Tuesday, January 18, 2011

~in my eighties.....




So this isn’t so much a post about fashions of the eighties as it is “What an octogenarian would wear”.  Seriously, I realize that I’m one small fabric square away from having no skin at all visible.  I started to get a little concerned when Laura Ingalls called and said, “Hey Serene, ya wanna loosen up a bit?  Geez!  What are you?  PIONEER GIRL?”  So I post this with the full understanding that my followship among eighty year old fashion bloggers is momentarily going to go through the roof.

But all this skin covering got me thinking about how much modesty plays in my fashion choices and the choices of other style-o-philes.  It’s not something that I mention often, but for ten years I was a fundamental Baptist and did not wear pants or any dress above (or even AT) my knee.  I wasn’t a child; I was an adult that made this choice for myself.  This outfit would have fit right in.  When I first started wearing pants and basically WHATEVER I wanted again, it felt so strange.  First off, I was scared I’d get in trouble!  With who?  I don’t know.  Secondly, it felt like everyone was looking at me. They weren’t, but I just felt that way.  Imagine TEN YEARS having such a narrow choice of wardrobe….it was liberating when I let go of these restrictions; even with my own aforementioned angsts.

I’ve always been modest by nature.  The thought of losing my top in public will send me into palpitations!  Working at a gym, I’ve seen women have accidental wardrobe malfunctions.  My best friend almost lost her top in Group Power one evening!  I. WOULD. DIE!!!!  If it ever happened to me; I’m gone!  The only thing left of me there would be a vague remembrance of a woman who used to work there who had one boob slip and then was never seen or heard from again.  A recurring theme of many a nightmare of mine centers around public (I almost had a type-o there….talk about a Freudian slip!) nudity.  So maybe that’s why it was easy for me to pick up that very stringent religious lifestyle.

Now, I enjoy wearing whatever I want with no guilt or concern that my God does not love me or that He’s up there in Heaven shaking his head in disappointment.  But modesty STILL plays a part in my wardrobe choices.  It’s just one of those things like background music.  I’m not acutely aware of it; but it’s just a part of my esthetic.  I see other fashion bloggers wearing some really short skirts and looking beautiful in them.  The strange thing is; I can look at THEM and the question of modesty never enters my mind.  But when I see something along the same lines on me; I feel absolutely UNDRESSED! 

My outfit in this post is actually me coming a long way from where I was even though it’s actually full circle.  The difference is that NOW I wear it because I love how it looks and I love how I feel in it.  Tomorrow, I may wear my skinny jeans and boots; or perhaps my short disco dress!  But whatever I choose, I’ll be comfortable in what I’m choosing to expose or not expose.  I’m glad that I’ve allowed myself to risk looking like the long lost Wilder sister because I like an outfit.  A few years ago, I would have avoided it because it reminded me too much of those restrictions that I adhered to for so long.

On a side note, I would recommend the book The Shack to anyone who feels “restricted” by God or who sees God as The Big Judge in the Sky ready to put down the gavel as soon as you step out of line.  It changed my life.  In more ways than one, because it's also one of the first things that brought my husband and I together.  He saw me reading it when I was working the front desk at the gym, and I loaned it to him when I was done.  He loved it as much as I did!   It’s a novel, but puts things in such wonderfully clear perspective.  I appreciate anyone who’s read this far and allowed me to wax a little spiritual.  I try to keep my blog focused on fashion; but hey, it’s mine right?

Would love to hear from any of you if modesty comes into play at all in your fashion choices.

By the way, it's all thrifted!


  1. Honestly, I really like this outfit and I'm not even close to half of 80 years old. That skirt is my favorite part, but the camel sweater looks lovely on you.
    No Guilt Fashion

  2. I do not think I have the space to respond to all of the profound thoughts here...but I so would love to sit down over coffee and chat!! The Shack...an amazing book...the outfit...really cute with the boots...modesty, something I am teaching young girls about every day...freedom to be you in fashion and out...a gift from God!!

  3. No Guilt....thank you so much! I actually love this outfit too!

    Pam, I know exactly what you mean!!! I'd love to just sit and chat with you.....if you'd like, email me sometime and we can exchange phone numbers. Of course, I'd love any excuse to visit San Antone! Hugs!

  4. Modesty definately plays a part in what I wear now--mainly becuase too much skin at my age is cheesy. Weird how that happens. Dont like the major plunging vee's that are now in style.
    But, you know I am not a big fan of long skirts--a couple is fine, but to wear them all the time is a bit puritan? Unless the neckline is cut down to here...lol

  5. Serene--I love the idea that you met your husband via the loan of a book! I have read The Shack and enjoyed it.

    Like you, I spent 10+ years involved in fundamental Baptist churches. (They kept falling apart due to internal disputes). Over time I developed a separate "Baptist" wardrobe. No one ever told me to do it...I just began to 'sense' looks of disapproval when my skirt was OVER my knee or if my arms were bared. I'll never forget a Sunday when the minister stopped the service and invited a young teenage woman to leave the sanctuary because of what she was wearing.

    Although I grew up in a church, I did not encounter the idea of "modesty", as you describe, until I was 35. It came up during a Bible study: I was to dress discretely because of 'lustful thoughts' I might inspire in a man. That thought seemed very curious to me...you mean, a man cannot control himself? As I pondered it, I began to see some of the complexity of the question and became less judgmental of that position. But, modesty is in the eye of the beholder...we are all wearing the outfit the Creator gaves us (hiding ourselves) under our clothing.

    Today, I often admire the mystique of women who cover themselves fully.

    In this look,I really like the pattern of the skirt.

  6. Terri, that's how I was taught...that the way a woman dresses makes her complicit in a man's lust. I don't agree with that position now...on an everyday basis. While I certainly think that sometimes some women absolutely and purposely dress seductively; I still think a man should be able to control himself or remove himself. Personally, I don't really like the idea of publicly dressing "sexy" as that's for the bedroom. But to dress in what makes you feel good and pretty; that's WONDERFUL!

    I don't TRY to be modest...I think in general I just AM. But as you said, it's in the eye of the beholder. Others may see a majority of my outfits and not think them modest at all. As always, I LOVE your thoughtful and thought provoking comments!

  7. I love this post !!!!
    I also love it when the spiritual meets up with style.
    After all, that's part of who we are!
    Such a terrific topic!
    Over 40 bloggers do have some knowledge to share !!!!!!!!!!
    i was "brought up" in a Missionary Baptist church right in the middle of the Bible Belt!
    I was the girl who challenged everything about the faith.
    Now as an adult, it's kind of cool to go back there from time to time and listen to the "disputes" going on ;)

  8. Reva...thanks for that! After I posted this, I started "over thinking" (a common occurence for me!) and was a bit concerned that I may inadvertently offend someone....which is absolutely NOT what I want to do. But then I figured, 'WHATEVER' and decided not to edit myself.

    Fashion absolutely meets spirtual in a number of days. I posted a couple of months ago how one's style is simply an outward display of what's inside. And my blogging friends exemplify this all the time...I can see personalities in their choice of ensembles! I live in the Bible belt now and I actually love it. Some of the sweetest dearest people! But you're right....some of the contentions....you just have to get out of the way! LOL

  9. Paula....I agree with you....long skirts daily is just too much. Actually a little depressing. But from the sheer "prettiness" of them, I love having a few in my wardrobe. You looked adorable in your swingy skirt today!

  10. How we dress involves so many things, including modesty and our attitude on displaying our body. That aspect fascinates me and I'm impressed at your willingness to talk about this explicitly.

    I can't contribute to the conversation but am an eager listener. I hope you'll continue discussing the issue.

  11. Yep, it's your blog and you can do whatever you like, just like you can wear whatever you feel comfortable in sweetie:). How romantic that you and hubby fell in love over a book *swoon*!!! I really loved reading this post, you are a gorgeous woman inside and out. Thanks so much for all your kind words:) xoxo

  12. Reading your post, I'm reminded of Coco Chanel and how her parochial upbringing influenced her designs through out her career.

    I'll have to put "The Shack" on my reading list!

  13. Yes, I do try to be modest... if I am wearing a short skirt, I usually cover up with tights. I don't wear low-cleavage tops. I think some things are better left to the imagination!


  14. OH, and it's not for religious reasons, just my personal opinion :)

  15. Fabulous post and topics Serene!
    I think your outfit is nice, I actually love long skirts, like flowy, gypsy, bohemian ones...gorgeous!:)

    I think modesty is a really interesting topic and I don't find dressing modestly restrictive at all. I am also quite modest, just how I feel comfortable. I also think it's more stylish than flashing flesh. It has a lot to do with how one wants to portray themselves and while I certainly don't always want to be taken seriously, I do take my own dignity as a woman seriously.

    Whenever I'm choosing clothing, I'm not joking but I ALWAYS think, "Would I wear this around my dad and brothers without feeling embarrassed?" :) Don't know why but that's how I judge clothing.:)

  16. I couldn´t agree more with you. I am backing you all the way.Hear, hear... Fantastic post my friend.
    I always felt free in fashion and didn´t care what people thought. It was my way of expresion, and my right. I have also encourage my daughters to be themselves.
    Mil besos.

  17. i love the outfit, and would totally wear it too- and i am not a grandma or even close :) i think it looks great, especially with that pretty bow at the neck.

    i love how you explained the outfit in relation to your upbringing. a lot of my cousins were also raised fundamentalist baptist, and now that they've moved away from it, would never go near a maxi skirt and think i'm crazy to wear one! maybe one day they'll change their minds.

  18. I love this imaginative trip that you are taking. . I certainly wondered what the title meant at first.

    And dear Serene, I've passed the Stylish Blogger Award onto you too! x


  19. ha ha I know how you feel about a fear of wardrobe malfunctions. My friend lost her tube top in a very awkward manner ha ha. But guess what you're in luck because long skirts like that are soooo back in style so work it girl!
    Wearing It On My Sleeves

  20. First, i love the blouse and sweater combo. It's so Faye Dunaway, cir. 1970. I think that would look fantastic paired with skinny jeans and boots (my obsession). Second, modesty is lost on so much of our society today. There are gorgeous women and bloggers proving every day you don't have to bare it all to be sexy and beautiful. Great post! ~ Susan

  21. I loved this post.....I guess because it really gives us a glimpse into the mind of the fashion blogger I see and helps us understand her sartorial decisions.

    I did not make a decision to be modest but overbearing conservativeness in clothing was forced on me as a child where I was even asked to cover my head so no hair would show. I am now an adult and although I do not make immodest choices won't go to that length of modesty ever again. But coming from a very opposite spectrum...I do kind of understand your thought process. :)

    Look forward to hearing from you


    Tashrin - A Toronto based personal style blog

  22. all thrifted?! that's the way to go!!!

  23. My relationship with God and religion stopped at around the age of 18 when I read a Tom Robins book Even Cowgirls get the Blues!But I was ready to make the move...and find things out for myself.
    Anyway,until I was a mother I would wear all kinds of short dresses and skirts and feel good!After my children were born my body didn't qualify for this kind of dressing anymore so around the knee is now for me!
    I don't see it as modest ...more age appropriate!
    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  24. Wow! Thanks to all of you for some great comments! I'm glad this post struck a chord and it was certainly cathartic for me. My relationship with God is very important to me; and I'm so thankful that it's now based on love and reverance instead of fear. I hope to do a post real soon following this up with a highlight of some of your comments. Hugs to you all!!!


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! ~Serene