In Defense of Laura

A.S. commented:

I don’t want to seem rude here, but is there any reason why you feel the need to dress in the way you do? I am honestly trying to come across this in the most respectful manner possible.

I believe in modesty, but I don’t think it’s necessary to go overboard with it. Ever watch “The Duggars”? They were on a different tv show and the mom mentioned that she believed in “modern modest”, that a woman can still be wearing the modern styles and fashions, yet also be modest.

I’m just having a really hard time wrapping my head around the idea of wearing clothes that were suitable to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s time.

My response in three part harmony:

  1. Yes, we fully have the choice to use off-the-rack “modern modest”, which would describe about 80% of my daily wear. I think it a fine thing. HOWEVER….unlike the Duggars….I add a headscarf or snood, which no matter what style of clothing you wear, is weird in this culture.
  2. I do not know how old A.S. is, but apparently S/he doesn’t remember the 1980’s very well. Women regularly wore long dresses in small prints or pinafores or anything else the “modern” human would describe as being in the “prairie” category. Laura Ashley and Gunne Sax, FTW.
  3. Is personal preference only okay when it comes to choosing from the offerings of the imperial clothing industrial complex? In essence, not being able to comprehend wanting to wear a dress one has designed and/or sewn oneself, is a sad lack of imagination and freedom of choice. The freedom of conservatism is allowing for choice within boundaries. Duggars may like denim skirts and blouses off-the-rack and I sew my own dresses. We both conform to the basic standard. Its like a realist painter and an impressionist who use the same size canvas but who come out with differing results. Both are beautiful in their own right.
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12 Responses to “In Defense of Laura”


  1. 1 Kristie May 6, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Great response! As far as the 1980s my mom used to make me all those “prairie” dresses lol…and at the time I hated them. Anyway, all one has to do is look at the dress patterns from then at a thrift shop and you get an idea to what was popular then.

    Modesty is one of those things where what you wear is between you and God. Some people feel convicted to wear “modern modest” (which can be interpreted in different ways) or plain or whatever. I find the differing levels and types of modesty interesting and beautiful. Its a beautiful thing to be able to have the freedom to to choose your “style” and yes, I know “style” is not to be the main goal. But I know whether the modest person is “Plain” or “modern” or something else, they do stick out as unusual in our culture (some more than others 😉 ) I notice people when I am out that are more covered up than those around them! 🙂

  2. 2 Coffee Catholic May 6, 2010 at 10:11 am

    “Is personal preference only okay when it comes to choosing from the offerings of the imperial clothing industrial complex?”

    Exactly. Good point! There is no spelled-out style of clothing that Christians must wear. It just has to be modest and not too flashy. No ropes of gold and jingling coin headdresses hehehe!

    Women should be free to wear any type of modest style regardless of the era it “should” belong in. Or culture for that matter.

  3. 3 Alana Sheldahl May 7, 2010 at 7:46 am

    “Is personal preference only okay when it comes to choosing from the offerings of the imperial clothing industrial complex?”

    Well said!!!!! I admire you and your “comfy-in-my-own-skin/with-my-own-style” uniqueness.

  4. 4 Wendy May 7, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Your responce was very gracious and creative. I loved your comparison of artists and interpretations of modesty. Your blog is very thought provoking and encouraging. Keep up the good work.
    blessings,
    Wendy

  5. 5 Henny May 11, 2010 at 1:16 am

    well put!

    there is a difference in plain and modest, one can be modest and one and be plain, but one can be modest without being plain too.

    then again that’s not all there is to it either. is “plain” for religious reasons, because one’s personal taste isn’t modern, or because one just prefers a style that happens to not be “in style” right now?

    there isn’t a one size fits all way to dress modestly. to each their own. modesty comes from there heart and you can tell when someone is truly modest by the way they carry themselves, act, speak and dress.

  6. 6 Deborah May 14, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    My heart is jumping with joy to have found another who may understand me. 🙂

    If I tell you I was a homeschooling mom in the 90’s many will conjure up images of calf-length denim jumpers. In my case, that would be true; but not because I was a homeschooler. I have loved dresses (I am a child of the 50’s and 60’s and ALWAYS – EVERYDAY – wore a dress to school, until I was a junior in high school, when even then I refused to wear jeans, preferring my favourite hand-sewn midi-length top over matching pants) and homeschooling provided an acceptable reason to indulge myself.

    But I have not limited myself to denim. And these days, I am experimenting with some rather quirky ways of combining dresses with pants to accommodate my lifestyle. So today, I am wearing a pair of denim jeans, a loose-form off-the-rack calf-length (short sleeve) dress topped with a calf-length (long sleeve)pullover shirt I made using a favourite nightgown as the pattern.

    Since becoming a follower of Messiah, for me, there is no conflict with what I believe and how I dress. I am not necessarily opposed to wearing a more contemporary look, and in fact, on occasion, I do; but I really prefer what I call a feminine rather than sexy look.

    I am just becoming serious about headcoverings. The look I prefer is that achieved by the wrapping of scarves.

    I am a SAH (empty nester) mom who cleans, bakes, scrubs and gardens in her dresses, and to those who are bothered, annoyed, threatened, offended by the way I dress, I would offer: Your concern about the way I am dressed assumes that you are dressed “correctly” and everyone should want to look like you, which is just not true. 🙂

  7. 7 Anna May 28, 2010 at 5:06 am

    I too, love your

    “Is personal preference only okay when it comes to choosing from the offerings of the imperial clothing industrial complex?”

    very well put. I don’t exactly dress modest, but I have always had my own quite palin style to be fair. My sister and mum have always nagged me about my clothes. Apparently I should wear whatever is in fashion!? What came to everyone’s own opinion and style. Clothes define you as a person, I don’t understand why anyone wants to always wear what everyone else is wearing just because they are wearing them? I have had items that are in fashion, but only when I have seen them and liked them and I haven’t stopped wearing them when they are out of fashion! I also very very rarely wear make-up and constantly hear about this. Why does it bug other people?

    My sister once said to me that I will never find a boyfriend if I dress the way I do. Why would I want a man who doesn’t accept me the way I am? Interestingly I have met the man I want to marry (after many mistakes!) where as she is still single, having never had a deeply serious relationship.

  8. 8 lmae123 May 29, 2010 at 6:23 am

    If you look at the Duggar’s first TV special, you will see that their “style” has changed.

  9. 9 Sarah Elliott May 30, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Anna,

    I agree with you wholeheartedly here!!
    James laver, one of the greatest fashion/costume writers of the 20th centyry put it something like this
    if its five yeaers ahead of time, its shocking,
    If its one year ahead of time, its cutting edge,
    if it is current, it is well, current.
    if it is a year old, it is acceptable,
    If it is five years old, it is dated
    if it is 10 years old, it is truly pushing it,
    If it is 20 years old, it is most unfashionable
    If it is 30 years old, ( 40 also works here) it is ghastly
    if it is 50 years old, it is retro
    if it is 60 yers old, it is quaint
    If it is 70 years old, it is whimsical
    if it is 80 years old, it is interesting
    if it is 90 years old, it is fetching
    If it is 100 years old, it is delightful/timeless/graceful…
    In a nutshell, supposed ‘fashion’ is a fickle mistress ever demanding change, which in turn spells $$$ – out of our pockets, and into the pockets of the clothing industrial complex…

    I am what Quaker jane would term ‘Plain Modern’ with a few dresses thrown in the 80’s and 90’s were the years of my youth and young adulthood; I paid considerable prices for styles now considered ‘Prairie’ and even ‘cultish’ How short the collective memory is.
    furthermore, half of what is available off the peg is shabbily made, dreadful in print, horrid shape, guaranteed to fall to bits after a season and impractical for everyday wear.
    There are exceptions of course; Annie Lantz and Margaret Caine (Australia) ring true, are modest, well made, and fit somewhere between ‘mainstream’ and ‘prairie’…
    Read pretty wel everything http://www.magdalenaperks.wordpress.com has to say about clothing, modesty, materialism, plainness, covering etc, Also read http://www.quakerjane.com with particular attention to the article by Frances Fischer on modesty and plainness; reasons etc.
    Martain Kelley over at ‘Quaker Ranter’ also addresses modesty and plain issues faced by men; rarely addressed within the modesty movement; Magdalena also speaks to this issue…
    As one who cannot abide the slave-labour/grossly unfair-trade racket that is global clothing manufacture, I choose to bipass on the mostpart mainstream commercial retailers for all the reasons specified above, having chosen my clothing small business, happy with their workmanship, their flexibility to create serviceable yet modest and tidy garments. I for one choose not to be content with the rags passed off as attire by most businesses and department stores.
    Though I am by no means what one would consider ‘contemporary’ or ‘fashionable’ I see faschion as a mere construct and means to leverage money from us, and keep (women especially) folk dependant on what they make to feel good about themselves; must wear this season, the latest style/label etc. In schools outside of Australia with no uniform policy (common in Australia) statism through labels is a distructive phenomenon (though some schools admittedly are striving to put an end to this).

    I am also mindful of the public and private sphere. When in the university setting, the sphere and related comportment is very different from that which I share with my husband in the private sphere. We have lost the notion of different worlds, and the legitimacy of different worlds. Just a thought or two.

    Finally, take a look at ‘A return to Modesty’ and ‘girls gone Mild’ by Wendy Shallit.
    Blessings,

    Sarah. con

  10. 10 thegeekywife May 30, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I’m still defining what I define as modest and how I want to sustain it. I think it’s ok for modesty to be more journey-like, and that is something that you seem to understand (judging from previous posts about how you developed your style) 🙂

    For now, I still love pants and jeans and sleeveless-but-not-spaghetti-strap tops. I probably wont ever cover my head fulltime, but I think the Lord directs women individually in that.

    I’d love to learn to sew so I could make my own clothing! It’s a dream of mine. 🙂

  11. 11 akhomeschoolfun June 21, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    While there is no set Christian style for women, we need to ask ourselves, are we dressing modestly primarily to please the world (blindly following fashion or church mandate) or God? Hopefully it’s the later.

  12. 12 Antonia August 8, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    The Orthodox Christian concept of “modesty” in women’s apparel is not tied to specific styles of clothing, as I understand the matter. The parameters are rather simple. We do not dress to attract via sexuality. That easily excludes most of what is sold on the market today. We do not at all, however, have to copy clothing from any particular country, century, or even decade. There is one particular “look” which is popular, especially among homeschoolers, and which often elicits ridicule. That is unfortunate. Some of my clothing is in that style, but far from all. I wear that “genre” of garment only because I like it, not because it is required for modesty. I did wear very long skirts and dresses for a while. After tripping with my foot caught in my skirt (fall of 2003) and breaking my leg clear through the bones in three places, I revised my thoughts. Now, for me, below-the-knee is equally modest — and far safer. I won’t wear sleeveless garments; however, that may be because such are prohibited in church, and my wardrobe must be “all-purpose” (to include attending services). One becomes acclimated to church attire, and this spills over into every-day life — not the reverse. (. . . just musing at the keyboard, so don’t consider than an attempt at an aphorism!) . . . As for sewing, I truly dislike that activity. Sewing is a gift God grants to many women, and I admire talent! Instead, I’m a good cook and a baker. Life has room for all of us !


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