Before these days of modest fashion, modest dressers found lots of obstacles to dressing modestly and fashionably. Today, there are so many great clothing lines that either choose to make modest clothing by design or create modest items in
their general collection that coincidentally flow with the fashion trends. These trends have helped the modest modern dresser, but there will always be certain issues the modern, modest woman will have to deal with.
Here are some of our most annoying or funny challenges that we find in dressing modestly. We would love to hear some of your daily hurdles in dressing modestly!
One small piece of the storm surrounding Harvey Weinstein has been a resurgence of the question of whether modest clothing prevents rape. Mayim Bialik brought the issue back to the limelight when she wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times. In it, she implied that she had never been assaulted because “I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy.” (She later retracted that implication on Twitter.)
It shouldn’t need saying, but modest clothing doesn’t reduce sexual assault. If it did, there wouldn’t be any assaults against burka-wearing Muslim women or long-skirted and cloaked Jewish women.
Brands like ours certainly disprove Mayim’s implication that dressing modestly is less attractive. There are so many great fashion lines out there that put effort into making modest dressing women feel beautiful. Just cast an eye over the huge stable of fashion bloggers who pull together amazing outfits from the modest pieces that are in regular fashion stores.
But it’s possible that modest dressing can make a difference to sexual assault, just not the way you might think.
It’s not about the clothes.
It’s about the mindset.
Women who’ve chosen to dress modestly generally feel more self-confident. They project an aura of assertiveness, of feeling comfortable in their skin. Contrary to popular myth, modest-dressers are not just victims of patriarchal brainwashing, nor are they ashamed of their bodies or scared of being assaulted.
One example of the power of covering up comes from looking at how powerful women dress. Check out how much skin is shown by female CEOs, politicians and other important women. The more power you have, the less skin you show.
Psychologists hold that sexual assault isn’t about sex. It’s about power. Choosing to dress modestly takes back the power into women’s own hands.
Note that the key word here is choice. This fascinating video shows a Muslim woman liberated from ISIS in Raqqa ripping off the abaya she was forced to wear to reveal equally modest clothing beneath. She wasn’t objecting to wearing modest clothing; she objected to the modest clothing she was forced to wear. It’s the modest clothing we choose that empowers us.
Modest clothing sends a clear message that this woman is not a man’s plaything, eye candy or entertainment. The aura of confidence that surrounds modest dressing women might just deter a number of men who, like all bullies, feel free to cat-call, comment or grab at an easy target.
That moment when you grab one too many things in your hands, the first being your coffee, but also the closest to your nicely laundered white shirt! Or, you decide to just do the dishes quickly before running out to that meeting and that fateful splash on your silk blouse…
Those dreaded surprise stains are NOT created equally and therefore should not be treated equally. For anyone that still enjoys wearing white, here are some stain busting solutions for all the different kinds of stains imaginable.
Two important and general rules for ALL stains…
The earlier you catch the stain, the better! If you are out and don’t happen to carry around one of those Tide pens or Shout wipes, the best thing to do is wet the stain with water or an ice cube is better, just to keep it from completely setting into the fibers of your clothing. Be sure to dab as rubbing can also speed up the damage.
Secondly, when it does come time to wash the stained clothing item, check the wet laundry to be sure the stain is gone, putting the washed item with a stain in it will often ‘seal the deal’. Pretreat the stubborn stain and try it in the washing machine before drying.
It’s important to classify your stain into one of these categories so you can have the best chance at treating the stain. For the purpose of this article, the categories that stains fall into are dye stains, protein stains, combination stains, dairy product stains, fruit and fruit juice stains, grass stains, mud stains and of course…coffee stains.
Dye and coffee stains are best treated by running them under very cold water and then wash the item in the machine using the hottest setting that is still safe for the fabric. If that doesn’t work then try the dry cleaner and remember to do this all before drying the article of clothing.
Protein stains like vomit, sweat, and blood are best treated with an alkaline stain removal solution. Most detergents have alkaline components like sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, and these are ideal for attacking these organic types’ stains.
Combination stains are things like makeup or sauces that may have components of both dye and protein stains. The best results come from spot treating with detergent directly on the stain, washing it out spot treating with a stain spray or stick and laundering in the wash as usual.
Dairy or rocky road ice cream 😉 stains are protein stains in nature because they are natural. Soak fresh stains in cold water and even agitate them if you can. If you are dealing with a dried stain, brush off any crusted matter and soak for several hours in a detergent or an enzyme presoak (which is least suggestable due to potential allergies). Launder in warm water and if the stain remains, soak for another 30 minutes and rewash.
Fruit stains are a dye stain but they also have the added component of sugar and if that is not removed completely you could end up with a dash of crème Brulee when added to the heat of the dryer. To ensure you’ve cleaned it thoroughly, wash it in the hottest water possible with detergent but AVOID soap based products as they can make the stain permanent. Old or set fruit stains may require a fabric safe form of bleach.
Grass stains are a dye stain and should, therefore, be treated with laundry product and cool water. Hot water can cause the stain to set and make it very difficult to remove! A laundry product with enzymes will also attack the stain but again, unless your laundry detergent has it included its best to avoid pure enzymes.
Mud stains are considered a protein stain and the most positive results come from letting the stain dry, removing the soil and soaking for 15 minutes in a solution of:
1 TBS white vinegar
1 tsp liquid dish detergent
1 quart of warm water
If the stain does not seem to budge, dab with rubbing alcohol and rinse multiple times with clear water. Wash in warm water and repeat if the stain does not come out.
Lastly, fighting the fateful coffee stains. Because coffee stains often come with dairy in it, you need to treat it as a dye stain with a protein stain combination. If the stain is fresh immediately rinse with cold water if you are able to remove and add laundry detergent, rub it with cold water. Afterwards, its best to soak for 30 minutes, with agitation every 5-10 minutes. Lastly, wash the clothing on the hottest setting possible and like every other item, be sure to check before throwing it in the dryer. If the stain has not left, repeat the steps above.
Happy cleaning and if you really want to be safe, borrow a bib from your nearest baby or toddler because the reality is life happens and all those stains and spills are proof we’re living.
In talking about modesty and the choice people make to dress modestly, there are various reasons that people cite as their impetus to dress modestly. A very common one is religious beliefs. Through the many different religions or spiritual value systems, dressing modestly is about uplifting yourself to higher spiritual realms and lessening one’s dependence on the physical world. However, it is very interesting how religions define their own guidelines. Comparing Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism, we have found many similarities as is expected, but also a few differences. Where do these differences come from? How do people reconcile these differences?
Buddhism dictates that dressing modestly is a purifying quality for everyone, not just for monks. The guidelines of Buddhist dress is less focused on the physical requirements and more on the type of clothing. The cloth should be simple, undyed fabrics that wrap around the body and do not fasten or have buttons but rather are knotted. In the Buddhist religion, the clothing should mainly represent that one is peaceful, restrained, committed to the holy life and is harmless to all beings.
In Christianity, because there are so many sects the dress code can change from suggestive to strongly enforced with clear guidelines. In general, the Christian stance towards modest dress is to pay attention to the clothing you choose because your clothing should cover your body, not reveal or imply the shape of your body. Clothing should not be worn to draw attention but to rather dissuade the focus on the physical body and encourage the inner beauty to become apparent. There are sects that suggest physical markers as modest, such as covering one’s shoulders and upper arm, wearing skirts or shorts to at least knee length and avoiding shirts with low necklines. These qualifiers help identify an idea of modest dress for a Christian.
Hinduism has taken similar modest concepts as other religions but much of the way Hindu’s dress today is affected by factors such as class, geographic location, and political influence. Over time, the standards of modern dress have fluctuated and therefore the dress that is most iconic to Hindu religion is the Sari, worn by women and the Dhoti, worn by men. These two items mainly cover the legs, shoulders and a piece of the cloth that wraps around the midriff, although may sometimes show parts of the waist. The emphasis here is put on the cloth covering up the body as a symbol of grace. Again, an example of how modest dress is defined by a value system with strong cultural influences.
In the Muslim religion, as in many other religions, the stringency of modest dress varies between communities or enclaves of practicing Muslims. The dress code can be very stringent as with the Naqib, the headdress that covers the face to the Hijab, which only covers the hair and part of the face. Both worn by women in an effort to avoid drawing attention and because the prophet Muhammad instructed his people to draw their head coverings over their chest. This instruction explains the length of the cloth that is used to cover them. In Islam, there is also a standard expected of men to keep themselves covered from their navel to their knees, but even a shirtless man would be seen as inappropriate in many situations and looked down by his fellows. All these restrictions are made in the same effort, to remove the apparent emphasis on physicality and create an environment of spiritual growth.
The last example, although indeed there are more, is Judaism. In stricter Orthodox or Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, there is an outline for the standards of modest dress from which within a wide range of standards exist. For women, it involves wearing shirts from the collarbone to the elbow, and for the lower half, only skirts are allowed and they must be from below the knee to the ankle. The men also are expected to dress in shirts with pants and some communities even expect a suit Jacket to be worn with a hat. Modern Orthodoxy, has more relaxed definition which reflect more of a spirit of modesty rather than strictly defined guidelines.
These expectations of dressing modestly are all just an attempt to create something tangible. The goal, of course, is to elevate oneself through the seeking of a spiritual life. In addition to the spiritual aspect, it can help to create stronger bonds between man and his(her) fellow, developing relationships based on internal beauty versus external beauty.
There is no doubt these guidelines are not true for everyone in every religion, there are variations and personal choices people make in how to follow each guideline. Surely, we have failed to mention certain religions that have modest dress ‘rules’ but this piece is just to offer some insight into the similarities and the differences. Feel free to share the standards you follow in your religion below.
While we were all minding our own business, reminding ourselves the beauty of dressing modestly and searching for strictly air conditioned summer activities, a mini online war broke out. Best of all it’s all based on the crucial, but apparently controversial topic of modest clothing. An article appeared on forward.com by Michelle Honig, citing the critical and necessary stand modest women must take against the layering top or ‘shell’ as it is often referred to.
Michelle Honig strongly stated that “It makes everyone’s arms (including fit women) look like ten-pounds of sausage meat stuffed into a five-pound casing”. After looking down at my arm to make sure I was not offending anyone with my meat sausages…I continued reading and felt, oh gosh, that is some serious hostility. Michelle goes on to provide a history lesson about the ever-popular brand of layering tops, KikiRiki, and how the essence of the company and their goals have no trace of modesty. While I understand the importance of the origin of the things we wear, especially when our fashion choices make a big statement about our modest values, I still felt it was over bearing. Needless to say, the layering top provides a real solution to women who choose to show less skin but still want to wear more than a high collared, buttoned striped shirt!
Apparently, I was not the only who felt attacked by this article because suddenly there were multiple writers and bloggers who were beginning to respond to this layering top boycott. After reading a few of these, on both sides of the argument, it felt like regular, yet silly, internet fodder. Then an article came across the screen and one paragraph caught my attention, Daniella Levy writes:
“But there’s a reason why I often find myself layering my clothes, and it’s very simple: I don’t have a choice. The women’s fashion industry seems to be built on the rule that a certain percentage of skin needs to be showing no matter what. When 3/4-length sleeves are in fashion — necklines plunge. When long skirts are in fashion — so are sleeveless tops. And if God forbid, by some accident, fashion designers find themselves offering a piece that has both 3/4-length sleeves and a decent neckline — you can bet your (modest) britches that they’ll cut out the entire back. In a final act of desperation, they might even snip those hideous slits into the side, just to fill the skin-showing quota.”
That’s exactly it.
Women who choose to dress modestly today are left with very little choice and so they make the best out of it. It may be an easy backup, but it’s definitely not a response to a male ordained set of guidelines. Any women that dresses modestly can assure you that adding an extra layer under most of your shirts is their choice and it is not one they take lightly.
How do you use your layering top? Is it a ‘must have’ for you or a ‘have no choice’ wardrobe piece?