When Liza Sakhaie was in college and working at Bloomingdale’s, she decided to start dressing modestly. However, she quickly became fed up with shopping for clothing.
“I was working on an experiential retail marketing team at Bloomingdale’s, conceiving new ways to capture customers,” she said. “Yet, in my own modest shopping experience, I noticed no one was doing much to try and capture me.”
When Sakhaie was shopping, she had to constantly sacrifice quality, style or budget. She spent hours searching for clothes that met her modest standards, only to receive a dress with a surprise slit and open back.
The modest clothing space — and consumers’ perspectives on it — wasn’t much better.
“Having grown up in an Iranian Jewish household, the stereotypes around modest dress greatly impacted my view on clothing, and as I started to change the way I dressed, I noticed how many other women felt that a modest dress code was outdated, ugly, frumpy and restrictive,” Sakhaie, who lives in New York, said.
Sakhaie wanted to disrupt the fashion industry by bringing modesty up to trendy standards and giving women more options. That’s why, this summer, she started The Reflective, a modest fashion retailer. The online shop features more than 1,000 of the latest modest fashion items, sourced from prominent brands, boutiques and designers like Sachin & Babi and Baruni. Women can shop for everything from dresses to tops, sweaters, skirts and accessories like belts, jewelry, shoes and bags.
“We launched The Reflective in order to change the way women feel about modesty by empowering them to see fashion as an external expression of individual values,” she said. “Our mission is to provide an elevated and attainable product curation while empowering our community through engaging and educational content, events and evolving experiences for the modern modest woman.”
The site is for women of all backgrounds, but Sakhaie said her main customers are observant Jewish, Christian and Muslim.
“We’re honored to serve such a diverse community and begin to show women worldwide that we are not all that different,” she said. “We also serve a large population of ‘modest by choice’ individuals. These are women who choose to dress modestly for many reasons, including professionalism, safety, aging and even sun exposure.”
Sakhaie hopes to help women feel good about the modest clothing they’re wearing. Though she had a hard time adjusting to dressing modestly at first, today, she feels empowered.
“Initially, dressing modestly felt unnatural and uncomfortable,” she said. “I immediately noticed that when I swapped out my skinny jeans for a midi skirt, I became quieter and lacked my usual confidence.”
“My modest wardrobe allows me to express myself through my interests, my relationships, my spirituality and, of course, my clothes.”
She continued, “Needless to say, five years later, I’m still here. My modest wardrobe allows me to express myself through my interests, my relationships, my spirituality and, of course, my clothes. Although it is still an immense challenge and commitment, I no longer feel shy. Rather, I feel a sense of elegance, femininity and humility.”
With The Reflective, Sakhaie’s goal is to make the modest clothing shopping experience easier and provide women with a wardrobe that helps them feel beautiful – inside and out.
“We clearly value beauty and aesthetics,” she said. “We ultimately believe that your externality is just a vehicle for expressing your internal self.”