Friday, June 21, 2013

What Makes Modest?

"Modest" fashion is something I don't think I'd heard of prior to 2012. However in the early months of last year I felt convicted to learn more about the topic. One thing led to another, and in March 2012 I made a pretty dramatic decision -- I chose to give up wearing pants and instead wear only skirts and dresses. For someone who previously only wore dresses for very special occasions, that was a big deal! But I knew there was no better way to learn about the topic than to live it.

I wound up wearing skirts for one full year, until March 2013. I even wore a skirt while hiking in the mountains! In that time I learned a lot about the modest dress movement, but the most important thing I learned is that "modest" doesn't mean the same thing for everyone. For example, plenty of modest fashionistas wear pants. Some feel comfortable showing their upper arms, while others insist on covering their arms to the elbow.

I thought it would be a good idea to start thinking through how I define modest dress. If I can put a description to the term, then I can more easily identify things that aren't aligned with my convictions and omit those things from my wardrobe. Also, it's nice to track how my definition of modest changes with time!

There are two aspects to my definition. First, in this post, I'll talk about the practical application of modest dress. Later, I'll write another post about the rationale and heart that informs these decisions.

After one year of wearing skirts, I resumed wearing pants. To be honest, it took some effort! I've learned to be selective in the cut of pants I wear, and I've turned down many options in my recent hunt for black skinny jeans because I felt they were... well, too revealing! My go-to jeans (the only pair I'm really comfortable in so far) are labeled "skinny" but instead of being spandex tight they lightly skim my legs, with a little room to spare. They're also not low-cut but instead have a more moderate waist, so I can crouch and lean over without fear.

When it comes to skirts and dresses, I prefer maxi skirts or those that fit to the knee. There's nothing like trying to sit in a skirt that's just a little too short! As an added complication, my workplace doesn't allow bare legs to be shown at any time, even in the full heat of summer. I often wear a pair of leggings under my knee-length skirts to comply, and sometimes I'll even carry that look over to the weekend.

My real struggle comes when I try to choose tops to wear. I'm rather curvy, and I'm trying to make a better effort to wear higher necklines. At the same time, I often mis-judge my size and wear t-shirts and blouses that are slightly too big. When these two things are combined, I wind up looking boxy and unfashionable! I'm learning to judge my size more accurately (with help from my Mister) without winding up in shirts that are too tight, which has been helping. (Does anyone else have these problems? I feel crazy describing this!)

This post wind up a lot longer than I wanted it to be, and even worse, there's not a single picture! Apologies for that, and I promise to return next time with a new outfit post. In the meanwhile, what do you think of when someone says "modest fashion"? I'd love to hear your definition! Leave a comment below.

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