I turned 16 I applied to work at Limited Too and worked there for over a year.”
Elauf loves to wear clothes that speak to her, and whether she is out shopping or working there are always pieces that would stand out to her. “I love mixing print and styling things [in ways] others would not think to. I also have to do this to make pieces modest yet fashion-forward,” she says of her style. Even on a typical day, she’d wear “something that stands out” because it is hard for her to blend in, especially with her deep passion for color.
Though Elauf says she doesn’t have any fashion icons, she loves seeing what celebrities are wearing for inspiration. Though she is a self-confessed Forever21 addict, she’d splurge on a Marc by Marc Jacobs handbag when she is in the mood to treat herself. She lists her anorak jacket, chambray shirt and printed denim as her favorite items in her wardrobe. “Can’t forget my arm candy!” she adds.
When asked what she considers a “fashion sin”, it turns out that this fashionista is no saint. “Wearing sweat pants in public is a big no-no to me. But yes, I have done this to go work out,” she says with a big laugh.
*Photos used with permission by interviewee.