If you head over to either my Facebook page or my Instagram feed, you’ll probably notice two things. First, you are probably wondering what that thing on my head is (it’s called a tichel, and that’s in the next blog post), and you’ll notice I’m a modest dresser. Specifically, I wear only longer skirts or dresses.
You’ll probably also notice that this didn’t start to happen until about a year and a half ago. So why the change?
Growing up, I loved dressing up. I loved all things girly. I was a full on twirly dress, white tights, little purse carrying darling (okay, maybe not exactly a darling, but you catch my drift). Which, when you’re little, is totally fine.
But as I grew older, it was expected that I wear pants. And bikinis. And short shorts. And low cut tops. And midriff tops. Not just by society- because let’s face it, that’s what we subconsciously portray to our female population- but by my friends and family too.
Now, let me stop right here and make one thing VERY clear. I am, in absolutely no way shape or form, judging anyone for their style of dress. If you want to rock that mini skirt, halter top, or anything else you love, go right ahead. I’m betting there’s even times where I will love those outfit choices… on you. This whole modest dress thing is only specifically for me. It’s a journey I’m on, something that’s important to me. But I’m also not going to force my ideals on anyone or try to change any one person’s way of dressing. This is something that is extremely personal, and while this is my story, I would never judge a person for their fashion choices. Be it they are wearing an abaya with a full hijab and niqab, or they are rocking a plus size bikini, I’m going to appreciate it all. Basically, what I’m saying here, is you do you, boo. Because that’s exactly what I’m doing for myself.
I guess you could say that the choice to start dressing modestly coincided with the decision between Brian and I to have a more traditional marriage. I know, you’re rolling your eyes and thinking I’m so old fashioned. But it is what works for us. Having a marriage based on Ephesians 5:22-33 and Titus 2:3-5 just fit for us, for more reasons than I can explain here. I’ll be doing a blog post at some point on having a more traditional marriage and why I believe it fits in with feminism, don’t you worry.
My family was not really supportive with us having such a relationship; they have a more progressive mindset, and believe that the only feminist choice was their version of feminism. I felt ridiculed and disrespected for my choice. They couldn’t- or more like wouldn’t- try to understand why I wanted to return to a helpmeet type of role in my marriage. It certainly put a lot of pressure on Brian and myself, that’s for sure, and tested the limits and boundaries of our new guidelines. This also included my change towards modest dress. Their beliefs and comments are partly why I had previously only worn dresses and skirts on special occasions and holidays.
A few years into our marriage, I told Brian I felt called to dress modestly, wearing only dresses and skirts. There’s many reasons I wanted to go this path- faith, comfort, ease of style, how I feel dressing this way, and many others. I also felt it helped me to be a better helpmeet to Brian. Brian has always been 100% supportive of this decision; I’m extremely blessed.
So we bought some longer skirts, and found a few jumpers at Goodwill. I was so excited to make this change! Brian even found this amazing little store called Katie’s Mercantile that sells modest clothing- cape dresses, jumpers, skirts, all handmade by the local Amish women. He ordered me two jumpers and surprised me with them. I was so happy to have his support and to make this change.
The day I wore my first jumper out and about, we went to Costco. And we ran into my mother. In the electronics aisle, for all to hear, my mother sneered at my dress and asked, “What are you, Fairy on the Prairie?” (For those who don’t know, that was a joke about Little House on the Prairie TV show when it first came out), rolled her eyes and snickered, and walked away. I was mortified- everyone had indeed heard, and was staring. I was in tears, and begged Brian for us to leave. When we got home, I hung up the jumpers and dresses and long skirts in the back of my closet and didn’t look or touch them for years.
But in the back of mind, there was always this nagging feeling. This voice whispering that I needed to do more in terms of modest dress. I’ll be honest- I have absolutely no idea where or how that little voice came from. I didn’t have a fundamentalist style upbringing; we belong to a more mainline church denomination. But the pressure I felt on my heart- quite literally, a calling from God- couldn’t be ignored.
After events that lead us to cut the relationship with my mother and others in our life who were toxic, I thought long and hard about those jumpers. And I knew it was time.
So, a little less than 2 years ago, I started dressing modestly again. And the peace I felt in my heart simply cannot be explained in words. I was finally content with how I looked. Brian will readily admit that he did not expect me to keep up with dressing modestly in dresses and skirts, nor did he think I would keep with head covering. But I have, and he couldn’t be more proud of the commitment I’ve made.
What are some reasons I decided to go this path? When I put that jumper on for the first time, I felt pretty and feminine. I felt old fashioned (which I love; Brian always says I was born 150 years too late!). I didn’t feel the pressure to continuously stay up to date on the fashion trends. I didn’t feel ridicule because I didn’t have the big brand name clothes (something I experienced quite a bit of in middle and high school). Dressing this way has given me a constant reminder to be a more gentle, loving wife and mother. It sends a message to others that I am Christian by the way I dress, which in turn reminds me that I need to not just proclaim Christianity but also live it out in my daily life. Hearing my son tell me I look pretty in a certain dress, or get excited cause I’m wearing his favorite skirt and top combination… well, it makes my mother’s heart smile in ways no other thing can.
When all those pros combine, dressing modestly has been a huge blessing in my life. Is it for everyone? Of course not. And don’t get me wrong- there are certain days and times where I wear pants (outdoor activities, snow days). There are days that, if my hand is hurting too much, I don’t wrap or I use a ball cap or bandana. I still go swimming, though I wear a one piece with a higher neck and workout leggings (more for protection so I don’t flare from the rushing water). This isn’t an all or nothing story, for sure. I know this is about my individual journey. But when the Lord impresses something upon your heart and opens your eyes to His will, ignoring it is nigh impossible. And most certainly, the pros outweigh the cons on this matter.
If you’re considering a change towards modest dress, I encourage you to remember two things. One, do not feel pressured to go one path or another by anyone; make the choice based on what’s right for you. Two, people who truly love you love you for your countenance and personality; they could care less about what clothes you’re wearing. If you’re leaning towards modest dress, make the change because you feel called, not because you’re trying to impress anyone. If you do this for the right reasons, it can have a wonderfully positive effect on your entire life.
If you have made the change to modest dress, in what ways did you change? Are there still things you wear from before? What are your “rules” regarding clothes you do wear? Does your family encourage or support you? I’d love to hear about your journey as well!