What Not to Wear Part 2

August 11, 2005 | 77 comments
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Back by popular demand, here is the second installment of the Sacrament Meeting Edition of “What Not to Wear” – Women’s Edition.

Hopefully we all had some time to get the last threadjack discussion out of our systems. Obviously there are some who find it entirely inappropriate to discuss fashion tips for church. If this is you, join the discussion in Part I. The horse may be dead, but you might find people to kick it with you. Still, I can’t wait to see what we can turn this post into.

I will start again with my disclaimers (with some added explanation) about my perspective on what is and is not appropriate for church:

1. I attend a small ward in Queens, NY. I am just happy that people actually show up at church and personally could not care less about what they are wearing. For some reason, on the last post this made me a hypocrite, but I still stand by this statement.

2. I believe appropriateness is relative. It is based on, among other factors, age, geographic location, body type, and personality. These things make it particularly hard to give any fashion advice to a diverse group of women such as those I know read T&S. This is also why you can really only judge your own appropriateness for any occasion.

3. To me, appropriateness doesn’t necessarily come down to the appropriateness of each piece in the outfit; it comes from the sum of all the parts, including overall grooming and cleanliness. This rule will come into play when I deal with the whole t-shirt, denim and flip-flop issue.

4. Based on the comments to the welcome post, many people visiting this site might find what I choose to wear to church completely inappropriate. I wear denim. I wear flip-flops. I wear ponytails. I wear t-shirts. And much to my mother’s chagrin, I never wear pantyhose.

5. For me, “Sunday Best”, means putting effort into my dress and appearance. Because of my firm belief in the power clothing has on mindset, preparing myself physically is one aspect of my spiritual preparation for church.

Now, with all that said, I went through all the past comments from the women and hopefully I can answer some of you questions and hand out some free fashion advice. Please use this advice with care as I do not want to be blamed for the downfall of Zion (at least not again).

General

-T-shirts: I am not sure what everyone else here would define as a t-shirt so I am not quick to say “No T-shirts”. Save any shirt with words, stains, or holes for the weekdays or Saturday. A “t-shirt” that is fitted (mostly meaning the shoulder seams fall at the shoulders) and is not of the Hanes Undershirt variety, can definitely work if some attention is given to other details like: jewelry and other accessories, skirt choice, shoe choice, and a possible third piece (sweater, jacket, vest, etc.). I don’t think a t-shirt works with a denim skirt, flip-flops and ponytail. Casual + casual + casual + casual = way too casual for church. There are also a ton of knit shirts (which some would think are t-shirts) out there with beautiful embellishments that look just as nice as any button up shirt.

-Denim: I love denim. I wear denim to church. I won’t condemn it. But we also must remember — All denim is not created equal. The classic “jean style” denim is similar to the t-shirt issue because by itself, it can be very casual and should not be worn with other casual pieces. I have this great dark denim blazer that actually adds respectability to any outfit (my husband also own this great wool/denim suit which is not the dressiest suit in his closet, but is still classy.)

-It is really hard to find modest dresses (especially in the summer). In the winter, opt for a cropped cardigan or wrap sweater worn over a sleeveless dress. Don’t wear a t-shirt under a sleeveless dress (very ’90′s YW)–unless it is a jumper style.

-Oh, I almost forgot–don’t wear jumpers. I don’t care what your body shape, they are just not attractive. On a practical note, they do make a good nursery worker uniform.

-It is really easy to find skirts of modest length right now. So pick up some basics that will last a few years (through the dry spell when hemlines move up) as well as some “fashiony” ones.

-Now is the time to buy yourself a blazer. They come in a wide variety of fabrics, colors and prices. A blazer can dress up jeans during the week as well as give your church outfit a confidence boost when you have to teach R.S. or give a talk in sacrament meeting (a “third piece” of clothing can give the wearer some perceived “authority”).

-If a suit feels too “corporate”, try breaking it apart and mixing it with other pieces in your wardrobe: Wear the jacket with a soft floral skirt, or the skirt with an embellished sweater.

-Buy and wear clothing that is the right size – no matter what kind of clothes they are. Don’t just go by the size on the label. There are no sizing standards set up in the fashion industry so that basically means that every company can decide what a size 8 means. So try things on!

Hosiery and footwear

-There was definitely a time when bare legs were just not acceptable (which is why my mom has a hard time with mine–but last time I talked to her, she is coming to grips with it). Nowadays, it is much more acceptable with some caveats: bare legs should be clean-shaven, properly moisturized and free of any scrapes, bruises, etc. If your legs don’t fall into this category on a Sunday morning, put on pantyhose or tights (if it’s summer, I would opt for a lightweight, long skirt instead). My own advice just got me thinking I should have worn a long skirt last week to church when I had about 200 chigger bites all over my feet and ankles from girls camp – my legs were SCARY.

-While I hate pantyhose, I love tights (in the fall and winter). You can find them in a wide range of colors, patterns and textures which makes them great (and inexpensive) way to update any classic wardrobe piece.

-Just like my advice to the men, never underestimate the power of your shoes. Make sure your shoes are clean and your boots and dressy shoes are polished.

-Let’s talk about flip-flops. I have already admitted that I wear them. Most of the time, they will look far too casual for church but can be less “offensive” when worn with really long skirts in the summer where they will not get too much attention. Never wear flip-flops with a denim skirt and t-shirt!

-Dr. Marten shoes (I think this issue is pretty regional-don’t hate me UT-based family): I understand that they are comfortable, and they last forever, but they can look just as casual as flip-flops (especially when paired with denim and khaki – and they don’t really go with anything else). They are also not flattering to the female leg. If you must wear them, take the flip-flop advice and wear them with long skirts.

-One of the best things a woman can do for herself is to buy a great pair of high heels. I am not talking about spikes, or chunkies, or super-uncomfortable strappies; just a great classic pair of heels (you will usually get the most wear out of black ones). Heels not only make a women’s legs look great, they require the wearer to have better posture and walk with a more “ladylike” stride.

Accessories

-I believe accessories to be the easiest way to dress up any outfit. There is no ironing, polishing, washing or drying involved. They are also the most inexpensive way to liven up the clothing already hanging in your closet.

-If you have holes in your ears, fill them with a nice pair of earrings.

-To “dress-up” a plain t-shirt, wear a necklace with a large pendant.

-A long, colorful, fabric scarf is a great and versatile accessory. Wear it in your hair, as a belt, around your neck, tie it on your bag–the possibilities are endless.

-If you must wear your hair in a ponytail, ditch the scrunchie, plain elastic, or anything else you might pull from your seven-year-old daughter’s hair accessory drawer. Lower the ponytail to the nape of the neck and use a nice clip or a more sophisticated embellished elastic (like a flower or rhinestones). This will make the ponytail look more deliberate (even if you did it because you ran out of time to do anything else).

Keeping clothes clean

Now that I have been a mom for three years, I understand how practical it is to have clothing that is easy to take care of– this is mostly evidenced by all the “dry-clean only” dresses and skirts that have been slowly pushed to the very rear of my tiny closet and now hang with my leather jeans (another item that does not mix very well with children). But being a mom does not mean that we have to be reduced to sweatpants during the week and denim, khaki and t-shirts for church. There are plenty of things available that are washable and dryable that can look really nice. They might require pulling out the iron (which I hate just as much as the next person), but it won’t kill anyone. It will also take a little more planning. If we could all take a moment to sing the Primary song titled “Saturday”. It is a great reminder that preparations for Sunday worship include very temporal things (although I think the idea of “brushing” your clothes is a little outdated).

My other advice on keeping clothes clean is to work on becoming a stain-fighting champion. I take great pride in my ability to get out almost any stain I am faced with. It takes a lot of practice, trial and error. Here is where to start:

1. Treat stains immediately

2. Look to make sure a stain is gone before putting it into the dryer (aka: stain setter)

3. Carry around Shout Wipes . At the least, they buy you time on stain treatment if you are out and about.

4. If you are not sure how to treat a stain you can try this site (I like the homespun ideas best).

Once you become more confident in your “stain fighting” you will feel more comfortable wearing nicer clothing when you have children.

My final advice to the men was basically — go shopping. I based this advice on what I think is a very valid stereotype of men – they don’t like to go clothes shopping. Thus, they are content to run their clothes into the ground in order to avoid having to actually step into a store. Once again, I am going to stereotype and say that women generally enjoy shopping, but don’t do it for other reasons (can’t find the time, like to buy things for their children instead, poor body image, etc, etc). Whatever the reason, my advice is still the same, get out and go shopping. The more you can take a quick look around the stores, the more likely you are to: find a good deal, discover the sometimes elusive, cute, modest clothes, and generally soak up the visual fashion information that will help you form new outfits from the clothes already in your closet.

My last thought: Whether or not you are “into” fashion, everyone must realize that clothing speaks. It is an effective tool for shaping others perceptions and your own attitude. If we all try to have this in mind as we get dressed for church each Sunday, I think we will all be able to make more appropriate choices in our church attire apart from any specific fashion advice I or anyone else may give.

P.S. I posted a comment regarding “mommy clothes” here. Add those tips to the ones about accessories here, and you will be well on your way to avoiding SAHM “frumpiness”.

77 Responses to What Not to Wear Part 2

  1. Kaimi on August 11, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    Cover your eyes, Mardell! (Oh no! Ican feel the dollars slipping out of our bank account. . .)

    Just kidding. Great post, as usual, Carrie!

  2. Julie in Austin on August 11, 2005 at 7:41 pm

    (1) Why are there no set sizes? That’s nuts! It makes me crazy! Fix it!

    (2) I just noticed (yes, I am slow) that women aren’t wearing pantyhose anymore. But I hate the bare-leg thing (on me–I dont’ care what anyone else does). Can I still wear my hose?

    (3) Do you have any recommendations for clothes that will see you through the stages of mommyhood (slightly pregnant, very pregnant, extremely pregnant, still-looks-pregnant-but-isn’t and needs to nurse, chubby and nursing, slightly chubby and nursing, etc.) or do we just need completely separate clothes for each stage?

  3. Aaron Brown on August 11, 2005 at 7:56 pm

    It is an honor to be the 3rd commenter on what is bound to be a post with 600 comments that I’ll probably never find time to read ….

    Aaron B

  4. JKS on August 11, 2005 at 8:03 pm

    I’m happy with the longer Tshirts/Tank tops I ordered from Shade Clothing which you had mentioned previously. I’m 5’10″ and had been scouring the mall trying to find something (I was successful with a tank from Ambercrombie but the rest were a waste of money after shrinking) to wear under my shirts because I couldn’t even move, sit or bend over in clothes.
    Thanks so much for the tip!!!!

    Julie in Austin
    Unless someone is a genius, or you don’t mind dressing in a potato sack, there is NO WAY clothes can fit you through more than one (maybe two) stages. I have jeans from size 8 to 12, and depending on what my weight is like that month/week, I pull out those to wear.
    Clothes look SO much better when they fit you…..in fact, I’m going to have to go shopping again.

  5. Kaimi on August 11, 2005 at 8:10 pm

    When it comes to Shade Clothing and the like, I’m a doubter.

    You’re talking about a Shade tank top under another shirt, plus having to wear a garment top, plus a bra. Plus possibly a shrug or wrap of some kind to go over it. That’s five layers, four of which can’t be taken off! Is it really practical to wear anything like that in August?

    Mardell has a cute sleeveless-top-and-shrug outfit that I like, but when she was looking for something to wear on Sunday and I suggested it, she gave me the “are you kidding?” look. And I can’t blame her. I wouldn’t want to be wearing four non-removable layers in August.

  6. Carrie Lundell on August 11, 2005 at 8:25 pm

    Julie in Austin:

    (1) The women’s sizing thing is crazy, but I am afraid it is out of my hands.

    (2) If you like ‘em wear ‘em. I would just stay away from the skin tones that drastically change the color of your skin – stick with nude (black, white, other colors are fine).

    (3) My best advice on this one is find friends who like to share clothes. This is the only way I have gotten through these stages without buying whole new wardrobes. There are a few styles to look for that will have more longevity through all the stages. Anything that has a drawstring or elastic waist (in a non-geriatric way of course) and skirts that are knit or cut on the bias have a lot more give.

    Kaimi – you are totally right. Layering is a great way to keep modest but in the summer it is really hard.

  7. Katie on August 11, 2005 at 8:38 pm

    I would like to hear people comment about women going to church in nice pants. To begin with, I must say that I do not personally have the guts to wear pants to church. I would feel like I was sticking out and being watched. Also, people would probably think that I was an investigator. But the questions still intrigues me: Why does our church so frown upon women wearing pants to church?

    The knee-jerk answer is that they are too casual. But this conclusion simply does not hold up. There are pants and pant suits that are as dressy as the denim/ponytail ensemble. Yet a women wearing the latter would not illicit a second glance, while the wearer of the former would certainly get some judging looks. Men wear suits to important business dealings and also wear them to church. A women wears a classy pantsuit to a business meeting but she is expected to don a skirt for church on Sunday. Why this disparity?

    Perhaps it is exactly this association that makes us reject pants at church. The church frowns on either sex becoming too much like the other, and frowns on women working outside the home. Perhaps wearing pants, no matter how dressy, is simply too closely associated with the independent, worldly woman.

    A friend of mine had a bad experience her first time through the temple and did not return for almost 2 years. She finally decided she wanted to try it again and summoning much courage for herself traveled many hours to her nearest temple for an endowment session. She wore pants. She was not financially well off, and resisted buying new clothes. She looked over her wardrobe and selected what she thought was the finest clothing she owned-dressy pants and a dressy top. When she arrived at the temple the temple matron took her aside and harshly chided her choice of outfit and sternly asked that next time she came, she wear a skirt or dress. My friend went to the lockeroom and cried. During the session all she could think of was her hurt.

    I also remember months ago someone in the nacle’ posting about how they worked hard to bring an investigator to church, and she finally came. The woman had worn pants and as she crossed the parking lot to church, a man told her that pants were inappropriate for church. She promptly got back in her car and never returned.

    Anyway, so back to the topic at hand. What is wrong with pants for women at church?

  8. Kaimi on August 11, 2005 at 8:40 pm

    Katie,

    The real question is why members feel they should engage in that kind of behavior in the first place.

    (Oh no, here comes Matt Evans!)

  9. Greg Call on August 11, 2005 at 8:46 pm

    Katie:

    Nothing. My wife has a pair of stylish dark wool pants she wear to church and she looks terrific in them. No one has said a thing (except for one sister who commented “I wish my husband would let me wear pants to church”), and she still has her calling.

  10. Susan M on August 11, 2005 at 8:48 pm

    I’m not sure I can take fashion advice from someone who owns a pair of leather pants.

    JK. I wouldn’t take fashion advice from anyone, really, because I just don’t care. I’d live in pajamas if I could (and did when I was unemployed). I realize it’s a deficiency unique to me.

    (So you’re telling me I can’t wear my “Happy Tree” Bob Ross tshirt to church?)

  11. danithew on August 11, 2005 at 9:09 pm

    Carrie, I couldn’t hardly care less about fashion but I sure have enjoyed reading your posts. You have a very practical knowledgeable way about talking about these things. I’ll be interested to see how many comments you get too.

    I really think the women guest-bloggers lately have been of very high quality in what they’ve written.

  12. Rosalynde Welch on August 11, 2005 at 11:37 pm

    Hooray! I was worried you’d be scared off by the response to your part I and wouldn’t put up part II, which I’ve been anxiously awaiting.

    On the sizing issue—do sizes vary by geographical region, too? I swear that since I’ve moved to the midwest I wear one or two sizes smaller than I did when I lived on the coast (and I don’t think I’ve lost weight). I’m not complaining—it’s a nice little ego boost to be down where I’ve never been before!

    Also, aside from the practical value of the long undershirt to remedy the low-rise jeans predicament, what do you think of the look itself? I’m still undecided. On a related note, how tacky is it really to have the elastic of your garments peeking out when you sit down? It doesn’t bother me too much, but maybe it should.

    On shoes: what do you think of high-heeled pumps? I’ve never cared for the look, but it is a classic style and maybe worth investing in a good pair or two.

  13. Brian G on August 11, 2005 at 11:55 pm

    Katie, when my wife guest-blogged here she did a post about pants in church that brought up a lot of the same questions you have. It drew a lot of comments. You might want to check it out.

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/index.php?p=1792

  14. meems on August 11, 2005 at 11:59 pm

    I think clothing attitudes with the church depend on where you are geographically. When I lived in super small branches in the middle east (Turkey and Saudi Arabia) it was like the wild west. No one said ANYTHING. (I’m not kidding when I say Birkenstocks and shorts). Meanwhile, last month I went to the temple with my mom. It was a hot day (in the eighties) and I wore a Thai silk skirt that fell a few inches above the ankle, a FITTED Ann Taylor t-shirt, and a pair of dressy sandals. As we were getting changed to go home, my mom noted that we are supposed to wear panty hose when we come to the temple (as instructed by those in authority). I was a bit put off — I gave up a day to do temple work, and was neat, clean, well groomed, etc., so why would/should anyone care if I wear panty hose? (My mom noted that it was a good thing my skirt was long because no one would probably notice).

    Anyway, I heard in the not too distant past, that the church said it’s OKAY to wear pants to church (!!) to incorporate more diversity in cultural dress traditions (think Indian/Pakistani shalwar kameezes, certain African clothing, etc). When you’re in a tropical climate (I moved to the tropics 2 weeks ago and the whole “layered thing” a la Kaimi’s comment #5, is another story!!), it only makes sense to wear the appropriate clothing for the climate.

    SO, what’s with the panty hose thing?

    Also, in my home ward, I know people are supposed to dress in their Sunday best, and some of this has alread been covered in the downfall-of-Zion-costly-apparel thread, but why do so many women come to church dripping in jewelry?

    Pet peeve #2 – wet hair. No wet hair please.

  15. Julie in Austin on August 12, 2005 at 12:07 am

    “It was a hot day (in the eighties)”

    Bwahahahahahaha!

    You don’t know what hot is, sister.

  16. meems on August 12, 2005 at 12:11 am

    Interesting link, Brian G. Fun to read. And for the record, I actually am super orthodox about wearing dresses and skirts to church. I’m one of those brought up with the idea that you shouldn’t even enter the chapel if you are wearing pants!

  17. Katie on August 12, 2005 at 12:19 am

    Thanks for the link Brian G., its a great post. What is very strange is that the story I cite in my comment about the invesitagor in pants came from the post you link to. I clearly remember reading the story, but I have no memory of there being a whole post on pants. It makes me wonder what other thing my brain has accidently misplaced.

  18. Crystal on August 12, 2005 at 12:31 am

    I was looking forward to this post, hoping my fashion woes would be solved, but apparently I am already normal. :P

    The one thing I’d disagree with is wearing pantyhose if one’s legs are not ‘blemish free.’ I am constantly bruised it seems, besides having to deal with really bad spider veins. I can’t help it. It’s genetic. I think it’s silly to always wear pantyhose. I’d never get to wear all the cute shoes I have with toe loops (or whatever they’re called).

  19. slam smith on August 12, 2005 at 2:08 am

    Personally my philosophy on clothes for sunday or otherwise, is that I don’t wear clothes that are uncomfortable. For me that means I don’t wear a suit, and my clothes must fit loosely. In my wife’s case that means that she wears knee-highs instead of pantyhose. I also have three daughters, and to be honest with you, I like them to dress up nicely, but the only really firm rule that I apply is that they must dress modestly. Beyond that I don’t lose much sleep. My oldest doesn’t like to wear tights in the summer, I personally think they look nice on her, but if she’s comfortable, she doesn’t have to wear them. But I have stopped them from wearing some outfits because they had grown too much and the outfit had become immodest on them. However if they want to wear a dress that they also wear to play in (Yes they are still in primary), I have no problem with that either. Beyond that I like the clothing to not detract from the reverence of the event we are involved in.

  20. Ann on August 12, 2005 at 6:00 am

    On joining the church agt 14 I was taught that you always ‘wore your best’ for church on Sunday. I now teach the YW the analogy that if they were invited to meet the Queen at a day-time reception what would they wear? Would they find the cash for a nice outfit? Would they dress appropriately and respectfully and look their absolute best? Does our Heavenly Father deserve any less? I’ve brought 4 children up with the occupational hazards they bring as babies in Church, and I’ve served in the Nursery – but nice clothes wash (I’ve always tried to avoid dry-cleaning bills). My own observation comparing congregations in England and the US, is that casual wear seems much more prevalent in the US. I’m one who would feel very uncomfortable in denims and flip-flops on Sundays.

    I’m another one who regrets that pants are not acceptable at church. I have quite a few corporate and dressy pant suits that I wear during the week – but I’m just imagining the raised eyebrows at chuch should I wear them on Sundays. In fact, I find now that the only time I wear a dress/skirt is going to church and the Temple. Does anyone know whether ‘officially’ we are allowed to wear them on Sundays? I wouldn’t mind being the first rebel in the Ward, if I knew for sure I wasn’t going against any rules.

    Would like to add that they are my personal views, I’m not bothered at all what anyone wears on a Sunday – it’s their choice, and I’m just delighted to see them in Heavenly Father’s house on a Sunday, no matter what they wear,

  21. Matt Evans on August 12, 2005 at 7:01 am

    Julie and Rosalynde,

    The reason for the lack of uniform clothing sizes is due to an industry practice known as “vanity sizing.” Labels view their sizing as a way to communicate their brand image, and each varies their sizing depending on their target demographic and desired image. Many of them are appealing directly to the “ego boost” Rosalynde mentions — some women won’t buy an item with a bigger size number, even if it fits flatteringly, because of a psychological barrier against wearing a quote-unquote larger size. My wife, who’s usually a size 6 or 8, loves a particular pair of size-2 jeans primarily because they are size-2 jeans. The reason there’s not a race to the bottom is that some labels stick to traditional sizes (those used before companies realized sizes were a form of manipulable communication) and some labels use smaller sizing expressly to signal waif chic.

    Kaimi,

    That’s a big juicy piece of baiting meat you laid out there, but I’ll just remind you that I’ve been the one *questioning* the propriety of making fashion judgments at church. If you want to learn how to pass fashion judgment — spot the sister dressed like a Young Woman stuck in the 90s, identify the mom wearing her little girl’s fashion accessories, pick out the dad who looks like a 12-year-old deacon — you’ll have to look elsewhere.

  22. Carrie Lundell on August 12, 2005 at 8:22 am

    Welcome back Matt!

    Your explanation of women’s clothing sizes is spot on. In CA, I knew a women’s clothing company that sized their clothing 1, 2, and 3 instead of S, M, L. Wouldn’t any woman like to be a size 3 rather than an “L”? It’s truly all psychological. Thanks for sharing.

    Rosalynde (#12),
    -Personally, I love the layered look. I am sort of crazy about having my garments showing in the back. I think I am less conscious of it when I am around members which I guess means I just don’t like non-members knowing I wear strange underwear.

    -High heel pumps. Very classic. A good pair will last you a long time.

    On this issue of pants, I have never heard of any “no pants for women” rule set out. There are a few quotes from L. Tom Perry at this discussion about pants, but they don’t seem quite strong enough to be construed as “rules”. Rule or no rule, women wearing dresses and skirts to church is the custom, so when a woman decides to “break custom” by wearing pants, The message she sends will be based on this context, whether it is her intended message or not.

  23. Sue M on August 12, 2005 at 8:54 am

    I am genetically missing the shoe gene. When I shop with my friends, I inevitably hear them exclaiming over shoes – “Oh, those are so cute!” “Oh, how ugly!” I never understand it. They all look the same to me. Not cute, not ugly, just…. shoes. Since I can’t discriminate between what is dorky and what is cute, I hate shoe shopping. Shoes are just…. shoes to me. Functional. Currently I have three pairs of shoes – one pair of nice sandals, one pair of casual flip-flops, and one pair of running shoes. I also don’t have any jewelry besides my wedding ring. Can’t stand wearing it. Does that make me dorky? Ah, well…

    Last night was girl’s night out and we were all talking about feeling frumpy – that fabulousness is an attitude, and really – it is. I might not be stylish, but I try to be confident, I try to be myself, and I’m a lot of fun in real life. If people don’t like my clothes? Pish posh. Too shallow to even worry about. Really, they’re just CLOTHES. Beyond trying to dress appropriately for the occasion, I don’t think it’s worth worrying over.

  24. Sue M on August 12, 2005 at 8:55 am

    Oh, and clothes may send a message, but trust me honey, I’m louder than the clothes.

  25. Rosalynde Welch on August 12, 2005 at 9:19 am

    Carrie, thanks for the answers. It’s still a little strange that sizes in the Midwest would be smaller than on the coast (if I’m right that they actually are), since you’d think coastal sophisticates would care more about that. I’ve wondered whether it’s because people are more overweight out here, so there’s a sort of size-deflation drift to compensate for the larger-sized bodies. Like a bell curve, with the “8″ always being at the top of the curve.

    Oh, and one other question: how much are you asking for your entire maternity wardrobe once you’ve had your baby? May I submit the first bid?

  26. Matt Evans on August 12, 2005 at 10:23 am

    Rosalynde,

    I don’t believe any manufacturers target their vanity sizes to the granularity of country region. Gap is famous for employing ego-boosting vanity sizing (a Gap waist 33 measures about 34″) and they use it everywhere — not just the midwest. If you’re finding different sizes in Missouri than California, you’re probably shopping different clothing lines.

  27. swingdancefan on August 12, 2005 at 10:41 am

    Re Vanity Sizing: As a size 0 who still has to take in or shrink her pants, I hate it!!! Also, I remember a sewing class I took my last quarter at BYU. The instructor worked on the committee for designing/sizing/construction of garments. She told us how the women’s garment sizes are totally made up, because women just won’t go to the counter and ask for a size by their measurements. Men, of course, don’t have a problem with it.

    Re Denim: Maybe someone can clarify or expand on this, but back at Christmas I remember my sister-in-law, who is in a Relief Society presidency, saying that there was an official letter from SLC asking the presidencies to refrain from wearing denim on Sundays.

    Re Hosiery: World’s whitest legs here, so hose even in the summer. My hosiery pet peeve is women who wear knee high hose with long skirts, but when they walk the back vent of the skirt reveals the bare leg above the knee high. I have real problems with that look…

    Re Covering the Gap: We’ve been lucky so far that my now 16-year-old daughter has been able to find pants that aren’t super low-rise, but there’s still frequently a gap. Wal-Mart (a store I avoid otherwise) has a nice line of low-priced camisoles that are longer than the norm and she’s quite delighted with them. For those who want to avoid too many layers in the summer and aren’t over-endowed in the chest, these also have a shelf bra in them, so the camisole can serve double duty.

    Re Flipflops and dressing for the temple: In our combined RS/Priesthood meeting at the end of July, our bishop mentioned a letter from our temple (Cardston) asking that the sisters not wear them for coming to the temple. No mention was made of having to wear hosiery, but it was noted that people are arriving at the temple way too casually dressed. I don’t know if this is a local pronouncement or a church-wide thing, though.

    Re Pants at church: I’ve seen it and no one’s really commented. It’s usually investigators, and usually after one or two visits they appear in skirts. Most people are smart enough to figure out what the “standard” of the situation is. Frankly, as one still growing accustomed to Montana winters, wearing trousers to church is a tempting proposition! We also had a sister in my ward in Oregon who was married to an Indian (they met at BYU!) and wore kameez frequently in the summer. She looked lovely up there at the organ…

  28. annegb on August 12, 2005 at 11:04 am

    Carrie, I think I’m channeling you. I also do not care what people wear, although there is a woman in my ward who dresses rather outrageously, ie Shakespear costumes, and I find that distracting. I feel sorry for her, but it’s annoying when she gets up during the sacrament and walks out loudly.

    I work in the nursery and you’re absolutely right, jumpers are the way to go. And panty hose bite, big time. Does anybody remember girdles?

    I don’t have much sympathy for the woman who went to the temple in pants. If she’d been before, she had to be pretty dense not to know that was inappropriate. Maybe they could have told her more gently, but she should have known. My addict niece got mad because she couldn’t go in the temple when her brother got married. I had no sympathy for her, either. She knew the drill. Your friend’s decision on dress sounds rebellious to me.

    There are a few women in my ward who are really pretty and dress really nice(ly?). I do not envy them, gotten over that years ago, but I love to just look at them and enjoy their loveliness. lovliness?

  29. Ann on August 12, 2005 at 11:22 am

    I’ve got to share this gem with you – just after I was released as Primary President I was chosen by one of the Beehives for a ‘heart of gold’ award at a YW special evening. In her tribute to me she said amongst other things “On a Sunday she always looks nice with her matching make-up and outfits”! Fortunately she had other very complimentary things to day about me that had me squirming – but obviously the outward appearance counts too – to some Primary children anyway!

  30. ed on August 12, 2005 at 11:29 am

    I’m reminded about the recent controversy about some women from the Northwestern University lacrosse team who wore flip-flops to the whitehouse.

    http://slate.msn.com/id/2123214/

  31. StealthBomber on August 12, 2005 at 11:33 am

    Carrie,

    I’ve enjoyed your posts. Any comments on the appropriateness of tight clothes for women at church? It seems really tight-fitting shirts are ‘in’ for women, and I have seen many tops (that’s the right term, right?) like these at church. The last thing I want to see while I’m passing the sacrament is the relief society president’s nipples.

  32. Katie on August 12, 2005 at 11:54 am

    Annegb-I am not sure I have ever disagreed with one of your comments before, but I suppose there is a first time for everything.

    “I don’t have much sympathy for the woman who went to the temple in pants. If she’d been before, she had to be pretty dense not to know that was inappropriate. Maybe they could have told her more gently, but she should have known. My addict niece got mad because she couldn’t go in the temple when her brother got married. I had no sympathy for her, either. She knew the drill. Your friend’s decision on dress sounds rebellious to me.”

    What makes pants inappropriate for the temple? Do you think Christ has a clear preference for skirts? I do not find Him making any fashion decisions in the scriptures. He seems more focused on having people come to Him in any state or outfit. My friend is not dense. Rather she is the kind of person who lives life in an idealistic way, oblivious to artificial social codes, and is surprised when things like this come up. She had been wearing pants to church for sometime and had not received any comment on it. She was not trying to be rebellious in the least.

    Your addict niece could not enter the temple because of a worthiness issue. Do pants make one unworthy?

    Sorry for this rant, but this is my best friend we are speaking of here, and I feel you have judged her too harshly.

  33. Emily on August 12, 2005 at 1:02 pm

    On the vanity sizing – there is a really interesting article at the end of Smart Money Magazine that discusses this. To paraphrase: they took over 100 measurementss at Gap, J.Crew, Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers. In the same size between each they found these disparities in sizing: 7.5″ narrower chest in JCrew button down shirt vs. Brooks Brothers – Tshirt at Gap 36″ around chest same size at Brooks was 44 etc. and these are mens clothing! They said that there is little consistency between labels, and stated that
    “Experts say standardization ahs been replaced by “vanity sizing” making garments larger across the board to help shoppers feel better about their size.” Personally I don’t agree – I think it has more to do with trying to fit a rapidly larger population – in both height and weight. I wish it was standardized, it would make my life easier.

    On perfume ladies – go easy – 1 spritz is plenty.

    On pants – I think it’s way inappropriate at church, but the temple I don’t mind so much – weird huh? I guess I’m of the opinion that many temples people travel a LONG way too, and some are just coming off of work to meet the schedule the temple is open. I remember seeing a man once in a auto mechanics shirt (with his nametag) and black docker pants and remembered thinking – how cool that he made it here!

  34. RoAnn on August 12, 2005 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks for this post, Carrie. It was very interesting for me to read it, and all the comments, to give me an idea of what people in the USA are thinking about clothing appropriate for Church. In the R.S. handbook it now states, “Relief Society sisters are encouraged to be well groomed and modest in their attire. When they are at Church meetings, their appearance and clothing should show reverence and respect for the Lord. Sisters going to the temple should wear clothing that is suitable for entering the house of the Lord. On these occasions they should avoid wearing casual clothes, sports attire, and ostentatious jewelry.” (p.207)
    IMO, the use of the word “suitable” allows for differences in local cultural standards, and even for the change in standards over time, as long as they fall within the bounds of “well groomed and modest.”
    I am American, but l am presently living in my eleventh country, and fifth continent. It seems to me that members in the US generally tend to dress more casually now than members in at least some other countries. In many developing countries, where most members have very little disposible income, they are usually careful to wear their most formal clothing (neatly pressed pants, white shirt and tie for men; dresses or skirts and nice blouses, nice shoes or sandals for women). In tropical countries, in many cases it was the American sister missionaries who were the sloppiest dressed on Sunday (T-shirt, extremely loose jumper, clunky shoes, no make-up)–causing the locals to wonder why they seemed to lack proper respect for the importance of the occasion, not to mention respect for the Lord whose Church they were representing. Some how the local sister missionaries managed to wear properly fitting, dressy clothing, dressier shoes, and some discreet make-up. (“Wet hair” was often the issue of having power failures, and I admire those who take cold-water, bucket showers two or three times a day to stay clean despite difficult conditions!)
    In terms of clothing in hot weather, one might well wonder why it is that men can manage to endure the heat wearing pants, socks and shoes, and a shirt and tie (if not a suit), and yet we U.S. women often feel the need to dispense with hose and closed shoes for Church in the summer. Nowadays, it seems that well-groomed bare legs and feet are considered appropriate in most societies during hot weather, and thus should not appear offensive—at least in those societies.

  35. RoAnn on August 12, 2005 at 8:24 pm

    Re clothing for the temple: Again, many in other countries the temples have a place (sometimes a near-by chapel, if the temple itself has no suitable facilities) where those who have traveled 85 hours by bus or boat can freshen up and change in to Sunday clothing so that they can feel, from the moment they enter the building, that they are in an extremely sacred place. I certainly agree that people who come dressed inappropriately due to ignorance, misunderstanding, or exceptional circumstances (i.e. my plane is delayed seven hours in this city, so I can go to the local temple) should be admitted and treated kindly. But I think it would be thoughtful (and could prevent embarrassment), if those who are preparing people to go to the temple would discuss and handle questions on exactly what kind of clothing might be considered appropriate in our particular geographical area.

  36. Ashley on August 12, 2005 at 8:32 pm

    In the hopes that Carrie or anyone reading might know (or have an opinion to share), a tangential question:
    What does one wear to a wedding in the Chartres cathedral in September? And then to an evening reception in a castle? My husband is unsure of how formal the dress for men will be, and I’m having trouble envisioning myself properly dressed for this lovely, lavish event. (We’re invited to the wedding of a former exchange student–quite storybook!)

    And thank you, Carrie, for your excellent tips, both for men and for women re: Sac. Mtg attire.

  37. Steve Evans on August 12, 2005 at 8:48 pm

    Ashley, let me tell you – it will be lavish, if it’s being held in Chartres. A little black dress would do the trick.

  38. Jim F. on August 12, 2005 at 9:46 pm

    I attended a similar wedding last year and, so, can perhaps give some advice. Of course, things could be different. For the wedding, you can wear almost anything very dressy, though bare shoulders are generally understood to be a no-no inside a Catholic church. Lots of women wear hats, but it isn’t required. You can wear the same thing to the reception (probably a dinner) afterward. Your husband ought to wear a very nice suit. I doubt that everyone will be wearing a tie, but it is probably a good idea. Unless specified, he doesn’t need a tux.

    Expect the dinner/reception to go until 2:00 in the morning or later and the wine to flow freely. Also expect the food to be very good, even if for a large party.

  39. Jim F. on August 12, 2005 at 9:47 pm

    Steve is right about the black dress. You can’t go wrong. Think about nice jewelry too.

  40. Mari on August 12, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    Is it really ok to wear a black dress to a wedding? I always wonder about that. Great post, by the way, Carrie!

  41. JKS on August 12, 2005 at 11:21 pm

    I only wear dresses/skirts to church and the temple (well, 95% of my skirt wearing is for church). I consider dresses/skirts the only appropriate attire.
    I would also choose to wear a dress/skirt to:
    1. My Prom
    2. A very formal evening
    3. Any meeting with President Hinkley

  42. Melissa on August 13, 2005 at 2:49 am

    Carrie, I appreciate your insights. I have a couple of questions/comments which you did not touch upon in the original post.

    First, I’m surprised that no one has mentioned tailoring. Finding the right tailor has been necessary for me to create a suitable wardrobe. I am 5’5” so trousers in petite sizes are too short and regular sizes are way too long. As a result, I must have all my trousers hemmed. Do most Mormon women do simple sewing like this themselves? Since I’m a terrible seamstress and it only costs $10-15 a pair, it makes more sense for me to hire someone. Incidentally, the best tailor I found when I lived in New Haven was Polish. I thought it was an amazing coincidence that the tailor everyone recommended to me when I moved to Providence also happened to be Polish. Is there some particular reason why Polish men would be excellent tailors? ;) I thought this was just a fluke, but maybe not.

    Second, I’ve always been under the impression that high heels, besides being uncomfortable, are actually bad for the feet. Is that true? Besides potentially damaging my feet, I can’t really walk in them very well. My key criterion for buying shoes is usually whether I can run across campus in them or not. Spiked heels never make the grade. Three or four years ago Nine West produced a classic Mary Jane type shoe with a thick, chunky, two-inch heel and a strap. The strap was critical since it meant that I could still walk at my regular brisk pace without losing my shoe. I bought four pair (two in brown and two in black) at the outlet and have worn almost nothing else since.

    This brings me to my last question. How important is diversity in clothing? My wardrobe consists of a lot of very similar pieces. I have four or five pairs of the same black trousers, for example. I also have them in gray, camel and brown, but they are more or less the same pant. Oxford style button-down blouses abound in my closet, as do neutral cardigans and solid colored turtleneck sweaters. I think clothes are supposed to be functional, modest, weather-appropriate and relatively comfortable. I succeed in all these areas. However, there is not a lot of variety. Even when I do need to buy something new, I usually get the same sort of thing I already have. I always buy classic pieces so the problem is not that they are “out of style,” but I wonder if the homogeneity of my attire sends the message that I’m staid, or even older than I really am (I won’t reveal my age, but I’m not old)?

    On Sunday, I usually wear a business suit or a long skirt with a blouse to Church. As for jumpers, I got rid of most of mine a long time ago, with one exception. I have a long, black, fitted, Tencel jumper that I love. I’ve never worn it without receiving a compliment, so I guess there are can even be exceptions to hard and fast rules.

    My own opinion is that longer skirts are better for Church and that most women don’t have the legs not to wear hose or the feet to pull off open-toed shoes. Even lovely, perfectly pedicured feet seem out of place in Sacrament meeting (although I’ve been guilty of this myself).

  43. JKS on August 13, 2005 at 2:56 am

    I love high heels. They are comfortable for me.
    My comfort issue is shoes that have a back. My sandals (bare) and my shoes (with socks) all have no back. I’m having a hard time imagining these shoes with hose.
    It never occurred to me that bare legs would be inappropriate anywhere. I wear bare legs or socks to church. You learn something new everyday, I guess.

  44. Sarah on August 13, 2005 at 2:58 am

    I always wear skirts (well, 80% of the week — and since my current job allows jeans, I might wear those every few days while the skirts are in the wash.) I usually wear knee-highs simply because I’ve discovered trying to run down my Primary kids is harder in regular hose, and it’s usually above 85 in our classroom, so tights are a bit much.

    Why are jumpers a bad thing? They’re practical and cute. I’m not sure why “flattering” my body shape is necessarily supposed to be the foremost consideration in this context, though I’ll admit I spent most of the 1990s as a girl in the YW program, so I tend to think of adult women as people who, well, wear jumpers (until they’re old enough to be grandmothers, and then they wear serious, overblown floral prints on itchy quilted fabrics.)

  45. annegb on August 13, 2005 at 10:37 am

    When my son died, we flew my mother to the funeral. She is really wacked out, she sort of looked like a gay man in drag, and didn’t know where she was most of the time.

    Several people asked “who was that strange woman?” I responded, “Oh, that was my mother.” They all said, “No, she wasn’t old enough to be your mother. I’m talking about the woman dressed all in black with the big black hat.”

    …”Oh. That was my sister-in-law, who didn’t give one hot damn that my son was dead.” She was the only woman dressed in black. I am so going to pee on her grave.

  46. Ann on August 13, 2005 at 11:20 am

    Re: Fitted clothing – I am a very large woman, and I’ve found that I look not-so-obese when my clothing is fitted. If I wear loose clothes, i.e., a tent, I look even bigger than I am. I think fitted clothing looks much nicer on almost any woman. There is a difference, of course, between “fitted” and “tight.” Women have a shape. We shouldn’t have to disguise that shape under a sack.

    On the rare occasions when I wear pants to church, it is to make a statement. That statement is: “I really didn’t want to come today, so I’m wearing something that is both comfortable AND suitable for a job interview.”

  47. Ashley on August 13, 2005 at 12:58 pm

    Merci, Jim F. and Steve Evans!

  48. JKS on August 13, 2005 at 2:34 pm

    I never, ever wear jumpers. I can’t imagine something that would flatter me less. While wearing clothing that makes you look attractive shouldn’t be the top priority for anyone, choosing clothing that makes you look as ugly as possible shouldn’t be anywhere on anyone’s priority list.

    Ann,
    I agree. Fitted looks good.

  49. Carrie Lundell on August 13, 2005 at 3:36 pm

    Stealthbomber (#31) — I have to agree that nipples are innapropriate at church — unless you are talking about breastfeeding and that is a whole other issue. This is a good time to mention that women should definitely pay attention to the type of bra worn with more fitted knit shirts. This can really make or break the appropriateness of any top – regardless of how tight-fitting it is.

    RoAnn (#34) — I was just talking to my best friend from H.S. who is now living in Honduras with her husband and 3 young children (he is working for the State Dept.). Many of the families in her ward live in homes with dirt floors (while she lives in a really nice house) yet, she has noticed she is by far the most casually dressed for church each Sunday.

    Ashley (#36) — I am glad that Steve Evans and Jim F. jumped in on this one. I would have no idea what to wear, though my first instinct would not be black-unless the wedding is at night. I would stick with something really classic (knee length or a little below the knee depending on your body shape), simple jewelry and great shoes (think Audrey Hepburn).

    Mari (#40) — If it is a daytime wedding, try to stay away from black. If it is an evening wedding (or wedding receiption) black is completely appropriate.

    Melissa (#42) — Good point about the tailor. If you don’t have the sewing skills, to make alterations yourself, they are great. Not only can pants be hemmed, but many can be “taken in” and sometimes “let out” if your size changes and you don’t want to give up your favorite slacks. Your point about high heels being bad for the feet is somewhat true. If you wear them all the times like the women did in the 50′s, you will probably end up with some problems. But I think most women won’t cause any lasting damage by wearing them to Church for 3 hours a week. Like you, I would never wear them if I had a lot of walking to do. Lastly, regarding the diversity of your wardrobe–it sounds like you have a closet full of classic pieces that will last you a very long time. This is great because like you said, the pieces will not go out of style and you proabaly don’t have to think too much about “outfits” because everything “goes” together because of the neutral color palette. There is nothing wrong with this at all. Next time you are out shopping though, remember that you have also built a wardrobe that is really easy to accessorize and liven up with just one “unexpected” piece – a bright blouse, scarf or purse, a brooch or fun earrings.

    Ann (#46) – I couldn’t agree with you more about women and fitted clothing. This is where I was trying to go with my advice on jumpers. I think I lot of women tend to wear them because they aren’t happy with their body shape. Throwing a sack over it might seem like the easy thing to do, but to me, it seems a shame. Can’t “finding joy in womanhood” include learning to love all of our womanly curves while finding the clothes that best flatter our body–a body different from a man’s that God has created for us?

  50. Heather Bigley on August 13, 2005 at 7:57 pm

    As Sunday School teacher in the past four wards I’ve attended, I wear pants to be taken seriously. And because pants are generally more modest, more comfortable, and more complimentary to my body style than skirts. One sister in my present ward has taken it upon herself to fellowship me into skirts—she started when I had a broken foot and was walking around in a plastic shoe, which made me limp unless I wore one particular shoe on the other foot, a brown lace-up which was made only for pants and nothing else. So I wore the brown lace-up and the plastic shoe and jeans or pants or whatever else for two months, depending on my attitude that week towards the writers of the Sunday School manual.

    Anyway, other women occasionally show up to church in pants and then we form a small quorum in the back and discuss how lots of other christian denominations have pants-wearing women.

  51. Bryce I on August 13, 2005 at 8:08 pm

    During one of my wife’s pregnancies, a new family moved into the ward, and the wife showed up at church wearing the same dress that my wife used to wear to church before her pregnancy. She was angry and mortified, because now she wouldn’t be able to wear that dress anymore. I finally convinced her to go ahead and wear it if she loved it so much.

    The incident reminded me of something I read once about the difference between men and women — when two men show up at a party wearing the same shirt, they become friends for life.

  52. VeritasLiberat on August 14, 2005 at 2:30 am

    [quote]\Anyway, other women occasionally show up to church in pants and then we form a small quorum in the back and discuss how lots of other christian denominations have pants-wearing women. [/quote]

    And the way those other denoms got that way, I bet, was for certain brave women to show up in dress pants and buck the disapproval of the more tradition-bound members of the congregation. Lovely dress slacks will not become common in Mormon wards until a critical mass of Mormon women start wearing them there. There is nothing scriptural about the skirt thing — it’s a tradition of (wo)men, and would disappear in less than a decade, if only some brave ladies would go first…

    Hmmm. Maybe I should start. I’m a convert and a recent move-in, and I have no social ambitions in the ward and no standing to lose… :)
    ———————–
    As for the non-panty hose folks: if you are reproached about this by those who have no authority to do so, just tell them all about the link between panty hose and vaginal yeast infections. Stress the itching and the burning and the messy suppositories and ointments used to treat such ailments.

    No one will ever mention pantyhose to you again.

  53. Kristy Glass on August 14, 2005 at 7:33 am

    Carrie, How appropriate are fishnets for church? I personally wear them every so often, usually with tall boots. I have black, nude and green. I have worn all three to church. Please enlighten me.
    ~Kristy

  54. annegb on August 14, 2005 at 10:27 am

    Sorry I struck a nerve, Katie. Go ahead and disagree any time you want, it doesn’t bother me, we’re still friends, :). I still don’t understand how, even though she is your closest friend, she didn’t know that was inappropriate. To purposely inappropriately seems rude and designed to get attention. I’ve never seen a woman at the temple in pants and I’ve been going a long time.

    So I guess, although I offended you, I stand by my conclusion.

    Personally, I don’t give a crap, I would probably be the first to jump into slacks, but I wouldn’t purposely go against the grain.

    Oh, I just cracked myself up. I go against the grain all the time. Just forget I said anything.

  55. K1 on August 14, 2005 at 11:09 am

    Re #51 – when two men show up to any function wearing the same (or close) outfit, it is invariably followed by jokes regarding whether or not they called each other beforehand to coordinate.

  56. K1 on August 14, 2005 at 11:15 am

    Re: Temple dress

    Recently (here in North Texas), a member of a stake presidency got up in a ward conference to talk about temple attendance and dress. He said that he was heartened to see so many men going to the temple during their lunch hours (if you work in Dallas, you’re close enough to the temple that you can take an extended break and do a session, if you have a flexible schedule, and return to work). His concern was that if you are going to do that, you should refrain from showing up in golf shirts and “corporate casual” wear. His request was, “at least wear a tie when you’re entering the House of the Lord” (even if you put on that tie in the parking lot).

  57. Ann on August 14, 2005 at 4:45 pm

    Once when I was traveling on business to LA, I had a couple of hours and went to the temple.

    I was used to attending the Washington DC temple at the time, which had a changing room in the outer area for people who had traveled long distances. So, I wore my traveling duds to the LA temple only to discover that there was no such thing.

    I went sheepishly to the guy at the recommend desk and explained that I had thought I’d be able to change into my church clothes before I went in to the temple, and asked what I could do. He smiled and said, “Sister, we’re happy to have you here. Just step inside and get your temple clothing. Welcome to the temple.”

    I think the fault in Katie’s story is not with the woman who wore “inappropriate” clothing, but with the temple worker who called it to her attention. That was simply not her job, nor her place. Her task was to make temple-worthy people who had come to serve in the Lord’s house feel valued and welcome. Period.

  58. mark. on August 14, 2005 at 7:57 pm

    Why is it anyone’s right, except for the Brethren, to decide what is and is not acceptable to wear to church? In my mission there were quite a few Mormon Pharisses who insisted on not letting in (non)members into sacrament meeting unless the visitor/member was wearing a predetermined-acceptable-clothing ensemble. To this day, this kind of letter of the law, exterior judgment of someone’s spirituality level by their fashion/economic ability has disgusted me and I hope that the Brethren will never adopt a bloggern view by including a monolithic list of fashion styles dos and don’ts.

  59. "Anne" on August 14, 2005 at 8:08 pm

    # 50 – Heather, how refreshing to read of a woman who wears slacks to church on a regular basis. I dress for my own comfort not for the comfort of others and frequently wear slacks to church.

    What I would not wear to church is a short list :

    “worn out clothes” – save that for yard work

    “shorts” – for me, a bit too casual.

  60. JKS on August 14, 2005 at 8:25 pm

    Mark,
    It is similar to having good manners. Manners are there, not to make people feel stupid, but to make people feel comfortable. They know what to do in certain situations which makes them feel confident. They can also feel comfortable that they know how to act with regards to other people’s feelings and expectations.
    Some people don’t know about manners, or don’t care about them. Does this mean we should shrug off good manners? Have no standards at all? Never say thank you because other people don’t say thank you?
    If we never “discuss” these things, how do we learn about manners?
    Everyone can dress how they please, and act how they please. But isn’t it nice when we are considerate of others and we can feel confident in our own choices of dress or behavior.

  61. rd on August 14, 2005 at 11:04 pm

    On dress at temple, my father visited Seattle on business in the early 80s, had a free afternoon, and rather than waste it on idle banter or bad room service, he chose to attend the temple. He had neither a tie nor the resources to buy one, but he did have a recommend. The temple workers berated him. Ripped him a new one. My dad, the bishop of his ward, a common judge in Israel, was mercilessly scolded for attending the temple in suit pants, an oxford shirt, and no tie. Dad’s still active–very.

    I wonder, though, what effect that worker could have had on my father’s worship if he noted his long travel from home, commended dad for taking time to attend the temple, and smiled.

  62. Carrie Lundell on August 15, 2005 at 7:58 am

    Mark (#58) – As stated in the original post, you will find the discussion on this topic has been thoroughly worn out here. So don’t worry, you are not alone in your opinion–just late.

  63. Carrie Lundell on August 15, 2005 at 8:31 am

    Ann #57 – My mom used to be a temple worker at the LA temple. I actually remember the day she came home and said the workers had been instructed to not pull anyone aside to talk to them about clothing when they entered the temple. They were instructed to have exactly the attitude as the brother at the recommend desk in your story. This was a change from what the workers had been doing before — telling sisters to take off excessive jewelry, telling brothers that they should be wearing a tie, etc. While I do think it is a good idea for temple goers to show respect for the holiness of the temple in their dress, it is far more important for them to just get there, regardless of the clothing they might be wearing.

  64. Matt Evans on August 15, 2005 at 8:53 am

    JKS,

    Fashion style is not like manners. People who don’t follow fashion trends are not being rude or inconsiderate.

  65. Steve Evans on August 15, 2005 at 9:51 am

    Matt, you still banging on that old drum?

  66. greenfrog on August 15, 2005 at 10:52 am

    Fashion style is not like manners. People who don’t follow fashion trends are not being rude or inconsiderate.

    No, but they are communicating a variety of things by their decisions and their choices. Clothing that is more or less than that required for protection from the elements is communication. It is art. Art in public is always about more than simply the artist’s own subjective intent.

  67. Matt Evans on August 15, 2005 at 11:19 am

    Steve,

    No, just showing that fashion trends can’t be defended by comparison to manners. The clean and modestly dressed members without fashion sense (or with fashion sense from earlier decades) aren’t being rude or inconsiderate. Many of the sweetest sisters in our ward violate the thread’s fashion tips. All of them have impeccable manners.

    Greenfrog,

    Yes, the clean and modestly dressed members are frequently communicating their disregard for what the people in the big building are saying.

  68. annegb on August 15, 2005 at 11:49 am

    #64 I disagree. If you attend an event, and know that there is, even if it is unspoken, certain code of dress, and you purposely dress in a way that you know is contrary to that, it’s rude. It’s calculated.

    It’s no big deal to wear pants to an event if you know that’s accepted, it is a big deal if you know it is not accepted. Then you whine because somebody objects. That’s not fashion. That’s a power struggle.

    I’m an iconoclast, but it’s no skin off my neck to put on a dress to attend the temple if that’s what they are asking me to wear. If they change and let us wear nice pants, I will be glad, but in the meantime, I will respect their wishes and try to be courteous.

    Hell, if they said we could wear pants to the temple, somebody would probably try to wear levis and we could downscale it indefinitely. Everybody should grow up.

  69. Ivan Wolfe on August 15, 2005 at 12:01 pm

    Matt -
    Yes, the clean and modestly dressed members are frequently communicating their disregard for what the people in the big building are saying.

    From my wife and I – Thank you!

  70. greenfrog on August 15, 2005 at 12:08 pm

    Yes, the clean and modestly dressed members are frequently communicating their disregard for what the people in the big building are saying.

    I’m not sure of the intended tone of the remark, so I’m not sure whether this response will be productive. There are texts, and there are subtexts. Both are meaningful forms of communicating.

    Ms. Lundell’s posts here have brought to my attention that the same seem true of communicating via fashions. I’m not at all convinced that there is only one message to be conveyed, any more than I am convinced that we should all be allowed to use only a single sentence. Even so, I understand Ms. Lundell’s ideas about what not to wear as the same sort of assistance that I got with English in grammar classes in grade school and with art invarious drawing classes — unless and until I understand the components and structures of language or art or fashion (for want of a better word regarding clothing) and how they relate to one another, I will be more limited in my ability to utilize that form of expression. And I’ll be more limited in my ability to perceive nuance. And I’ll be less aware of the extent of communication going on around me. I may be a particularly clueless sort of person, but I had no clue what Picasso was doing with cubism (or why) until I learned something of the context that preceded him. From my perspective, Ms. Lundell’s ideas provide some information about the palette, the brushes, the paints, the canvas, and basic ideas of composition.

    If fashion communicates something, will some of that communication be unsavory? Surely. But I think that’s true of all forms of communication.

  71. Matt Evans on August 15, 2005 at 12:15 pm

    annegb, I can assure you that the many brothers and sisters in my ward who violate the fashion tips offered at Times & Seasons are not being rude. The sisters who violate the fashion guidance here: wearing jumpers, wearing a t-shirt under a sleeveless dress, pulling their hair back with a scrunchy or elastic, or covering their legs with knee-high hose, are all dressed appropriately for church and temple attendance. No one thinks they are rude because their clothing doesn’t conform to the commercial interests that constantly push new styles in order to generate demand for clothing.

    It’s important to recognize that the fashion tips here are for those who want to look like affluent Mormons who follow fashion trends, and to remember that many temple-worthy members do not want to look like affluent Mormons who follow fashion trends. There’s nothing rude about some members deciding to preoccupy themselves with other things. From several years of experience at ward temple night, I can say that members of our ward who care less about following fashion trends are disproportionately likely to attend ward temple night.

  72. Todd Lundell on August 15, 2005 at 12:51 pm

    “It’s important to recognize that the fashion tips here are for those who want to look like affluent Mormons who follow fashion trends, and to remember that many temple-worthy members do not want to look like affluent Mormons who follow fashion trends.”

    Actually Matt, most of the tips here are not “trendy” at all, but are tips regarding classic looks for those who care about dressing in their “Sunday best” to worship the Lord. But you are right that none of this should be taken too seriously. For example, Sunday was a nasty, hot day, and there were at least five bretheren who attended my ward wearing short sleeves and ties (one also wore a suit coat). Many were my good friends who simply don’t know or don’t care that they are making some fashion faux pas. It wasn’t a big deal. In fact, it was no deal at all.

    But, c’mon. Your efforts to avoid appearing fashion conscious have crossed the line to looking down on those who might be interested in such things. To the point that you even suggest that caring about fashion correlates to poor temple attendance. Despite that you and others have condemned as judgmental those who care about fashion, it’s pretty clear who is doing all the judging in these posts.

  73. Peter on August 15, 2005 at 2:41 pm

    Matt,

    Stop fighting your personal demons and give in to the dark side. Go and buy a nice dark grey or blue pin-stripe suit (don’t start out with an expensive one–just make sure you get it well tailored). Then buy a nice pinpoint oxford that fits well (Lands End overstock–cheap–don’t go for the monogram, that’s overreaching). Get a leather belt and some nice leather shoes (go to an outlet). Then get a nice silk tie sans Sponge Bob or Bugs. C’mon you know you want to. Just do it. Heck, go crazy and tie the tie the right length and in a moment of indulgence, that you can repent for later, shine those shoes.

    Wear to church and how do you feel? Confident? Of course. Respecful? You bet. Proud and haughty? Unlikely. The Bishop will speak to you as an equal. Kids will call you Brother Evans rather than Matt. People will pay closer heed to your Sunday School comments. Your babies will be less likely to barf on you. You’ll walk a little taller; sing the hymns a little louder; and church will have seemed a little more significant.

    Sure, it’s a slippery slope, and pretty soon you’ll be wanting to get those shirts custom tailored and you’ll be mocking the poor with every new cufflink you purchase, but a little bit closer to the edge won’t hurt you . . . after all Joseph’s (of many-colored coat fame) fashion sense may have got him in hot water with his siblings, but eventually led to being second in command of Egypt.

  74. Kaimi on August 15, 2005 at 2:49 pm

    (Edna and Elastigirl in conversation over the baby’s suit)

    Edna: (burst of fire covers the suit) It can a withstand a temperature of over one thousand degrees! (machine guns start shooting it) Completely bulletproof and machine washable, darling. That’s a new feature!
    Elastigirl: What in heaven’s name do you think the baby will be doing?!
    Edna: Well, I’m sure I don’t know, darling. Luck favors the prepared. I didn’t know the baby’s powers, so I covered the basics.
    Elastigirl: Jack-Jack doesn’t have any powers!
    Edna: No? Well, he’ll look fabulous anyway.

  75. Lisa B. on August 15, 2005 at 3:37 pm

    Ah, what I wouldn’t give for a barf-proof mommy-suit! Someone’s sig line on another chat group was “My super power is making breastmilk. What’s yours?” I thought that was great.

    As for these fashion faux pas, in spite of my probable over-love of fashion (and costume), I have in my mommy years regressed (or progressed, depending on your point of view) to the degree that I’ve had bare ghastly legs and/or knee highs peeking out of the back slit of my skirts, worn jumpers, and denim, tee-shirts, and bare (even unpolished) toes to church. I won’t do the tight white shirt thing, though, even though SIX other women in my ward did just yesterday. Here’s a general guideline. If you can tell which undergarment is on top, it’s too tight or transparent.

    As clothing immodesties, those who see to the facilities have taken care of that in our building by turning the AC waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down. Sub-zero. I’ve been wearing 3/4 sleeves, jackets, long skirts, and nylons in spite of the dog days just to keep from freezing to death at church! I guess the guys (excuse me, Brethren) setting the thermostat are in suits, so it makes sense even if there is no ulterior modesty motive involved.

  76. JustME on August 18, 2005 at 6:54 pm

    I will try not to be offensive, but Im not going to mince words (you know its going to be good when a post starts like this but…)

    It is so totally materialistic and region-centric to impose such ‘fashion’ rules for church. Honestly, we should be as respectful as our budgets allow. But there are so many reasons why your little rules don’t hold up.

    First, how do you think my friend, totally blind, thinks about this? I can tell you he could care less what ‘color’ his shirt is or if his pants are denim or cotton. He wears pants. He wears a shirt with a collar, and a tie. He doesn’t care what he, or anyone else attending church ‘look’ like. Sometimes, I wish we were all blind.

    Second, go to Hawaii, or Samoa, or Tonga or Fiji, and tell them flip-flops are not appropriate. Tell those men to wear pants. HA! (they wear skirts)

    I own zero jewerly. One of my nicest shirts is a ‘tshirt’. I wear ponytails if my hair is long. I use a simple rubberband. I think its ridiculus to go buy a bunch of frivalous crap to ‘dress up’. It reminds me of the scriptures in the Bible talking about vain women who wear alot of jewelry. My favorite outfit for church is a denim skirt with a white tshirt and leather flip flops, which, incidently, are one of my nicest pairs of shoes. I think my renewing of convenants is just as valid and the Lord accepts my commitment in attending church just as much.

    Why do you find yourself caring so much what people wear, including yourself? The Lord looks not at a persons appearance but on the heart. Women in our world have become very preoccupied with appearance and I think the only purpose it has served is putting our hearts more on the things of the world and putting Zion further and further from reality. If us women spent the amount of time building unity among sisters and spreading the gospel as we do worrying about and spending money on earrings, pantyhose, highheels and makeup than we would have long ago been lifted up.

  77. Carrie Lundell on August 19, 2005 at 7:07 pm

    Justme – If you went back and gave a good and fair reading to the first half of my post – I don’t think you would find the (what YOU cal)l “rules” so offensive.

What Not to Wear Part 2

August 6, 2005 | no comments
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Back by popular demand, here is the second installment of the Sacrament Meeting Edition of “What Not to Wearâ€? – Women’s Edition.

Hopefully we all had some time to get the last threadjack disscussion out of our system. Obviously there are some who find it entirely inappropriate to discuss fashion tips for church. If this is you, join the interesting discussion in Part I. The horse may be dead, but I’m pretty sure you will find people to kick it with you. Still, I can’t wait to see what we can turn this post into.

I will start again with my disclaimers (with some added explanation) about my perspective on what is and is not appropriate for church:

1. I attend a small ward in Queens, NY. I am just happy that people actually show up at church and personally could not care less about what they are wearing. For some reason, on the last post, this made me a hypocrite, but I still stand by this statement.

2. I believe appropriateness is relative. It is based on, among other factors, age, geographic location, body type, and personality. These things make it particularly hard to give any fashion advice to a diverse group of women such as those I know read T&S. This is also why you can really only judge your own apropriateness for any occasion.

3. To me, appropriateness doesn’t necessarily come down to the appropriateness of each piece in the outfit, it comes from the sum of all the parts, including overall grooming and cleanliness. This rule will come into play when I deal with the whole t-shirt, denim and flip flop issue.

4. Based on the comments to the welcome post, many people visiting this site might find what I choose to wear to church completely inappropriate. I wear denim. I wear flip flops. I wear ponytails. I wear t-shirts. And much to my mother’s chagrin, I never wear pantyhose.

5. For me, “Sunday Best”, means putting effort into my dress and appearance. Because of my firm belief in the power clothing has on mindset, preparing myself physically is one aspect of my spiritual preparation for church.

Now with all that said, I went through all the past comments from the women and hopefully I can answer some of you questions and handout some free fashion advice. Please use it with your utmost discretion as I do not want to be blamed for the downfall of Zion (at least not again).

General

-T-shirts – I am not sure what everyone else here would define as a t-shirt so I am not quick to say “No T-shirts”. Save any shirt with words, stains, or holes for the weekdays or saturday. A “t-shirt” that is fitted (mostly meaning the shoulder seams fall at the shoulders) and is not of the Hanes Undershirt variety, can defintely work with some attention given to other outfit details like: jewelry and other accessories, skirt choice, shoe choice, and a possible third piece (sweater, jacket, vest, etc.). I don’t think a t-shirt works with a denim skirt, flip flops and ponytail. Casual + casual + casual + casual = way too casual for church. There are also a ton of knit shirts out there with beautiful embellishments that look just as nice as any button up shirt.

-Denim – I love denim. I wear denim to church. I won’t condemn it. But we also must remember — All denim is not created equal. The classic “jean style” denim is similar to the t-shirt issue because by itself, it can be very casual and should not be worn with other casual pieces. I have this great dark denim blazer that actually adds repectability to any outfit (my husband also own this great wool/denim suit which is not the dressiest suit in his closet, but is still classy.)

-It is really hard to find modest dresses (especially in the summer). In the winter, opt for a cropped cardigan or wrap sweater worn over a sleeveless dress instead of a t-shirt worn under.

-It is really easy to find skirts of modest length right now. So pick up a few basics that will last for a few years (through the dry spell when hemlines move up) as well as the more “fashiony” ones.

-Now is the time to buy yourself a blazer. They come in a wide variety of fabrics, colors and prices. A blazer can dress up jeans during the week as well as give your church outfit a confience boost when you have to teach R.S. (a “third piece” of clothing can give the wearer a percieved “authority”).

-If a suit feels too “corporate”, try breaking it apart and mixing it with other pieces in your wardrobe: Wear the jacket with a soft floral skirt, or the skirt with an embellished sweater.

-Buy and wear clothing that is the right size – no matter what kind of clothes they are. Don’t just go by the size on the label. There are no sizing standards set up in the fashion industry so that basically means that every company can decide what a size 8 means. So try things on!

Hosiery and footwear

-There was definitely a time when bare legs were just not acceptable (which is why my mom has a hard time with mine–but last time I talked to her, she is coming to grips with it.) Nowadays, it is much more acceptable with some caveats: bare legs should be clean shaven, properly moisturized and free of any scrapes, bruises, etc. If your legs don’t fall into this category on a Sunday morning, put on pantyhose or tights (if it’s summer, I would opt for a lightweight, long skirt instead). My own advice just got me thinking I should have worn a long skirt last week to church when I had about 200 chigger bites all over my feet and ankles from girls camp – my legs were SCARY.
-While I hate pantyhose, I love tights (in the fall and winter). You can find them in wide range of colors, patterns and textures which makes them great (and inexpensive) way to update any classic wardrobe piece.
-Just like my advice to the men, never underestimate the power of your shoes. Make sure your shoes are clean and your boots and dressy shoes are polished.
-Let’s talk about flip flops. I have already admitted that I wear them. Most of the time, they can look far too casual for church but, they can be less “offensive” when worn with really long skirts in the summer where they will not get too much attention. Never wear flip flops with a denim skirt and t-shirt!
-Dr. Marten shoes (I think this issue is pretty regional): I understand that they are comfortable, and they last forever but they can look just as casual as flip flops (especially when paired with denim and khaki- and they don’t really go with anything else) and they are not flattering to the female leg. But if you must wear them, take the flip-flop advice and wear them with long skirts.
-One of the best things a woman can do for herself is to buy a great pair of high heels. I am not talking about spikes, or chunkies, or super-uncomfortable strappies. Just a great classic pair of heels (you will usually get the most wear out of black ones). Heels not only make a women’s legs look great, they require the wearer to have better posture and walk with a more “ladylike” stride.

Accessories
-I believe accessories to be the easiest way to dress up any outfit. There is no ironing, polishing, washing or drying involved. They are also the most inexpensive way to liven up the clothing already hanging in your closet.
-If you have holes in your ears, put on a nice pair of earrings.
-To “dress-up” a plain t-shirt, wear a necklace with a large pendant.
-A long, colorful, fabric scarf is a great and versatile accessory. Wear it in your hair, as a belt, around your neck, tie it on your bag–the possibilities are endless.
-If you must wear your hair in a ponytail, ditch the scrunchie, plain elastic, or anything else you might pull from your seven year old daughter’s hair accessory drawer. Lower the ponytail to the nape of the neck and use a nice clip or a more sophisticated embellished elastic (like a flower or rhinestones). This will make the ponytail look more deliberate (even if you did it because you ran out of time to do anything else).

Keeping clothes clean

Now that I have been a mom for three years, I understand how practical it is to have clothing that is easy to take care of – this is mostly evidenced by all the “dry-clean only” dresses and skirts that have been slowly pushed to the very rear of my tiny closet and now hang with my leather jeans (another item that does not mix very well with children). But being a mom does not mean that we have to be reduced to sweatpants during the week and denim, khaki and t-shirts for church. There are plenty of things available that are washable and dryable that can look really nice. They might require pulling out the iron (which I hate just as much as the next person), but it won’t kill anyone. It will take a little more planning. If we could all take a moment to sing the Primary song titled “Saturday”. It is a great reminder that preparations for Sunday worship include very temporal things (although I think the idea of “brushing your clothes is a little outdated).

My other advice on keeping clothes clean is work on becoming a stain fighting champion. I take great pride in my ability to get out almost any stain I am faced with. It takes a lot of practice, trial and error. Here is where to start:
1. Treat stains immediately
2. Look to make sure a stain is gone before putting it into the dryer (aka: stain setter)
3. Carry around Shout Wipes . At the least, they buy you time on stain treatment if you are out and about.
4. If you are not sure how to treat a stain you can try this site (I like the homespun ideas best).

Once you become more confident in your “stain fighting” you will feel more comfortable wearing nicer clothing when you have children.

My final advice to the men was basically — go shopping. I based this advice on what I think is a very valid stereotype of men – they don’t like to go clothes shopping. Thus, they are content to run their clothes into the ground in order to avoid having to actually step into a store. Once again, I am going to stereotype and say that women generally enjoy shopping more, but don’t do it for other reasons (can’t find the time, like to buy things for their children instead, poor body image, etc, etc). Whatever the reason, my advice is still the same, get out and go shopping. The more you can take a quick look around your favorite stores, the more likely you are to: find a good deal, discover the sometimes elusive cute modest clothes, and generally soak up the visual fashion information that will help you form new outfits from the clothes already in your closet.

My last thought: Whether you are “into” fashion or not, everyone must realize that clothing speaks. It is an effective tool for shaping others perceptions and your own attitude. If we all try to have this in mind as we get dressed for church each Sunday, I think we will all be able to make more appropriate choices in our church attire apart from any of fashion advice I or anyone else may give.

P.S. I posted a comment regarding “mommy clothes” here. Add those tips to the ones about accessories here, and you will be well on your way to avoiding SAHM “frumpiness”.

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