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?


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