Continuation of discussion started on Blog - New to Plain Dress.

I wrote a Blog post asking for people to share their experience of switching to Quaker Plain Dress,I have now closed comments on the blog post, as I was not getting so many people sharing their experience as asking questions about reasons for Plain dress.

So this is the place to continue the questions that people were asking and the discussions that arise from the subject "Plain Dress".

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Friends, "Plain Dress" is one way I and my family follow the testimony of simplicity and the call to be modest.

     There are many blessings in this form of dress! When I need new clothes....well I have two patterns to chose from! So no need to spend anytime shopping and I am never even tempted to window shop for things I will never need! (BIG time and money saver) Cuts down on consumerism.

     My wardrobe stays small and easy to manage because I only own what I have time to make! (With 6 children....thats not much!)  Saves a lot of space and the cloth is easily recycled in quilts and such. Time being short, I am never tempted to "go fancy". I just don't have the time.  The cloth I use is simple cotton quilting material or a polyester mix for winter.  I do not buy new cloth for a dress until I have used the old. Either kind of cloth  is easy to wash, and doesn't stretch, no color sorting needed. I just hang it up wet and then I put it away when it dries!

       I dress with a desire to be modest...so my clothes are big. I never need a different wardrobe when expecting a new baby.  

      I think this mode of dress is sooooo practical. It draws my attention and gives me more time  to pursue that of God. When I wonder how I look to others I ask myself "Are my clothes clean? In good repair?" If the answer is yes then I know I need not go any further. I am blessed with the ability and time to dress this way and to question the gift of it any further is something akin to ingratitude. (In my circumstances. I can not speak for others.)

Can I just ask , shurly plain dress is not associate with the 17th century clothing such as aprons and bonnets? Surly modest , inexpensive clothing or secondhand for that matter will suffice? In my opinion it seems as if you are trying to adhear to a fashion statement by all conforming to bonnets and 17th century dresses. But perhaps i am just not as well informed on the subject ....

Definitely not 17th century Tamara. The plain look you are referring to most closely resembles the everyday look of the early to mid 20th century. That being said however, it is definitely not trying to mimic any time period, and is simply about what is modest and practical. A closer look at the dress of the Amish for example, shows that it has not been static since the early 20th century, but has undergone its own series of subtle changes in favour of better practicality, changes in fabric availability and price, and other such factors.

   Tamara!!!! I hear you!!!! Inexpensive clothing and Secondhand are excellent!!! Modesty is the key for me...not a fashion statement. Not looking to look Amish! My husband's clothing is all Goodwill with the exception of his suspenders, which get this, may seem like an extra fashion accessory, but actually allows him to buy a wider range of waist sizes because unlike a belt they won't bunch at the waist and won't fall down.

       For myself, I live in an area where my Goodwill is very picked over and there are few ankle length dresses or skirts which are dark enough to take the dirt, and easy care I need! Plus I would need more for the ever expansion and reduction of my waist line as our family continues to grow.

        The patterns I use are super easy, I use dark colors to hide the dirt of farm life and 6 children, long lasting, and modest....

 thanks keely , i like your style :) Conservative  or not simple, ecological and modest clothing should be the objective . the same with all daily needs . including food - local , sustanable and friendly on the environment. Since you are a mummy keely perhaps you can give me some advise on living the quaker life with my little one . I am trying the silet worship and need some advise on helping her understand this principle .


keely showalter said:

   Tamara!!!! I hear you!!!! Inexpensive clothing and Secondhand are excellent!!! Modesty is the key for me...not a fashion statement. Not looking to look Amish! My husband's clothing is all Goodwill with the exception of his suspenders, which get this, may seem like an extra fashion accessory, but actually allows him to buy a wider range of waist sizes because unlike a belt they won't bunch at the waist and won't fall down.

       For myself, I live in an area where my Goodwill is very picked over and there are few ankle length dresses or skirts which are dark enough to take the dirt, and easy care I need! Plus I would need more for the ever expansion and reduction of my waist line as our family continues to grow.

        The patterns I use are super easy, I use dark colors to hide the dirt of farm life and 6 children, long lasting, and modest....

       Jeff and Joe, Our family attends a liberal meeting in Nashville, TN. Another plain family attends a liberal meeting in MI. Honestly, we have more conservative leanings, as we are more "Christ-centered", than our liberal meetings. I have seen pictures of Conservative Gatherings and found the attenders looked pretty much the same as our liberal meeting with just a higher percentage of plain folks.

      Jeff, my husband was raised conservative Mennonite. He has never dressed any differently...though he has given up the black hat because it is costly and he hasn't found an actual need for it since he left the Mennonites. (we dressed plain before attending a Quaker Meeting)

     He deeply values the call for modesty, for himself. What a sweet blessing to be married to a man who wants to save his physical attributes for little me!!!! I love him! So I wish to give him the same gift.

      Regarding how this relates to the rest of the world, I pray I am following the Lord's leading. 1 Peter 3:3.  Let my life bring attention, not to myself, but my lord Jesus. And for the record, the greatest weakness I see in being too different in my dress than others is 1.The wrong kind of attention. 2Putting a barrier between myself and the joy I wish to share because I look different.

   

here's the (edited) last comment i made to jo's post:

our clothing is important to us all, not just as something to regulate our body temperature to stop ourselves from being too hot or too cold, or to stop us from being burnt or blinded by the sun, or drenched by the rain. how we dress gets to the core of our personal identities as human beings - when going about our daily business, it's the most fundamental part of what we present to the world as how we want the world to see us, and, yes, judge us before we open our mouths, deliver our presentations, or sing our songs.

and this is a truefact whether we accept it as or not - by making the choice to shop in charity shops, or wear the certain hippyish style of dress adopted by many liberal quakers, or wear whatever form of plain dress one might adopt, we are no less behelden unto and driven by the whims of 'fashion' than those who buy their clothes from ordinary high street shops are - a choice to 'ignore fashion' is no less a case of being driven by 'fashion' than is a choice to follow it. if we are considering which form of plain dress might suit us better than any other form of plain dress, that's no less a fashion choice than the young woman in the shop trying on a variety of short black dresses to find the one which she feels most comfortable in.

(as an aside - i think we misrepresent modern 'normal' society when we accuse people in it of being obsessed with or continually following 'the latest fashions'; in the uk at least, i think the notion of having to follow the latest fashion passed into history in the mid-1980s when the recessions of that decade meant people could no longer afford to chase the latest colour and the latest shoes and consign last year's clothes to the rubbish bin. the overwhelming majority of people discard their clothes when they're no longer wearable or they're simply bored with them, rather than discarding them simply because they're more than six months old)

so when in my first comment i asked jo what precisely she was led to, i was trying to tease out that leading. are we led to show to the world that we are separate from its ways in some way? then indeed, 'plain dress' is one form of dress amongst many which can act as a visible witness to that effect. punk dress, hippy dess, and goth dress are also ways in which people both identify within their own subcultures and stand apart from the wider normative / predominant culture. are we led to modesty? then perhaps a form of plain dress isn't such a good way to demonstrate that - since visibly standing out from the crowd is quite an immodest thing to do, regardless of how much flesh one might be displaying; standing out from the crowd with one's clothing is announcement to the world to say 'look at me' whatever that clothing is - and one can't wear stand-out clothing and not expect to be looked at!

are we led to show that our clothing has been chosen with all due considerations of minimal environmental impact behind it? i think the charity shop is by far the best example of clothing with the minimum of environmental impact, even when an item of clothing had a high impact in its original production - but it's difficult to demonstrate visibly that one's clothes came from a charity shop; similarly, we can know for ourselves that our clothes are ethically fairly traded, but a guatemalan top from bishopston trading (hi judi!) to the naked eye would look no different from a guatemalan top from primark, were they to sell them.

or are we led to 'the plain quaker community' in our theology and our way of life, and - like any other member of any other community or subculture - want to demonstrate that outwardly with our clothing? then clearly, adopting the plain dress style of the plain quaker community is the only right thing to do!

Love this post. 

Thanks for your contribution.

You have a lot of insight about the system of the world and how yes in every form of life we are exploited . I dont think that will ever change , but do you think just on a everday level in our homes  there is something we can do to lessen our impact by making smarter choices as consumers. I dont now how it is in the states , I have been in the UK and do see some reform on the way you can by from local producers. I think it is easier in 3rd world countries who rely less on imported foods and who out of poverty do tend to stick to local produce . perhaps we should all go back to the cave men days - I just dont know how we will get rid of  the governments and sysyems we have become reliant uppon .
 
Joe Turner said:

I think there are many complex issues regarding the purchasing of goods.  And the more you stare at things, the more you realise how corrupt the system is.  Fairtrade looks like a good idea until you realise that those who are involved in the process are still dirt poor, just very slightly better off than they would have been otherwise.

For me, the problem is not 'what' we buy, so much as that we're so often put into a box of being 'consumers' - we consume therefore we exist.  And then we come up with all sorts of snazzy reasons why the poor should be grateful to us for living lives of excess whilst they live in poverty. 

As far as I'm concerned, Plain is a beautiful idea on the level that we (as whatever group we are) have confessed the idea that we refuse to be dehumanised and categorised as consumers. 

But there are many complex things in this world, and living as enlightened beings in the midst of the empire - that we are aware is corrupt and corrupting and destined for destruction - is a very difficult thing.  I have met people who are trapped within a web of poverty which they have no hope of ever being able to untangle themselves however much they try.  But looking at my life, I find that the webs of wealth are as sticky, so that even our best efforts turn out to be compromised.

do we even want to get rid of the governments and systems we have come to rely upon?

do we really want to get rid of the high standards of healthcare (even when it is not funded by the state?) we now enjoy? a world of entertainment and education no more than a mouse-click away? a reasonable level of personal security for ourselves and our possessions? hunger unknown to all except the very, very poorest? warmth and light inside, even when it's cold and dark outside? etc?

I am Plain and belong to a liberal Meeting.  However, I live in rural Pennsylvania so there are quite a few Plain folk around.  I also regularly attend a Dunkard Brethren church so I do get the fellowship of other Plain.

Paula

I agree Keely that how dirty the work you have to do must dictate, to some extent, your choice of plain clothing. For me growing food/cooking food/cleaning house/looking after children ~ 'the bib and brace'. Easy, simple, cheap and durable ~ if the weather is cold just wear more layers underneath!

keely showalter said:

   Tamara!!!! I hear you!!!! Inexpensive clothing and Secondhand are excellent!!! Modesty is the key for me...not a fashion statement. Not looking to look Amish! My husband's clothing is all Goodwill with the exception of his suspenders, which get this, may seem like an extra fashion accessory, but actually allows him to buy a wider range of waist sizes because unlike a belt they won't bunch at the waist and won't fall down.

       For myself, I live in an area where my Goodwill is very picked over and there are few ankle length dresses or skirts which are dark enough to take the dirt, and easy care I need! Plus I would need more for the ever expansion and reduction of my waist line as our family continues to grow.

        The patterns I use are super easy, I use dark colors to hide the dirt of farm life and 6 children, long lasting, and modest....

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