Whenever I’m shopping for clothes with my friends, the conversation routinely goes something like this:
“Sarah, how about this?”
“Ha, no. There are no sleeves. It’s cute, though.”
“No! It’s practically sheer!”
“Well, what about this one? It’s even in your favorite color!”
“Sorry, it’s not long enough.”
Eventually, my friends just give up trying to help me find clothes; it’s experiences like these that give them a little taste of what it’s like to be a Mormon teenager.
Yes, I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Our religion focuses on the family and striving to live like Jesus Christ. Its youth programs have taught me important values like personal integrity, individual worth, hard work, and service.
Mormons try to live with an attitude of “modesty” in language, dress, and behavior. Essentially, we want to act in a way that represents who we are and what we believe in. Dressing “modestly” means not wearing skirts or pants higher than the knee, no low-cut shirts, no exposed shoulders or midriff, and nothing sheer or too tight.
I can truthfully tell you that it’s not easy! My Mormon friends and I are consistently the only girls at prom wearing sleeves, and there are hot and sticky days in late July when the last thing you want to do is put on a pair of long pants. Shopping is often a frustrating experience: all the things you like don’t fit within the guidelines, and the clothes that do can sometimes be pricey. Finding a prom dress that qualifies as “modest” can also be a nightmare, so many Mormon girls have to purchase sleeveless or short prom dresses and alter them or wear a small jacket.
Is dressing this way hard? Yes. Is it a lot of extra work? Most definitely! But it’s so worth it. Dressing “modestly” makes me and the people around me feel comfortable, and it helps people to pay more attention to me, not what I’m wearing (or not wearing). It’s how I show God that I love him and show reverence to the body he has given me. When I’m modest, it’s easier for me to act in a way that matches what I believe at all times, in all things, and in all places, and it shows that I respect myself.
Now, “modest” doesn’t have to mean “unattractive.” You can expertly layer clothes — even items that don’t fit the guidelines — to look gorgeous and classy. (I think half the things in my closet are crop tops and tanks that I layer.) Many Mormon girls also learn basic sewing skills so they can alter or make their own cute clothes. There are a ton of online resources for this way of dressing, too; sites like Shabby Apple and Mika Rose sell only “modest” styles, and fashion bloggers like Clothed Much highlight these kinds of outfits. Modesty exists in high fashion, too. I created Tweed and Sparkles, a tumblr blog dedicated to showcasing modest looks in both editorials and street style photography.
I’m grateful to have these guidelines in my life. They make me feel confident and beautiful, and I know that when I dress this way, I’m acting as a good influence to those around me. For more information about the Mormon church, please visit mormon.org.
See some of my favorite outfits that fit Mormon style guidelines in the gallery below.
About The Girl in the Check Scarf:
Sarah Justine is a 17-year-old student/fashion blogger with nothing to wear, who reads The New Yorker, and schemes of going to Paris. She’s been blogging daily for three years at www.thegirlinthecheckscarf.com, and in March of 2012 she was named “One Of The Top 10 Bloggers Under 18” by guestofaguest.com. She is a TED attendee, fashion and technology geek, aspiring trend forecaster, and constant wearer of black clothing. She is currently a senior in high school and resides in Poughkeepsie, NY.
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