Monday, August 16, 2010

Finished Wrapper and Thoughts on Modesty

For my dear readers who have so patiently endured the construction posts detailing the making of this garment, I thank you for your longsuffering. The wrapper is done - except the petticoat, but it is totally wearable as-is with plain petticoats - and, until I decide I need to make another one, you will hear of the wrapper no more. At least, potentially. :)
However, this will not be just a wrapper-post. I will get into the dangerous waters of talking about modesty. I don’t want to talk about it but feel that I ought to since, it seems, more often lately, I have heard from ladies and young ladies who admire modest attire and take it for granted that I am a modestly dressed person. For the past few months I have felt very hypocritical about allowing such things to be thought - because, the truth is, I don’t believe, per se, in “modesty”.

I *used* to. Oh yes, for many years I draped myself in long, dark clothes which slowly crept into historic fashion, which I totally fell in love with. My mother was concerned at the time because she thought I was becoming legalistic. I thought I wasn’t - but I was. In my late teens I was so judgemental and critical of others who did not have the same standards of dress that I did. The Lord is so gracious, and thankfully has shown me, gently, that my ways are not His ways. . .and He leads everyone according to His plan for them. My clothes are my own matters. Other people’s clothes are their own matters. I have enough to do trying to run my own life. Other people have enough to do running their own lives!

When I went to college at age 18, I wore “weird” clothes. They probably would be considered modest by most modern day people, but I didn’t really wear them *because* they were modest. It was because I thought they were pretty, a little different and it was what I liked. I experienced some snobbery from other “modestly” dressed girls, who usually had cliques and little sub-groups. I felt they didn't like me or accept me because I didn't wear what they did - jean skirts with slits in the back or sides, polo shirts and the latest in runniing shoes. My gunne sax dresses, lacey shawls and granny boots condemned me to other "black sheep" - who were, in fact, some of the most interesting people I've ever known. I felt an outcast. One person who was always very nice and pleasant was a girl with dreadlocks and who dressed in Goth style clothing. I never knew her name, but we chatted in the bathroom or the halls and smiled and nodded when we’d pass each other on the way to classes. She told me she liked the way I dressed and often asked about different skirts I wore or a long green coat I patterned and made. My best girl friend in college was Joyce, who never wore skirts or dresses. In fact, on the last day of class she said she’d wear a skirt if I wore trousers (since she had never seen me in pants!) so we did. :)

I could go on and on with similar experiences - but in the end, I realized that trying to be modest was not for me because it automaticaly made me have a bad attitude towards those who were not dressed as I thought they should be. My own thoughts of modesty set a standard I thought everyone should adhere to! So now I just dress in what works for me and how I feel God wants *me* to dress. And *for me*. I have come to the conclusion that what is right *for me* is probably not just right for everyone else. Look at the idea of modesty. For some it means to be clad head to toe in long, loose garments with head coverings and thick dark stockings and shoes. For others, a long denim skirt and a comfortably loose t-shirt does the trick. For others, a knee-length skirt or even trousers is enough to make them feel comfortable. Other girls like to wear short-shorts and cropped tops. And everyone in these cases may feel they are dressed comfortable, attractively and appropriately. Will they all agree with each other? Probably most definitely not! But they have chosen what they feel is the best choice for themselves, for whatever reasons or standards they have.
I like long skirts. I like clothes that do not emphasize every roll or bump. I like historic fashion. Okay. I LOVE historic fashion!! So that is what influences my clothing choices. Is my clothing “modest”? To me, it is. But I prefer not to use the word “modest” since it really has no set meaning that is the same for each person. And historic fashion is not necessarily modest. In fact, almost ever fashion era I've studied emphasizes the female form which many do not consider to be modest. Women "back then" wanted to appear attractive and desirable. Human nature has not changed with the years.  My mother told me several times about how she thought regency gowns could be immodest because they emphasize the bosom, and how 1860's styles could be considered immodest because they are so tightly fitted through the bodice. And - her observations are totally right.
So yesterday I wore my wrapper in public, to several stores and to a park where we picnicked and walked around. It was fun, I felt comfortable and I found out that yes, a supportive undergarment of some kind is necessary with this. :P

And a girl with short shorts told me she liked it. :)




  1. I have serious lust for this wrapper. ;)!!

  2. Hello friend! Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog! :) I am glad you wrote this post!

    I find my greatest joy in beautiful clothes and dresses. I don't think one has to wear skirts and dresses to be modest (I am the only one in my extended family!) I do believe it does come down to what you feel comfortable with - what you feel is right for yourself. I wear skirts and dresses as I feel more feminine and because I feel it pleases the Lord. My husband loves it and my girls enjoy being girly. On that site I was judged by them saying I was wearing Regency dresses to shun to world - when in fact (though I do believe in modesty) I enjoy wearing historical clothes! I would wear from all Era's - but for being pregnant at the moment, it is what I can fit in. :)

    I am so sorry you were mentioned on that site. :( It's a shame and quite ridiculous to spend so much time on someone and say such untrue things! I was shocked at my accusations - all untrue!!

    Sending hugs your way! Your new dress is absolutely beautiful!

  3. Emily, you are one of the most beautiful people I know - truly beautiful, inside and out, and what disgusted me most about the site you shared, that is criticizing and gossiping about us, is that they deliberately take the things that are said and twist them to fit whatever they want them to be. It's sad, petty and immature.

    You are so obviously NOT what they have mentioned. . .you are setting a beautiful example of Christian womanhood. I admire you tremendously!

    Some groups ARE legalistic and they are just as critical and judgemental as liberal extremists. . .and I hate it when we are grouped with people like that, whether it be those kinds of people thinking we are "one of them" or the liberals thinking we are totally out there because of how we dress and live.

    I have experiened some snobbish comaradeie lately from women both on line and local, who think that because I wear dresses I automatically want to talk badly about people who don't.'s so sad. Both extremes are in need of GOd's loving guidance. :(

    I'm thankful for your example of being willing to stand apart and be YOURSELF - not conforming to "modesty" because it gets you in a group or because you find an indentity because of it, but beause you feel it is how God wants you to be at this time of your life! Thank you Emily for your example and your lovely blog. I find such inspiration from you!

  4. Thank you for your insight, Sarah.
    Modesty always seems to spark an interesting discussion.

    I've observed over the years that people who make any kind of "Christian" claims, but are judgemental, are only really giving lip service. They haven't truly given their hearts over to the Lord and allowed Him to mold and shape them. They've grasped a "banner" they could wave and beat others over the head with.

    How often we strive to perfect ourselves instead of submitting to God and allowing Him to do the work in us. When we've taken up a Christian principle and accepted the Lord's healing, love, correction, and teaching in that area, we will walk in maturity, peace, and compassion. This is why the Word says to "judge them by their fruits". When we find people who are judgemental, cliquish, snobby, gossipers, we'll know to pray for them and steer clear of their input in our lives. The opposite is also true. When we find those who don't boast about their righteousness and achievements, but walk in humility and peace, its time to seek out their company. We may learn and grow by watching their example.

    I tell my daughter that her manner of dress will not cover up an unclean heart and an ugly attitude. She has become a lovely example of inner beauty and compassion. But, she doesn't fit many people's "standards" of modest dress and struggles with judgemental comments. Her dress is, to her father and I, modest and lovely. Her journey continues and we will encourage her along the way. As she grows in maturity and learning to walk in the Peace of God, I'm confident she will be able to shed the pull to fit in.


    P.S....This is a gorgeous dress. I love the stripes.

  5. Thank you for sharing Miss Heidi.

    I was so apprehensive about posting anything about modesty because I didn't want to say anything that may sound judgemental towards others. . .having been on the total OPPOSITE side before! :P

    I owe it to God and to my husband for helping me realize just how judgemental I was.

    The Lord has really been impressing on me that I need to set my sights on HIM only. He is faithful, and will never ever lead us in a wrong path. This truth is valid for all areas of life. . .from marriage to jobs to living locations to how to dress!If I take my eyes off of Him, I can get distressed and occupied by other people's live and what they do/what they do not do and that is wrong.

    It all comes down to a simple matter of "minding ones own business" and keeping ones' eyes "fixed on Jesus". How He leads others is not for us to decide. He knows what He is about. :)

  6. I thank God I was born when I was, because I was extremely modest growing up. I couldn't even go to the beach without wearing a tee shirt and shorts over my swim suit. I couldn't stand the thought of any cleavage at ALL peeking out of my suit. And my suits were of course, the 'old lady' style, never a bikini. The tee shirt and shorts were always more stylish than my suit anyway...a good coverup.

    Back in the 70's/80's it wasn't hard to cover up without looking out of style.

    But now? I recently attended a middle school graduation, and I'd say that 80% of the young ladies looked like 'hookers'. Halter dresses with skirts up to their rears, pairing them with what I like to call 'porn shoes', you know, with platforms and stilleto heels 6 inches high. Anything that could hang out was hanging out. I thought it was very sad, that these young girls feel they have to dress this way to fit in. I'd never have survived socially if I were a teenager today.

    While generally, I could care less what other people wear...the stuff I see on 'respectable' girls today one only saw on streetwalkers once upon a time. In fact, yesterday while driving down a major boulevard known as 'hooker alley'...I said to my husband, "how do the jons know who to approach anymore?"

  7. What I'd like to know is, how fashion got to be the extreme level it is at today. I agree that todays fashions do scream "Look at me! I'm a sex object!" which is why, for the most part, I don't wear them. In fact, I don't even really know what is in fashion anymore!

    I wonder though. . .if fashion made a change to feminine dresses, more "covering" styles, how many girls would wear them if that was the "in" thing to do? I have noticed more vintage inspired dresses in the stores recently and more and more girls wearing dresses/skirts (even if they are shorter than what I personally would wear) this summer.

    Whoever is in charge of "fashion" ought to take some inspiration from history instead of porn magazines. :P

    It's been amazing how many girls who are otherwise dressed scantily will come up to me and tell me they like what I'm wearing. And they have been REALLY NICE girls too. And here I am, thinking they will consider me frumpy and ridiculous!

    Maybe most girls and woman have a desire to dress prettily and in feminine, lovely clothing, but feel stuck because of what the stores offer and because of what fashion dictates is necessary to be "accepted". :(

  8. Sarah, I think you are right that most girls dress the way they do because "everyone is doing it" and not because they are necessarily comfortable wearing such clothes. I know several young teens who feel exposed and uncomfortable in the more revealing fashions, but because all their friends - or all the popular girls at school - are wearing such clothes - and because their parents in most cases won't put their foot down and refuse to let them out of the house - they suffer for the sake of fitting in. It's sad.

    When I was in high school I went through a couple stages: I had my legalistic stage when I wore long skirts, shapeless tops, and a headcovering; then I had a reaction to that and went probably a little more revealing than I should have; then I settled down and just wore what I liked and wanted to. My mother was great during this period; we talked some about it, but she didn't try to force me to wear or not wear anything, and let me make my own mistakes and figure out "who I am" for myself. I think the real turning point for me - I am on much the same page as you as far as "modesty" and how to dress - was coming to college; I felt that I would have to wear the tight jeans and low-cut shirts to fit in (even though I am at a Christian college), and I did so for a few weeks, but one day I got tired of jeans and wore a dress I'd made from a 1950s pattern. And got SO many remarks and compliments on it. No one thought it was weird, and I decided I would just wear what *I* liked and was comfortable in, and forget about other people's opinions! And it works for me :)

    I LOVE your wrapper by the way. I could never wear that colour but it looks lovely on you! I enjoyed your construction posts, too :)

  9. Sarah, your wrapper looks really nice.

    I've been on the legalistic side myself but now I'm happy with the knowledge that the light appears to all men. I focus on the light, GOD, leading all men not that Mrs. G needs to lead all men or women as the case may be, lol. I pray that the scantily dressed girls will heed the voice that loves them so much and leave the trashy styles behind.
    Nice post, thanks for writing it.
    Mrs. G

  10. This is a great post, and a great attitude from you!
    And the wrapper looks beautiful. I really love those green stripes.

  11. Love the wrapper, and your thoughts. Modesty is a tricky subject, but I believe it's more debated in the states than here. I have already given some of my thoughts on this on my blog, but I believe that modesty is more in the heart than in the clothes; however, the clothes reflect what's on the inside to some extent. But, not having a perfect knowledge of other people, I can't judge them. I'll be much better of working on my own imperfections than bother about other peoples clothes, or lack of clothes ;).

  12. A wonderful post. I've recently been thinking about "modesty."
    I've come find that my main concern is not causing my brothers to sin, not to be legalistic or anything. Now, this also can mean different things to different people. Personally, I don't think that showing your legs is really immodest. Now, some may not be comfortable with that, and that is fine. I don't mind wearing V necks-I just make sure they don't plunge to deeply, or else wear a camisole beneath it. Would I wear something slit to here, or "bootie" shorts? No way!
    I think you may very well wear what you wish. But you should consider *why* you're wearing it, and if it may cause your brothers to stumble.(I also think that "modesty" can pertain to women as well. For instance, you know your friend has been looking at this beautiful purse, but she is unable to afford it. Say you buy it, just to make her jealous, or to make her covet it. See what I'm saying?)
    Do I think that people are ultimately responsible for their own sins? Yes. However, I don't think we should knowingly wear something we know will cause our "siblings" in Christ to stumble.

  13. All I have to say to this is.... Amen, Sarah....thank you!

    The wrapper is beautiful!

  14. I have come a long way in regards to feminity and modesty. The Lord has showed me what standard he wants me to use for my daily clothing. Its great to put on a pretty dress modern or historical and do your hair prettily and feel beautiful on the inside and out. :)

    I love your wrapper as well! I have some bright pink fabric that is the same fabric as a dress you have; except yours is green. It is a geometric from walmart. I love the fabric and can't wait to have the wrapper done in time for our next fall event in October. I am almost finished with my first wool dress. Pictures coming soon. and I am so excited as it has puff sleeves!

    Again I was encouraged by your honesty and sharing what the Lord has convicted you of! I appreciate that a lot! I used to be legalistic when I first started wearing mostly only dresses and skirts as well and I had to learn that the Lord convicted me and I can share that with them. But I should not push others.

    great post! In Christ,

  15. What a beautiful wrapper! I love green, it's my favourite colour!

    I have enjoyed this post because I find I relate completely with your persepctive. I too choose to dress in what some may call a modest manner however my motivations are based upon my own comfort and what I find pretty.

    I proudly call myself a feminist, although not an extreme one, and I am pleased to see how my views of modesty align with others with different views. I totally relate to the non-judgemental attitude!

  16. I love stripes, especially in your wrapper! It's a great color too.

    I appreciate your open attitude toward dress. As a liberal Christian woman it's difficult for me to read about strict modesty. I feel it's a shame that girls can't run around with the freedom that comes from wearing pants. So many lovely young women look dowdy for the sake of modesty, it's just a shame. God made our bodies beautiful, enjoy it while you've got it! lol

  17. Summer, I agree, wearing dowdy shapeless clothing is a shame. :( You know, God formed a woman's body to be different than a mans body. We are beautiful the way we are created! I think there is nothing wrong with dressing in a way to emphasize our feminity. I don't agree necessarily with wearing bikini tops or a micro mini skirt and stiletto heels, but there are ways to be attractive and lovely without looking like a prostitute. :) And one can be very "modest" and lovely without wearing shapeless turtlenecks and jumpers (my siblings always jokingly called that kind of outfit "homeschool mom uniform" :P)

    Ugly clothes are just ugly. I like historic styles since that way I can dress femininely and in a way I like without the risk of looking frumpily out of date in cast off 80's and 90's styles - I'm so darn out of date that no one remembers that style anymore and its looked on as different rather than "oh? was that something your mom wore in highschool 30 years ago?" :P

  18. Your dress is so pretty! I love the material. I do so wish that my husband were interested in historical reenactments so we could participate ~ but that is simply not to be.

    You have wonderful sewing skills & your blog is lovely. ~~

  19. I have never commented but have been following for awhile...I completely agree with your take on modesty. I have found that there are times where people want everyone to fit into a cookie cutter mold and one of God's precious gifts to us as humans was to make us "individuals". It's interesting to note that modesty can be both cultural and or brother and sister-n-law are working in Africa and we got to talking about modesty when they were home. They said that women where they live don't really cover up their breasts at all and that you can tell how many babies they have had from how low their breasts hang because when they carry their children they use fabric that is wrapped around and around their chest therefor pushing their breasts down flat and stretching them farther down each child. But in contrast you will never see above their ankle or below their belly-button. It's just highly interesting to see the range of differences in culture in what modesty is to different people. I find that I wear more skirts just because after 2 kids most pants just don't fit right... :oP I try to do what I need to do for me not what the "norm" or "rule" is...I heard it once said...Christ was conservative with self and liberal with others...that's something beautiful I ponder on...

    Thank you for your blog and inspiration! your wrapper!!! :o)

  20. Sarah, your wrapper is extremely lovely. The color and the stripes are just perfect!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on modesty. I enjoyed your perspective. My own thoughts on the topic have changed a bit since I was married. I try to wear what my husband likes and approves of. This sometimes includes things that may not be considered modest by some (i.e. tank tops or shorts). I went through a phase a couple of years ago (before my marriage) where I wouldn't have worn such things, but now I want to abide by my husband's judgment. Being a man, he's certainly the one to know if something is too revealing or sexy to the male eye, and he will tell me if it's inappropriate to wear in public.

    It is easy to fall into the trap of judging others whose modesty standards are "less" than yours, as I well know! My husband has helped me get out of that mindset (as it sounds like yours has helped you, too). From my personal observations, I believe women tend to turn modesty into a bigger issue than men would have them do. It happened in my own experience and I have observed other women making a bigger deal out of dressing modestly than their husbands or fathers do.

    Now, on the other extreme, I certainly don't advocate dressing like a prostitute. ;-) Nor am I saying that just because your dad or husband is a deadbeat, you have free reign to wear anything under the sun. There is a balance to be found, for sure!

    P.S. I sent you an e-mail a few weeks ago but never heard back -- is your address still david_sarahmeister [at]

  21. I have so enjoyed reading everyones thoughts on this subject. I was apprehensive about posting about it, but have been encouraged and benefited by the input of everyone who has commented. Thank you!

    Laura, my email address is nearly the same as the one you have, but the "mchsi" is now "mtco" since we switched internet providers last summer when we moved. I'd love to hear from you!

  22. Oh Sarah, it is lovely! Looks as though you've stepped out of the history books!! Certainly a wrapper Emma Jenkins could style herself in. :)


  23. Thsi was a great post. I was srprised at some of the "snobbery" you experienced from other "modest" ladies.. I've never been that way. I like to dress more conservative..well, covered up..I'm sure someone would think I dress wild..but you know what I love about your clothes...the detail and the vintage!!! I have always loved vintage things from the 1930s and even I say wear it, because it's super cool and not many people make clothes like that anymore!!! P.S. I love the green wrapper...nice bright color :) :) Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  24. oh your wrapper is fabulous! I love the sleeves!

  25. I've always had to dress on a budget which mean 2nd hand stuff that didn't really fit. But I do love historical clothing and I find it influences my wardrobe. I've developed my own style and am always drawn to one off pieces.

    We had a school uniform at school...which inspite of its good intentions only emphasized different styles. I was the only girl who didn't wear a skirt that was so short it might as well been a belt. I ended up wearing trouser as I wouldn't stick out so much as going against the grain.
    Once I left school after a short stint at T-shirt and jeans for all occasions I gradually found my style. Which is vintage inspired, layers and mix n matching textures and prints.

    On the case of your wrapper...I want one. It looks so comfy. I need some lounging around the house clothes that aren't joggers and t-shirt which are soo unflattering on me.

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Thank you for your lovely thoughts!