Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Simple Things to Simplify- Clothing

I'd like to welcome my sister as my first guest blogger! She lives in Texas with her husband and their 10 month old daughter.

Modesty as Wardrobe Uncomplication- by Diana

I’m a modest person. From a young age, I’ve been told that modesty is important. It’s somewhat of an abstract concept as a child - the why’s of modesty are not quite clear, it’s more of being told the “right” way to dress and the “wrong” way to dress. As you get older, you’re told that guys are basically sex-crazed lunatics, and you’d better cover up to avoid being attacked. Or if you show a little too much (wherever that abstract line is), you are personally and solely responsible for the moral demise of some guy’s thought life.

So I dressed modestly as a safety measure, or I was guilted into it for fear of sending a wholesome young man into a downward spiral of lust and peril. And what were my guidelines of modest dress, you might ask. Well, you have to wear shorts that cover 100% of your butt, you shouldn’t wear skirts that provide a view if you open your legs a few inches, bikinis are questionable, you shouldn’t show too much cleavage, and pants with “Juicy” written on the butt are definitely out.

I’m feeling pretty good about myself. No one has confused me for a prostitute, and I’m definitely more modest than some people (when in doubt, always compare yourselves to others for self-validation).

But while those reasons for modesty are valid at a foundational level, I’ve come to see the value of staying covered for my own reasons. We’ve been fans of the Duggar family (17, 18, 19 ... Kids and Counting on TLC) for a few years and noticed their family dress code of coverage from knees to collarbones. I also recently read “A Return to Modesty” by Wendy Shalit, a young Jewish author comparing social mores and observations between her more liberal friends and Orthodox Jewish acquaintances. I’ve decided modesty is more than sexual restraint and following the rules, it’s wardrobe uncomplication.

Let’s think about tank tops and bra straps. I live in Texas, it’s very hot; I wear a lot of tank tops. But I find myself in a day-long battle with those straps that peek out under the shirt, even when a tank top has wide straps you think will cover. Just when I think I’ve adjusted and re-adjusted and tucked and pushed enough, those pesky bra straps come sliding out again. Is this a big deal? Maybe not. Do lots of other people have their bra straps hanging out? Yes. But I’ll remind you that a bra is still purchased in the underwear department and therefore does not need to be seen by the general population.

What if I gave up my perceived need for tank tops and simply wore shirts that covered my “unmentionables”? Uncomplication. I could go through the day with no concern whether the color of my bra would be revealed to everyone by two skinny straps sneaking down my shoulders.

Now let’s think about necklines. I have a baby, so there are little hands pulling at everything grabbable. Having a baby also means lots of bending over, these things are not good for most necklines. Even shirts I considered modest are now a liability as I’m bending and little hands are pulling down. On an episode of the Duggars, where there are record numbers of little hands, I noticed the Duggar girls have freedom. No worries of bending or being exposed by grabby babies. Uncomplication. When you wear shirts that you trust to keep you covered, you can go through your day without a quick hand to the neckline.

So how about low-rise jeans - and I’m not just talking about the ones you makes faces at where the zipper is only an inch long. It seems like anything lower than an old-school “mom jean” leaves you in a compromising position any time you want to take a seated position. You’re pulling down your shirt, pulling up your jeans, sitting five different ways to avoid announcing to the room that you’ve got your orange flowered panties on today. Wearing skirts (of an appropriate length) solves this problem.

If I chose clothes that eliminated adjusting, fidgeting, pulling up, yanking down and re-arranging, I could go through my normal day and focus on my day. Not on what was sliding or peeking where. Modesty as uncomplication benefits ME.

Other wardrobe uncomplications:

  • keep only items that fit
    • no question whether something will work or not, limits trying on time
    • no adjustments - belt, pins, etc
    • no stress - if I breathe too deeply my button may pop off
  • don’t buy strange items just because they’re really cheap on clearance
    • just taking up space in your closet, waiting for the “right time” to wear it (because you have convinced yourself there will be a right time)
    • for the price of several cheap novelty items, you could have gotten a solid basic piece which could be worn weekly
  • know your wardrobe
    • when you’re out shopping, you’ll know if you have items that will “go” with a new item
    • you’ll avoid accidentally purchasing something you already have - “oh wait, I forgot I already have two black t-shirts.”

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