As an unofficial extra to my series on modesty, here is my personal development in finding my style. Please click the Catholic Church Tab and scroll down to see the official series.
I am not a fashion expert. I only recently dived into the world of dressing on-trend (I bought a blush colored belt, people).
When I was in 5th grade I wore my bangs in a sort of poof in front of one eye because I imagined I looked like this:
I didn’t. I found that out in 6th grade, and 7th, and 8th, and all throughout high school.
In high school, I wore t-shirts from church functions and bought a navy corduroy pea coat. It looks a long time for I discovered how to shop for myself. I eventually started to develop a sort of classic timeless style. I wore black boots, boot cut jeans (but I preferred khakis or trousers to jeans), and my peacoat in the winter. I wore sweaters and really liked that little band of midriff showing above my low-rise jeans.
Serving with NET Ministries, the use of the undershirt was praised for preventing one’s stomach or lower back from showing in public. I found undershirts made for a smoother look overall, like how people use Spanx now but much more comfortable. I enjoyed not worrying about my shirt coming up. I enjoyed not feeling that chill on my lower back or worrying about my pants going too low when I sat.
After NET I continued to seek out a clean, classic style shopping at places like GAP. I enjoyed dressing in ways that made my boyfriend happy. The more feminine the better, in his eyes. A typical Californian, with lots of colors, at least in the warmer months.
I kept it simple: no makeup, always wearing my crucifix. Verbal affirmation from my first and only boyfriend boosted my confidence. I liked how I looked. I felt beautiful. I watched more and more old movies and became less and less influenced by the modern requirements of beauty. In the 2000’s I didn’t even know I was supposed to have stick straight hair. I liked it au natural.
East coast life after marriage challenged my carefree attitude. We struggled financially and I pressured myself to measure up in public. Schoolmates dressed professionally for our graduate classes (unthinkable on the West Coast). I wanted to look more polished on a regular basis. With an introduction to Clinique skincare, I found myself with a free gift bag full of makeup. Time to play.
So at this time, fashion began to become to me what home decor and furniture design were. I enjoyed reading about the styles, watching them change, picking up on the references. Since I was in and out of pregnancy so there was little I could do. It was actually the recovery after my first child that left me without clothes that fit and got me shopping again for a whole new wardrobe.
With the whole new wardrobe came a whole new style. Looser, more flexible clothing became invaluable because it meant I could move up and down in size without needing a new set of shirts. I wanted to dress like a 30-something adult. It felt good to free myself of the more restrictive styles of high school and college. I searched for pieces that would keep me polished but comfortable.
As a nursing mother, I struggled to find modest, attractive clothing. They all looked like this. Not bad by itself, but a whole closet full is over doing it.
If you add a few cup sizes that shirt gets very difficult to wear. Other than nursing convenience, I do believe modesty is much more attainable now than in the 2000’s when everything was spaghetti strapped and super tight/sleek/not for women with curves. The shift dress brought in whole new necklines. Every skirt hem is out there and on trend. It’s a good time in fashion.
I appreciated the features from Real Simple, 15 items to make a zillion outfits:
I don’t obsess over it, but I enjoy it. It makes me feel good when I’ve been up several times a night and feel exhausted, to look in the mirror and see some addition that makes me look sophisticated, well-coordinated, or bright-eyed. I also discovered that my hair takes less maintenance if I invest in a good haircut with a style and I blow dry it. Each morning is my time to invest in myself in a peaceful setting, dressing carefully, adding make-up, and every morning I walk out to show my husband how beautiful I feel.
I believe that how we dress does have an influence on our behavior. If dressing up, a person is less likely to act like he or she is having a lazy day. Likewise if one is on a picnic, dressing too stiffly will inhibit his or her fun, skirts and wind and all that. My daughter asks why I wear makeup. “Because I think it’s fun,” I tell her. I don’t tell her when I experience the temptation to dislike my looks. We have fun conversations about how everyone looks different (she has Italian skin and I do not). If I treat myself well it will help her to treat herself well.