Monday, October 24, 2011

Clothing and Covenant Women

A post on another blog (Scriptorium Blogorium; see list at the right) inspired me to write this.  She is concerned about being prideful and wearing costly apparel.  It's an excellent blog and I enjoyed her post.  Some years ago I studied all the scriptures have to say on the subject of modesty and women's clothing and such.  After all the study I chose Doctrine and Covenants 42:40-41 as the principles to guide my choices.

     And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands; and let all things be done in cleanliness before me.

Michaela, over at Scriptorium, asks some wonderful questions to discover our own pride.  I'd like to focus on the part about clothing being plain.  Of the five definitions for that word, the second is the one I believe to be the one meant here.

easy to perceive or understand; clear the advantages were plain to see it was plain that something was very wrong.• [ attrib. (of written or spoken usage) clearly expressed, without the use of technical or abstruse terms written in plain English.• not using concealment or deception; frank he recalled her plain speaking.
From our mode of dress it should be easy to perceive or understand that we are women of covenant.  We dress modestly, not calling attention to our bodies, in ways that express our virtue (cleanliness).
I watched students pour out of high schools in Provo and Midvale, Utah and wondered who were LDS church members and who weren't.  I certainly couldn't tell by their dress or demeanor. They all looked and acted worldly to me.  I wanted the members to stand out, I wanted it to be plain to me by the way they dressed and acted.  It wasn't and I wondered what more we could do to encourage them to be different.
The part about clothing being the work of our own hands seems to indicate to me that when the fashion of the world is incompatible with our covenants that we need to make our own so we can be perceived by others to be followers of the Savior. If that makes us look different, so be it. That is where the pride part comes in.  I remember being persecuted and made fun of in Junior High because I wore dresses to my knees with white cotton bobby socks.  This was 1969-1972, the first time around for the mini-skirts and hot-pants.  I hated going to school; I hated looking different; as soon as the rules changed to allow wearing slacks I got some and wore them every day so I wouldn't look so different; although I still never achieved my aim to look like everyone else. I never did fit in fashion wise.  Now in my adult years I'm glad for that experience because I no longer care what others are wearing.  I don't follow fads.  I like to wear modest, classic styles that seem to always be "in", or at least not dated looking by the next season.
My mother told of working in the temple one day and seeing a bride change into her "wedding dress" for pictures and the dress was strapless!  My mother was absolutely flabbergasted. The workers are not allowed to say anything or criticize the patrons so she had to stand by and just watch.  But she wondered where this girl's mother was, or RS President, or Bishop's wife, or friend; someone who could have advised her on proper dress.  Or maybe they did and this bride was determined to wear what she wanted, when she wanted and to heck with covenants.  I don't know what she was thinking. But I do know that by what she was wearing it was plain she wasn't keeping the covenants she had just made.
I taught our daughter, Noble, modesty by having her wear an undershirt or camisole her whole life.  I taught our sons the same, wearing an undershirt under their clothing.  This helps them not only be modest, but to get used to the feel of wearing undergarments in preparation of temple covenants.  When Noble was in Military Basic Training she felt naked without her undershirts and asked me to send them to her as soon as she was at her next duty station. 
I sure don't believe in a "uniform" such as the Amish wear, although it is tempting sometimes to dispense with all the choices and just have a few things to wear; I do however believe in clothing that is modest and makes it plain that I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, a covenant woman.


  1. Thank you for stoping by my blog.

    This is a heated topic. I almost feel like the current generation is just missing pieces of the modesty puzzle. Duh! Strapless wedding dress?

    Oh dear. It is really hard for me to not be offensive and tell everyone what I think.

    This is a good topic for me to ponder more.


  2. Oh, forgot to say that my dad was born in Iowa!