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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Modesty in 2014

Modesty in 2014.


Old fashioned?

Too controlling?

Like all parents, I think there comes that pivotal moment when our daughter comes out of her room and we do a double take....and our brain freaks out a little bit....thoughts fill our head...

How did that happen?

She looks so grown up!

Look at those heels!

Wait a minute, that skirt is kind of short!

That shirt is showing just a bit too much skin!

You get the idea.  All of a sudden our little girls, aren't little girls anymore.

We don't want boys/men to notice them....yet.

We don't want our daughters, as my mother used to say..... "showing off their wares".

But, I also don't think they should be covered head to toe.

I also think they should get to have fun with fashion.

I saw this on Facebook the other day and completely, 100%, agreed with it.


I love it.

This may (or may not) surprise my friends, but I violated the dress code in college.

I went to a small Bible college in Iowa.  There were lots of rules at this school.  Rules about public displays of affection.  Rules that said no boys were allowed in the girls dorms and no girls were allowed in the boys dorms....except in the public living room area that had an adult chaperone present.  There was one t.v. on campus and it was only turned on for a few hours each night (plus you had to try to listen/watch with people running around or playing ping pong (which is where I could usually be found). Rules that said girls were required to wear dresses or skirts to class each day.

Lots of rules.

I didn't violate dress code because I wore pants to class or shorts on the weekend or anything.  I violated the dress code and was called into the Dean of Women's office.... for wearing a v-neck sweater.....backwards.

Yes.....backwards.  (Remember, this was the 80's.  i thought I was really cool.)

How did this violate the dress code?

I was showing a part of my skin that the boys were not used to seeing and might cause them to "stumble".

It wasn't even a deep V neck.  It probably showed 4 or 5 inches of my upper back.

But, I was asked to use wisdom and discernment in my wardrobe choices and to not scintillate the opposite sex....and, under no circumstances was I allowed to wear that sweater backwards again.

I remember being furious at the time.

Later I thought it was funny, and cracked jokes about my "super sexy, so you better look out, upper back"!

Later in life, I (sort of) understood what they were talking about.....I still didn't agree with it....but I understood it.

I got "in trouble" for my clothing choices one other time, in my life.  I was in my early-mid 20's.  I had been working at a large medical company for a few years and had been promoted a few times already.  I had dropped out of college and decided not to continue pursuing my nursing degree (partly because I had gotten a great job with vacation and benefits without having to finish school/take out a bunch of college loans). I either wasn't in a relationship.....or I was in a dead end one (can't remember).   I had just lost a local beauty pageant, had lost weight for the swimsuit competition....and.....looking back,  I was looking for external validation about my, I wore the little, form fitting, black a work party.

The problem was, I was working for a corporate Vice President doing physician recruiting, at the time. I had been asked to escort/host a new  doctor and his wife around the Christmas party, and introduce them to other staff.   My boss,  relieved of my duties (thankfully for just that night).  He later gave me a big brotherly type, highly embarrassing talk about the image I was portraying with my clothing choices....and the fact that by dressing that way, I was giving people cause to doubt my true value to the company and skill level.

He was right.  Nobody wants a blond 20-something pageant flunkie/sexpot wanna be escorting a future employee and his wife around.  Even if underneath all the spandex I was a really nice person, and very good at my job.

Nobody could see past the short, tight dress to see that I had earned my job, the old fashioned way.....(not that old fashioned way Emoji ).....but, by hard work.

Clothing is powerful, whether we like it or not.

The power can be used for good.....or....evil.....well, my little black dress wasn't exactly evil.....but it certainly didn't get me any respect from my corporate bosses, or make them want to trust me with any outside business hours schmoozing/networking that is necessary in these situations.

People do judge you based on what you choose to....or not to.....wear.

Rainman and I have talked to our girls, especially, about modesty in 2014....and the power of clothing choices.  To keep it semi-simple, we do have basic rules.

No super short skirts or shorts.

No low cut tops.

No low rise jeans or pants. (You know....the butt crack showing ones....)

No bikinis.

My girls really haven't had many problems with the "rules" and have found plenty of cute things to wear.  But, there was one of the rules that drove them crazy.

No bikinis.

All of their friends wore bikinis.  All of their friends baby sisters wore bikinis.  Their cousins (who are super cool and fashionable) wore bikinis.

Why, oh why, wouldn't we let them wear bikinis?

We are so mean.

We are so old fashioned.

We would occasionally get a bag of hand-me downs that contained a bikini.  The begging would begin.

I would tell them to try it on and let me see.

They would too embarrassed to put it on and show me.

Or, if they did have the courage, they would show up in front of me wrapped in the blanket from their bed and sort of give me a quick, giggle filled, flash of them in the bikini.


So, the conversation would begin, "If you can't even walk downstairs, in our house, and show your mom.....why would you think you can walk around outside at a front of strangers?"

One of the girls slipped up once (and she will probably deny it to this day) and said, "Well, it is like walking around in our underwear!"

Exactly.  It really is.

And, yes, I used to wear bikinis.  It really was like walking around in my underwear.

To be honest, I wore them because I was looking for attention.  I wanted men to think I was sexy.  I wanted outside validation from the world that I was pretty....and worth.....something.

I want better for my girls.  I want them to feel strong and powerful....and pretty....and even sexy...without showing the world what they look like in their underwear.

I saw this on Facebook today by Diane Vreeland, who was a respected fashion columnist:

Photo: #tbt and always on point Ms. Diana Vreeland

It struck me as so true....yet so startling.  Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked "female".  You don't have to be pretty.

But, most of us want to be pretty.

I still want to be pretty.

I don't know why.

I don't discourage my girls from feeling pretty.....or wanting to feel pretty.  But, I hope I am stressing to them that their sense of worth in the world has NOTHING to do with being pretty.

So back to modesty.....

Where is the line drawn between blaming how a woman dresses for men making stupid decisions.....or causing them to stumble....or allowing yourself to be taken seriously....being able to feel pretty....if you want to....but, not showing everyone your "wares"?

We are finding it is a moving target.  We ask our girls not to dress too sexy, too grown up, or to show too much skin.

There are times that we send them back to their rooms to add a cardigan.  Or, I send them to the sewing machine to add a strap to something strapless.

But, the bikini issue continued to lurk.

We spent hours on the computer looking for something that would meet their need to be fashionable and cute, and my need not to let the world see too much of my babies.

There are companies that sell modesty suits.  They range from things like modern day versions of

To this......

Albion Suit for $108

We all liked the latter, but, oh my word.....the price!

So, I brought out my tried and true phrase.....that I get teased for....all the time.

"I bet we can make something much cheaper than that!"

And, we all paused.

Hey....wait a minute.....maybe we could!

Now, we had a new quest.

We looked for patterns.  We looked for fabric.  We spent lots and lots of time on Pinterest.

Finally, one day, the girls showed me a free pattern/tutorial that they wanted me to consider.

They held their breathe while I looked it over.

Hmmm......even though it was 2 piece, it was still modest.  It was like a 50's swimsuit.

I gave them a thumbs up.

Then, I found a fantastic little company called The Fabric Fairy,  that sold swimsuit fabric and supplies.

After talking to the lady at The Fabric Fairy about color choices, they placed their order and got busy.

While they waited for their order to arrive, the played around with the pattern, took measurements, created practice suits from old sheets.  So, when the fabric came, they were ready to go!

In case you haven't figured it out by now, the girls made their own swimsuits for this year.

I am proud of them.

I think they are adorable, without showing too much.

They are unique.  They are comfortable.  They stay in place when they are swimming.  They don't make my girls look like they are hoping to get a call back from Sports Illustrated for their "swimsuit" edition.

They are proud of themselves.  They think are are stylish, and they are able to wear them in public without blushing.


That, for this house, is Modesty in 2014