Modest is Hottest: The Evolution of Mormon Fashion
I’m awkwardly standing on one foot in an attempt to put on a shoe when I hear it. “Now you just look Mormon,” a girl snickers to her friend.
Oh no. Oh no she didn’t.
I whip my hair back just in time to see the girl’s wrinkled nose staring at a piece of clothing. My thoughts are confirmed.
Oh yes. Oh yes she did.
She used the word Mormon to describe a dress so homely, it could only pass as chic at a retirement home….on casual Friday.
I laugh (too forced, with too much nose flare) and limp defeated on one heel away from the giggling duo.
Looking back, I wish I would have revealed my Mormon status. In my brain I would have said something clever while flaunting my pencil skirt. However since my curves and my jokes wouldn’t do justice, I wrote this post to explain to women and men everywhere why Mormons don’t wear gunny sacs and pioneer dresses, but do believe in covering up.
In the beginning, me and other teeny bop Mormons struggled a little bit with fashion.
And by a little bit, I mean a lot.
Our religion believes in being modest and covering up from shoulders to thighs (for good reasons that I will explain in a moment). At a young age, this was hard to understand. Especially for me. I had already secured my spot as a social outcast from the minute I sprouted baby giraffe legs (reference photo above) in Junior High to the time I slipped in a puddle of fry sauce in front of the whole school during High School. I wanted to fit in and the whole modesty idea wasn’t helping. Covering up and competing with flawless skin and mini skirts for male attention was a struggle. The smell of fry sauce may have also been a deterrent.
I wasn’t the only one. Our Mormon ways of compensating with fashion fads in order to be a part of the crowd had the opposite effect and may have given us the “homely” reputation we have now. See chart below.
AHH shocking I know. And trust me. We are sorry for what we did. But here’s the happy ending. When me and other Mormon girls my age grew up, we slowly learned the reasons why we dress the way we do. We stopped caring about looking like everybody else. We realized we were too different. Instead of trying to be something we obviously weren’t, we started to dress the way we wanted to, coined the term “modest is hottest,” and then rocked it like a boss.
Soon other brands unknowingly played into our style needs and we started mixing and matching and creating looks like these.
Onesies (one-piece swimsuit)
Vintage dresses (Mormons are obsessed with family history and genealogy. Making us the ultimate hipsters.)
So now that you know how Mormons cover up, let’s talk about why:
Reasons I Cover My Rock-Solid Abs
There are a lot of reasons why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints advises women to dress the way they do. Here are some of my personal beliefs in a cliff notes version, and if you would like the Church’s official statement you can click here.
- We believe that the human body is amazing and it’s our way of respecting it.
- We believe in abstinence until marriage. Modesty helps with that.
- We believe in a God who loves us for who we are and not what we wear.
- We believe there is a beauty that comes from being loving, charitable, kind, smart, healthy, and happy. Modesty helps us focus more on those qualities.
- We believe in keeping God’s commandments. The way we dress is one of the commandments we choose to keep, even if it’s not always the most fashionable.
Gordon B. Hinckley, a former President of the LDS Church, summed it up best when he said the following:
“I do not hesitate to say that you can be attractive without being immodest. You can be refreshing and buoyant and beautiful in your dress and in your behavior. Your appeal to others will come of your personality, which is the sum of your individual characteristics.”
I may have struggled a bit through high school. I was never the smooth skin in spaghetti straps that caught guy’s attention. But as much as I didn’t love being left out then, I am personally glad that I was.
When high school faded, I realized that I didn’t need drooling men or Vogue magazine to make me feel good. I already felt beautiful and smart in my own sweater-covered skin. I learned how to succeed in life without affirmation from a fashion industry that is slowly leading women to believe they have to look like sex objects or underfed zombies to be appealing.
More importantly, I learned that it’s okay to be different and to represent what you believe (whatever it is that you believe.) And that confidence is worth at least half of the blackmail photos of my teen years that will haunt me moving forward.
Credits: I may or may not have creepily taken pics from friends’ Instagrams. Follow these babes here and get fashion and or photography tips: Girl with the passionate awesome layered outfit= Lauren, long shirt = Ashly, long skirt = Lex, onesie = Marlee, vintage dress = Heidi.