warning; controversial image…

warning; controversial image… December 22, 2011

… Few articles of women’s clothing are more controversial than the denim jumper or the ankle length denim skirt. The mantilla and head covering garments are probably the most volatile. Today; however, I want to discuss the denim jumper.

Living in the South long denim skirts and jumpers have an evangelical connotation. They are perceived as the snake throwing Pentecostal woman’s uniform. Whether it’s true or not I can not know. My snake throwing church exposure has been, sadly, a bit limited. However, I was Pentecostal for awhile; but then I got better. Before I got better I did notice that a few women in my church dressed like the above image but really most evagelicals I knew looked like Tammy Faye or Dolly Parton… all bedazzled, big hair and big… um. It was Alabama after all.

I’ve lived in various states all over the Southern part of this country and I’ve found it’s usually the very strict sola scriptura type protestants who prefer this type of dress. I do know they choose to wear this type of clothing for reasons of modesty, to which I certainly have no objections to.

So what is it about the denim jumper that causes so much contempt? Could it be because the idea of modesty is so counter cultural or could it be because their idea of modesty is considered so frumpy?

Writing on the subject from a Catholic perspective, I do know that the denim jumper and ankle length skirts have been adapted as the uniform of choice for a sizable majority of families who are members of SSPX. This may be the source of controversy, for Catholics at least, since the organization of SSPX itself is considered controversial.

Now add to the equation traditional Catholics, or more specifically Catholics who favor the mass in extraordinary form over the novus ordo mass. I added the extra specification because I consider myself traditionally minded however I do not have mass preference – no. versus m.e.f.

I realize the subject of n.o. versus m.e.f. is highly volatile among Catholics so I suppose when some see women come to mass covered head to toe in shapeless denim the assumption is made that they must be “one of those” who thinks their mass is better than mine.

Again, I inclined to think the choice in attire is more about modesty and less about some divisive religious statement. Or is it? Is it an intentional outward sign of inner piety and if so is that such a bad thing? Is that why the denim jumper is so controversial, because it could be perceived as a sign of spiritual superiority?

My own personal opinion, the denim jumper and shapeless dresses are frumpy and you don’t need to surrender style in favor of modesty.

Dress by Shabby Apple.

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  • Jeanne Chabot

    Ooooooohhhh… I love the dress… (the Shabby Apple one obviously)

  • smk

    I thought that was a religious community postulant (i.e. first 1/2 or year ‘nun’).

  • Mary Alexander

    To add some perspective- I’ve always found that those who are hardest on the denim jumper are single women. They cannot fathom needing an article of clothing that must accomodate year round temperatures, cooking, cleaning, gardening, daily laundering, throwing up children and 20-30 pound swings in weight about every 18 months.

    Now is it shapeless? Yes.

    But that may be because what it is hiding is no better. The cocoon is pretty shapeless too but something wonderful emerges from it.

    I’m not advocating denim jumpers but I think a little forbearance and understanding is in order.

    • The_crescat

      Which is why I posted this, to gain a better understanding. Thanks for your comments, Mary.

      Can I interject, I do all the above you mentioned on a daily basis and have yet to find the denim jumper to be any more practicle than a simple pretty frock. Although I’ve gotten more prissy in my old age.

      • Peony Moss

        I’m with Mary in guessing that the scorn heaped on the poor denim jumper is not because it’s modest but because it’s a frumpy “practical” modest. It’s a contemporary version of a housedress.

        As Mary pointed out, the women who are wearing denim jumpers need clothes that can withstand housework and child barf. Denim jumpers fit that bill. Since they’re a little sportier, they don’t look incongruous with flat shoes. And since they’re long, they don’t drag in the stockings/ perfectly shaved-and-self-tanned legs issue in the summer time. Get a stain on your jumper? Hate shopping and can’t find anything you like in the stores? Denim jumpers are really easy to sew.

        I could never see myself doing housework in the Shabby Apple dress. Kat, out of sincere curiosity, what simple pretty frocks are you finding so practical? And where do we get them?

        • What fantastic comments! Thank you both for providing such thought provoking replies.

          To address the house dress … Most women didn’t wear their house dress outside the house and my grandmother, who wore one for chores, wouldn’t be caught dead in her moo-moo [as she called them] running errands much less go to church wearing one.

          In the Shabby Apple dress I can cook, do laundry, run errands, make up the beds, vacuum and sweep…etc. It’s not like I am out farming and cleaning animal stalls.

          Practicality of the garment aside, I’d like to get back to my original inquiries;

          “Again, I inclined to think the choice in attire is more about modesty and less about some divisive religious statement. Or is it? Is it an intentional outward sign of inner piety and if so is that such a bad thing? Is that why the denim jumper is so controversial, because it could be perceived as a sign of spiritual superiority?”

          • Peony Moss

            I’m going to guess that the choice of a denim jumper is more about modesty and wearing a dress for the sake of being womanly. The denim jumper fits those needs and has all the bennies listed above. For some women, they may also like that it’s just like what all their friends at Bible Church are wearing. So in that sense, it’s an outward sign of inner piety.

            Going out on a limb here, I’m also going to guess that it’s because a lot of the ladies who are wearing them these days were teens or young women in the South in the late ’80s. In those days, jumpers were fashionable among certain belles (along with the drop-waist dress.) (Seriously!) This homeschool blogger says that the denim jumper stereotype took root because homeschooling took off in the late ‘eighties/ early ‘nineties when denim jumpers were trendy.

            And as for why some people get so freaked by denim jumpers… well, our culture has such a horror of anything matronly or “mumsy” (look at the opprobrium heaped on the poor minivan). So for some people, covering yourself from neck to ankles in yoga clothes and driving around in an SUV is okay, because even though you’re a mom, you’re still cooler than that mom who’s covered from neck to ankles in a denim jumper and is driving a minivan.

            The denim jumper is also associated with Southern evangelicals, and in some circles it’s always okay to hate on them.

            “Is that why the denim jumper is so controversial, because it could be perceived as a sign of spiritual superiority?”

            Or at least as a sign of contradiction? I don’t see people getting worked up about the plain attire of nuns, Amish, and Mennonites the way they get worked up about the denim jumpers – perhaps because the sign of contradiction hits a little closer to home? Just speculating.

          • Lydiamcgrew

            I thought of another reason, if you live in the north: Warmth. As a Yankee Midwesterner, I get cold just looking at the pretty Shabby Apple dress. A this time of year, that is. I wd. also find it hard to get in and out of a car and to kneel and get up in a just-to-the-knee dress modestly. It’s clumsiness, I suppose, but I prefer something well below knee length to do all those things with confidence. To be clear, I wear jeans and pants (very old-fashioned, modest ones) much of the time, but not to church and not all the time otherwise, either.

          • Elizabeth Gill

            As an aside, I actually do go out farming (gardening, taking care of the chickens) in my flowing pink cotton skirt. Personally, plain ole cotton is easier/nicer to wear than denim-even in skirts/jumper thingies….

            It might be because I don’t give a hoot if it gets dirty. After the day is done, I toss it into the wash. It gets clean, I wear it again, it gets dirty again, I wash it again. 

            Of course, I may be ignorant of types of fabric that are easier to clean than others.

      • Mary Alexander

        With all due respect Kat, you are a professional woman who spends most of her day in an office with one child nearly grown. I’m talking about women with 6, 8, 10 children 10 and under- LOL. This is combatwear for those in the trenches.

        I think there is something to be said for the young, stylish lady, ready to marry or just married who wear dresses like the lovely one you have shown. They are beautiful to look at and I love to admire smartly dressed women but there is many the shoulder of a matron in a denim jumper that I have cried upon in my struggles and thought nothing about what they wore but only the encouragement, understanding and sympathy that they gave.

        To me the denim jumper has many positive connotation- maternal care, hard work, weathered patience, frugality and self sacrifice.

        • Nearly grown! Ha. Mine is only 8. But you are correct. I have the one, work in real estate and have to dress professionally and I wear scrubs @ my PT job nursing. I suppose I have it quite cushy compared to a mom of multiples and projectile vomiting infants.

          I’m glad you have positive connotations with the denim jumper. It’s good to read a different perspective.

          • Lydiamcgrew

            Isn’t there also the fact that a lot of women who wear these a lot are either pregnant or postpartum for a large percentage of the time, because they have children that aren’t widely spaced? The shapelessness in that case may be a feature rather than a bug, one might say.

  • “…you don’t need to surrender style in favor of modesty.” Or femininity. Those jumpers are indeed modest – the same way burkas are modest.

    • David Meyer

      (Again, I could not post onthe actual article about denim jumpers, but can here, repost to the first commentor if you wish)

      Bad comparison Kim. Most often the jumper is about functionality, a full burkha is about something else entirely. As a married man who has been known to appreciate the beauty of fairer sex, let me say that any woman in a jumper is more feminine than if she were in pants. Men cannot wear a dress/jumper, women can.
      And when you have 5+ young children and are running a big household, and often low on cash, AND without a great demand anymore for dresses meant for intensive physical household work, the modern Christian woman often ends up in the denim jumper. Are there copycats that wear one because they think it is a cultural statement? Probably. But in its origins, the denim jumper is more about functionality, durability, cost, and lack of alternatives that consistently meet those criteria than it is about making some statement about modesty that couldnt be made by a less frumpy dress.
      When I encourage women (for the sake of greater femininity, beauty and modesty) to wear dresses, the consistent answer I get from women on this topic is that they are hard to find/expensive.

      Another point I want to make is this: If a woman wears blue jeans 6 days a week how many people will notice? None. Same woman wearing a jumper? People honestly get offended. I have seen it happen. I think they get offended that a woman is identifying with a traditional matronly role by wearing such functional, feminine clothing. The jumper says “I am a woman who means business. I will outbreed you, outcook you, and outchurch you.”

      Lots of dresses look better than a jumper, but I never fault a woman for wearing one. It has become the female battle gear for the culture war of the modern family. And in that way it is actually sorta sexy, in the way a construction workers drooping toolbelt and soiled t-shirt is probably sexy to you ladies.

  • Anonymous

    What’s with the lingering advert in your right sidebar? LOL …

    • Google’s gentle reminder for us not to get our knickers in a twist? LOL.

  • Camille

    shapeless = greater range of weight I can fit in it. If you’re preggers a lot, well, you tend to hold on to those items of clothing that tend to not have waists. I prefer the wrap around skirts that allow you to have that flexibility and still some shape, but I certainly understand the usefulness of a smock type form.

    • Camille

      and I too love the shabby apple dress!

  • Jason Pascucci

    Modesty is one thing, and of course one can dress modestly-to-the-eyes while maintaining a functionally prideful closet of Prada-Gucci-Designeroftheseason.

    But we are told: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?'”

    Are there people who are less anxious about what they will wear when their uniform is a simple, functional, and in many respects plain dress? Whether that’s a nun, a priest, or, indeed, a jumper-wearing Church-going mom.

    My question: which virtue, precisely, are those who feel impelled to not look ‘frumpy’ (your words) expressing?

    • Peony Moss

      Well, let’s see…. there’s justice and charity – many of us like to fix ourselves up for the sake of our husbands and children…. prudence – looking professional for the sake of our professional work…. and temperance – hitting the golden mean between vanity and slovenliness.

      “Be neat, Philothea; let nothing be negligent about you. It is a kind of contempt of those with whom we converse, to frequent their company in uncomely apparel; but, at the same time, avoid all affectation, vanity, curiosity, or levity in your dress.” – St Francis de Sales

    • As Peony stated, the virtue of prudence in a professional work environment for starters.

      • Lydiamcgrew

        Well, maybe one of the “messages” being sent by non-sharp but long and comfy (aka shapeless) dresses is, “The Lord be thanked, I don’t have to look sharp and professional in a work environment.”

  • I’ve met many devout Christian women who honestly believe that thinking about their appearance is at least a fault if not an outright sin. They may own one (usually ugly) dressy dress for Christmas/Easter/special occasions but style is not a consideration. They cling to the denim jumper. There are so many stylish alternatives that address the changes & challenges of any woman’s life but they all require a bit of thought about one self & that is hard for many devout women. I’ve even known devout women try to become a bit more stylish only to buy ugly, shapeless duplicates of what they already own. It’s an ongoing mystery to me. After all, God did create women to be beautiful, right?

    • Ah, I completely neglected the sin of vanity as a reason.

    • Peony Moss

      God created women to be beautiful, but he didn’t create all women with a love for clothing.

      I can only speak for myself – I don’t think it’s a sin or a fault to think about my appearance, but I just don’t “get” the whole clothes thing and I know I’m not the only one. I really hate shopping. I really don’t have any knack for fashion. I am not tall and willowy like the models, I’m short and potato-y. All the details that go with dressing up are confusing to me – hose? tights? bare legs? does that mean I have to shave my legs every day? what if even my freshly shaven legs aren’t pretty? but hose are considered “frumpy” these days, right? self-tanner, what? The idea of spending time in the morning putting The Perfect Outfit together makes me feel anxious, not feminine.

      And then there’s the shoe issue – what do you wear with your frock if you’re clumsy or need orthotics (or both)?

      I do have a kind of “uniform” I cling to – not a denim jumper – but right now it involves slacks. I don’t feel in the least bit rebuked or threatened or shamed by Kat’s project or by any other woman’s preference for skirts and dresses. And if anybody cared to post some pictures of outfits with suggestions (especially for shoes) I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d find it very helpful.

      • I’m a advocate of pantyhose and tights! I love them… no shaving or self tanner involved if you wear them. And they come in all textures and colors now.

        I get fashion isn’t everyone’s thing and shopping is chore and hard to do with children in tow. I empathize, as a mom I know it’s hard. I’m glad you don’t feel rebuked… my intention is not to mock anyone for what they choose to wear. Personally my experiment is for myself bc I fail at dressing age appropriate and ladylike and it’s an area where I want to look more polished. I’m curious to see if I can pull it off for 30 days and I want to challenge the whole notion of practical clothing. If I’m wrong about that I will acknowledge and post it.

        You want pictures and suggestions… well, I’d love to. I wonder if I’d lose all my male readership though. lol.

        • David Meyer

          You wont loose your male readership. Many of us have wives and are wanting answers to these same questions.

  • I grew up in a strong (strict) Catholic family that was a part of an ecumenical, covenant community. All of the Catholic, Orthodox and protestant mom’s and older single woman owned at least one denim dress and/or long denim skirt (including my own mother). Mostly for reasons of modesty but also to be feminine. I also grew up at a parish that was known to have very large families and many home schooled families & again most of the mother’s and daughters all wore (what I considered) the dreaded jumper. I owned a couple growing up but rarely wore them once I turned 10 and none of them have graced my closet since I was 15. So growing up in W.Michigan it was & still is considered the home schooled & strong Catholic/Christian ‘look’.

    Back in my twenties I was very involved with the community I grew up with and their university outreach and remember making a pact with most of the other women involved who were my age promising each other that as we grew older, got married and had children that while we would always strive for modesty & femininity we would NEVER, EVER wear a denim jumper (nor a flowery, corduroy, etc… jumper)! Out of all of them I’m the only one not married and they all have at least four children now (& I’m the only one no longer involved with the community) but none of us have ever worn a jumper of any kind. We have found that you can be modest, trendy & feminine while doing daily tasks.

    As much as I love Shabby Apple, especially their Inca Trail & Baja Collections I find H&M to be cheaper and more within my price range.

  • Helene E. Wood

    The easiest time I ever had deciding what to wear each day was when I was a postulant in a cloistered monastery. White blouse and denim jumper – each and every day. I loved it!

    • I bet! I’ve often envied wimpled nuns who don’t have to fuss with their hair.

  • JP

    I thought my wife would love that dress, but can’t find it on their website. Do you have a link?

  • JP

    Nevermind. Google image search for the win. http://www.shabbyapple.com/p-384-madison-ave.aspx

  • Mark Richer

    Hmmm. Didn’t St Matthew devote an entire gospel reminding us to focus on works, not appearances; our own salvation, not the apparent and self congratulatory piety of others; and that judging by temporal, not eternal standards is the slippery slope to a fall?

    Of course, as I was reading this, I was wondering if those who object to denim, also object to nuns in habits, farmers in overalls, or me in my daily wardrobe of jeans and a T-shirt (perhaps a hoodie if it’s cold)? Or is there something deeper going on: a dissonance in our own inner life that provokes such a reaction? Thanks for prodding, Kat. You’re doing the Lord’s work.

  • Verushka

    When I first saw the pic you posted, I thought it was of a postulant.

    Lay people shouldn’t dress like nuns.

    Here’s the part I don’t get: the wholeankle-length skirt thing is just so…protestant! Little house on the prairie wasn’t Catholic. My grannies and great-aunts were very Catholic and they used to wear stylish dresses and suits (looking at pix from the 30s to the 60s), which were not big, gathered dirndl skirts, but narrower skirts, between calf and knee. A stint with wide skirts, a la Dior’s New Look appeared in the early 50s, but always stylish, never frumpy.

    • David Meyer

      “Lay people shouldn’t dress like nuns.”

      When nuns first started dressing like that, laypeople were wearing the same thing.

      “Little house on the prairie wasn’t Catholic.”

      In the late 19th century, Catholics in America would have been wearing the EXACT same clothing as the people on Little House on the Prairie. Dressing feminine and modest is not a Protestant thing.

      • Verushka

        But then you have to ask: why is *anyone* dressing like it’s the 19th century? God didn’t want any of us to live during that time and so, here we are. In a community, in 21st century society. And chicks who dress like that one are thumbing their nose at their community. It’s a costume and immodest in that it draws undue attention to oneself.

        The vibe I always get from jumper-wearing ladies is definitely protestant, in that there’s a Puritan aspect to their views of clothing (and 9 times of out 10, those views extend beyond clothing). My Catholic ancestors were the exact opposite of that, but then again, we were northeastern city types and fashion mattered, because it was part of how you carried yourself, how you wanted to be treated and how old you were. Yes, much of modern dress is adolescent but there’s an asexual childishness about frump-wear and I’ll have no part of it.

        Worth noting: many stylish ladies back then did to the house-dress thing, to work in the house, but never ever ever outside. Outside meant class, elegance, gloves, hats, suits, etc. Save for the gloves, there’s a way of being sophisticated and stylish wearing updated versions of those things.

  • Julie Klare

    As a mother of four daughters under 8, I always taught them that if they got lost in a store to find a mom in a denim jumper. When you’re only 3’2″, it’s a surefire way to find another homeschooling mom who’ll help you out. When I was a kid, it was “if you get lost, find a policeman.” Good luck with that these days!

    • So then would you consider the denim jumper a purposeful “uniform” of home-schoolers? Would it cause a flap if a home-school mom decided to not wear ankle length denim? I’m just curious.

      • Peony Moss

        But how many people really wear the denim jumpers any more?

  • pacifica_00775

    While taking Pre Cana classes our extremely strict but very wise (TLM) priest sent a few stern words my way about a skirt I was wearing. It had a slit up the side to the knee and I guess that was to much. In a joking way I replied that I refused to dress “frumpy, like my Amish relatives. After all didn’t God make a rainbow with beautiful colors?” The next week he was advocating a book called “Dressing with Dignity” from the pulpit and turned out to be a good book. I can’t stand the denim jumper – It’s just too Amish-y for me and I have a 18 month old boy running around in the mud all day. Sweaters or zippered sweatshirts and skirts are my uniform. I agree with Kimvandapool’s comment.

  • kenneth

    The denim jumper is actually the main reason I’m not a polygamist. All of the guys who have “sister wives” all seem to dress them in denim jumpers, or similar hideous old school frumpery. I couldn’t wake up to that every day, even if it were a different and beautiful woman every day of the week. Of course I also don’t have the money or patience for 25 kids either….

  • IC

    I’m the last person to talk about style, so I find the whole post and thread a bit like looking into a zoo. Now as in you’re all animals, as in, I don’t get the discussion. I think all jumpers are kind of ugly, but frumpy never came to mind. And I like denim; it’s comfortable, and I like blue and casual.

    The shabby apple dress is kind of pretty but I could never pull it off. I’m a skirt/shirt and cardigan woman. Academia: the only place where dull clothing is a smart career move.

    You knew you lured me into this with the title though. 😉

  • My goodness! I had no idea that jumpers, especially denim ones, were so controversial. But I have always been clueless when it comes to fashion.

    What denim has going for it is that it doesn’t show dirt (so you can sit down anywhere) and it doesn’t show cat hair. Also, anything made of denim is kind of casual which is a plus when you are unable to wear dressy shoes. (I have to wear orthotics in my shoes.) Fortunately, I’ve recently found some sensible shoes that are not clunky running shoes, so I soon hope to be moving out of the denim ghetto.

    By the way, does anyone really wear ankle length jumpers? I should think they would be very impractical. I have an ankle length skirt, and I tried wearing at my library job. But when I squat down to reach the lower book shelves, I step on the skirt when I try to get up.


    P.S. I like your photo of the Shabby Apple dress. One of the reasons I’ve been fooling around with vintage patterns lately is that I too want some “grown-up” clothes.

  • Babs

    Perhaps the women enduring so much gunk and baby puke shouldvinvest in some aprons or smocks. I only say that becausey husband doesn’t like frumpy clothes, so I’ve found aprons a practice and laundry saving solution.

    • Yay, aprons! They’re really making a come-back as a browse through Etsy shops will prove. I’ve always used canvas chef’s aprons in the kitchen, but now I’m sewing some cute ones to wear at work since I’m now working in the TS department with glue and stuff I don’t want to get on my clothes. Kwik Sew 3396 (view A) is cute and easy.


      The secret to success is double-fold bias tape which allows you to apply it in just one pass of stitching.

  • Jana

    My mom wears denim jumpers, especially when she’s gardening but it always looked normal on her. She has a few that are pretty colors and embroidered and pairs it with a nice sweater and cute shoes. She’s given me denim jumpers but hard as I try I can’t get them to magically look okay on me. I’ve even kept them to see if I can transform them into something wearable with my sewing machine. Sigh… I like dresses that are just past the knee all the way to maxi length. Maybe it’s the material that people have a problem with? Denim is usually only acceptable as jean pants. You’ll see the occasional jacket but not much else. Maybe it’s like wearing men’s button up shirts (flannel/lumberjack)?

    One of my favorite sewing pattern sites is Sense and Sensibility patterns: http://sensibility.com/

    You see jumpers in there but made with non-denim fabric. Very pretty in silk/satin.

    I like Shabby Apple but the skirt length always has me wishing they were a tad longer, like mid calf. I’d totally buy them then or at least dream.

  • tj.nelson

    This is such a tempting post for me – but it’s Christmas.

    Shout out to Verushka: I know who she is. Remember Antonioni’s “Blow Up”?

    • Verushka

      Yup! But I spell it without the “c”. Otherwise everyone would confuse us. Heh.

  • Andrea

    ” I was Pentecostal for awhile; but then I got better.”

    Just a word of friendly reminder: Not all your readers are Catholic.

    • But they should be 😉

      • Andrea

        Duly noted. I shall not return. 🙂

  • Christina Kuklinski

    I really think that it can be a matter of the woman’s reasoning for wearing the jumper. If she wears it because it is comfortable, stain resistant, and the other qualities listed in the earlier comments, then I say she can go right ahead. That being said, if she wears the jumper because she feels that the ONLY way to be modest is by wearing something without shape that comes down to her ankles, I think there is a greater issue than her apparel. There are many other ways to look modest without being so covered. We’re called to live in the world, without being of it. In terms of clothing, I believe that means to be mindful of style without following trends slavishly. Extreme dress can alienate your non-Catholic neighbors, and perpetuate stereotypes about homeschoolers/trads.

  • Anonymous

    Where I live, the long denim skirt is mostly worn by the members of La Luz del Mundo – an evangelical church whose mostly Mexican members are Jesus Only Pentecostals. They separate the sexes during services, forbid music and follow their leader Samuel Joaquin Flores as the only Apostle of God.

  • Katie O’Keefe

    Yes, practicality is the name of the game with the denim jumper. When they came into “vogue” in the early nineties, I was just starting my family and had two active toddlers to keep after. Doing my hair and dealing with separates was the last thing on my list when getting ready to take on my day. A denim jumper and a t-shirt for everyday, or a canvas (or velvet or corduroy) jumper with a dress blouse for Sundays or outings was perfect for me. It hid a multitude of sins (like that last piece of cheesecake I ate) and was washable when my little darlings got “baby grack” on me. I did not wear them for modesty sake, however. I wore them because they were an easy choice.
    As my youngest is 16 now, she has banished what she calls “The Yoder Dresses” from my wardrobe. Now, I wear blue jeans everyday and dress pants on Sunday, mostly for vanity’s sake (I realize as I am typing) because my ankles swell and look awful. Maybe it’s time to bust out my sewing machine and create something beautiful and functional. You are right, Kat. There is no need to sacrifice beauty for modesty or function. But please realize, many of us got stuck in the time period where we started raising our families and then didn’t crawl out. By way of example, I can almost always tell when a woman graduated from high school by the way she wears her hair. Just a thought.

  • Rosemary

    I look back fondly on my years in flowing denim. The outfit was in two pieces — the jumper itself and a shirt (short sleeve or long, depending on the seasons) meant to go under it, which could be changed daily rather than washing the jumper every day. Therefore one only needed two or three jumpers. How could you work up a day’s sweat in that Shabby Apple dress without soon washing the life out of it? Could one even machine-wash it, or would it need the pampering of hand-washing or dry-cleaning?

    Denim jumpers are usually soft and non-constricting. I’m surprised this has been brought up so little, but one would have to have an almost perfect body to wear that snug, curve-hugging Shabby Apple dress — or invest in powerful foundation garments. That dress would be a potent shame-trigger on several levels.

    It’s not fair to maintain Humanae Vitae and still expect married women to continue to sport the slender frame of their teens. As Dr. Janet Smith herself admitted, “You’ll lose your looks having kids.” (BTW, does that Shabby Apple dress have breast-feeding vents?)

    Finally, though, the jumper was the garb one could wear to daily mass that was clearly respectful, even reverent, without being expensive, constricting, and uncomfortable. And with bicycle shorts on underneath, modest on every level. One was freed up to think about God rather than one’s garments.

    But clearly it would not be appropriate attire for selling real estate. That seems rather self-evident. We’re talking about two very different lifestyles here.