A shawl hijab is a covering garment worn by women in conformance with the standards of modest dress established by Islam. Depending on its style, it may be made of a triangular, rectangular, or square piece of fabric. The shawl hijab may be used to cover the head and shoulders of the wearer, or it may be worn to provide additional coverage of the torso. If worn as a head covering, a woman may choose to hold it in place through the use of hijab pins and may also wear an additional scarf or cap underneath. As an over-garment, the shawl can provide a comfortable alternative to a heavier or more restrictive hijab.
Traditionally, a shawl is a large piece of fabric that can be worn or draped over the head or body to provide warmth and, in many cultures, additional coverage of the body. The cloth used to make shawls varies, with some using expensive fabrics so that the shawl can be worn to special events, while others are made from more serviceable textiles suitable for everyday wear. Women who wear a shawl hijab may have several of these garments on hand so as to be able to match their covering with the other clothing that they may be wearing.
For many women, a shawl hijab is used as a head covering. As this type of hijab is often fairly large, a woman may choose to wrap the shawl around her head or simply drape it over her head and shoulders and then pin it closed. The larger size of the shawl hijab usually results in additional coverage beyond that of the head and neck, with some of these garments covering the shoulders and much of the upper back and chest.
In addition to wearing a shawl hijab as a head covering, some women may wear a shawl that covers much of the upper part of their body. These shawls are typically larger than those worn on the head and may be made from several segments of cloth, sewn together so that they easily cover the body and stay in place. They are also often fairly loose, concealing the shape of the body while also allowing some airflow, which can make this covering more comfortable for many women, particularly in hot weather. The advantage to this type of shawl hijab is that it allows a woman to wear whatever type of clothing she likes underneath while still protecting her modesty.