Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Beautiful, Soft, Flowing, Modest, Clothing Depicted in the Art of Alfred Emile Leopold Stevens (1823-1906)

The Lady in Pink, 1867
(If you would like to have one of these posters for your home, go to http://lovelywhatevers.blogspot.com/2009/07/art-of-alfred-emile-leopold-stevens.html



Alfred Emile-Leopold Stevens was a Belgian painter who lived from 1823 until 1906. He was from a family of painters, and his children also grew up to be painters.


In these paintings, you can see how he admired the flowing fabric in the feminine dresses of women. Of all the paintings of the past that I have showcased on this blog recently, the artists were men.


I find it interesting that they were so inspired by the beautiful way women presented themselves in that era, and that they wanted to preserve this beauty in paintings. Generations later, many people can look back and see what women wore, and what men admired about their appearance or the things that they were doing.


Today, women look so terrible, with their shaven heads and their unflattering styles, that it would certainly inspire a teacher of modesty to develop a course of study and illustration for women, more than it would inspire a painter. Perhaps we can get women back into following good sense regarding clothing, and once again inspire the masculine men to paint pictures of them for all time, paintings that future generations would not be ashamed to see.
La Plague, Ostende


This painting should capture your interest, in particular, because it depicts a typical scene of the mid-1800's, of women at the beach. Compare this to today's horrid display of shameful nudity on public beaches, so riske' that it is not safe to take a family with children to the beach for a day of wholesome, innocent recreation.
There are many other beach scenes like this in paintings and photographs, to prove that people found it possible to enjoy a day at the sea without parading around in underwear. The heat did not seem to motivate the pre-twentieth-century population to shed everything and publicly swim, or sunbathe in mixed company. As late as the 1960's, preachers were warning their congregations against what was termed "mixed bathing," (the practice of men and women outside of their own families, swimming together in the public). We have come full circle, and now realize the wisdom in this old-fashioned teaching.

Lady at the Window Feeding Birds

The garment in the above painting could easily be reproduced, if only in a simple way, with a one piece shift, sleeves, and ribbon added on the edges. I am still preparing my "line of clothing" with patterns, and favorite paintings to go with them, just to show you how quick and easy it is to make your own clothing. I think one of the mistakes women make when they want to learn to sew, is to pay for an expensive course that makes it a complicated and unhappy experience. The best way to learn, in my opinion is to sit down or recline, and read your pattern instructions, step by step, so that you can get a picture in your mind of what the steps will be. You might have to get someone to show you where your 5/8 inch seam mark is on the machine, or what certain terms mean, or how to mark darts, or how to place the arrows on the patterns on the straight grain of the fabric. You might have to learn the difference between woof and warp, nap and without nap, stretch or woven, natural or synthetic, but you can do a lot by yourself if you will give yourself some leeway to make mistakes. The point is to enjoy it and enjoy the color and choose a print that speaks to your heart in such a way that you would enjoy wearing it.

All Happiness


You can probably see that a woman need not sacrifice beauty for modesty. Indeed, most immodest clothing actually lacks beauty, femininity and sweetness. We are being pulled along by the fashions on the rack at stores, as if we are supposed to dress immodestly. I like what one woman said about her son telling it like it was, when he said he was disgusted by the amount of women with 75% "off" clothing, because there was only one-fourth of it left when they bought it. That is so true.
Another thing I would like to bring up regarding modesty is the idea that covering yourself from head to toe will insure modesty. It will, if it is not tight. Women who wear tight jeans or pants, are not dressing modestly. In public places, such as restaurants, waitresses have to wear horrible, low cut and tight pants, which look okay when you see them from the front, with their apron wrapped around them, but when they retreat, their behinds are at the eye-level of the seated customers.
I think there has been a lot of mocking about dresses and the clothing of the past centuries, but surely, one would have to agree that if you were seated and a woman walked past, her flowing skirt would not have revealed every single unwanted pound and every roll and every fluctuation of the body, or a clear outline of the private areas. Some may say that at least she is covered, but they know what I am talking about.
There are some excellent articles here, and even though the writer speaks from a certain religious view, (I do not belong to her religion), I am sure everyone pick out some very good reasons for modesty.
For information on maternity wear of the previous centuries, go here http://www.worldmags.com/magazine/page.ihtml?pid=333&step=4
I think life is just to short to be saddled with the limited fashions today. Women will have to follow the desires of their hearts and go back to the paintings and study them, in order to reproduce the kind of comfortable and modest clothing that complimented nature, and glorified God.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Please post anonymously. Even if you have a blog, be sure to click "anonymous" before you send in your comment. Thank you.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
I went to the link about maternity wear in previous centuries and it is the same link as the first one. So far, I am not finding the information about maternity wear. Is there another link you can give?
:)

Anonymous said...

Oh thank you for encouraging this lifestyle! I'm sick of all the nonsense. Others, too, that dress in rags or 'nothing' are sick of it too....no matter what they say....LOOK at them! They are miserable! I can not wait to see your pattern collection. I'm already in skorts, nice everyday make-up, sparkling barrettes and earrings, but I want to go further! :)

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

thanks for telling me. I think the link is corrected now.

Anonymous said...

It's fixed! Thank You! I think that skirt and jacket is very pretty and would be great maternity wear!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

from a catalog called "Fire and Smoke" you can get a peasant dress pattern. It is like a peasant blouse but to the ankles.This type of clothing was worn in colonial times, and secured on the outside with a vest. Wome expecting babies could simly loosen the strings of the vest, or wear the dress loose. It is similar to the Hawaiian mu-mu, also a perfect garment for pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

Just a few weeks ago I was leaving the grocery store. I was wearing a very long, tiered white skirt and a top on which the sleeves came to my elbow and just some simple gold colored sandals. My hair is naturally curly and long and I had the front part pulled up in to claw clips. Well, as I walked out I passed a sweet little red headed girl and her mama.. I smiled and looked the girl in her eyes and said, "why, hello there". She smiled and as I was approaching my van I heard her say, "Wow. I love her dress. She looks just like a princess. Mama, is she a princess?". How sweet and how sad that her own mama doesn't think to dress up for her little girl too.

Anonymous said...

I too remember when families swam together and camps had separate swimming times in their schedule for the boys and for the girls.

Anonymous said...

The writer of this blog
http://magdalenaperks.wordpress.com/
has written several excellent articles dealing with modesty for women, modesty for men (an equally needful yet much neglected area) and 'custody of the eyes' )modest behaviour).
www.quakerjane.com
has also written excellently and compiled some wonderful articles.
Read an article by Frances Fischer she's got there dealing with womens' modesty; it is the most convincing and to the point (yet gentle) article i have ever read. She has written ' in a manner that is 'wise as a serpent yet gentle as a dove'.

re maternity wear of past times, any encyclopedia of costume and fashion should have a good section on historical maternity wear. dresses that could be easily let out with ties or adjustible fastenings were popular.

Here's a link for the 'Smoke and Fire Co.'
http://www.smoke-fire.com/

In Australia, any notion of modest swiming has gone out the window. the only ones flying the flag, so to speak, are our Muslim ladies with the advent of the 'Bourkini' an Aussie design. Considering Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer, including the deadly malignant melanoma, in the world, one would think that covering up on the beach is a matter of common sense and health necessity. All we need is 10-15 minutes of normal sun exposure per day on face and arms etc in the morning or cool of the afternoon to get all the vitamin D we need. I've lost loved ones through malignant melanoma and can tell you, to see someone you care about endure the end phase of this disease is horrible.

Even our surf lifesavers wear long sleeved surf shirts and long boardshorts when on the beach, along with suitable hats/caps.

As for segregated bathing, I know of only one church group that does this on their social outings and camp meetings; they're the Independant Fundamental Baptist church, though whether this is unique to the particular congregation my friend is a member of is unknown.

With modern, lightweight swimwear fabrics available on the market today, it would be very easy to design a modest swimsuit of one's own or adapt a long sleeved surf shirt, long, loose boardshorts under a long cotton Sarong and wide straw hat.

Anonymous said...

I made a maternity/nursing dress from Baker's Lane (the Catherine's Choice pattern) and even at nine months pregnant I was routinely complimented on how feminine and beautiful it was. This was quite a contast to a young woman who was also nine months along wearing the same clothes she wore before she became pregnant (tight tee shirt and low rise denim shorts). The outfit looked very uncomfortable and was not at all flattering and she received no compliments but rather many disapproving looks from others. It was really rather sad.

Anonymous said...

Love the paintings. No woman today would inspire a painter, I'm afraid. Yesterday's fashions, yes, were kind to the elderly and the overweight ladies. Can't wait to see your pattern line, Lydia.

Yes, the mixed-bathing thing -- I agree with you. We used to live in Europe, and you couldn't even GO to a beach, because they were all topless. We'll be next.

When I dress up for church with a nice long dress and feminine jewelry and hair, and a hat, the little girls really look at me and admire my outfit. I try to be a good example for them. Little girls are watching us!

Anonymous said...

I heard of a true story that happened in an independent fundamental baptist church:

There was a visiting evangelist at this church service. The pastor's daughter and an elder's daughter (no offense -- I'm a pastor's wife) were sitting in the front row with short mini-skirts on. (Why do these children resent being raised in Christian homes, I ask you?)

The evangelist cried out, "IS THERE A BUTCHER IN THE HOUSE? I SAID, IS THERE A BUTCHER IN THE HOUSE? We've got two heifers up here that need dressing!!"

The girls came back the next night properly dressed.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

I'm also so much looking forward to your line of dress patterns and tips on how to make them look like in the beautiful pictures.

The list I have given you may contain some out-of-print patterns. So, if you look them up, please check also there.
There are also dresses among them, which one might wear with a blouse underneath to give adequate coverage (arms and "décolleté").

I myself am wearing skirts almost all the time. The only problem is, when it is winter. I have this problem, that the skirt always sticks to my stockings and that I freeze. What do you wear under your dresses in winter?

I don't understand, why women wear trousers. They are not only ugly, but also so terribly uncomfortable!

I have also noticed, that small girls admire my feminine style very much. But their mothers often laugh at me. This hurts me. They find my feminine style with skirts and pastel colors not cool. They prefer walking around in those horrid trousers, all in black and olive green. Don't they see, that this is ugly, unflattering and uncomfortable?!

I'm so glad about your blog. It encourages me very much and is a great help for me to build up more confidence in my way of living.

It's also very feminine to wear shawls over one's shoulders. I'm a knitter and have tried out Elisabeth Zimmermann's Pi-shawl. This is a round shawl, and one can knit it plain or with lace patterns. It drapes so beautifully and looks very pretty.

Have a nice day and warm regards

Anonymous said...

I loved the photo in this post of the pretty dressed ladies at the beach. How beautiful!!!
I am really enjoying your posts on modest/feminine dress. And I think, and hope, that these posts will make all of us dress beautifully and feminine. I hope we get away from the ugly, dark, baggy, tight fitting, too bright, pants, miniskirts, slits, shorts, capris, and especially sneakers!!

Come on ladies!!!! Lets DRESS like BEAUTIFUL ladies. Lets show the world that theres a group growing of those of us going back to long, flowly pretty skirts, to pinks and whites. Even dainty short white gloves and a touch of lace. WHY NOT!!! Why not dress up and look simply beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lydia, I wonder if you've seen "Anne of Green Gables", the movie from 1987. I just watched it last night and was simply charmed by the clothes - beautifully tailored, modest, feminine, and not too frilly to be impractical. Those dresses and matching little hats looked SO stylish! The movie is available on YouTube.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another wonderful post. Just wonderful. I still have a lot of work to do on my wardrobe, but your writing is inspiring and encouraging. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

At work, we have had several women dressing with EXTREMELY lowcut shirts. This in a department consisting of 90 men and 8 women.

When a few of us went to our supervisor to gently and calmly point out that this was not in the dress code, we were sincerely villified in our company.

The two women are still wearing VERY low cut tops which almost show their nipples. We are ostrasized.

Even though it goes against our school board policy (yes it is a school office)....these women continue to wear very revealing clothes since the management of men apparently prefer to spend a lot of time in these womens' offices chatting.

It is SO discouraging. :(

Anonymous said...

Jeans will never be "flowing", not even jean skirts. I don't like the way jean jackets restrict your elbow movement either. Denim is very durable, that is its best quality. In the not-so-distance past denim jeans were worn by prisoners and the navy.

Anonymous said...

I can't begin to tell you how much I love these articles! :)

I've been to the Ostende beach many times (the one in the painting) and it's like you say.. I still can't get over the fact that a lot of women will go topless.. I mean.. bathing suits - fine, but always this exaggeration..

It's a shame that women aren't taught to sew anymore. I know that all I was taught in school (when it came to handycrafts) were silly boy-things, such as sawing, cutting wires and the best of all: making a PVC-melter. (anyone ever had a use for a pvc melter? ask me, I'll make one for you.. *lol*)

With crazy clothes nowadays, the only way to save yourself is learn to sew.

Thanks for the link on maternity wear! I've wondered about that ever since I became pregnant again.. fortunately, I've had my mom make me a couple of beautiful (yet simple) dresses.. I wouldn't want to be caught dead in today's nylon, ultra-stretchy 'dresses' (which I still think of as nightgowns)

Greetings from the netherlands!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your articles and pictures on modest dress. I live in Florida and the amount of skin and fat I see on a daily basis is truly repulsive. Elderly ladies and overweight women are often the worst. I wear only skirts out and my husband asked me why. I said, dear, have you taken a good look at how women my age and older appear in public (I am 60)? He started paying attention and is pleased by the way I look in contrast. He often tells I look pretty and feminine.

I think folks get so used to seeing the display of flesh that they are hardened to it.
Even if a woman is not religious, does she have no self-respect?

Also I wear my hair long and put it up in various styles with nice clips and other women often compliment me on how it looks. Believe me, it is nothing special! I have mostly grey hair! I know some women are not well and must keep their hair shorter. I am not speaking against that.

Another thing is that I receive more respect from men and boys, even those who look rather tough. They will often open doors for me.
Overall skirts only has been a good experience for me.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

On the previous post regarding the paintings of mothers and children: Yes, I did notice that! He painted these children melding into their mother's necks and arms, just as naturally as it occurs today! What daycare could provide such a feeling as one's own real mother who stays home with them! These paintings surely lift up the mothers and show motherhood as a place of honor and even luxury! IF only young women could know that feminism was a scheme devised to rob young women of families and give them careers instead. When women stay home, material things lose their meaning and relationships mean everything.

Also there was a comment about going to someone to report immodesty and violation of dress code. I could elaborate on that one quite a bit! These immodest dressers have a militance about them and when you make objection to their public nudity, they screech and cast dust in the air, vilify you and your personality and you are likely to get the cold treatment, so much, that you eventually leave, which is what they want. This happens in churches too!


.

Anonymous said...

I love this idea of the painting reflecting the modest fashions of the past. Yet, I wonder how to practically apply that. I don't feel like my "personality" is feminine or delicate and when I wear things that I consider to be pretty, I end up feeling like the elephant in a china shop. I don't understand how to wear lace or ribbons, I feel silly when I try. It doesn't help that I am a plus sized woman and I get comments from my family (mom and sisters, whom I live with) that make me think that dresses are not the most "flattering" thing to wear, whatever that means. They would prefer me in jeans not skirts. Nevertheless, I wear skirts but I have a lot of fabric to be made into dresses, if only I could figure out a good, figure friendly pattern. My husband likes my modest clothes, but he still wants me to look "modern" and I love the old style of clothes, if only I wouldn't feel so goofy in them.

How does a plus sized woman go about looking "feminine"? It has always seemed like a contradiction to me and I always feel frumpy rather than pretty in my clothes. How do I fix this? Is this just a sign of the brainwashing I've experienced through our culture and my family?

At my wit's end,
K

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Preachers no longer feel they can teach on modesty or go to a woman who is immodest to warn her of the danger and of the spiritual implications, because they will accuse him of having a dirty mind. If he wisely chooses an older woman to approach these young militants, they will accuse her of meddling, of being legalistic, of being a gossip, of being a "false accuser," and she will be frozen out of the church or other places, too, which is what they want. It is easier to get rid of one old lady, whom they will not miss, than to lose 6 young, naked girls, in a church or public place.

Ithat the woman walking around with the also want to pick on older women for a minute here, and then will go to the younger women: older women are atrocious in their unsightly flabby flesh hanging all over, and I think years ago, preachers and teachers told young girls that sleeveless garments were not modest, and then these young ladies that wore them anyway, grew up to be older women, gained weight, or if they remained thin, were used to them and wore them anyway. That led to the horrid look that we now have of arms that are not fit to be seen. I realize these are people's mothers and grandmothers and that it is the spirit that is important and the personality and the kindness and all that, but ladies we must give a care about what other people have to see! Older women are careless in their clothing, letting straps hang out, and trying to wear tee shirts and shorts, that cling to the body, when the body has long gone south. Even the "fit and trim" grandmothers need to cover up and look dignified.

Although I do not think the Victorian period is the end-all, best example over the ages, to look to, the reason I refer to it so much is that they left such visible examples for us today, through their photographs, paintings, architecture, literature, poetry, and customs, and they are the nearest generation to us that was still decent. Yes, they had their problems with modesty and many times there were books and essays written against the immodest trends of the time, such as the low cut blouses and the hiked up skirts. The Victorians knew it would lead to a primitive savagry that would lead manners downhill. Now we see where it has gone, since immodesty means that no one cares about any one else, as long as they "are comfortable." Well, what if I decided it was too uncomfortable to put out my trash, and instead, collected it on my lawn, for everyone to see, After all, it would make me happy and happiness is what counts, isn't it? If I spoiled the entire neighborhood by flaunting the ugliest part of my life, by spilling trash on the lawn for everyone to see, I am sure there would be major objections. Yet we cannot seem to understand pants stuck in the crack of her bottom, or the shorts showing excess weight, wrinkled flesh, veins, and other unsightly things, are spoiling people's view.

Older women also have a problem with their concept of beauty. They used to care about things like their hair and their necks and their faces---now, they allow hairdressers to shave them and spike their hair and do all sorts of unfeminine things to them. They ought to let their hair grow out softly and instruct their hairdressers to DRESS their hair, not use chemicals, and not make them appear unfeminine. The shorter the hair, the OLDER the woman looks, and it also emphasizes wrinkles if it is spikey or shaved, because the ends look rough.

Another thing older women do is get their nails done, erstwhile ignoring the rest of their bodies. They would be better off using the money for a nice dress of ankle length, and some pretty shoes. As one gets older, they no longer have huge expenses raising children, and theyshould reward themselves by finally dressing well.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

And to the young women I would like to say that you can be an example to the older women. One reason older women dress so awfully is that they want to look young. If you would make pretty dresses with inspiring prints (roses, daisies, seaside prints, or anything feminine) they would admire it. They onced dressed that way, but have forgotten.

To both young and old I would like to say that you cannot make the apex of your life the age of 22, because after that it will go downhill. Instead you have to make the apex of your life the elderly part, which is uphill.Look up to the age you will be and prepare for it by forming good dressing habits. If you dress your little girls in shorts and bra tops, they will only be comfortable in those things when they get older. They must grow up, and not be forever in babyhood. Most of the things the 22 year olds are wearing are babyhood clothes. They also claim that jeans are "more sturdy" and practical, but for what reason? Most of the hard work we do at home is pushing a vacuume cleaner where the motor does the work. We turn on the switch, or push a button for most every bit of work we do. We might clean a bath tub, but it will not ruin a cotton dress. We might sweep a porch, but it will not hurt a dress.

Most people saw the harvest paintings of an artist in a previous post, and some young women assumed that women of the past lived that way all the time. They did not. Harvest only comes once a year. It is a week of hard work and then life goes back to normal. These women were not out in the fields all the time, and neither are we, so what is the big excuse about wearing jeans? Most young women wear jeans but they aren't out ploughing a field or doing gardening. Some are, and they might have a reason for wearing jeans.

Sometimes young women, in an attempt to wear a dress or skirt, will get it too short. That is as bad as wearing tight jeans. Short skirts and dresses are even more immodest than jeans.

Young women can inspire change in this world, and they can be leaders in the area of clothing. If each one would just decide that they will do it, without thinking they have to have a group with them, things will change

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

K, try reading the "Feminine Appearance" section of Helen Andelin's book "Fascinating WOmanhood." I believe she addresses the problem of feminine appearance with heavier women. She explains that when a woman is really dressed in a feminine way, you do not notice her weight or figure flaws.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I have been thoroughly enjoying this discussion, and thought I would mention a few things myself.


Dressing immodestly is dishonoring to our husbands, or if unmarried, future husbands. We are taking what God meant for their eyes only, and flaunting our wares in the store window. Seriously, would we want our husbands strutting around, while all other women are ogeling them? So why should they want us to. And if they raise the argument "But I like to "show you off" ", ask them what they are thinking when we are dressed a certain way, and do they want other men thinking those thoughts. My guess is no, they don't.

Also, a few easy fixes for those who do not sew, or are on a tight budget. Don't begin tossing items like sleeveless dresses or tops. Simple cardigans are usually easy to find at the thrift store, and have verying sleeve lengths.

Permanent fusible tape can be purchased inexpensively in craft departments to add trims without sewing.

I am by nature not a particularily frilly person, but I have been making my blouses lately with a little bit of gathering at the top of the sleeve and I can't tell you how girly that makes me feel.

As Tasha Tudor said" What a multitude of sins longs skirts cover up if you have piano legs."

Anonymous said...

P.S. Horizontal stripes ARE NOT FLATTERING!!!
They exentuate larger problem areas, and make you appear wider than you are. Just needed to get that off my chest.
Sorry, even if it's pink pretty, girly and modest, you may be doing a worse thing by wearing than by not.

Anonymous said...

do not tuck in a blouse or wear a belt if your waistline is not smaller than your hips or if you are fat. It makes you look fatter!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

to the lady in Florida: The painters and paintings I am showing, from the 18th and 19th centuries, were not necessarily religious. Many Victorians were not religious. Even the feminists of the era wore the beautiful garments with hats. It is not just a religous matter. Order the Netflix film, "The Electric Edwardians" for some silent film footage of people on the streets in London, and women and men walking around in summer, at parades, at picnics, shopping, etc. and notice the lack of nudity. THe only immodesty was in the circus!

I

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

SInce these comments are anonymous, I wonder if anyone would mind if I created a book full of them. I could offer a free download, besides a print copy. As a print copy would cost money to produce, I could not offer it for free, but could offer it at cost.

Anonymous said...

Ha-Ha! "in the not so distant past denim jeans were worn by prisoners and the navy"! Boy, that's something to think about, isn't it? Denim was always considered a durable working man's material.

Anonymous said...

A book of these anonymous comments sounds like a great idea, Lydia!

Anonymous said...

I like your idea of a book of comments, especially if yours are included. The comments are very helpful and give me a boost when I need it sometimes.

Anonymous said...

First I want to say that I think a book of these comments is a WONDERFUL idea!

~~~~~~~~~~

I wanted to respond to K's comment regarding being plus-size and struggling with feeling feminine.

I, too, am plus-size and understand what you are saying. I think when you aren't happy with your weight you struggle with feeling good about yourself no matter what you're wearing. You'd rather just fit in and wear what everyone else is wearing so that you don't feel like you stand out as much. However the reality of the situation is that trousers/jeans/capris are NOT flattering on plus-sized women. In fact my husband has told me many times how a nice fitting skirt/dress can make a woman look 20 lbs. lighter and how the opposite is true when she's wearing trousers/jeans/capris. With that being the case he's surprised any lady would want to wear them!

For me, I have found a-line skirts the most flattering style for my figure. I love dresses but if I buy them I have to buy them a size too big so that they don't cling too much to the lower half of me. Then I take them to a tailor to have them taken in around the shoulders so that they fit properly. I don't have a lot of money and it is a bit of an investment, but think of quality over quantity.--We don't need as much clothing as we think we do.

When you're plus-sized it is harder to dress nicely, that is true, but it can be done and it is worth the effort because no matter what size you are, you are worth nice clothing. And I think if we feel better about ourselves we will think we're worth the effort of eating well and exercise. And then we will be more successful at losing the excess weight.

Shopping on the Internet has been a life-saver for me. If you are plus sized try:

-Silhouettes.com (a bit pricey but the clothing is of good quality)
-Ulla Popken.com (a bit pricey but the clothing is of good quality)
-Woman Within.com (less expensive and they sell quite a few dresses)

You can shop online or request a catalog but I have had great success buying clothing from them.

I hope this helps. :o)

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

This is really good advice for even thin women. No one wants to look fatter. If you have new clothing, nice clothing, and particularly, cotton or natural fabrics, you feel fresh and young and thinner already and are less likely to eat. If you have no clothing that is nice or slimming, you see your weight all the time and see your extra rolls and you want to eat extra rolls just to keep away the depression!Having nice clothing will help you lose weight!

Anonymous said...

A quote to pass on:
"Your feminity is your mystery. Why would you reveal your mystery to anyone but your husband?"

Anonymous said...

The paintings are so beautiful. I like the Victorian period but I like the 18th century better. Not the ridiculous court dresses but dresses like these. http://www.koshka-the-cat.com/blue_linen.html
Nice Victorian dress http://www.trulyvictorian.netfirms.com/testboard/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=5310&highlight=german+dress
Even though there were nice fashions from the 20's to now not many can compare to the 18th century, 19th century, and early 20th century. The 30's and Laura Ashley dresses are the closest.
http://www.revampvintage.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=reVamp&Product_Code=WD-931302&Category_Code=W30s
www.evadress.com
We shouldn't aspre to go back to just the Victorian era but to celebrate all feminine dress western or not. Even in the late 60's there were great styles out there.
http://www.zuhlcity.com/Cat_Scan/MonkWards/MW65SS.html
Look at the long 70's dress.
http://www.zuhlcity.com/Cat_Scan/JCPenn/Pix/JCP75SS/JCP75SS%2000008a.jpg
Well there you go beautiful clothing from all eras.

Anonymous said...

Even if you don't get to do an e book of these excellent comments and your specific explanations and examples, I hope somehow readers are encouraged to check the comments for this excellent source of inspiration. The ideas expounded and detailed are a true gift. Thank you ladies.

Great work as usual Lydia. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the type of fabrics used in the paintings. I agree that natural fabrics are superior to most of the current fabrics used in garments today but how did they get that much drape and softness with a cotton? The cotton fabrics I find poof when you gather them more than what you see in those paintings.

Anonymous said...

I purchased the Shawl Collar dress pattern from Hint of History awhile back. You've inspired me to give it a go. I bought the most lovely soft, pink, floral cotton for the body of the dress and white batiste for the collar. It's drying across the backs of my dining room chairs. Tomorrow I'll cut it out and sew it up. I also plan to make a couple gathered shifts from Practically Pretty by design, since I'm a petite gal. Sunday and everyday, I'll feel like a regular lady again.

I used to teach sewing lessons but have gotten away from sewing lately. I'm getting back to it because of you, and because I cannot stand the hideous fashions of today. I also plan to make a couple gathered shifts from Practically Pretty by design. Since I'm a petite gal, I can esily alter children's patterns to my measurements.

While we lived in the tropics, I got slovenly in my appearance. I even started wearing shorts and got a boy haircut. Ugggh, what was I thinking? Now my hair is past my shoulders, and I don't own any shorts. The pants will all be gone, when the dresses are finished.

Thank you for these inspiring posts. I'll let you know how the dresses turns out.

Anonymous said...

Hi there. I also wanted to post to the lady who is plus sized.

I am VERY plus sized. I'm going to be honest here and say, I am about 5' 6" and weigh roughly 260 lbs. I wear a size 20 in US sizes.

In the past year, I have begun purchasing skirts and dresses on eBay. eBay is a wonderful resource for those on a budget. I bought a lovely black Gap dress 3/4 sleeve for $20, about tea length. Several knee length skirts for about $10 each. I have a few ankle length skirts also. Every skirt I own is A-line. I don't do a straight skirt because it emphasizes my thighs. Every time I bought a new skirt or dress, I threw away or donated one pair of pants.

At this time, I am down to three pairs of ill fitting Lane Bryant pants (they fit in the waist, but pucker in the crotch...just horrifying) one pair of jeans, and two pairs of Old Navy yoga pants. I only have the yoga pants because I do bicycle every morning (trying to get below 200, my personal goal!) and that is just too dangerous in a skirt. Once I get four more skirts or dresses, the last of my pants will be gone.

Tops: Invest in some decent bras or shapewear. Most plus size ladies like myself are generously endowed. Even here in Florida, I wear the good bra, another tank top over that for support/modesty, and then a regular shirt. I do not expose my arms, but I do have some lovely elbow length knit tops that I wear on a regular basis. I got them from Avenue. When they went on sale, I bought five of them! I also like tunics because they usually have longer sleeves, are light material and look cute with a skirt.

Beauty:
Every woman is beautiful. No, wait. EVERY WOMAN IS BEAUTIFUL!!! Find a feature you adore and emphasize it. For me, it's my hair and my blue eyes. Besides, I want people to look me in the face, and not anywhere south of my neck anyway! Find colors that make you look alive. I know lots of ladies on here love the pastels, but it makes me look like I have the flu. I love jewel tones. You will find me in sapphire, emerald, amethyst, ruby and gold colors. If you're a pastel kind of girl, work it!

Shoes:
As a plus size girl, you might need a wide width. I wear a size 8.5 or 9W. I can't buy shoes from Payless or Walmart because I will be in agony. I purchase from Zappos.com. And I buy delicate looking shoes. You won't find me in clod-hopping man shoes. I buy lots of sandals since I live in Florida. I can wear them 9 to 10 months out of the year. Since my feet are no longer growing, I will spend decent money on them, but I take really good care of my shoes and they will last me for years. I also make sure my feet are clean, moisturized, and either clean polish or no polish. Chipped polish is awful.

From one plus size girl to another, don't let society tell you are not beautiful. Be the best, most presentable you, and don't let the naysayers get you down.

I have been married for almost 15 years to such an awesome man. He has really noticed the changes in my wardrobe and has been verbally praising me for it. He keeps calling me his "sweet lady" and "lovely bride." This after 15 years, 3 kids and 100 pounds!

I know this was long winded, but I just wanted to share that loveliness and femininity will not elude us curvier ladies. We may have to work harder at it, and pay a bit more for it, but it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'd also like to mention that with most skirts, if you lose or gain a few pounds, they are a whole lot easier to mend than pants. How many women do you know that have sizes from 8 to 14 in their closet. For jeans, pants, work wear, exercise wear, and the like.

If you lose 20 pounds as a skirt wearer, you just take in the seams. Maybe adjust the elastic if you have an elastic waist, or pull the button in closer. That's it.

Josette said...

I have been reading several posts and I wonder, what then the best way to "convert" other ladies to wear lovely clothing?

IT can't be by critisizing. I am sure this would send anyone away. The only means I can think of is to look so nice and lovely ourselves, that others will mimic.

Another poster commented that a little girl called her a "princess". I also received that compliment from a little girl. I was wearing a tiered skirt and a shirt. Perhaps this is the best approach. Hopefully with time, others will approach these styles for moral reasons or the styles will promote morality.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank everyone for their kind comments and suggestions! I think a lot of the problem for me has been trying to dress in my regular masculine fashion...only in a skirt or dress. The colors and fabrics are darker and thicker, which does appeal to me, but I also like the warm colors, rich reds, oranges, browns, so I suppose I need to find ways to "feminize" these materials to make them look less stark and masculine. Perhaps I'll try a cream colored lace collar on my next dress...

Lady Lydia, I love the idea of putting a modesty book together along with some good artwork and these comments and suggestions. I think women need constant help and encouragement to be as counter-cultural as to wear dresses and skirts and be feminine; it's just not easy! I'm also really looking forward to your wardrobe suggestions!!!

K

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

I also find the idea of making an e-book out of the comments (yours included!) a good one.
I must say, so much enjoy these discussions. They are so motivating!
I have now almost completely changed to feminine skirts and dresses, and I like it vey much. I wear my hair long and put it up in different styles.
But it's so difficult to bear all the nasty remarks. Young girls admire me, but adults just ridicule me and put me down.
Just yesterday I went for tea to a girlfriend, and she was so unfriendly to me, becaus I don't dress the way she does, and because I don't share her ideas about motherhood (I'm a stay-at-home mother and homekeeper).
I'm still not strong enough to bear such attacks. I get very hurt and must think about them for days.
I wonder, how other women handle such attacks?
Your motivating words and all the comments really help me a lot.

Kind regards

Anonymous said...

I have never had the desire or need to wear anything else but skirts or dresses; lovely and practical.

Anonymous said...

What great advice for plus sized women the previous poster gave!

I am back to wearing the long skirts and dresses, even around the home when I don't plan to go anywhere. I live in an apartment complex with some rather "tough" neighbors. The attire of most of the women is pretty awful in many ways. It is hard for me to go out around here in dresses without someone making a comment or giving me a look but I persevere. Well, yesterday, I got a shock. One neighbor, whose clothes normally resemble that of a streetwalker (I am not kidding, they really are that bad), came over to say hello in a long dress!! It was not my style and she added some unusual flair (she considers herself creative), but still I was impressed at the effort! I have never seen her in anything that was not tight, super short, and revealing nearly everything. She had even pulled her hair up. I have to think I had some influence on her as she always looked over my outfits when she saw me. I thought she was disapproving, but now I don't.

We can be a good example!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to comment about the issue of plus-sized women who supposedly don't look their best in dresses....

It's ONLY because of the types of dresses that are sold in big department stores that y'all don't look good!

In the 'older days' (say 1900 until 1950) the women looked great, sophisticated, etc. We now assume that they were all much thinner than 'modern' women, because that's what they appear to be....

A whole lot of that comes from their dresses though.. when they wore dresses, they weren't made from nylon or lycra, showing off every unwanted pound on their bodies! The dresses they wore didn't cling, yet they were tailored in such a way that appeared flattering and slimming, even to plus-sized ladies.

I'm aware that it's a major problem, and that there are only two simple solutions to it.. either get yourself a WHOLE lot of money, because expensive stores may still sell good quality, sophisticated, non-clingy dresses.. or otherwise.. learn to sew and pick the patterns and fabrics yourself.

I'm not expecting a solution from the 'regular' clothing stores any time soon ;)

Greetings from the netherlands!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

You can also pay someone to sew something that you choose yourself.

Mary Lincoln, wife of the 16th president, was short and fat, but the photographs show she wore the same color jacket as skirt,and created a long effect. The shape of the garments in those days were made to make women of all sizes look beautiful.
I will try to include photos from the online library, of women of the previous century.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

The download would be free, and would include other articles and comments, such as the one about what women really think about todays clothing. If you wanted it in book form, you could have it printed up yourself and pay your own costs for it. Not promising anything, but thought it would be fun to have a collection of comments. Until then, I hope the designers and manufacturers will take note of what people are really talking about. Some of the things the young women in their teens and 20s are wearing, are the designer's fault. The women couldn't have invented them, I am sure. They certainly didn't find it necessary to walk around in underwear in previous centuries. ANyone who attempted it would have been taken out of the eye of the public and charged with indecency. It is a good thing we have homes to retreat to. It is a wonderful atmosphere to provide for your family, free from this assault on the senses.

Anonymous said...

If anyone takes a good look at the early photographs of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, you'll see that she was a larger lady. Nobody really mentions this fact. Why? I suppose because she knew the value of good tailoring, excellent foundation wear and a pretty face! Have a look, and see what you think.

Anonymous said...

To the commentator who went to tea:

I've noticed that people sometimes are cruel as a defense mechanism. It hurts us when they say such things, and are unfriendly, but they may be hurting more because they see something they want to have/be but don't know how to achieve, and are reacting to us by defending themselves. (I think sometimes they don't even realize they are doing it.)

Take heart: it is not her opinion that matters, but the Lord's. You might add her to your prayers and ask the Lord to soften her heart to womanly ways, but mostly, to draw nearer to Him.

A wonderful pattern, thats quite easy and has a variety of looks is Simplicity 4077. I've made it up twice now, and I love it!

And a gentle reminder: Women of the World will (unfortunately) dress as Women of the World.
We can't expect non-believers to act like believers, and their actions and dressing will generally
reflect who they are serving, God or themselves.
Lets make sure that while we may not approve of their clothing, and manners, that we are not guilty of un-Christ like character in how we treat them.
It is easy to criticize when they can't defend!

Anonymous said...

Lydia, how about a sidebar with links to widely-available modern patterns you like? I'd love to be able to browse through them!

Carol said...

Thank you for the wonderful paintings that you posted. They surely depict what I think the Apostle Paul instructed us women to be adorned with. I look and look at the stores for lovely , feminine blouses and skirts. They are getting harder and harder to find. I have been collecting modest bridal gowns for years, as I made my two oldest daughters their wedding gowns , I had to put together several patterns to achieve a modest and beautiful gown for them. It is so refreshing to read your blog.

Anonymous said...

The few pair of jean we had as kids did not have fly fronts. The zippers for women's slacks were on the side. The first time I saw a fly front pant on a woman I thought she was wearing her brothers pants. We were allowed to wear our girl jeans when we went on picnics with our family. We usually had a dress over them. When we were there the family would hike and climb all over stumps and such on forest land. Once home we were back to dresses willingly. I saw the movie Howards End the other day and the sister in it was pregnant and had period maternity outfits in it. They were beautiful. To the woman who did not feel right in frills etc. You don't have to have frills to dress feminine. Tucks, covered buttons or pearl buttons pretty fabrics etc. Just a few extra touches on a dress make it outstanding and personal to your personality. Tucks and insets of lace are more taylored than frills and ruffling. No two dresses need be alike. You can show your personality more dressing feminine than you can in the same ol slacks and T everyone else is wearing. There are styles that look and feel best for every one. Just give the new looks a try. Everythng new we try feels different at first then feels normal very soon. Jody

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful series you are doing.
It is summer here and it is apalling what is appearing everywhere....
I am also sickened of the way the women who report the news dress. The men will have their suits and ties and there are the women, showing cleavage, legs...everything clingy..this didn't used to be professional dressing even for women...even and especially FOX NEWS....
This is a matter of choice...we choose everyday how we are going to represent our Lord to the world.
We can look dumpy and sexy or soft and feminine.
We can look pretty...you never hear that word used anymore....pretty without calling un-do attention to yourself.
Please keep these posts and reminders and ideas always coming.
I do think all ages need these..
You are a blessing
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