By D. S. Padilla, April 2, 2006
Many of you will be coming to this website as a “newbie” (someone new to plain and simple dressing.) It is very helpful to have a starting point as throwing out everything you own and buying all new clothes can be a bit overwhelming! What you may want to do is start with just a few pieces and add on bit by bit as you discover what works for you.
As a kind of “head to toe” makeover, I will give you a few tips on dressing simply.
Many ladies tend to buy a bunch of different styles to try out and waste a great deal of money on coverings that they will never wear. If you are new to covering, it is best to start with something simple that you will not feel too conspicuous in, such as a kerchief or scarf. You may find that you like this style enough to stay with it. After you have been covering for a while and begin to feel more comfortable, you may want to try some of the other styles.
Be prepared though—certain styles are going to generate more questions and comments from friends, family, and the general public. I’ve been asked if I was a nun, why I was wearing “that thing” on my head, and if I was Amish. Although these questions can be a great opportunity to share your faith, it can be traumatic for the shy sister. Many a sister has stopped dressing the way she wanted due to unwanted social interactions. For those that are maybe a bit bolder, there are many different styles available, from a very Amish type prayer capp to a cute little fabric cap reminiscent of the early pilgrims.
Head coverings should be made of a light fabric that “breathes,” such as batiste or cotton. The new sister may find at first that covering one’s head makes you feel much hotter. However, once you get used to it, you won’t notice the covering and will feel “naked” without it. Many coverings are available in lace, but, depending upon your beliefs, that may or may not be an alternative.
Many ladies like bonnets in flannel or wool and wool or fleece shawls for keeping warm. Most coverings can be worn under a bonnet so that you don’t have to keep changing headgear when going in or out. Fleece hoods or mantles are wonderful for winter as well, and many will go over your covering with ease.
You will find that most stores don’t carry anything that you can wear. Most of the clothing in stores is too worldly for the simply dressing sister. While it is certainly your own choice to buy from a store, most women prefer to have fewer garments that are made to their specifications by a seamstress. I have several very plain cotton dresses that were custom-made, and I’ve worn them until they’re so faded so you can’t tell the original color anymore! With custom-sewn clothing, you can have your hemlines done long, the dresses done looser, and you can choose what you do or don’t want on your clothes. The web, and this website in particular, is a wonderful resource for finding seamstresses that specialize in simple clothing.
For summer, you may want to start out with just a few cotton dresses. Blends work best, as they are less apt to need ironing and are cool. Many women prefer knits, but one has to be cautious that they’re not too clingy revealing too much of the figure! A cotton or muslin slip and a few pairs of muslin bloomers are good to have as well. Broomstick skirts are an excellent choice for summer and go well with T-shirts, polos, and more formal blouses. Cape dresses and vest dresses are very modest and comfortable as well, but they are not available in stores. Jumpers are a great alternative for either summer or winter (or both) as the style and warmth can be changed just by changing tops. There are a good many seamstresses listed on the Web that sew cape and vest dresses and jumpers to your specifications.
With the warmer weather, many women prefer to go without stockings, while others prefer to wear knee-high nylons. With the longer hemlines of plain dresses, knee-highs are a cool and comfortable alternative to full hosiery.
In the winter, warmth is a big consideration, especially if you live in a cold climate. Flannel bloomers or pantalettes are great, but be sure to wear a nylon slip over them as you will find that the fabric from your skirt or dress will tend to creep up. Tights are very warm, as are long underwear bottoms. Generally, microfiber is the warmest and most comfortable, and again, you will need a nylon slip to keep your skirt from riding up.
As always, it is important to remember why you chose to dress plainly or simply in the first place. I have seen sisters go completely overboard and spend a ton of money on new clothing. The key is moderation—a few good dresses that can be worn either for every day or for church are a wise investment. They can always be used as housedresses as they fade or get older. You will find that two or three coverings are quite sufficient, and one or two aprons will get you through. The key here is to wear clothing that is simple, inexpensive, and modest, not to “look Amish” or to be a plainly dressing fashion plate. We are not in competition with other women as many of the worldly are, but are dressing in a manner pleasing to the Lord. It is not necessary to spend a small fortune to dress simply. Good stewardship of the resources entrusted to us by the Lord is always a wise approach.
2006 by D. S. Padilla. Permission is granted to reproduce excerpts of this article up to 250 words in electronic newsletters or on websites provided that the text is unchanged, the text is represented as an excerpt and not a full article, and the following and verbiage is attached:
“2006 by D. S. Padilla. This article was originally published at http://www.modestclothes.com/simple/articles/tips-for-christian-ladies-new-to-plain-and-simple-dressing.html.”