23.2.08

Eh?

That was about the only real reaction I had to this article. Not that I'm against modesty on principle, but I could have sworn this was exactly the spiel being turned out circa 2004, only that time it was a 'return to old-world femininity' and 'ladylike' clothing being touted in the pages of Vogue UK, with lots of pictures of tweed and knee-length skirt suits to accompany it (among other things), and cracks about muffin-tops. And 2004, if one were to be frank, wasn't really all that long ago, even if one year, forget four, is an aeon in the fashion timespan. I've never been a huge fan of showing lots of skin- most people just don't do it well. And covering up, in a manner that suits me, is something I'd wholeheartedly embrace. However, using a term as loaded as 'modesty' to characterise a new trend, is more than a little troubling IMO, for reasons that I shouldn't really get into on here because it'll just be a lead-in to a rant. It's strange, I don't really mind 'demure' (practically a synonym), but I remember disliking the idea of wishy-washy pastel/floral Spring fashions last year. And I can't help feeling that I hate the idea of this so-called 'modest' clothing even more. Even if I don't dislike the clothes themselves, the clothes I wear do tend to influence the way I see myself at a particular point in time, to slip me into a role, as it were- though it's rather chicken-and-egg, I pick clothes according to my mood mostly. And being pushed into the box of being a sweet, unassertive, shrinking wallflower - though that is what I often am- is not something I want to see held up as an ideal, by anyone. Of course, there are different ways of looking at it, and openly non-sexy clothing (very different from 'modest' IMO) is something I love- but this 'modesty' business is still making me a little twitchy...

10 comments:

WendyB said...

You know what I hate? Labels like "modest." Annoying.

susie_bubble said...

It's one of those words where you have to ask 'Define modest?' I use the word but only when I can compare it to something else less modest in order to put it into context...
Anyhow, I'm all for covered up too...but I'll say this one minute but the next I could be wearing short shorts so this article means jack to me...

headmistress said...

totally agree- the term 'modesty' is verry difficult and it makes me wonder why they've chosen it... it's something I've been thinking of a lot recently, in terms of how I dress, and how this relates to people around me. I used to wear a full hijab and abaya/jilbab some years ago, but in the past few years, I've moved away from that and now don't wear any of it unless necessary to the situation. I was of course very 'modest' then, but I'm hardly prancing about in AA boob tubes and lamé hot pants now, and I don't think I'm any less modest in that respect these days though ppl I know may disagree.

the article itself felt a little facetious to me - putting a sexless, wholesome J. Andrews version of 'modesty' as a polar opposite to filthy, sordid scandalous sexuality, with the ref. to LiLo et al, seems silly and over-provocative. Perhaps we do have an oversaturation of sexuality in mainstream media, but such conservative generalisations don't help. I don't think the term is right anyway, to describe current aesthetics of calf-length skirts and acres of chunky knits - they're much less dithering, nervous substitute geography teacher and more assertive, a subtle sense of power.

ach, sorry, long warble, you didn't want to rant, but I seem to be drifting towards it anyway!

Jen (MahaloFashion) said...

hmm not sure what that's all suppose to mean...we'll see;)

Jen (MahaloFashion) said...

I've linked you back btw.

evie said...

I coughed and choked when I read this line: "Modesty has been creeping back into vogue for some time."

I think what bugged me most of all wasn't so much the writer's definition of modesty but that it somehow conveyed the thought that all the "immodesty" as exampled by the Britneys of the world was actually in vogue!

riz said...

This is very fascinating to me. I think there is a difference that needs to be marked, that isn't always marked, between dressing mdoestly, and dressing smartly and with a certain exactitude and precision that avoids being prim or some such. I never would want anyone to interpret the way that I dress as modest, which connotes some sense that you dress for a man. Toning down one's sexuality so as not to offend masculine eyes etc. Like I said this is so interesting to me. You always write the most provocative stuff. Also I wanted to say that I think intellectual/conceptual designers are the way out of this kind of Michael Kors modesty. (ick!) That's not to say that they have to be gareth pugh, but modest dressing is not where i find excitement in fashion...

the iron chic said...

I feel like they've been pushing this "modesty" business for a while.
Yet, in reality, I still see short-shorts and tube tops all summer long.

enc said...

Maybe the writers or designers or editors were just bored and had to give the "trend" a name, and all they could conjure up was "modest."

Don't let yourself be pigeonholed.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Wendy: I know, it felt a little sneery to me..
Susie: I'd never knock covering up, but I'd rather do it for myself than because society 'expects it of me'- in that, I agree entirely with you.
Headmistress: I think that's part of my issue with the usage of this term, too. I don't think I, or anyone reading this, really wants to be this self-effacing creature that keeps under wraps so as not to offend anyone. What you wear should be a personal choice- suggesting that we should suppress any part of ourselves out of deference to some imagined other people is really not on, IMO. And don't apologise, it's a natural direction for our thoughts to take..
Jen: I hope it doesn't mean what I thought it meant...and thanks for the link!
Evie: I can't believe the po-facedness of it all. In some places (including the one you referred to), Lisa Armstrong sounded like she wouldn't have been out of place as a nun at my old school- I could swear many of them had the exact same attitude..*shakes head*

Riz: You really did get the nail on the head. I think that might be exactly why I don't mind the term 'demure' being used as opposed to 'modest', because the latter, to me, tends to imply a certain internalisation of codes of conduct that say 'you will behave/appear this way', a state of being, if you will. 'Demure', on the other hand, sounds somehow a bit more knowing, perhaps even calculated- something I don't mind at all because underneath it all, you know you're still yourself, just in different clothes.
Re: what you said about the more conceptual designers, it's true. I think most of the ones I really admire don't really hold themselves to conventional views of the human form...therefore, the idea than it should be covered in X or Y manner isn't exactly one they subscribe to. And it's freedom from those ideas, as well as ones regarding should-be sexiness or even the idea behind a dress, that makes their work interesting to me.
Gosh I've rambled...and I'm flattered that you find my ramblings provocative- I never start out intending for them to be that way :)

ENC: Still, what a word. Surely they could have consulted a thesaurus? Or even their imaginations? I wouldn't even have minded 'frumpy'...and not pigeonholing ourselves is the way to go.

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