Plain Dress Discussion on Yahoo

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.

  • Michael Wilt­shire

    Plain dress should be colour­ful com­fort­able and prac­ti­cal not a uni­form. The tes­ti­mo­ny is Simplicity.
    Michael Wiltshire
    Messines Road
    Karori,Welligton 6005
    New Zealand

  • I’m going to sign up for your wife’s list. It sounds like a great group.

  • Ed Muesch

    As a Quak­er I began wear­ing Plain Dress in the 70’s and did so for all­most twen­ty years. I stopped wear­ing plain dress when I left farm­ing to return to Cor­po­rate America.
    I’m hap­py to learn there more peo­ple moved to dress plain today. Per­haps the inter-net has con­tributed to help cre­ate a bond between those moved to do so. Sep­a­rate of reli­gious moti­va­tion I do believe that dress­ing plain is a pub­lic state­ment of what Friends stand for.
    I am work­ing on a book about Plain Friends and would enjoy hear­ing form oth­ers who are will­ing to share experiences.
    Edward Muesch

  • MaryVeron­i­ca

    How nice to find this dis­cus­sion! I am Roman Catholic and live in Cen­tral NJ. I am a Bene­dic­tine Oblate novice and I dress mod­est­ly, sim­ply and wear head cov­er­ing full time. I grew up in the city in the 50’s/60’s and the more devout among us dressed with care and entered the church with veil or scarf. Although things changed over the years, I nev­er felt right if not mod­est­ly dressed and cov­ered. A few years ago, it was found I have an incur­able can­cer, and I decid­ed that no one would influ­ence me to do oth­er­wise ever again. I have been very blessed not only dress­ing more plain­ly but liv­ing more sim­ply. Although I am poor due to my ill­ness, I do not have the debt of so manyl around me with high­er income! I have seen an increase of mod­esty among Catholics, Bap­tists, 7th Day Adven­tists and oth­er Chris­tians and it is so encouraging!