Modest, Style-Conscious and Frustrated No More
October 11, 2002 6:45 PM   Subscribe

Modest, Style-Conscious and Frustrated No More It's hard to be modest in contemporary America without coming off like a sack-wearing frump, so two moms and Nordstrom teamed up to offer some shockingly non-shocking alternative attire. "All are thrilled with the idea...It's snowballed almost out of control." Might dressing like a hooker go out of style someday?
posted by oissubke (38 comments total)
Thank goodness! Having a young daughter, buying clothes that aren't slutty but still are stylish has been a definite frustration.
posted by Plunge at 7:40 PM on October 11, 2002

ok, so despite the fact that i find the whole mormon/orange county (ca)/nordstroms connection vaguely creepy, i guess this is a good thing(tm)?
i'm having no luck trying to nail down why i find this article so disturbing, other than the what i mentioned in the previous paragraph. is anyone else creeped out by it, or is it just me?
and for some reason, i can't get the image of debbie harry in 'hairspray' out of my mind.
posted by dolface at 7:53 PM on October 11, 2002

There are reasons other than religious to be a little put off by the whole bare-midriff-pierced-navel-hiphugger brigade. Like aesthetics for instance. I may be in the minority of American men but I don't find that look sexy at all. It sort of gives me the creeps frankly. Mind you, I believe people should dress however they want, and I'm the furthest thing from a prude(I have no problem with the exposed human body).

I just think that the current fashions are just old cliche's really:faux-innocent schoolgirl, femme fatale etc. which is just more bullshit you ask me. A freindly face and naturalness is what's truly attractive, the rest is just artifice.
posted by jonmc at 8:00 PM on October 11, 2002

Might dressing like a hooker go out of style someday?

Well, I hope not! How else am I to be entertained when compelled to go grocery shopping?

Still, the law should allow for Tazar zapping lumpy people wearing tight-fitting or revealing clothing. especially in grocery stores, because it so turns my stomach that I can no longer think about food.

More importantly, why aren't there better looking clothes for older women? Seems once a woman passes the age of 45 or 50 she's compelled to dress like, well, a Mormon.
posted by Ayn Marx at 8:09 PM on October 11, 2002

"Slut! Look at her, all over him. Is she even wearing a bra? God, anyone can tell what's on her mind... what is she, a nympho?" [article]

Yes dolface it's full of creep. I think it's oppressive, destructive, and backwards. I'm so happy my mother understood what it felt like to be a teenage girl.

I can't remember the last time I called a guy a slut, hooker, or whore based on his attire.
posted by oh posey at 8:11 PM on October 11, 2002

I can't remember the last time I called a guy a slut, hooker, or whore based on his attire.

I wouldn't assume those things about a woman from her clothes either. I just find the look a little off-putting. FWIW, I find men who egt all peacocky with hairgel, cologne, jewelry, bodybuilding and the like a bit weird too. My grunge pals used to ahve a word for people like that of both genders--poodles.
posted by jonmc at 8:17 PM on October 11, 2002

ok, so despite the fact that i find the whole mormon/orange county (ca)/nordstroms connection vaguely creepy....

In case anyone else was wondering about it, I'm Mormon, so I happen to find many of my postworthy articles in while I'm reading my "Mormon-y" news sites. I'm not trying to proselytize, that's just where I happen to stumble across the occasional interesting story. :-)
posted by oissubke at 9:20 PM on October 11, 2002

In case anyone else was wondering about it, I'm Mormon

oissubke, people of faith confuse me, orange county flat-out terrifies me, and i'm not quite sure what nordstroms does to me, but it's horrible.
i hope -- and you didn't imply it, but i wanted to be clear -- that you didn't take my post as an attack on your faith.
posted by dolface at 9:39 PM on October 11, 2002

I'm just glad I'm not a teenage girl today. If you're not one of the girls who likes to wear the big baggy pants and hoodies, there is nothing out there for teen girls that is what I consider remotely decent.

By the way, I'm not a member of any conservative religious group. I'm just a very modest young person (24) who is sick and tired of skanky clothing.
posted by Electric Elf at 9:41 PM on October 11, 2002

i hope -- and you didn't imply it, but i wanted to be clear -- that you didn't take my post as an attack on your faith.

No worries. I know what you meant, I was just making the usual Mormon disclaimer. It's a reflex!
posted by oissubke at 9:48 PM on October 11, 2002

I wish the article included some photos. Couldn't find any of Nordstrom's offerings, but there is a picture at the top of this petition, and here is another article on the same subject.
posted by whatnot at 10:04 PM on October 11, 2002

I'd also like to see some pictures of the dresses.

It'd also be nice if they'd expand the line to include "tweens". If I see one more 12 year old in heels and a sparkly mini-tee.....
posted by Salmonberry at 10:08 PM on October 11, 2002

"If you have got it, flaunt it." How often have you heard that said to justify dressing provocatively ? It is sad to see how women had been totally misguided by that cliche to the point of abandoning good taste in their apparel adventure. While that saying has engendered an international fashion culture of "less is glamour / hip / fun / etc." and thus become some sort of a compass point of fashion & style in modern societies, it does not point you to an admirable dress sense. Similarly, a conservative dressing style does not mean having to sacrifice any of the sought-after qualities of glamour, elegance, poise and sartorial smartness. Thankfully, the choices are out there and fashion, as fickle as it ever has been, will , hopefully, never abandon modesty.
posted by taratan at 11:10 PM on October 11, 2002

When I was a teenage girl (late 80s - early 90s), the big shocking fashion statement for prom was wearing a *gasp* strapless dress. It was almost impossible to find anything with sleeves!

The shocking prom dresses of that era look like nun's habits compared to what you can find today.

And if you're a fuller-figured teenage girl, you can just forget it as far as finding something non-matronly.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:25 PM on October 11, 2002

"You're not quite an adult women, but you don't want to look like a little girl."

"Maybe the whole feminine, softer look could become a style as the antithesis of the whole Britney Spears trend," said Metchek of the California Fashion Assn.

But...but...that's what Britney's been trying to tell us!

That said, I think this is a wonderful development.
posted by hippugeek at 12:40 AM on October 12, 2002

I still don't understand where you're coming from on this dolface.

I'm not a girl, nor a Mormon (or any other religious member for that matter), nor a teenager. What I read in the article was that there are group of people that are dissatisfied with the variety and types of clothing made available to them. A large portion of these people are finding conflict between what their religion asks of them and what mainstream culture is suggesting.

What's so creepy?
posted by Witty at 12:59 AM on October 12, 2002

New from Nordstroms, it's the Stepford line!
posted by damnitkage at 1:28 AM on October 12, 2002

Recently I was going through my mom's attic and I found an old Seventeen magazine from 1980, when I was starting 10th grade. It was really shocking how... well, modest the styles from Autumn 1980 were in comparison to now. Knee-length kilt skirts with clogs, Fair Isle sweaters and little Peter Pan collars. Or the same sweaters with jeans. Not a bare midriff in sight. It was the beginning of the early-80s preppie craze. (4 years later Madonna probably brought bare midriffs into the teen fashion mainstream, I suppose.)

Now, this was the end of the disco phase, so for parties and such, everyone was still wearing those skin-tight pants and Candies high heels that in most other times would be hooker-wear... but still, there just seemed to be a lot less skin than there is in current teen fashion. The contrast really was interesting. Maybe sometime I'll get around to scanning some of the photos.

It doesn't seem like it's been that long, really, but I guess it has.
posted by litlnemo at 2:40 AM on October 12, 2002

This is what's creepy about it: the sources of gender behavior enforcement that prescribe concealing clothing for women are the same ones that prescribe virginity, demureness, quietness, dependence, and passivity. I don't find any of those qualities attractive or even respectable.

Style never goes out of fashion, and sexiness is not just about revealing skin. Winter clothes for example are generally concealing, but they're still easily classifiable as frumpy, sexy, or in-between.

The difference between concealing and revealing clothes is that revealing clothes are only as nice as the body they reveal. Which does not give those with less-than-nice bodies the right to prevent those with nice bodies from showing them off, including through this kind of psychological pressure. Dress to conceal your own flaws and highlight your own advantages, but let others do the same.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:54 AM on October 12, 2002

aeschenkarnos: I think you're reading into it far too much.
posted by Witty at 4:22 AM on October 12, 2002

For a recent school dance, a friend added sleeves to a store-bought dress using decorative ribbons of fabric cut from the back of the garment.

OK, if baring your arms is considered to be dressing like a hooker then I've been touting for business all summer. I think I might have even given a glimpse of midriff once or twice, shame on me. Where do I go for my stoning? However, now winter's coming I think I'll be living in ankle-length skirts, smart trousers and v-neck sweaters.

The truth is that fashion these days gives you the choice to dress how you want. If you want to dress like like a movie-cliche librarian you can. If you want to dress like Britney you can. If you want to dress like a bride of the undead you can. There is choice.

This article, however, is puritanism pure and simple. Showing your arms, your shoulders, your back, your legs or your midriff is not a big deal to me, nor anyone I know. I think if I lived in a place where this was frowned upon I'd feel far more like my sexuality and gender was a problem than otherwise.
posted by Summer at 5:17 AM on October 12, 2002

Look, it's about CHOICE.

I have had to check consignment shops for formals for my girls. Plus a lot of the proms here are really picky about what can and cannot be worn.
When shopping for school clothes, I have had to take them to (shudder) the Misses section-that's the clothing for all us grownup women. The junior section was totally inappropriate for school. And it's not like I want to dress them in burlap either.

My daughters get enough unwanted attention dressed in modest shirts and jeans (both being built like the proverbial brick house.) If they dressed in the clothes that the industry wants to foist on them, they'd be afraid to leave the house.
posted by konolia at 6:57 AM on October 12, 2002

oh posey: very nice article; too bad so few people following your post seem to have read it (or believed the points it made I suppose).
posted by advil at 7:05 AM on October 12, 2002

Wow, I can't believe how so many posters are taking this little news article so personally. When I read it last night, I really didn't have any other thought than, "Gee that's nice...sorta like the movement to offer more stylish clothes to the overweight."

Several posters responded like the fashion police were going to swoop down and start forcing everyone to cover-up, or that the article was implying that it is slutty/unwomanly to dress in the current fashion. That is not it at all. These girls and their mothers feel uncomfortable for personal reasons in baring their midriffs and arms. This arrangement by Nordstrom's just allows them more choices so they aren't forced to sew their own prom dresses.

I have to admit to being dismayed when my daughter moved up from the little girls sizes into the pre-teen. The clothes went from soft, warm colors and child-like fashions to hard, garish colors and miniature grown woman styles. Hot pink T-shirts with glitter writing that say "sex kitten" are not appropriate for 8 year olds.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:35 AM on October 12, 2002

Recently I was going through my mom's attic and I found an old Seventeen magazine from 1980...It was really shocking how... well, modest the styles from Autumn 1980 were in comparison to now.

back when i was in grade 11, the height of fashion for teens was downright amish and if you didn't adhere to the fashion rules you were an outcast. is it any wonder by grade 12 that i shaved my hair into a mohawk and started wearing combat boots, too-tight ripped tshirts and purposely demolished plaid pants that were featured in 17...?

the best thing about the last 2 decades is you can ignore the current styles and do your own thing without being considered a freak, but my heart goes out to parents who go into the stores and have little choice but to dress their children like hookers. a lot of the kid's clothing i see often makes me wonder if the children's clothing industry isn't run by pedophiles.

yes it's on the demented side to think bare arms are scandalous, but there is a larger kid's fashion issue beyond mormons and this particular article.
posted by t r a c y at 8:07 AM on October 12, 2002

And, of course, this movement by the parents is such a big help to the school because _noone_ would think twice about dropping the sort of money you need to spend to get a new wordrobe from Nordstrom's, right?

Why wasn't the article entitled, "Rich parents convince expensive store to carry their taste in overpriced clothing" ?
posted by deanc at 9:22 AM on October 12, 2002

Witty, i think that aeschenkarnos has hit it.
the whole subtext of 'young women should be passive and modest' has an unpleasant 'feminine mystique' feel to it that gives me the willies.
posted by dolface at 9:23 AM on October 12, 2002

orange county flat-out terrifies me

I'm sitting right now about at the dead center of orange county, and things seem pretty normal. Not much of the 'young women should be passive and modest' type thing. Were you talking about that movie 'orange county?'
posted by shoos at 10:03 AM on October 12, 2002

you'd think the article would have a few pictures of these wonderful creations? maybe they're not that great?
posted by jasontromm at 10:45 AM on October 12, 2002

While I'm hardly a fan of the sexy-kid fashions, I'm a bit confused by what the people in the article want. If the current trend is hooker-clothes, how can you make non-hooker clothes that keep up with the trends? So perhaps its just a plea for well-made modest clothes? That seems fair.

On the other hand, showing skin does not mean your dressed like a slut. I wore my first sari at age 16. Plenty of midriff glimpses, AND my blouse was sleeveless. I've never felt so confident and elegant, and my grandmother seemed to approve - she was wearing one too
posted by synapse at 10:46 AM on October 12, 2002

mmf. that should be "you're dressed", not "your"
posted by synapse at 10:47 AM on October 12, 2002

The current trend is to dress your little ones like a Britney Spears look alike. Some folks would rather not have their young daughters dressing like her. I'm one of those. Luckily for me, the area I live has alternatives.

I am a bit disturbed by some of the comments here though. Personally, I've always thought of modesty and virginity as a virtue in both men and women. I can't find anything there that denotes submissiveness. I have a wife that is an expert at TaeKwonDo and is learning kick boxing. To her, modesty, politeness, virginity and a score of other virtues are quite important. I defy anyone to find her in the least bit "submissive" or "passive" though.
posted by Plunge at 11:16 AM on October 12, 2002

I don't see how dressing modestly is a symbol of passivity and oppression. I also don't see where sexualizing female children by dressing them provocatively is a symbol of freedom and liberation, either.

Tastelessly provocative clothing sends a different kind of message than tastefully modest clothing. Women and girls who want to be taken seriously, as something other than throwaway sex toys, need to take that under consideration.
posted by filifera at 11:28 AM on October 12, 2002

Tastelessly provocative clothing sends a different kind of message than tastefully modest clothing. Women and girls who want to be taken seriously, as something other than throwaway sex toys, need to take that under consideration.

Well said. The attractiveness of immodesty is a cultural norm, and I think we might reach the point where people say "Enough already" and go back to wearing clothes designed for actually covering things.
posted by oissubke at 12:04 PM on October 12, 2002

shoos, i was talking primarily about the high concentration of politcal conservatives, christian fundamentalists of one stripe or another, gated communities, and megamalls.
yes, i am generalizing, but i also don't live there, so general impressions from the time i've spent there are all i have to go on.
i apologize if i'm completely off-base here.
posted by dolface at 12:34 PM on October 12, 2002

The original LA Times story has a photo of a couple of girls trying on the dresses.
posted by mediareport at 1:57 PM on October 12, 2002

Here's another photo from a Brigham Young U modesty fashion show. I did a little digging and found these: Modest and "temple-appropriate" wedding and prom fashions from Millenial Sun (scroll down here for my fave, bottom right). And here are a few sample dresses from ModestbyDesign - "clothing your Father would approve of."

There's a lot more at this modest clothing Web portal, conveniently sorted into Latter-Day, Islamic, Jewish, African, South Asian and other categories. Sadly, none of them have anything I can wear to the fetish party next weekend. It's so difficult to find quality immodest clothing these days.
posted by mediareport at 2:36 PM on October 12, 2002

Funny, every one of my friends are young and female, yet somehow, none of them seem to have any problem finding modest yet alternative clothing to wear. It almost seems like perhaps this issue is being exagg—

Pardon? What was that? Oh, of course! Naturally, since their clothing does not come from a "line" by a major department store conveniently situated in your nearest McMall, it doesn't count. How silly of me.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:32 AM on October 14, 2002

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