It's more complicated than that! It depends a lot on the sect, the nation, the local shah and general perception of the society. The kind of people that are really into the religion are like all religious conservatives. In places like Lebanon and Egypt we see women wearing normal clothes and go to beaches in bikinis, as a certain Egyptian girl on this site can hopefully back up.
If they want to wear it then that's OK. What I don't like is the women that don't want to wear it and a have to, but since we can't do anything about it at the current moment, then I'm fine with it.
I also have a problem with some western European governments that are forcing Muslim women NOT to wear the head scarf. What the f*** is that? People can wear anything they want to! It gets in nobody's way and is no danger to anybody. If some Christian conservatives have a problem with that they can simply look away! These people have the idea that they can tell others what they should be doing yet when the direction of the talk is towards them they go nuts!
Anyway! Islam is a rather new religion and I wouldn't be surprised that in a hundred years Muslim women wouldn't act much different than all other women on this planet.
I'm not a muslim but from what I got is that there are so many different interpretations of this that its hard to answer your question.
There are countries like saudi arabia or Afgahnistan where women are actually required to wear the burka/niqab link so there they can actually not wear something in fashion in public.
Then there are other countries where people believe that women should cover everything but their hair, hands and feet. But that would mean that something like this linklink is alright. Then there are other who believe they should not show any feminin features, which I guess makes dressing fashionable very hard.
Then there are countries like turkey that banned the headscarf all together.
As for why they should wear, if I got it right, it's so men don't get aroused and get tempted to rape them, which is ridicoulous if you ask me.
Men should really be able to control that urge and I think most are, but what can you do.
I think the trend goes to a more western interpretation of that whole covering thing tho.
Islam values modesty. Depending on the sect and/or family, it's often considered promiscuous for women to show off their bodies. Some families aren't that conservative though, and they can wear "normal" clothes.
We can't really show our figure and hair for modesty and to avoid sexual harrasment. Think of us as normal girls but who took a pledge to save our bodies only for our husbands eyes. But if it is an all-woman community then yeah, we can show our hair and figure.
the reason why Muslim women hide their figures is to protect themselves from being objectified, assaulted, sexually harrased etc by men