Modest sewing pattern and clothing resources for women -

Welcome, sewing pattern enthusiasts! Things have been busy in 2014 at the home office of Fashion Belle. I had hoped that the launch of my sewing patterns for women would occur by early fall, but so far the work is still in progress. Half of this year has been taken with contract employment with other companies, and beyond that most of my spare time has been donated to unexpected home repairs and aiding 14 refugees who were settling in my area. Please keep checking back for progress on the pattern collection, and also use the tabs above to explore reviews of hundreds of other companies that provide modest clothing and sewing patterns.

The Modesty Debate Over Kate Middleton's Wedding Dress

Comparison of modesty of wedding dresses of Kate Middleton, Grace Kelly and modest bridal suppliers

(Photo credits, clockwise from left: Official Royal Wedding 2011 website linking to the British Monarchy Photostream on Flickr, Aliza's Bridal Boutique, two designs from Betsy Couture, Wikipedia, Wedding dress of Grace Kelly, 1956) On the one-year anniversary of Kate Middleton's wedding to Prince William of England on April 29, 2011, I continue to be surprised by comments posted on modest fashion blogs about the level of modesty of the bridal gown of the new Duchess of Cambridge. I have seen more comments from girls who thought her choice was modest than from those who thought that it lacked in modesty.

In the days leading up to the wedding, I was fascinated by reports speculating that Kate would choose a modest design, including a high neckline and shoulder coverage, in keeping with protocol for the British monarchy. Watching on television in the early morning hours an ocean away, I must admit being disappointed at my first glimpse of the gown during live reporting of the ceremony. To me, modesty has always meant not just coverage of skin but also avoidance of teasing elements, such as tight fitting, transparent fabrics or trompe l'oeil that simulates a revealing cut. Not only did Kate's dress feature an open, plunging neckline, it also invited the imagination of onlookers with see-through lace above the level of her strapless shell. Most female television commentators who first witnessed the dress declared it to be "in no way inappropriate." However, I had hoped for more modesty and appreciated the honesty of fashion consultant Tim Gunn, who was also covering the event, who openly disagreed with the female reporters, calling Kate's wedding dress design "daring."

Of course, the bridal dress was more modest than apparel Kate had been accustomed to choosing for other special occasions, which points to the fact that perception of modesty varies based on individual values. To her, the wedding dress probably was a concession to modesty in contrast to the dress she might have chosen had she married non-royalty. Many observers compared the similarities of Kate's dress to Grace Kelly's (pictured on the lower left). Few reports comparing the two dresses note that Princess Grace leaned more toward modesty with a higher neckline and lace with greater opacity than that of Kate's. For the two billion people worldwide who are estimated to have watched the royal wedding of William and Kate, the ceremony would have held even more inspiration had the couple demonstrated exemplary moral values in life as well as dress. It is a well-publicized fact that they had lived together off and on during the eight years prior to their marriage.

During the Royal Wedding, listeners were reminded of the God-given order of marriage, designed to come prior to life together and childbearing, during the introduction to the vows given by the Dean of Westminster Abbey, The Very Reverend John R. Hall, ". . . Matrimony was ordained . . . for the increase of mankind, according to the will of God, and that children might be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord and to the praise of His holy name. Secondly, it was ordained that the natural instincts and affections implanted by God should be hallowed and directed aright, that those who are called of God to this holy estate should continue therein in pureness of living . . . ."

As a fashion inspiration, Kate's bridal dress and her sister Pippa's bridesmaid dress will be emulated for years to come. We encourage brides to consider that modest versions of the dresses may be even more beautiful than the originals, especially to the groom, family and friends who value "pureness of living." For example, sleeves could be lined with a contrasting pastel color to allow the lace detail to still be visible. Or as pictured in the example above on the right, from Aliza's Bridal Boutique, lace may be lined white-on-white. The two examples pictured on the lower right are from Betsy Couture and feature the high waist and button detail elements seen on Grace Kelly's wedding gown. A high neckline and lined lace presents a totally different feeling from a plunging neckline and see-through lace, and that is why the comments of girls who view Kate Middleton's wedding gown design as modest are surprising.

Latina Women Promoting a Positive View of Femininity

Avenueva company owned by Jessie Martinez in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas

It was a treat in 2012 to receive a message from Jessie Martinez, a dad who had read some of the information about modest clothing on the Fashion Belle website and wrote to thank us. His perspective on the cultural pressures young women face and his plans for engaging his own and other families in instilling positive values in girls from early ages so impressed me that I wanted to share his message here. When I asked for permission to publish his email, he wrote, "Absolutely. Feel free to re-post my message in your site's forum. I am delighted that you think it may benefit your readers. . . . Look forward to helping move this conversation/topic forward." As a brief introduction, Mr. Martinez is a designer who has worked in the print, branding and metalworking fields for over 10 years. He recently started his own design business named Avenueva, meaning "new avenue," in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas, area.

Just wanted to say thank you for this site. This will be a great resource for us, particularly my wife and young daughters. I'm a stay-at-home dad running our online design business from our home. Although my experience is in graphic design, I appreciate all forms of design and can see my 6-year-old loves fashion design. We want to provide her with the environment to pursue her ideas/passion, but we also want to help guide her through the process of what is appropriate, make her aware of predatory marketing and help her identify negative public images of women. My wife and I have noticed the compression of market segmentation with young girls. They are trying to make these girls and the public believe they are older than what they are. Your site will provide visuals for us so that she can learn what is beautiful yet acceptable, meaning it focuses on setting a positive image of feminine confidence, intelligence and self-worth. So again, as a dad, thank you.

. . . I am currently addressing the Hispanic perspective on this, which has a deeper-rooted problem ingrained in its traditional culture as to how women are viewed. There is a strong movement among successful Latinas trying to flip the script and set a positive image for young Hispanic women. Your site is a great example of how to provide an inspirational platform for young fashion designers. My goal is to engage parents, including fathers, to speak up, spread awareness and begin taking individual steps toward healthier guidance of our youth regardless of race, culture or gender.

I can also see the potential of doing a feature article on people making a positive difference. You are doing just that in a highly under-addressed topic. . . . Best -- Jessie Martinez"

In response to this email, I forwarded Mr. Martinez a link to an article by researcher Diane Levin, Dealing with the impact of today's sexualized childhood on young children. This article is well worth reading for anyone who has an influence in the lives of young girls. Ms. Levin's points include the following:

  • Protect children as much as possible from exposure to sexualized media and products.
  • Help children make sense of what they see and influence children’s learning and behavior.
  • Make phone calls, talk to store managers, and write letters to explain the harm caused by highly sexualized products that are directed at young children.

Mr. Martinez brought up a significant point about the extra pressure that Latina women face with all the media objectification of them as exotic beauties. Just look around at the many celebrities popular in the United States who have a South American heritage (and who may have a broad career spanning multiple countries). Their naturally clear skin, dark hair and curvaceous figures are blessings from God and can be used in positive ways, if they would choose to do so. Most celebrities are expected to publicly dress in ways that are too revealing and do not respect who they are as women, and younger girls look to them as examples. I'm encouraged to hear that a movement is taking place among successful women seeking to change this perspective and set new examples of framing natural beauty in positive ways.

The Quinceanera Latin American tradition that takes place on a girl's fifteenth birthday (similar to a debutante ball) is another area of influence that can be used either positively or negatively. For many girls, it is an occasion that may pressure them into wearing heavy makeup and a strapless ball gown even if they do not feel comfortable doing so. Most Quinceanera dresses can be modified for modesty, and to see suggestions of places to purchase gowns that are designed for modesty, visit our clothing reviews directory. The Quinceanera tradition is a lovely one, that of acknowledging the passage from girlhood to womanhood, and like any other special occasion in life, it can be celebrated while wearing dresses that are both beautiful and modest. Thanks again to Mr. Martinez for his encouraging insights.

Study Shows that Girls Dressed Modestly are Perceived to be more Competent, Intelligent, Moral and Self-Respecting

Schoolgirl sitting at a desk

It is no surprise that immodest clothing intended as daywear for women is pervasively marketed in Western cultures. However, a new study released by Kenyon College researchers documents the trend of pushing elements of this type of styling into the category of girls' clothing. The study examined pre-adolescent clothing that is marketed online in the United States and found that around 30% of items had some type of sexualizing characteristic that would traditionally be considered inappropriate for daytime wear, especially for a girl whose figure had not yet matured.

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