"Plain" Catholics (Amish-ish dress)?


#1

I’m Roman Catholic, and my life is reasonably mainstream. I attend community college, and dress within the “normal” mode of modesty - longer skirts, no sleeveless shirts, no trousers.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a call to adopt an even plainer mode of dress, something similar to what the Old Order Amish women wear, but without the distinctive bonnet. Amish and Mennonite women look so beautiful in their plain clothing and bonnets, but I think a simple cloth snood would serve better in Central California.

Would adopting Amish clothing be acceptable? Would it be seen as kowtowing to another religion? :confused:


#2

Why not try wearing the things you wear now in the solid colors that you find so appealing. Also, the Amish/Mennonite women make all those outfits. How good are your sewing skills?


#3

It’s not the solid colours I find appealing per se, but the cut of the dresses.

My sewing skills are excellent, thank you :slight_smile: I know of several sites selling custom-made “plain” clothing.


#4

As long as clothing is suitably modest you can dress in any style you please. I would say, though, that dressing to look like a certain type of people when you aren’t what they are may be thought of as mere affectation and be misconstrued as insulting or as mockery. If you wish to dress in drab colors, though I can’t see why you can’t as long as you don’t become snobbish towards those who like bright colors and jewelry. Yes?


#5

[quote=Della]I would say, though, that dressing to look like a certain type of people when you aren’t what they are may be thought of as mere affectation and be misconstrued as insulting or as mockery.
[/quote]

I certainly wouldn’t want to be misconstrued like that. I suppose that dressing plainly and old-fashionedly, but not in the distinctive Amish fashion, would be more appropriate?


#6

You may want to check out Brothers and Sisters of Penance which is a Catholic lay association based on the teachings of Saint Francis. They live according to Saint Francis’ Rule of 1221, which includes such things as dressing in subdued, solid colors and wearing a cross or crucifix visible at all times. Their website is:

bspenance.org/


#7

I personally don’t see anything wrong with what you suggest. You said you’re not looking at the colors, rather the cut of the dress. I don’t think anyone would consider that a mockery or an insult if you were to wear a dress you made in the same or similiar cut. I actually like the Amish dresses as they are more feminine and plain. It’s hard these days to find something that is still nice, yet not cut here and there to overly show off the assets.
Good luck!


#8

As an ex-Mennonite, I must admit I’m rather puzzled as to your motives :confused: …but…if you really wish to dress like that, yeah…why not, there is no rule to say that as a Catholic you can’t…We have one lady in our village who is a Catholic, but wears a scarf on her head to hide her hair and dresses ‘like a Mennonite’…personally, I think it means that wherever she goes all eyes are on her, even in church during Mass everybody looks at her…but, I don’t think she dresses like that in a pride-ful way and if it makes her happy, why not?! It is just beyond my comprehension as to why she wants to dress like that, but that’s another story…

Anna x


#9

While I admire your desire to express a deeper commitment to God, it sounds like you are already doing all that is asked of a good Catholic woman in terms of dress. I admire that you are so thoughtful about your appearance. However, why separate yourself from other people, who will certainly take note of your appearance, and cause them to wonder why that extreme style is necessary. I don’t think that it is good for conservative Catholics to be so “out there” in so many ways (homeschooling, genuflecting at Communion, family size, what they view on TV, etc) that you alienate everyone else. Not that these are bad things, no, that’s not what I mean. I’ve home schooled and I have a big family and we only have one tv etc. etc. etc., but I’ve come to recognize that I in fact separated myself from good people in my quest to be a better Catholic. Immodest dress aside, it’s whats on the inside that matters, and it’s connecting to others that’s important. Remember Jesus’s warning in the Gospel of Matthew; don’t do religious things for show like the pharises and doctors of the law. There are plenty of ways to dress simply and modestly without going to the extreme of adapting fashions from the 19th century and drawing a lot of attention to yourself as a result. You want people to look beyond the clothing, not get stuck there, so that you can be like Jesus to them. Being all things to all people doesn’t include dressing in a way so different from everyone else that people keep their distance. You can offer up the suffering that you very well may feel in regular clothing for the intentions of the Holy Father.


#10

It’s situations like these that make me grateful for regular spiritual direction. I might think I’m being called to one thing, but upon further reflection and discussion, I could change my mind.

Not that dress is a HUGE issue (at least in your case - it could be for a teen girl), but I like having someone else, face to face, challenge my motives and make me think through what I’m doing. —KCT


#11

[quote=RoseMarie]I’m Roman Catholic, and my life is reasonably mainstream. I attend community college, and dress within the “normal” mode of modesty - longer skirts, no sleeveless shirts, no trousers.
[/quote]

RoseMarie:

I just wanted to add that I think you are confusing a certain style of dressing with modest dressing. There is absolutely nothing immodest with trousers or sleeveless shirts per se, unless the cut of the garment is too form fitting or revealing. To me, a “normal” mode of modesty includes pants, shorts, sleeveless and even hemlines above the knee (not far above, but above). I know countless women who dress beautifully and modestly in the kind of clothing that you seem to imply are less than modest.

I have four daughters and the number one thing I stress is that regardless of what they wear, that garment should call attention first to their face. No garment should draw the viewers gaze first to the bustline or hips or waist. Because then the face of the wearer is second to the impact of their outfit. Does that make sense? Modest clothing compliments the face and the demeanor of the wearer, and it will flatter the wearer’s figure in a nice way. Immodest clothing usually puts the body first. Not a good message.


#12

And there are many times when good trousers/slacks/jeans are FAR more modest than a skirt!


#13

[quote=kage_ar]And there are many times when good trousers/slacks/jeans are FAR more modest than a skirt!
[/quote]

Yes, the famous scene in which Marilyn Monroe’s skirt of her dress blows around her as she stands on an air vent for the subway says it all.

I love to wear colors that compliment my skin tone and jewelry that compliments my outfit. Like CupofKindness, I believe in drawing attention to my face before any other part of my anatomy. Which is why a nice pair of earrings is such a plus. I love to wear pins (brooches), too, but I pin them up high near my neckline to, once again, draw attention to my face.

Dressing modestly isn’t about color or sparkle or anything like that, it’s about dressing appropriately for one’s age and station in life.


#14

[quote=Cupofkindness]While I admire your desire to express a deeper commitment to God, it sounds like you are already doing all that is asked of a good Catholic woman in terms of dress. I admire that you are so thoughtful about your appearance. However, why separate yourself from other people, who will certainly take note of your appearance, and cause them to wonder why that extreme style is necessary. I don’t think that it is good for conservative Catholics to be so “out there” in so many ways (homeschooling, genuflecting at Communion, family size, what they view on TV, etc) that you alienate everyone else. Not that these are bad things, no, that’s not what I mean. I’ve home schooled and I have a big family and we only have one tv etc. etc. etc., but I’ve come to recognize that I in fact separated myself from good people in my quest to be a better Catholic. Immodest dress aside, it’s whats on the inside that matters, and it’s connecting to others that’s important. Remember Jesus’s warning in the Gospel of Matthew; don’t do religious things for show like the pharises and doctors of the law. There are plenty of ways to dress simply and modestly without going to the extreme of adapting fashions from the 19th century and drawing a lot of attention to yourself as a result. You want people to look beyond the clothing, not get stuck there, so that you can be like Jesus to them. Being all things to all people doesn’t include dressing in a way so different from everyone else that people keep their distance. You can offer up the suffering that you very well may feel in regular clothing for the intentions of the Holy Father.
[/quote]

I also feel an attraction to wearing very simple clothing and have often thought that I would like to wear a habit. If my vocation had been to be a nun, I would have joined an order with a formal and distinctive habit.

There is something beautiful about no longer needing to concern myself with clothing. I could each morning put on clothing as I wear my faith and that faith would be reflected in my clothes. I want everyone to know I am Catholic. Why not have them know it when they see me?

God bless.


#15

[quote=ElizabethAnne]I also feel an attraction to wearing very simple clothing and have often thought that I would like to wear a habit. If my vocation had been to be a nun, I would have joined an order with a formal and distinctive habit.
[/quote]

If I were to enter an order as a nun I would want the same thing–as a witness to the Gospel for the world. Yes? :slight_smile:

There is something beautiful about no longer needing to concern myself with clothing. I could each morning put on clothing as I wear my faith and that faith would be reflected in my clothes. I want everyone to know I am Catholic. Why not have them know it when they see me?

God bless.

Well, people might not get the message you are Catholic so much as the idea that you don’t care about your appearance and so don’t care about being responsible or doing a good job or have any interest in the ordinarily harmless enjoyments of life.

What you want to do is learn how to dress in what is right for you–for your figure, your skin tone, your vocation in life. Careful attention to appearance, not over indulgence in clothing or make up or jewelry tells people you know who you are and what you are doing.

It doesn’t take a lot of time and attention. It takes me no more than 15 minutes to put myself together for the day, and I don’t fuss too much, either but I always try to look appropriate for the occasion for a woman of my age and demeanor. :wink:


#16

Cupofkindness: I don’t think that trousers and sleeveless shirts are immodest across the board, but I don’t care to wear them myself. I’ve yet to find a pair of pants that fits me without being very clingy in places I’d rather not have clung to. As for sleeveless shirts - I’m amply bosomed. That tends to make the armholes pull forward, thus exposing my brassiere at the sides. There you have it.

I would like to add that I rather like the fashions of the 19th century… One might get an odd look wearing them, but they’re lovelier than 90 per cent of what you can get today.

What would be wrong with calling a bit of attention to oneself through one’s clothing? People might ask about the clothing, and it would be an opening to witness a bit.


#17

[quote=RoseMarie] What would be wrong with calling a bit of attention to oneself through one’s clothing? People might ask about the clothing, and it would be an opening to witness a bit.
[/quote]

I don’t necessarily think that there is anything wrong with calling attention to oneself through one’s clothing per se, certainly a lovely outfit is fun to wear and compliments are fun to hear. And dresses of the 19th century are very beautiful. But we’re not in that century. The past is past. In my opinion, if you want simple clothing order outfits from a place like Lands End. Nothing is plainer or more simple. The clothes are highly functional, durable and have a classic look when it comes to contemporary clothes. This is what I would do if simple clothing was important to me. And actually, it is, but I need sizes that Lands End doesn’t do well with. I prefer Coldwater Creek, where the clothes have a little more style to them. But I usually shop at department stores for my clothing. My clothing is very simple, believe me.

Why would you want to wear garments that might cause you to be stared at by others trying to figure out what your dress signifies? That’s what I don’t understand, that just doesn’t seem modest to me, but rather signals a need that you are trying to fill. Howeever, that’s just my opinion, and I know you’ll figure out the right thing to do!


#18

Just don’t let anybody introduce you to Stacey and Clinton!! :wink:


#19

[quote=Cupofkindness]While I admire your desire to express a deeper commitment to God, it sounds like you are already doing all that is asked of a good Catholic woman in terms of dress. I admire that you are so thoughtful about your appearance. However, why separate yourself from other people, who will certainly take note of your appearance, and cause them to wonder why that extreme style is necessary. I don’t think that it is good for conservative Catholics to be so “out there” in so many ways (homeschooling, genuflecting at Communion, family size, what they view on TV, etc) that you alienate everyone else. Not that these are bad things, no, that’s not what I mean. I’ve home schooled and I have a big family and we only have one tv etc. etc. etc., but I’ve come to recognize that I in fact separated myself from good people in my quest to be a better Catholic. Immodest dress aside, it’s whats on the inside that matters, and it’s connecting to others that’s important. Remember Jesus’s warning in the Gospel of Matthew; don’t do religious things for show like the pharises and doctors of the law. There are plenty of ways to dress simply and modestly without going to the extreme of adapting fashions from the 19th century and drawing a lot of attention to yourself as a result. You want people to look beyond the clothing, not get stuck there, so that you can be like Jesus to them. Being all things to all people doesn’t include dressing in a way so different from everyone else that people keep their distance. You can offer up the suffering that you very well may feel in regular clothing for the intentions of the Holy Father.
[/quote]

You make many valid points here.


#20

[quote=Cupofkindness] And dresses of the 19th century are very beautiful. But we’re not in that century. The past is past.
[/quote]

When it comes to fashion, I’d say that the past is future! :slight_smile: There’s only so much one can do with clothing, and the styles tend to get repeated and re-hashed. Hemlines go up, hemlines go down, etc. Looking back, when I was in high school in the late 80’s, the 1950’s were in fashion: preppy sweaters, penny loafers, etc. Then there was the return of the hippies – who, in their own day, were doing a “return to the 19th century,” with their flowered skirts, granny boots, etc. Then there was the swing dancing craze. And now we’ve seen the return of bellbottoms! :eek:

I’d say that there’s nothing wrong with wearing vintage styles, as long as they’re modest and attractive. Even if her chosen look isn’t “in” right now, who knows, maybe she’ll start a new trend. AFAIK, there’s no law saying that Catholic women have to be followers in the fashion world, or make themselves look as “average” as possible.

(The only concern I can think of with vintage clothing is that she wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a “goth.” There wouldn’t be much chance of that, though, if she’s avoiding jewellery, fancy fabrics, and elaborate or revealing styles. Not to mention the twelve coats of mascara. :stuck_out_tongue: )

[quote=Cupofkindness]In my opinion, if you want simple clothing order outfits from a place like Lands End. Nothing is plainer or more simple.
[/quote]

I get the impression that the OP would prefer to sew the clothes herself, or pay a seamstress to make them. She doesn’t say why, but I can think of many good reasons: desire to support a local craftswoman; concern for human rights (most Lands End clothes are made in China); not wanting to support a retailer who profits from immodest clothes (Lands End is owned by Sears, which sells some dreadful stuff); or just wanting to have the style and fit that she likes. In any case, she isn’t just looking to choose from the offerings of the major retailers.

[quote=Cupofkindness]Why would you want to wear garments that might cause you to be stared at by others trying to figure out what your dress signifies?
[/quote]

I agree that this is a concern. It seems inappropriate for a laywoman to wear a habit. The Confraternity of Penitents (similar to the group mentioned above) has this to say:

The CFP Rule: The CFP Rule defines modest clothing as clothing that is meant to conceal rather than reveal. The CFP Rule does not mandate or forbid styles. Rather it requires its members to always wear modest, solid colored clothing in neutral colors (black, gray, white, beige, brown, ivory, charcoal, and other solid color earth tones) or blue and to mix and match styles and colors so as not to give the impression of a habit. The objective of the clothing part of the CFP Rule is to blend in with the crowd, not stand out from it. (…)

Virtue: Detachment: Certainly this “giving up” of one’s personal effects is a great penance. In addition, dressing so that no one suspects that one is wearing a certain type of dress is going to prevent a penitent from succumbing to spiritual pride which can come from appearing “holy.” With this relinquishment of effects and their effect on others comes a great gain, the virtue of detachment.

penitents.org/


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