When it comes to religion and style, I’m very much inspired by this:
And not so much this:
You see, I grew up in a very religious family and have had quite a bit of time to think about this sort of thing. Being exposed to religion early on helped me to develop my faith. But I’ve also had to deal with a lot of restrictions when it came to fashion and style that were not my cup of tea. Still, I’m always intrigued by women whose dress is heavily influenced by religious beliefs. I’m really fascinated by Orthodox Jewish women in their long skirts, long sleeves, and wigs. There’s something refreshing about their modest attire. It’s a nice change from the scantily dressed women we’re accustomed to seeing. But I also can’t help but wonder which of the women just wants to break out and wear their own thing. Perhaps, one of them is wearing a sparkly spaghetti strap top underneath her black turtle neck sweater. Or maybe another one has a scandalous low cut black dress she only wears at home (ha! I digress).
Mostly, I just admire the way certain ladies are able to express their individual style within religious confines, and manage do so without crossing boundaries or causing an upset others will be talking about for days. (Well maybe they’ll still talk, but you can’t please everyone). Modest fashionistas is what I call these women. And I think we can learn a lot about fashion and style from them. Think about it—they have the arduous task of choosing modest pieces that appeal to their sense of style. This means they have to really edit themselves, and can’t just jump on any trend that comes along. Consequently, they develop a sharp sense of style and are sensitive to the message each piece conveys (such as slightly revealing but not over the top). If you ask me, I think we can all exercise our editing skills a bit to sharpen our sense of style.
Speaking of modest fashionistas, meet the lovely, Mrs. Typhanie Stewart. She's a modest dresser with an extreme sense of style. I came across her blog, My Garments of Praise, some time ago, and really enjoyed her style posts. When I first browsed through her blog, I didn’t realize even she was a modest dresser. I simply noticed her style, and this says a lot about her ability to express her individual style over and above any religious restrictions she may have. I reached out to Typhanie to ask her if she would answer five or so questions about her experience with religion and style, and she graciously agreed. Read below for her interview.
1. TB: Hey Typhanie, first I want to thank you for agreeing to an interview. Can you briefly explain what prompted you to start your blog, My Garments of Praise, and what the blog is about?
Typhanie: It’s my pleasure! Thank you for having me. Near the end of 2011, my husband and I fell into a significant transitional period, and I desperately needed a creative outlet. I wanted to find a way to stay inspired and be consistent with my writing as a new freelancer while increasing my motivation to read the Word and share it with others. At the time, I was following a few fashion blogs and was blown away daily by their interesting posts and trendy outfits that were practical for the everyday woman. I then began to search for Christian fashion blogs... Unfortunately, I was beyond unimpressed.
I prayerfully started My Garments of Praise in 2012 after a group of young girls at my church expressed their frustration with finding modest clothing in the stores and feeling like they couldn’t express themselves in the way they dress due to our church’s guidelines. I wanted to use my blog as a tool to not only help others find modest attire at affordable prices, but also to show how to incorporate individuality and some of the latest trends into modest, wearable outfits. At the core of it all, My Garments of Praise is my way of expressing how my relationship with God influences my personal style.
2. TB: How would you describe your sense of style, and from where do you get your style inspiration?
Typhanie: I would describe my sense of style as classic, feminine, comfortable, and put-together. I try to invest in pieces that are timeless and incorporate trends here and there. I love feeling like a lady, and I have to be comfortable. I’m a firm believer in wearing an outfit and not letting the outfit wear me. I draw inspirations from everywhere, but mainly from church and fellow style bloggers.
3. TB: How does your religion impact your sense of style? And what, if any, challenges have you faced putting together modest outfits?
Typhanie: The blog name My Garments of Praise was inspired by Isaiah 61:3, “…to give unto them…the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” In all that I do (even in getting dressed!), my desire is to do it with praise and joy, as unto to the Lord.
When it comes to style, most fashion bloggers and gurus will tell you that it's personal. I agree 100 percent. Every look will not work for everyone because personalities and lifestyles are different. Personally, my style is influenced primarily by my relationship with God and who I am in Him. I believe that my appearance is just as great of a witness as my words. Therefore, when I shop or get dressed, modesty is the best policy in guiding the decisions I make. I admit, I do hope to attract attention from the way that I dress... but it's the type of attention that I receive that sets me apart. Keeping up with the trends is fun, and I enjoy it. But I make an effort to find ways to do it while staying true to myself and Who I represent.
I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t faced any challenges while putting together modest outfits. What I have faced, though, are challenges to please everyone and their ideas of what modesty is. Some may think my skirts are too long, others think they’re too short. Some think being fashionable isn’t modest, some think fashion and modesty go hand in hand. Some people think the mere fact that I post outfits on a blog for the world to see is out of pride and the opposite of modest, and others think it’s brilliant and encourage me to continue blogging. As far as putting together modest outfits – that’s the easy (and fun) part of it all.
4. TB: Do you agree that being a modest dresser has sharpened your sense of style? If so, how?
Typhanie: I do agree that being a modest dresser has sharpened my sense of style, and more importantly, it has helped me find my own personal style. Before I was saved, back in high school, I was considered one of the best dressed. I used to spend tons of money on the latest styles and wear things that I wasn’t comfortable wearing just to be a “crowd pleaser.” When I got saved, I got rid of 90 percent of my wardrobe and started from scratch to rebuild my closet. I still had a desire to be stylish, but I wanted to do so in a way that would be pleasing to God and true to who I am.
5. TB: What is the most creative thing you’ve done to turn a not-so-modest-outfit into a modest one?
Typhanie: Comfort and convenience are important to me, so I usually buy clothes that are ready to wear and aren’t in need of any effort on my end to make them appear modest. If I need to, though, some tricks of mine are to buy a few sizes up to meet my length requirement and then either get it altered or use a belt to make it fit my body better. I’ve also done some interesting things with scarves.
For more of Typhanie's super cute pics, follow her on instagram. :)