The apprehension usually hits the night before a job interview or a big court case as Zahra Cheema, a young lawyer, stares at the colorful head scarves and flowing abayas in her closet and wonders: "Should I try to make myself look less Muslim?"

"That's when I'm feeling the pressure," said Ms. Cheema, who wears the hijab, a traditional scarf that covers her hair and neck, whenever she leaves home.

She ponders: Should she wear a long, American-style skirt or the more conservative, full-length abaya that she prefers? There are no easy answers for an observant Muslim woman navigating the workplace.

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