Tired of low-rise and low-cut? Modesty can be chic.
A few years back, Chelsea Rippy was a frustrated shopper. She would go out once a week looking for new clothes and would come back empty-handed. Racks of cleavage-baring tops and low-rise jeans were leaving the stylish young mom with few options for clothes she felt comfortable in.Skip to next paragraph
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Ms. Rippy, a Mormon, finally decided to fix the problem herself. Last fall she launched her own line of stretchy T-shirts and camisoles that can be worn under today's most revealing clothes. She's been surprised by the reception her shirts have received - and by the diversity of customers who buy from her online and at home parties.
"I knew that if I needed [these shirts], someone else did. But I had no clue as to the magnitude of it," says the founder of Shade Clothing, from her home in American Fork, Utah. "I originally started it thinking I would appeal to other members of my religion, but it's gone far beyond that now."
Fed up with the revealing clothes popular in recent years, some in the Christian community have chosen to design their own or modify what's available. They've launched successful Web-based businesses and are hosting fashion shows for teens.
In some cases, groups have received the cooperation of - or at least the ear of - department stores like Nordstrom and Dillard's. And there's some indication that it's not just churchgoers who are taking an interest in dressing modestly.
News from the runways last fall highlighted a return to styles that included lower hemlines and ladylike sweater-sets. Although it typically takes months or even years for runway trends to trickle down to mass-market buyers, some of that modest spirit is informing spring fashions. Tops are still low-cut, but they are longer, as are skirts, thanks to the hippie chic motif. Layering is popular, too.
"You don't have to show all the skin. It's definitely an on-trend thing to layer," says Tara McBratney, fashion director at CosmoGIRL! magazine, who notes that girls and women are wearing spaghetti-strap tops over T-shirts and skirts over white khakis.
Women of faith may be the most outspoken about recent styles, but more women and mothers - regardless of religious affiliation - are saying they, too, would like to see the trend in skimpy clothes reversed.
Rose Anderson, a friend of Rippy's who is also a young mom, is a good example. She says she's not ultramodest, and doesn't share her friend's religion, but would like to see options that don't show lots of cleavage, for example.
"We're young, and we try to be hip, but we don't want to be that hip," says Ms. Anderson, who lives in Seattle. "It's hard to find things that are fun and cute but still a little modest."
Sparking conversation about modesty is one goal of the Pure Fashion show, put on in early May in nearby Bellevue, Wash., by an affiliate of a national Catholic girls' group.
Challenge girls clubs around the country have been hosting the shows for a handful of years, but this was only the second time the Seattle-area teens had sashayed down the runway in clothes they found at stores like The Gap, Limited Too, and Macy's.