Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dressing Modest Affordably (And Why)

I wrote this little post for the girls over at this blog. While it may seem a little silly, I think it is rather important. The emphasis in our culture is usually to indulge ourself. I wrote a little bit on this idea in this post. We dress modest for Christ, but we can't let it consume our money. We need to go against the norm and decide not to be extravagent with how we dress ourselves, but sacrifice in order to give to the needy people around the world. (Guys, sorry, but the rest of this is probably boring for you.)

Modest clothing is becoming easier to find these days and we're all very happy about that. But is anyone noticing the prices? Umm...sure you can find a modest skirt at Banana Republic and J-Jill, but who can afford $90 skirts consistently? Especially with the rising prices in our struggling economy, it's time to formulate a plan of action for how to still be chic, beautiful and modest, without going broke. Here is my list of ideas to help you out with that.

1. Buy cheap layering items.
Camis, tanktops, thin t-shirts and layering turtlenecks are invaluable for modest fashion. The once too-low purple shirt can now have an higher contrasting-colored neckline and the adorable racer back tank can be paired with a light layering tee. This also can make some shirts able to be worn in more seasons. Wearing a thin turtleneck under a cap sleeve babydoll top, or scoop neck summer shirt can make them perfect for the winter. Mixing different colors and styles can practically create new outfits. A white button-up shirt looks very business like with a black camisole, but if you switch the cami for a yellow tank top and unbutton the shirt, you have a casual outfit for a picnic or day at the beach.

The wonderful thing about these layering items is that they don't have to expensive at all. You can easily find them at stores like Target or Old Navy, regularly, for around $5. If you mix them right with your outfits, it can be like buying a whole new shirt for a fraction of the normal cost.

2. Share with a sister, mom or friends.
Recently my sister and I combined our closets and dressers, since we're the same size. We both ended up having potential outfits quadrupled because of the new combinations of clothes we can wear. While I often wouldn't wear the dress shirts with skirts that she wears, I wear her shirts with my jeans. Since she doesn't wear pants much, she uses my shirts with her skirts. It works out very nicely and now I don't have to buy a lot of items that I thought I had to. So if you know some girls that are your size, or if your female family members are, ask if they'd consider sharing some clothes. It can save you both a lot of money.

3. Improvise and "shop" your closet.
A lot times we get stuck in a rut and wear the same combinations of outfits over and over, leaving us bored with our clothes and wanting to head back to the mall. But really, a lot of times for me at least, the outfit I need is right there in my closet, I just never thought of wearing it that way. Sometimes I just wear the outfits the way they were paired together at the store, not realizing they would go very well with other pieces of clothing too. After spending a little time going through my clothes one day, I discovered (with the help of my mom) that a certain peasant top I had always worn with my denim skirt happened to go very well with a fancier skirt that I owned, making it a nice formal outfit for church and dressy parties.

So, before you head to the store next time, check your drawers and hangers first. You might have missed it there before. Don't be scared of trying funny combinations either. I've put on what I thought to be ridiculous combinations of clothing only to have my sisters walk in the room and say, "Oh, you look so pretty!"

4. Use the power of accessories.
Good accessories for an outfit are kind of like a good mat and frame for a painting: they're really essential. They really give new life to an outfit too. That same shirt you've worn a million times can look brand new paired with a dangly necklace. You dress outfits up or down with accessories, as well. A dress shirt and nice jeans with a satin sash for a belt, chandelier earrings and a pearl necklace can look rather professional, but with a plain leather belt and shell necklace, you're nicely casual. Accessories don't have to be expensive either. No one really cares if they're real gems or not.

5. Shop at thrift stores.
I used to look down at thrift stores. I thought that since they were already used, there couldn't possibly be anything in style there. Well, I was wrong. Although I don't always shop there, I did happen to find my favorite skirt in history there, and I've worn it so much in the past two years that the zipper is breaking. Also, a lot of time in thrift stores, you can find things that aren't in style, but aren't really out of style either. There are lots of unique items you can find, much cheaper than in retail stores. Here's a hint: don't only try things on in your own size. Try items a size or two above and below your size, because the sizes really differ from brand to brand.

6. Skip the trends.
Alright, so trapeze dresses and coats are in style. They're kind of cute, but what's more, they're everywhere. They're all the rage, on every "Top-10 Fashion Items" list for the fall and you have to have one, right? Nope. Don't get me wrong: there's no problem if you wear them. There are modest ones and you'll be very stylish in them. But you can't go for every trend. They could very well be out of style before spring comes. The trends are more expensive, in general and very often, they don't last long. How many shrugs do you see these days? I haven't seen one in months, but they were still in every store around Christmas last year. You'll save a lot if you aren't going out every season and buying the new "in" items, especially since they could be "out" again before you've even had time to wear it half a dozen times.

7. Don't be afraid to wear out of style items.
Since we're already going against the flow by being modest, why don't we go against the flow and wear out of style clothes too? Tiered skirts' popularity are fading, but don't let that make you get rid of yours. Wear it proudly until it wears out, having the satisfaction of wearing something the you once did like (you bought it, right?) and still wearing it because you still like it even though some people think it's not cool anymore. Don't let the designers convince you that what you bought last year is unstylish to wear this year.

There are so many good things that you can be spending your money on and clothing doesn't have to be all of it. If you're a little creative, your wardrobe and clothing budget can be stretched a lot further, while still keeping you pretty and modest.


Ana Smith said...

Thanks for such wonderful ideas.

I have shopped thrift-stores all my life, they are a wonderful resource.

It also doesn't take much sewing skills to make some really cute skirts and dresses. Jane Boyd at recently taught a class, which I attended, on how to make a skirt w/out a pattern. Here are some tips and instructions:

Micahlangelo said...

i'm no girl, but i still think it's awesome ideas

Hannah said...

Good suggestions, Katrina. I especially like the "sharing with sisters" idea. I do that one quite a bit. :)

Rebecca said...

WOW I am so happy I am not the only one who strives to be modest and do it without the expense. My sister and I are not similar sizes but their are a few jackets and sweaters we share. We also buy many of our clothes and accesories from thrift stores and yard sales. I have found one of my favorite skirts at a thrift store myself and it wearing out.
My sister and I also make some of our own clothes too. We try and get the great sales on patterns and fabric at joannes and use coupons. There are so many things you can do to be modest and do it affordibly.
Also I do wear items that I really like and feel are timeless and I don't care if they are not in fashion anymore. Two skirts I have are tiered like you mentioned and I have actually gotten made fun of before by a christian girl. But I don't care, because I know I like it and am striving to please God and not the other girls.
Thank you for the encouraging post.

Your Sister in Christ,

Anonymous said...

I couldn't stand the idea of wearing something "out of style" so I often try to by clothes that can't be dated, so that I can wear them longer without being "out of style". I am not a huge trend person. Never really did the whole skinny jeans, gouchos(despise), praire skirt thing. I think especially for christians it is important to look fashionable and pretty. Notice fashionable not exactly trendy. I know quite a few girls that(try to be modest) just look like they let them selves go. They do look like respectable girls, but often they seem as if it is a shame for them to look pretty. Fashion has always been a hobby of mine. I view clothes as an art form,however, i do not hold the view that we should compremise our values for the sake of fashion. I wish that more modest, christian girls would spend some more effort in trying to look fashionable, because there is some greatmodest fashions out there and there not to hard to find.

Melissa said...

These are great tips! I love the layering concept. A lot of times it is the only way I can manage to find modest tops, and it's a lifesaver! I especially love it now that I am expecting. Believe it or not, finding stylish, modest clothing is just as difficult when you are pregnant. Thanks for sharing!

Oh, BTW...I have a black tiered skirt that I bought 3 years ago and I still adore it. Definitely one of my favorite pieces :)

Tom said...

Good advice!