Muara Bagdja, Contributor, Jakarta
Some women who wear Muslim fashion make a mistake of overdoing it in their appearance by trying to combine their religious duty with remaining stylish, which actually leaves a frivolous impression in the workplace.
There are also women who are overly casual, wearing a T-shirt and a skirt along with their headscarf.
Women who wear clothing that conforms to Muslim rules must remember that they need to maintain an image as professionals in the workplace.
The problem is that many women find it difficult to determine which outfit will make them appear stylish but also remain representative of their professional character.
Two designers who can offer professional help for the problem are Tuti Cholid and Itang Yunasz, both of whom have expanded their business to include Muslim apparel.
Tuti is noted for emphasizing ethnic elements in her designs. Her Muslim attire collection for her Rumah Sutra (Silk House) boutique have in the past year featured attractive designs in simple, modern and luxurious-looking cuts of silk materials.
Itang began his Muslim attire section three years ago, and receives many orders for exclusive Muslim dresses for special occasions.
Both designers agree that gamis -- a piece of clothing in a straight, long style -- is today adored by women who wear Muslim attire. Yet, gamis is usually not appropriate for the workplace as it gives a too casual impression.
The designers recommended three-piece clothing consisting of a jacket, a blouse and a pair of pants as stylish Muslim apparel for work.
""Today, a long jacket is the in-thing so we can use it for a Muslim work outfit. The jacket should follow the tailoring style so as to ensure a lasting impression that it is a work outfit,"" Tuti said.
Particular attention is needed for the cut of the clothing. Muslim rules on appropriate apparel state it must not reveal the body of the wearer, except their face and hands. So, the jacket should be cut straight, covering the area of the buttocks down to mid-thigh.
Likewise, the blouse must be of a length that covers the body to mid-thigh. As for the pants, pick a straight but not tight model.
It is better to wear a blouse with a collar covering the neck completely, which allows the wearer to wrap a scarf or a simpler head covering to conceal their hair.
Such a look is neater, more practical and more modern-looking compared with the look if one has a wide head scarf or one tied with a lot of knots, as it would give the impression of being too lively for the work atmosphere.
The right choice of clothing materials will also make Muslim work attire look more fashionable. Most important is that the fabric must be cool and comfortable to wear. You may make your choice of a variety of expensive-looking fabrics such as silk, viscose rayon or shantung.
""When wearing silk, you'd better choose a silk material combined with cotton or viscose rayon so as to lessen its gloss and give you greater comfort. Such materials will give a distinct additional value,"" said Itang.
For women employees whose companies do not allow them to wear pants, long skirts are their only choice. Skirts with straight cuts or simple pleats may be worn in the office.
A Muslim office outfit can be made more attractive with accessories, such as the now trendy corsage, or brooches, Itang suggested. Other options are collars and cuffs embellished with embroidery.
Ultimately, the key to appearing fashionable while fitting in at the office is to wear simple, practical clothing that conforms to religious rules but is not too loose as to appear sloppy.
""Apart from making sure to heed the rules, wearers should not find wearing Muslim attire burdensome,"" said Itang.