Plainness & Simplicity

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Plainness & Simplicity

Some Friends have recently been dubbed the "New Plain" for their experimentation with Quaker plainness and simplicity. Tag: plain

Members: 233
Latest Activity: 6th month 23

Plain Links

The New Plain, a 2004 essay by Rich the "Brooklyn Quaker" that used the term to describe a new wave of plain dressing Quaker bloggers. Quaker Jane has become the best source of information on the why's and how's of this new wave of plain dressing Friends.

QuakerQuaker's Plain Resources page has a longer list of quotes and links about plainness.

Plain Friends Page, a wonderful collection of essays on plainness from Crossroads Friends Meeting in Michigan.

Discussion Forum

plain dress contentment?

Started by Anne. Last reply by Anne 5th month 31. 19 Replies

Plain dressing patterns

Started by Anne. Last reply by Anne 5th month 23. 5 Replies

I thought this was an interesting article on modesty in women's dress.

Started by Patrice Wassmann. Last reply by Zaley Warkentin 4th month 27. 3 Replies

Christmas celebrations the Quaker way?

Started by Patrice Wassmann. Last reply by carolyn taylor 4th month 8. 17 Replies

Featured Blog Posts on Plainness

Speaking Plainly

The last couple of days I’ve been squarely in the middle of an lengthy academic debate. Each argument is full of so many arcane terms that making it through it is painful. Truthfully, it gives me a headache. Recognizing that, I understand why Quakers placed such an emphasis on speaking plainly and with Truth. Specious arguments sound good, but they collapse after enough careful analysis.

Matthew’s Gospel addresses the lack of humility and mistaken priorities common to the time, and perhaps ours?

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

I may have always been a Quaker writer in the way I phrased my thoughts. My father impressed upon me the economy of words and a compelling desire to get immediately to the point. I wish I could show others that their conversation is predicated upon mistaken motives and ego-driven intentions. Identifying the futility of what to them is the most impressive-sounding, footnoted, fourteen-page polemic ever constructed is only wasted time.

As Friends, we can rely upon an economy of language, one that is easily comprehensible to others, but not dull. The books, essays, and memoirs I enjoy reading these days never forget to broaden their audience while preserving the power of the written word. Academic discourse continues onward in its own self-limited universe. I’ve stopped trying to engage certain speakers, because I have learned that they cannot and will not understand. I seek to convey ideas for all, but they do not and likely will not.

What follows next in the Gospel of Matthew is the first telling of the Lord’s Prayer, a perfect encapsulation of Christian faith in which every single word packs a punch. Though it could have been written by a Quaker, I know it influenced several for similar reasons. Where do we use economy of words in our own lives? 

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Normcore: Fashion for Those Who Realize They’re One in 7 Billion

Fashion has become very overwhelming and popular. Right now a lot of people use fashion as a means to buy rather than discover an identity and they end up obscured and defeated. I'm getting cues from people like Steve Jobs and Jerry Seinfeld. It's a very flat look, conspicuously unpretentious, maybe even endearingly awkward. It's a lot of cliché style taboos, but it's not the irony I love, it's rather practical and no-nonsense, which to me, right now, seems sexy. I like the idea that one doesn't need their clothes to make a statement.martin_kelley

Barbara Smith: Learning to be Led

The leading may seem to have no clear positive outcome. Or perhaps we can see no point to it at all. Or maybe we have many misgivings about the outcome, but it feels compelling nonetheless.martin_kelley

Answering questions about your Plain dress

I feel we have an opportunity to witness here, and also to spread awareness of Quakers, which ups the ante and the pressure on me to make sense!martin_kelley

Jo on QQ: struggling with call to Plain dress in UK

I am very much feeling like I am struggling against the tide at the moment. I am feeling led to plain dress and have been for about 6 months or more, but have great difficulties explaining it to family and friends.

Tags: quaker plain

Bruce Arnold: Quaker Plain II

I hope we all know there’s no standard for plain dress among 21st century Friends. We are, to a great extent, on our own. We can’t tell each other what to do, but we can learn from each other. So, in the absence of clear direction, I want to talk about some guidelines that have been helpful for me.

Tags: quaker plain

Geoffrey Black: When does a Plain Friend take off his hat?

I would like to find a way of understanding and practicing this "accidental discipline" that is somehow specifically Quaker. It need not be in keeping with historical Friends' practice; I would just like it to connect in my own heart and mind more clearly with my Quaker beliefs and values.

Tags: Quaker plain

Plain Comfort

    My daughter has been changing drastically over the last year.  She was a beautiful college student with a 4.0, journalism awards, passionate about the world’s injustices (an over-achiever).  Within the last 4 months she’s lost 60 lbs.- is a skeleton, using narcotics, stripping, dropped out of school, quit her job, and is furiously angry at everyone, especially God.  I knew something was horribly wrong, and the more I tried to help her, the more she pulled away.  
    As her world crumbled I found myself also more angry at the world than I had ever been.  We’d already suffered through cocaine addiction with her brother and to watch her in the thralls of the evils of this world was too much to bare.  I’d been searching for a church, a faith, that felt real and true - I desperately, passionately loved God and wanted to worship Him with reverence and awe.  He’s held me up through every heartbreak and struggle of my life and helped me to grow from each experience, teaching me personally along the way. 

    I was also being led to plainer dress (after dressing modestly and now wearing a headcovering).   The more I learned about the Friends beliefs the more I felt like I’d found a ‘home’.  When a particularly bad event would happen I found myself turning to Quaker reading - advices and queries, or testimonies, and found such comfort.  I would go on websites that sold plain clothing and headcoverings and even just the images would make me feel better - like there was goodness, peace, and simplicity there.  I’d been wearing veils I’d made, but felt like maybe I should change to a kapp, and finally ordered a beautiful one.
    Three days ago my daughter finally told me that she’d been molested by a family member when she was very young.  It explained so much.  My world was shattered.  I had been molested by my uncle when I was around 10, and knowing that she’d experienced the one thing I had always feared most for my children, and that it would haunt her the rest of her life, I found myself tormented all over again.  
    Yesterday my kapp arrived in the mail.  The day had been filled with crying and sickness and heartache, inability to literally breathe at times. Finally at the end of the night I opened up the package.  The white material was much softer than I had envisioned, light and almost silky feeling…the detailed stitching and pleats, ruffles and ties… it was a thing of simplicity and beauty.  And suddenly I felt peace wash over me, and I felt God’s immense mercy and love, and grace, upon my head.  I knew He was holding me tight, and also my little girl, wherever she was, out there in the world.  
    So I am being led to plain dress, to this peculiar way of being and life, for many reasons, but now I have felt it’s effects personally and powerfully.  I can’t explain it, but of the many things it means to me, it is also a source of security and safety and great comfort.  

Ashley Wilcox and Clothing | Clothe Yourself in Righteousness

A few years ago, my sister gave me a bright red coat for Christmas. I love it and I frequently get compliments when I wear it. At the time, I was feeling led to stop trying to be invisible and to let my light shine. Wearing my red coat is one of the ways I remind myself to do that.

Tags: Quaker plain Oregon

Karen Mercer: How much clothing matters

I know that it might be easy for critics to point out that in chosing religious dress I am merely repeating my own past. It may be so....but now I am doing so consciously. I don't sneer at people for taking my dress as the reality anymore.

Tags: quaker plain

Jon Watts: What’s Your Relationship With Clothing?

If you take a moment to tell us about your personal philosophy, submit a picture and tell us where you’re from, we’ll compile it into a page called “Modern Quakers and Clothing”, and… viola! We’re in a real conversation.

Tags: quaker plain

Barbara Smith: Needing to "explain" your plain

So now I understand why I have been feeling obligated to have a ready explanation for my appearance - because it is unheard of in my world to do something like this because you are following your heart, let alone following the leading of Jesus, unless you can then "explain" it - in terms of theology, or the rules of your denomination, or whatever.

Tags: plain outreach philadelphia

Barbara Smith: Self-image, simplicity and change

I was struck by the commonality of the experience of trying to change, as adults, the image we project to the public (and maybe to ourselves!). It challenges me to think about the concept of "self-image", what is that, and why does it seem to stand in the way of what we feel we are led to do?

Tags: quaker Philadelphia plain

Kevin-Douglas Olive: Going Plain

I have vacillated my entire life between my call to gospel ministry and gay pop culture.  And then, this weekend, I was hit by the holy spirit in meeting... I need the hedge.  There are places that I can't and won't go if I am plain. There are activities that I can't and won't do if  I am plain.  And there are people in my world who can't and won't accept me because I am plain. Friends, that is a good thing.

Tags: quaker sexuality baltimore plain christianity

How Do You Know You're Worldly? (QQ Discussion)

I dress "modern Plain" still but I like music like some Lady GaGa and such. I'm a big fan of action movies from the 80s until now, and really enjoy watching tv.When I was a fundie you had a person telling you what was worldly and what wasn't. I am kind of lost with what is "worldly". Is it on a personal level different for everyone?

Tags: quaker quaker.plain

Meetups, Events, and Resources

Comment

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Comment by Liz W on 7th mo. 20, 2010 at 8:36am
Yes, that makes sense! Glad you found the ideas useful.
Comment by Javaughn Fernanders on 7th mo. 20, 2010 at 8:25am
thanks you Liz, that is so helpful. Especially the idea about the color palette. If I keep to a simple palette then I can actually match more things with less (if that makes sense).
Comment by Liz W on 7th mo. 20, 2010 at 7:49am
Javaughn, I think how many pieces of clothing you need depends very much on (a) what range of activities you do that may require specialist clothes (or have a dress code that you are prepared to confirm to) and (b) how often you're able to do laundry. For instance, I need a professional wardrobe (I'm a lawyer) and one that is suitable for messier activities like gardening, cooking and hiking; I also swim, dance and do yoga. On top of that, I need somewhat different items in summer and winter because the range of seasonal temperatures in the UK is quite wide. I'm out most weekday evenings, and once or twice a year I'm travelling without access to laundry facilities for a week. In addition, I am disabled.

All of that means I end up needing quite a lot of items. I do try to keep it to a minimum by focusing on a limited colour palette (blacks, other neutrals and blues); that does help a bit, but laundry time is the real constraint. From experience, I find that in order to reliably not run out of stuff without running myself ragged trying to keep up, I need 8-9 of things like underwear and base layers that I typically want to change every day, and 2-3 of things that I wear less often or can wear several days in a row. There are a very few specialist things that I only need one of.

Most people will have their own special factors along these lines, so it's difficult to lay down general guidelines. But I think a sensible aim is to always have something to hand that you can wear without too much fuss, including something you can change into if you spill something on your outfit or tear it on something or whatever. So for a hypothetical person who can wear the same wardrobe for work and leisure, doesn't need specialist stuff and is never more than a day or two from being able to do laundry, I'd say the sensible starting-point would be three of everything - one on, one in the laundry and one spare in case something happens to the one they're wearing. Since most people aren't that hypothetical person, add one for each extra day between laundry loads (or each extra 2-3 days for things that can be worn several days in a row), multiply by the number of different wardrobes that you regularly need for work/leisure/climate reasons etc, then add in specialist or more rarely-worn items.
Comment by Javaughn Fernanders on 7th mo. 19, 2010 at 10:13pm
Hello,
not going completely plain, but trying not to purchase anymore clothing for a long while. So spiritually simple or something...

I have a question. Those of you who are plain, how many of each thing do you have. I'm gleening and trying to figure out if I need 2 or 5 pairs of pants and so on. Let me know, give me some tips.
Comment by Helen Bayes on 6th mo. 29, 2010 at 6:30pm
Just joined simply because this is where I am now. Have given up fancying my outward appearance (double meaning intended). I'm seeing it as a move to plain rather than adopting a form of simple.
Comment by Paula Roberts on 6th mo. 8, 2010 at 3:07pm
I've been a Friend attender for years and am now making the change to Friend member. I've been reading alot about plainness and simplicity. Just some weeks ago I'd dismissed simplicity as the least applicable testimony to modern times only to be laid low by stress and overwork. Some strong testimonies in meeting made me realize that the opposite is true, at least for me. Simplicity is my struggle. I have been dressing relatively modestly for a long time. It's been years since I've even contemplated a bathing suit or a short skirt. I bought skorts for exercise/running and wore them only a few times. For me it was a matter of comfort. I do wear long skirts - I have found them appealing for a very long time. I have never seen them as some conscious movement towards plainness, but a choice from aesthetics and comfort. I do wear pants, but even here the pants are loose cargo-style, again for comfort. I am from the West Indies and therefore given to color!

But that is really beside the point. Plainness for me is a struggle not to obsess about the future, not to be caught up in social expectations for work and ambition. What do I mean? I worked in a job that made me crazy for a long time until I was laid off. This forced me to make a change I had been afraid to. All along I taught university part time, but was afraid to give up the certainty of a steady paycheck for the uncertainty of adjunct work. Having been forced to the change I came to recognize what made me happy and content - having time at home to myself, having time to walk the dog, work in the garden, etc. I felt the path. And then this spring I took on far too many classes to the point that I was living on caffeine and little sleep in order to keep up, and have not written anything in my dissertation for about a month. It took heart palpitations to realize I was back to the mess, right back off the path, right back to working myself sick.

I think I need a reminder of what I know is important and what I know is not important for me. Perhaps that is why the Simplicity testimony so resonates with me right now. I need tools to be more aware of my own state of mind, an early warning when I am straying from the path. What is important to me; what has improved my emotional health includes making bread, cooking from scratch, raising my garden, reading, exercise, attending Meeting. Paying attention to plainness and simplicity speaks to my condition of late.

I am trying to understand what is going on with me at this time. I feel called to pay more attention to what resonates in me as a Friend.

Thanks.
Comment by Paula Roberts on 5th mo. 8, 2010 at 9:33pm
I've been a Friend attender for years and am now making the change to Friend member. I've been reading alot about plainness and simplicity. Just some weeks ago I'd dismissed simplicity as the least applicable testimony to modern times only to be laid low by stress and overwork. Some strong testimonies in meeting made me realize that the opposite is true, at least for me. Simplicity is my struggle. I have been dressing relatively modestly for a long time. It's been years since I've even contemplated a bathing suit or a short skirt. I bought skorts for exercise/running and wore them only a few times. For me it was a matter of comfort. I do wear long skirts - I have found them appealing for a very long time. I have never seen them as some conscious movement towards plainness, but a choice from aesthetics and comfort. I do wear pants, but even here the pants are loose cargo-style, again for comfort. I am from the West Indies and therefore given to color!

But that is really beside the point. Plainness for me is a struggle not to obsess about the future, not to be caught up in social expectations for work and ambition. What do I mean? I worked in a job that made me crazy for a long time until I was laid off. This forced me to make a change I had been afraid to. All along I taught university part time, but was afraid to give up the certainty of a steady paycheck for the uncertainty of adjunct work. Having been forced to the change I came to recognize what made me happy and content - having time at home to myself, having time to walk the dog, work in the garden, etc. I felt the path. And then this spring I took on far too many classes to the point that I was living on caffeine and little sleep in order to keep up, and have not written anything in my dissertation for about a month. It took heart palpitations to realize I was back to the mess, right back off the path, right back to working myself sick.

I think I need a reminder of what I know is important and what I know is not important for me. Perhaps that is why the Simplicity testimony so resonates with me right now. I need tools to be more aware of my own state of mind, an early warning when I am straying from the path. What is important to me; what has improved my emotional health includes making bread, cooking from scratch, raising my garden, reading, exercise, attending Meeting. Paying attention to plainness and simplicity speaks to my condition of late.

I am trying to understand what is going on with me at this time. I feel called to pay more attention to what resonates in me as a Friend.

Thanks.
Comment by Cassie Gornowicz on 3rd mo. 16, 2010 at 11:11pm
You're welcome Larry.
Comment by Cassie Gornowicz on 3rd mo. 16, 2010 at 9:37pm
I would think you could just sew a button on to the waistband where your suspenders would button on. But I would pin the suspenders on to get an idea of where you want the button or if you have a pair of pants with the suspender buttons already, just copy the placement.
 

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