In Egypt, women typically have a significant amount of freedom in deciding how they will dress. Some women do decide to adopt certain aspects of Islam's modesty codes, also known as hijab. This often includes the wearing of a headscarf. Egyptian hijab may also be used to describe certain headscarf styles worn by Egyptian women, of which there are conservative and modern variations.
The question of Islamic dress in Egypt has often been a controversial one in modern times. Unlike some Muslim countries, Egyptian women are not bound by law to wear a headscarf, face veil, or a full-body covering. Some women, however, choose to cover their heads and bodies to varying degrees while out in public. As women typically have a great deal of leeway in choosing their degree of conformance to Islamic dress codes, Egyptian hijab can vary considerably from woman to woman.
There are, however, at least two different styles of head coverings that are referred to as Egyptian hijab. The first is the Egyptian wrap. This involves the wrapping of one or more scarves around the head. The scarf or scarves are then tied at the back or side of the head. This has the effect of covering the head, but does not necessarily cover the neck. The result is a more modern look that also provides some coverage of the head or hair.
A more conservative Egyptian hijab is also on the market. This style incorporates a hood made of stretchy material that can be slid over the wearer's head. It covers the neck, hair, and ears. Attached to this hood is a long scarf that can be pulled over the hood and then folded under the wearer’s face. This provides for additional coverage of the neck and chin.
This second type of Egyptian hijab is popular for several reasons. The first is that the elastic cap or hood may be made of a fabric in a contrasting color from the attached scarf. This can increase the visual appeal of the head covering. In addition, the hood itself provides secure coverage in case of windy weather that may blow a scarf aside. Finally, some who wear the Egyptian hijab appreciate the fact that they can wear it without wrapping the scarf over the top of the headpiece while participating in sports or other activities in which a great deal of material around the head and face is inadvisable.