Julie, my wife, has just started a Yahoo group called PlainAndModestDress.
Here’s her description:
This group is for Christians interested in discussing issues of religious plain and modest dress. It is not necessary to have grown up in a plain or modestly dressing group. We are especially interested in the experiences of those who have come to this point as a sort of conversion or a “recovery” of tradition that has been lost. Traditional Catholics, Anabaptists, conservative Quakers, and other Christians welcome here. Theological points and demoninational differences are open for discussion (not argument), as are the specifics of what type of plain dress you have been called to. Discussion of headcovering is also allowed here, as are gender distinctions in dress. We may also share prayers for one another, as well as the challenges we face in trying to live in obedience to the Lord. This is not a forum in which to discuss the validity of Christianity – no blaspheming allowed.
There is much to be said about plain dress. This is not an easy witness. It forces us to deal with issues of submission and humility on a daily basis – just try to go to a convenience store and not feel self-consciously set apart. Explaining this new ‘style’ to one’s more worldly friends can be quite a challenge. These are eternal issues for those adopting plain dress and I laugh with comradeship when I read old Quaker journal accounts of going plain.
Even so, I have a bit of trepidation about a newsgroup on plain dress. I don’t want to fetishize plain dress by talking about it too much. The point shouldn’t be to formulate some sort of ‘uniform of the righteous,’ and adoption of this testimony shouldn’t be motivated by peer pressure or ambition, but by a calling from the Holy Spirit – this is the crux of what I understand Margaret Fell to have been saying when she called pressured plainness a “silly poor gospel”. (I should say that some non-Quaker do dress more as an identifying uniform, which is fine, just not necessarily the Quaker rationale).
But like any outward form or testimony (peace, Quaker process, etc.), taking up plain dress can be a fruitful course in religious education. I think back to being seventeen and bucking my father’s wish that I attend the Naval Academy – my “no” made me ask how else my beliefs about peace might need to be acted out in my life. It became a useful query. Plain dress has forced me to think anew about how I “consume” clothing and how I relate to mass marketing and the global clothing industry. It’s also kept me from ducking out on my faith, as I wear an identification of my beliefs.
So join the plain dress discussion or take a look at the ever-growing section of the site called Resources on Quaker Plain Dress, which includes “My Experiments with Plainness”, my early story about going plain.