Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"I AM NOT giving up my jeans without a direct revelation from the Lord."

"Many women wish to improve their looks, but do not know how. Others fear it may not be quite modest to make the effort."
--Belle Armstrong Whitney, What to Wear (1916)

The growing Modesty movement fascinates me. I read an article today about this new website for FLDS-appropriate clothes. (Of course the real peculiar beauty of the sect lies in their hairstyles.) I've been snooping around the web for at least a couple years gawking at the fashion of fundamentalist and conservative religious groups.

MormonChic offers options for modest prom queens.

Plainly Dressed caters to the "Traditional Amish, Mennonite and Plain." Oddly, their clothing made it into Italian Vogue in 2006. The photo at left is from that spread.

What I really like are the blogs of women who dress in the Modest style. Most of them are fundamentalist Christian or Mormon, and many of them are full-time housewives who homeschool. Perhaps my curiosity lies in just how different their lives are from mine; religion has never really been part of my life. But I think it's mostly just the same old thing for me: I love to read personal thoughts and stories about beauty. I've also always loved to read detailed descriptions of domestic activities like canning and cleaning, so I can spend hours absorbed in the the writings of women who very consciously devote themselves to living simply and faithfully. Many are also devoted to frugality and homemade beauty preparations. It's delightful.

There are plenty of modestly-dressed women right in my urban neighborhood. I live in Brooklyn, near Prospect Park. Every time I bike or run around the loop, I pass Hasidic and Muslim women and girls taking brisk walks fully covered, and I feel naked.

Exercise apparel can be difficult to navigate for the modestly dressed. Anna at Veiled Glory wrote about her first trip to the gym after adopting Modesty:

"Its not so much that all the men stared at me. I’m used to ’stareage’ for being covered. Now the young men, God Bless ‘em, were looking at my body. You know that kind of looking."

(May I suggest a beige sweater?)

Stacy of Your Sacred Calling discusses whether pants can be considered modest. This is a hot topic in Modesty Land.

Terry knows right where she stands on the issue. The title of this post is a quote from Ornaments of Grace.

Elena Maria, who has authored two books on Marie Antoinette, offers a thoughtful and Catholic perspective, and a sophisticated ensemble on her blog, Tea at Trianon. She also offers a prophesy:

"Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much."
--Our Lady of Fatima (1917)