Developing a Uniform

UPDATE: Pictures.

Here is the Dress with Vest. It’s not finished, there are still a few safety pins holding the vest in place for pressing and I haven’t hemmed the sleeves, the skirt or added buttons yet. But for a day’s work, it’s not half bad. When it’s finished completely I’ll share a pic of me in it.

Here are Snood Pictures. Side, Back, & Front. After taking the pictures I realize it would be easier to see them if I wore a white snood, because the black snood blends in so much with my hair. Then I realized this is part of the reason I wear it, because it’s attracts less attention than some other styles I’ve tried.

ORIGINAL POST

I’ve been practicing biblical modesty and headcovering for about 7 years. Another lady on a Christian Message Board explained how she had started doing it. I was interested, asked her about it, and the Lord convicted me fast and hard. Within the week I was covering and have been ever since. I dont’ have other people around me who cover and my family is supportive of me either way, so I haven’t covered full time every single day since I discovered it. There have been weeks, and even a few months, when I layed aside the covering because it became too hard to wear. Soon enough though, the Lord has steered me back where He wants me to be and that means, undercover.

Last year I finally hit upon a covering style that I feel most comfortable in and can confidently wear anywhere I go. I’ll try to get some pictures of me in it today to share.

So while I’ve been wearing a headcovering, I’ve also been dressing modestly. Admittedly I have been frumpy at times. More by choice than anything else. I was very stylish as a young woman and a bit of frumpiness was good for me to cleanse out all the old flaky ideas I had about fashion.

While dressing modestly I’ve worn both store-bought and homemade dresses and jumpers. For many years my standard uniform was a jumper and 3/4-sleeve t-shirt or a blouse. I liked jumpers because they are attractive on my plus-size frame, and because they are simplicity itself to wear. Plus I get the versatility of a skirt, without the tight constriction of my waist, which I’ve found increasingly uncomfortable as I age. Additionally jumpers are an easy way to provide “Double Coverage” meaning a double layer over one’s baby-feeders specifically.

I’ve often admired other plain people’s “uniforms”, many of which you can find patterns for at Friend’s Patterns (look on the bottom left-hand corner for the word NEXT to go to the next page). I’ve tried patterns of this nature and they don’t exactly suit me. I’m not Amish. I’m not Mennonite, and dressing like them is sort of like presenting myself falsely. I’ve endeavored to find  my own uniform of sorts, but never was really able to put my finger on it.

Seeing the FLDS ladies’ dress pattern I realized that they simply got together and chose a (mostly) universally flattering pattern and then made it their standard. I’ve tried this for myself with a couple of patterns in the past, 2 jumpers and 1 dress, but they never quite suited me. So the past few days I’ve been tossing around the idea of trying again, using what I’ve learned in the past about what I like to sew and what’s attractive on me. Now I’m trying a dress with an attached vest. It was a popular style in the 1990’s. I have a couple of these type patterns that I found by googling “Dress Vest Sewing Pattern” and evenutally came up with a few candidates. I bought them a few years back, thinking that some day I would give them a try. Well, now I am. Last night I cut out the fabric and today I intend to sew. I’ll post pic’s when I get it completed. For now, there is a similar pic (and pattern) at Elisabeth Lee Designs.

Elisabeth Lee pattern for Dress with Attached Vest

The only thing I’ve done so far is a lot of intellectual conjecture. The proof is in the pudding as they say. If I ever do settle upon a pattern I can use for a uniform I hope to make it in a variety of configurations and really make it my own.

My question is, does anyone else have a “uniform” or favorite pattern that they use day in and day out? How did you decide on it? If you cover, how did you coordinate your covering to your uniform? Do you prefer to wear store-bought (Good-will bought) items, or home sewn? Why? Also, does anyone else feel a longing for a plain uniform to set oneself apart from the crowd? Or is it easier to try to blend in most of time? Sometimes I find it easier to blend in as much as possible, but othertimes I long for my own plain, modest, uniform. Anyone else?

 While I’m on the subject, does anyone know of a message board devoted to headcovering ladies? I know Prairie Homemaker has a lot of ladies who cover, but was wondering if there are any others? Thanks.

 

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33 Comments

Filed under Headcovering & Modesty, Sewing

33 responses to “Developing a Uniform

  1. cbrunette

    There are lots of Yahoo groups for covering ladies, but I have not seen a general (non-denominational) forum. If I were not working full-time, I would definitely consider moderating one.

    Uniform – The closest I’ve come to a uniform are two patterns:
    The Empire Jumper pattern from commonsensepatterns.com
    and
    The Country Cape Dress from Candle on the Hill.

    The last dress pattern is easily manipulated to take out darts or add elastic to the waist or change the sleeve lengths.

    When I get to quit the job (hurray!), I will sew a few more of these patterns. For now, I rely on Goodwill to fill in the wardrobe gaps.

    ~Anna

  2. Mom of 4

    I also have developed a uniform of sorts. For a while, I tried wearing skirts or jumpers, but found them awkward when I’m running up and down stairs with laundry and the like. Also, it gets cold in the winter in Colorado and I keep our house pretty chilly to save energy. So now the “uniform” (and it IS modest) is: dark, neutral-colored slacks, a turtleneck or T-shirt, and a cardigan or button-down shirt over top. I only need a couple of pairs of slacks, and can easily find both the slacks and tops at thrift stores.

  3. Mrs. B

    I suppose that lately I have adopted a sort of uniform. I wear long skirts, no slits (more modest and I don’t have to waste money on panty hose-Yay!) and a polo.
    At times, Lands end has some long skirts in their Overstocks section. Nicer skirts like that are my out-and-about outfits. (As ladies we must be mindful to not embarrass our husbands by looking too shabby)
    Around the house I wear skirts where the fabric is pretty much worn out and a polo. I like polos better than t-shirts. In some cases they cost about as much as a T-shirt (if you buy them in the right season and don’t care about the color), but the construction and collar looks “professional.” For me, T-shirts are actually more immodest than polos: as a larger chested-mama, I find that the collar and high, buttoned up placket serve to camouflage my endowments :-).

  4. Kristie

    I am a part of a headcovering group on yahoo, its nondenominational. There are many many covering groups on there.

    I have no uniform, though as a plus size woman, I find dresses or jumpers to be more comfortable, since skirts don’t stay up on my post baby belly unless they are tight. I recently started wearing long skirts to look more modern, and add versatility to my small wardrobe. I like the look of the cape dresses, they are slimming, but I don’t like things so high up on my neck. I would love to find a great plus size pattern that would be quick and easy, as well as a classic style. I do like some of the dresses that Katie’s Mercantile sells, they are very comfortable, and they carry my size (and in their size I am a size smaller! LOL)

  5. Fern

    I don’t cover, but I have orthodox Jewish family who cover and dress extremely modestly (“frum”, to use the Yiddish word). Have you checked out orthodox Jewish sites for uniform ideas?

  6. My uniform is long skirts I mostly make myself. I am tall & plus size, so this is the best way to modestly cover myself. For tops, I wear mostly tops from mid-weight, non-clingly knits. I’m in the midst of my child-bearing & nursing years and jumpers just don’t work for me, though I sew them a lot for friends. 🙂 My skirts have knit waistbands with drawstrings, so I can wear them both during & between pregnancy. I wear an apron around the house most days (for double coverage) and a jacket or sweater or vest when I go out. I’ve headcovered in the past and still do once in awhile. I have quite an assortment of coverings and prefer to match color/style to what I’m wearing. Overall, I seek to be modestly dressed, but not in such a way that someone would say “oh, she must be amish/mormon/jewish/etc.” I don’t want to draw attention to myself in that way.

  7. k

    I’ve been working with this for about 7 years as well. I think I’ve tried out every style over the years–jumpers, dresses with vests, dresses with pinafore aprons, cape dresses, dresses with cardigans, long skirts with tops, and so on. I’ve tried an outfit or two in each style to see how it looks and feels, but I think I’ve been happiest with jumpers as my daily uniform.

    My jumpers are homemade in several different bodice variations, and throughout the year I can wear them with 3/4 sleeve t-shirts or with turtlenecks. I can wear cardigan sweaters over top and they look just like any dress. Part of my preference for separates–as in jumpers or skirts with separate shirts–is that with dresses it seemed that I was always wrecking or staining one half of the dress and then the whole thing was no longer nice. It has been more economical for me to wear separate pieces. I also like for daily wear sturdy twill or denim jumpers, which are also good fabrics for skirts, but less comfortable or practical a fabric for dresses.

    I have admired very much the styles of the various Plain Christian groups, and how separated and nonconformed to the world’s fashions they are. If I lived in a conservative small town or rural area, or belonged to a church with that kind of community dress code, I think I would dress like that. But I am just me without a community, living in Seattle in a wealthier downtown neighborhood of business people. When I moved here several years ago it was quickly rather uncomfortable for me to be so very conspicuous. I want to obey and serve God and I have been happy to make sacrifices and turn my life upside down for Him, but I do not have the personality that is comfortable with all the blatant attention that can come with being a walking anachronism. And thankfully the Bible does not instruct only pretty pastel florals, or white prayer caps. 🙂

    So I worked out my wardrobe with plain jumpers and tops in solid, darker colors, wearing the same type of outfit each day, but in an overall style that blends in with the city population. I still do look quite obviously that I am different, or religious, or otherwise not conformed to the ways of most other people in the world, but perhaps in a way that is tasteful and pleasant for this area and not in styles that would instead stand out to draw staring or amusement here.

    I have worn several different headcovering styles over the years too, and haven’t found one that I’m comfortable in year round or to go anywhere. Currently I am only veiling during formal, extended prayer. I’m not sure what I will figure out with this. I do wear my hair back and do not consider it as something accessorizing my appearance.

    So in a way, in the style I blend in where I go, but the plainness and modesty of my clothes do still set me apart. I do not feel self conscious, yet I am always conscious that it is God I have obeyed in my apparel and not the world’s messages of conformity to fashion or display of the female body.

  8. I love reading how everyone has managed it.

    I identify with what K said …”If I lived in a conservative small town or rural area, or belonged to a church with that kind of community dress code, I think I would dress like that. But I am just me without a community,”…

    I dont’ have a community either and I admit to feeling isolated at times. That’s why I was looking for a message board of other covered ladies. I’m not fond of yahoo groups, they’re hard for me to manage. If anyone knows of a message board though, I am dearly interested.

    Anna, if you ever start one, let me know and I’ll be your first member and help you advertise it.

  9. Terrie

    Maggie,

    Where did you get the snood? Also, how do you manage to keep all of your hair in it? 🙂

    I wore snoods in the beginning, but I got frustrated because 1.) My hair kept going throught it, and 2.) I have naturally curly hair that seems to tighten from wearing a snood. My DH absolutely loves me in snoods, but I haven’t found one that works for me yet. For now I wear one of Wendy’s originals, and I wear kerchiefs when I need to.

    Thanks for sharing Maggie!

    That dress is beautiful!

  10. Carol

    Miss Maggie,

    I apologize for putting in an off-topic comment, but I didn’t know any other way to contact you. I thought you might like to know that when I clicked on the link to your mother’s blog, it brings up a general nodblog page with ads, and the most prominent is for sexy singles chat. 😦

    Love your blog, keep it up!

  11. Thank you so very much for posting pictures of your snood! I was trying to imagine what it looked like, and it’s much more beautiful than I imagined. =)

    I don’t really wear a uniform. I guess it seems like it because I have very few clothes. =Þ I definitely wear modest clothes. Sleeves to mid-upper arm, modest necklines, legs covered to at least mid-calf. My clothes are also loose-fitting rather than tight and form-fitting.

    I love your dress! Such beautiful uplifting colours.

  12. Hi from another plain sister in Christ! Just stumbled across your blog today! 🙂
    I have been dressing modestly for 7 years but began dressing plain and covering in 2006 according to the calling He has placed on my life.

    Building a plain wardrobe isn’t easy when you don’t know how to sew and money is tight, but what I did in 2006 and 2007 was pretty much wear a solid colored top with a matching solid colored skirt (I already had all this in my closet) and a matching headcovering to go with, and eventually I would find seamstresses online and started having cape dresses sewn for me. I did buy a whole stack of them off eBay, but lo and behold..none fit (actually if I lose weight, they will fit fine…lol).
    Here we are in 2008 and most of my fashionable wardrobe is gone and has made room for cape dresses. I do have solid colored jumpers but can’t fit in them yet and I have kept the solid colored skirts and tops for when I am in the house and don’t go anywhere.
    But when I go out and to church, I wear the cape dresses.
    I wear the veil as my covering. I have them in black, white, navy, and cream colors.
    Usually as far as matching the covering color to my dress, I will ask my husband…lol. I hold up my dress and say ‘black, white, navy or cream’ and he says the color and that’s that. He’s better at that stuff anyway. 🙂
    I would love to wear or try the kapp one day because windy days drive me batty with trying to make sure my veil doesn’t fly over my face…lol. But hubby is a little leary of the kapps for now…
    I would like to say that just because the Amish / Mennonites / Brethren, etc wear the cape dress doesn’t mean it’s trade marked just for them.
    I get mistaken for a nun more than an Anabaptist.
    I have gotten the Amish / Mennonite question once…but get the ‘are you a nun’ question all the time.
    People ask me if I am in town doing charity work or when they talk to me they say ‘hello sister’ …lol.
    If you feel led to wear the cape dress, than don’t be afraid. You can wear it with a snood…you can wear it with a scarf…it doesn’t matter. It’s just a dress. 🙂
    Goodwill is awesome! I love that place! When the Lord convicted me of modesty in 2001, that’s where I went and got a whole new wardrobe for cheap! Nothing wrong with thrift store clothing…I think I still have a vest dress or two in my closet from their. Excellent condition too.
    I don’t want to blend in with the world and their ideas of fashion…been there…done that.
    Now I am following the Lord and I can care less what the world thinks of my uniform. I am not here to follow the world or worry if someone is gawking at me. I have a job to do and it’s to serve my Lord. 🙂
    Believe it or not, going plain opens doors all the time to witness to people.
    People are curious as to ‘what you are’ and it just makes witnessing so much easier.
    Even if you don’t say a word to people, your life and dress choices show Who you are representing. They know you follow Jesus Christ just by your demeanor and dress / covering.
    I too noticed how simple and lovely the FLDS women’s dresses were. I was like ‘wow…they really know how to sew’…lol.
    I am soooo sick of the media calling them ’18th century prairie dresses’…ugh….

    I am on several Yahoo groups…just go to the group page and type in… Amish_and_Mennonite, ApronsandBonnets, submissionandcovering, headcovering, Hannahsheadcovering, etc.
    You can always get it on digest form instead of individual e-mail….that helps not clogging your inbox up. 🙂

    Okay I think this is long enough…sorry…lol.

    Blessings,
    Dawn

  13. Hi Dawn, nice to meet you. I visited your blog and tried to comment but I’m not a member of Blogger or Google, so I couldn’t. I enjoyed reading it though, especially your comments on FLDS. I laughed over your comment about the news media calling the dresses “prairie dresses”. I agree with you that they are just plain dresses and the media doesn’t know any better. Thanks again for your comments. I added your blog to my blogroll.

    blessings in Christ,
    🙂 Maggie

  14. I got my snood from a local Chinese Food store, they get in new shipments every couple of months and I buy their black ones and brown ones. They have other colors too.

    My hair is super curly but I’ve not had any trouble keeping it in the snood. I twist the bottom of it into a thick “rope” then fold it under, near the nape of my neck, and catch all the hair in the snood. I keep the snood firmly in place by clipping in 2 clippies at the top of my head (one on the left and one on the right). The the scarf goes around my head and ties under the snood. The scarf is what gives it a finished appearance. When I just wore the snood it didn’t look as “put together.” I tried wearing different colored scarves to match my outfit and that works, but it’s more of a fashion statement at times. I found that a snood and scarf of the same color are more appropriate for me most of the time.

  15. lewella

    The dress with a vest is cute. Is that going to be everyday wear or “Sunday best” outfit?

  16. I generally wear a jumper or plain button down dress I got from katiesmercatile.com well the idea anyways, I love my jumpers. As for covering, I generally wear a triangle or a charity type veil.

  17. Evonne

    Hi, Miss Maggie! Came over from the Veiled Glory blog, and I’m enjoying myself here!

    Terrie: Below is a link to a very lovely snood that’s designed to keep hair inside *and* is simple and stylish enough to not attract too much attention. I haven’t tried it yet myself (gonna buy one next week!), but it looks promising. I have very long, VERY thick, very curly hair — we’ll see how it goes!

    http://www.modestworld.com/proddetail.asp?prod=SN0036&cat=7

  18. Hey honey…

    I really like the dress. It’s so pretty. I love the look of the snood too…looks comfy, and ladylike.

    You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  19. This was the most beautiful post Maggie! So was the one on Headcovering as Civil Disobedience. My fiance even cheered as i showed them to him. I havent recieved the same type of clear conviction in headcovering as you have, but there’s definitely something that’s been pulling stronger and stronger at the heart there, and he’s drawn to me covering too. And it upsets us both SO much when folks belittle or dismiss those who veil. I’ve been afraid though, to be honest, to actually do it. So far anyway. Afraid of the attention (some of it none too kind) it tends to draw. So cowardly, i know. So your story here, its really been inspiring. I keep thinking especially on this, “It symbolizes a return”.

    Likewise for the uniform. There is something SO comforting about a feminine uniform, uniforms just sing “belonging”…belonging to Him of course. Again, i’ve been more a coward here, drawn to more traditional plain dress (fiance is too), but not wanting to stand out. So the uniform that’s evolved (so far anyway) is a just a lightweight long loose black skirt for summer (kind of a bell skirt i guess you’d call it, its slimming, got a couple of them at Fred Meyers and they’ve served surprisingly well), and long soft velvety type skirts (maroon-ish tones) for winter. Worn with those kind of tailored t-shirts basically, both the fitted long sleeve kind and the looser short sleeve kind. With a light shawl in summer, heavier shawl (and jacket when needed) in winter. I long to learn to sew though and make something more thoughtfully designed. I really like your dress here! And despite the fear of standing out, there really is something quite special about being not only inwardly but also outwardly set apart.

    Peaceful Week, Wendy

  20. A while back I read your post on Hillybilly about having a uniform, and I thought it was a wonderful idea. I have 4 daughters, and I decided that I was going to take it a step further. I dug through my scrap materal and made 5 aprons, one for each of us. Now when ever we do household chores (cooking or cleaning) we all get on our work aprons. It really does keep us focused, and it a fun little tradition!

  21. Olivia

    I relate to this post so much. I very recently started wearing coverings, and I knew that none of my “modern” clothing were suitable. The conviction was so strong, that I knew I had better find a solution quickly. I wear long skirts that I sew myself, from the same pattern. It is a super easy elastic waist a-line pattern. And I wear long sleeve tee type tops with them. I have a large tattoo on my chest, and I knew I wanted it to be covered, so crew neck tees were the answer to that. I haven’t found a dress pattern yet that would cover my tattoo completely( that isn’t a cape dress or other “plain” garment. While I think those dresses are very lovely in their modesty, I don’t want to offend the many Mennonite ladies in our area) I wear crocheted snoods, and I like the long sleeve tees with the. My loving husband saya it looks more “religious nut” and less “cafeteria lady”. He’s so funny! ( and he is so wonderfully supportive- we are of different faiths). Also, every skirt and top mix and match. That was so important to me, that way if we have to run out, I can grab a top and a skirt and Not Think. 🙂

    Thank you for all that you do!
    Olivia

  22. I’m a Christian. Not a “uniform” per se, but I either wear long skirts with a blouse or long/3/4 length sleeved knit top, or linen capri pants around the house (but always a skirt to Church). I’m down to 1 pair of jeans ad would like to get a long top or two to go with them down to mid=thigh length. Cardigan in winter for more bust coverage. I’ve been experimenting with wearing a sports bra over a regular bra to flatten my breasts so they draw less attention. I don’t like wearing vests nor how they look on me. Stiff fabrics make my skin crawl.

    When I’m done losing weight I will invest in some all-cotton sports bras from Decent Exposures to get the reduced non-sticking out bust look I long for.

    For my area, this is very modest. Most of the women (even the obese ones) wander around in shorts, mini-skirts and spaghetti straps tank tops. Yesterday I had the dubious pleasure of seeing one lady’s underwear in her mini-skirt that just didn’t cover her bottom (‘Tweren’t pretty!) I felt sorry for her lack of dignity.

    For a headcovering I wear a scarf that coordinates with my clothes. Usually try to blend in and not be noticeable about the fact that I’m covering. I cover to pray and would like to learn to “pray without ceasing”, but am also mindful of the Scripture verse that talks about “when you fast do not do it as the hypocrites do…)”, so I try to not be too obvious about things. In prayers I add a mantilla or a complete coverage scarf to what I’m already wearing.

    I have a feeling this will evolve over time. I just recently started covering (again) and my hair is currently very short. Sigh. Picture of me on my blog.

  23. Roxanna Meiske

    Miss Maggie, may I ask you please why you cover your head? I am not being a snit here, but I swear to you I am just trying to learn. I am doing a Bible study now, (NOT far into it yet) but I do not understand why you feel like you need to cover your head. I want to follow the Lord’s rules and guide lines, and I am worried I have missed something. Thank you for your time. Your friend in Christ. Roxie

  24. A sweet Christian lady runs this group, and it has just started: headcoveringandbiblicaltruth
    on yahoo groups. 🙂
    It is a Christian group, but non-denominational. I am titus_keeper on there, if you decide to join. 🙂

  25. thank you Mrs. Gunning. I struggle with Yahoo groups because they are more time consuming to me than message boards. I appreciate the recommendation though and if I join, I’ll look for you.

  26. Hello, I have been wearing a cleavage covering item for over 40 years that enables me to purchase tops and dresses which are in style as long as they have sleeves. Since I am average hieght, weigh 110 lbs, but need a 34EE bra, it is not easy to buy anything that fits. Now as I am older and have sewed all my life, I just don’t enjoy it anymore. So if you are in my shoes, check out http://www.nomorepeeks.com and see if this is also your solution. No more layering which is important in AZ heat. Now I buy the right size dresses and blouses and use my No More Peeks and everything is covered. Even under a suit it is not necessary to wear a blouse. Many good modesty ideas have been shared and it is good to learn of the creativity that abounds to overcome the current immodest trends. This is just another one. Good luck to all.

  27. Great idea Gail. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  28. Raven

    Hi Maggie,

    Just wanted to drop a line of encouragement and thanks, to tell you that as a young wife & mom I’ve been encouraged and helped so much by Frugal Abundance and also by (your posts mostly, though Susanne is great too) HBHW. I’m studying the headcovering thing myself at the moment and unsure what the Lord would like me to do, but modesty is for me pretty much a no-brainer. I’m trying to develop a uniform of long-skirts and t-shirts or blouses; shirts are challenging because I’m nursing a baby. Modest nursing shirts are difficult to find and confusing for me to make, so I wear what I call a “nursing burkah”–sort of a short poncho I guess.

    All your work about frugality and taking care of your family has helped a great deal, even for something as silly as feeling comfortable buying margarine instead of butter. Thanks much, and I hope you are getting a good rest.

  29. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Karen-------------------

    ——-I have been Covering for 21 Years now—-, It is the order of GOD. hE IS SO GOOD——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

  30. Carmen

    Sorry Maggie, I couldn’t find another way to contact you either. I am looking for a recipe from HBHW that I can’t find on there now no matter how hard I look. It was a base chicken recipe that could be altered for a bunch of other recipes including chicken curry or pie and many more. Could u email it to me PLEASE? Thanks for your work on HBHW/Oldfashoinedchristianeducation…God bless.

    Many of my family’s favorite recipes are yours…thanks for sharing!!!!!!

  31. Janine

    I think that taking such pride in our headcoverings is vainglorious. It is anti-modesty.

  32. Janine, I don’t see the women here as taking pride in their headcoverings. They are discussing what works for them, the struggles they’ve faced finding ones that are practical for their situations, and finding a sisterhood of support where for many of us no local one exists.
    I beg you to reconsider your statement and pray that you will see these messages in the spirit they were written in. May God bless your heart and touch your life.

  33. Just wanted to share with you all that I am giving away free booklets on the veiling with any order from my shop, please send me a note if you would like one or contact me through my shop.
    God bless you abundantly.

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