Friday, June 26, 2009

The Big Neckline Question

A reader responded to the "Solutions for Plunging Necklines, Part 1" post with the thought that sometimes men interpret the lace versions of the dickey as underwear, and this is a hindrance to them. Her father had warned her about it, and she found similar comments on the Modesty Survey run by

By following this link and clicking on "Layering" then the first statement in the box, you'll see the entire survey results on this topic.

Agree/Disagree Statement: Girls can be modest by layering (e.g. wearing camisoles under V-neck shirts to hide cleavage) even if some of the layers would be immodest by themselves.

Out of 39 specific text responses (additional to the Agree/Disagree vote ratio)
7 commented on lace or underwear.

Mr. Agree, age 40-49 said:
In my opinion, layering is good except for the fact that a camisole makes me think of an undergarment. Most that I've seen have lace at the top or something pretty to catch the eye.

These days, it's hard to know what an undergarment looks or doesn't look like. Even if you look at garments from history, it's still hard to tell. Compare the following images.

Compare this dickey neckdressing provided in "Solutions for Plunging Necklines, Part 1" with the following 3 historic costumes.

Is a certain colour associated with underwear?
White or black?
What about colours?
What about a white panel inserted into the v neck of a coloured shirt?
What about a frill of lace added to a neckline?

Mr. Neutral, age 21 says:
They might be modest, but it could still draw attention to the chest where the shirt is different.

Mr. Disagree, age 16 says:
It's a lot better than not layering, but it still brings attention to the bust.

Are the above 3 white camisoles okay? If so, what about the one below?

Here is the famous JayJays camisole,
one of which is being worn under the white v-neck t-shirt above.

The JayJays lace camisole falls into the 'cause for concern' category, and yet the survey includes many comments that applaud the wearing of these garments. My personal conclusion is that I should not be ashamed of my bust - it is a good and feminine thing - but I should strive to dress in a way that leads the eye up to my face.

The Modesty Survey is a valuable tool giving women insight into how men think, but please remember that it contains many variations in viewpoint.

The first time we encountered the resource, a mature Christian friend and I both came away from reading it feeling overwhelmed, the sort of reaction that makes you want to wrap in blankets and hide in a cupboard, for it seemed that we couldn't wear anything without causing an honest man to stumble.

Armed with the Modesty Survey Overview perspective reminders (see below), we pondered deeply and talked it through with our parents to regain our equilibrium. We decided that in the end it doesn't matter what others think. Our standard of modesty is answerable to the Lord first, then our parents or husband.

Perspective Reminders on The Modesty Petition provided by
As a Christian guy with a deep appreciation for feminine modesty, I hereby affirm and commend the following biblical truths to my sisters in Christ:
* Please, approach the survey as a resource, not a list of rules.
* Always honor your parents above the results of the survey. (Ephesians 6:1-3)
* Seek personal feedback on your attire from the godly men and women in your life.
* Remember, modesty is first and foremost a matter of the heart, not the wardrobe.
* Faithfully pursue the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. (1 Peter 3:4)
* Let your good works outshine your outward appearance. (1 Timothy 2:10)
* Dress for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

This Ezibuy garment is two t-shirts joined together, creating a pre-layered look.
Is this okay? If it is, what about the image below?

How do they compare with this historic costume?

Or this Warehouse t-shirt with a tiny, self-fabric dickey giving a layered look.

Mr. Agree, age 22 said:
I agree, but isn't it simpler just to wear modest clothes, rather than layer enough clothes (some immodest) until the overall outfit is modest?

Yes, it's better, but not simpler! The challenge we're working with is to find shops that sell affordable modest clothing because many of us don't have the time or ability to sew our own. Hence the rescue option-- filling in the gaps -- made easier by the layering trend.

Mr. Strongly Agree, age 40-49 said:
My girls and my wife do this often. I find they look very attractive and stylish, while maintaining their modesty.

Here's another historic costuming example.
Compare with the Warehouse t-shirt with inset panel below.

Here's a close-up colour shot of the same outfit as below,
featuring layers of dainty but transparent fabrics.
Which part is dress and which part is underwear?

My best advice on this complex issue is:

1) You're not going to be able to please everybody so focus your attention on pleasing the Lord and your father/husband.

2) Strive to dress in a way that leads the eye to your face.

3) Take all reasonable precautions to prevent underwear from showing inadvertently. You can secure bra straps to shoulder seams with domed loops or safety pins, wear a chemise to keep panty and bra lines hidden, etc.

Coming soon: FURTHER SOLUTIONS for plunging necklines.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Celebrating Sisters

Some girls grow up with ones they're related to, some adopt them from amongst the general sisterhood of the world.

I'm blessed to have two blood sisters. We homeschooled together, roomed together, and played together, and while we got on with each other most of the time, there was an extra dimension of friendship we discovered in our late teens that has built a sisterly bond we treasure deeply.

Sarah, Katrina, and Narelle, all grown up at last...we think.

We didn't know what talking was until we'd 'grown up', when distance separated us but communication brought us together. closer than we'd been when we lived in the same house, we discovered we could be comfortable sharing a world of deep and vital cuts, makeup, where to shop, what colours and styles suit best, how nice it is to be a girl, how to remain a girl whilst letting the boys be boys, the challenges inherent to being a girl... Ah, the list could go on forever but I can't find the words to fill it, so let's hear from others who know the height and depth of sisterhood, while my sisters and I share images of the sisterhood we enjoy.

Snow is a rare occurance in the town where we grew up.
This much was very cool.

What's more fun than bundling on a couch together
watching a favourite movie after playing in the snow?

Sister is more than the sum total of its letters. It is, as author Toni Morrison says, "a knowing so deep."

For those they love, they are both the ship and the safe harbor.

"A REAL SISTA, WILL TELL YOU WHEN YOU'RE TRIPPIN.' A Real Sista, will tell you when your outfit ain't right. A Real Sista, will tell you when you have bad kids. A Real Sista, will help you bury the body. But most of all, A Real Sista, when you go to her with a problem, will kneel and pray with you."

From "What is a Sister?" by Joy Bennett Kinnon

Activity suggestion: Take one of the following quotes from, or make up one of your own, and turn it into a poster. We'd love to see your creativity, and perhaps even feature it on this website.

Having a sister is like having a best friend you can't get rid of. You know whatever you do, they'll still be there. ~Amy Li

A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost. ~Marion C. Garretty

In thee my soul shall own combined the sister and the friend. ~Catherine Killigrew

A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double. ~Toni Morrison

Exploring "HMNZS Canterbury" together. The joke of the day was that the Navy recruiting officers were certain we were all 17 years old. They were right about Katrina, but there's 3 years between each of us.

I, who have no sisters or brothers, look with some degree of innocent envy on those who may be said to be born to friends. ~James Boswell

How do people make it through life without a sister? ~Sara Corpening

Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister. ~Alice Walker

Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply... ~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

I know that whatever the disaster I blunder into, you will rescue me. Pausing only to tell me what an idiot I've been. ~Pam Brown, b.1928

Why'd they pick MY bed??

How else would you watch a lunar eclipse in the middle of the night in the middle of winter?

What's the good of news if you haven't a sister to share it? ~Jenny DeVries

Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship. ~Margaret Mead

Bless you, my darling, and remember you are always in the heart - oh tucked so close there is no chance of escape - of your sister. ~Katherine Mansfield

In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips. ~Author Unknown

Big Girls still like Dress Ups

When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us? ~Pam Brown

The mildest, drowsiest sister has been known to turn tiger if her sibling is in trouble. ~Clara Ortega

A sister is a forever friend. ~Author Unknown

I know some sisters who only see each other on Mother's Day and some who will never speak again. But most are like my sister and me... linked by volatile love, best friends who make other best friends ever so slightly less best. ~Patricia Volk

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life. ~Isadora James

Intrepid Kiwis -- touring the country in a dying car

To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time. ~Clara Ortega

An older sister is a friend and defender - a listener, conspirator, a counsellor and a sharer of delights. And sorrows too. ~Pam Brown

There is no better friend than a sister. And there is no better sister than you. ~Author Unknown

I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at. ~Maya Angelou

She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child. ~Barbara Alpert

Our roots say we're sisters, our hearts say we're friends. ~Author Unknown

Friday, June 12, 2009

Letter: What do I do when she wears ugly clothes?

What is your reaction to this poster? Not everyone feels comfortable being a girl, and not everyone feels comfortable with this particular style of femininity.

An interesting letter was shared on Feelin' Feminine, delving into this phenomenon.

The letter said:

"I’d like to ask a question. I hope you don’t mind. What if your sister liked wearing the same clothes everyday, and those clothes were [please don't tell] quite ugly, and not really modest or feminine. Well, the clothes don’t “show” anything, they are just really boyish. Pants, oversized shirts, and such. How would you persuade her to be more feminine?"

The letter garnered 13 loving replies, discussing a variety of possible scenarios. If this is a question you have ever been asked or wanted to ask, you'll want to take a look.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Apple Blossom Wedding produces fruit

And the winners are --- Elaine and Narelle!

Yes, we won the April edition of the YouPerform Contest. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for us. You can read the Musicnotes winners' interview here, and view the winning song on YouTube here.

If you missed the first part of the story, you can find out more about the contest here: Apple Blossom Wedding.

Shoe Storage Solutions

This option from can be used to organize a whole closet if need be.

Question: What is the Best Way to Store Shoes?
Jonathan E. Stewart offers a male perspective:
Contrary to what Kimora Lee Simmons' closet might lead you to believe, shoes (regardless of how expensive they are) do not need to be treated like your first born. Making sure you have enough space to house your shoes is essential, but they don't need a room. I know shoe organizers can be tempting, but they usually aren't best for keeping the shape of your shoes. Lining your shoes up, and keeping them either on the floor of your closet, or bedroom is the best way to keep them organized and in great condition. Another option is buying a small bookcase and keeping them on it, with ample room for each pair. What you primarily want to avoid is cramming too many pairs onto one shelf or space that may squash the shoes and force them to lose their shape. Boxes take up too much space for my taste, and while the Polaroids-on-a-plastic-box idea is cute, it simply isn't feasible if you don't have a lot of time on your hands.

He's right that there are many fussy options available to house or display The Shoe Collection, but with a little creativity, you could have something just as classy for a fraction of the price. I'm writing this article to provide you with further options so you can find one that works for you and that keeps your footwear safe and tidy.

Above are 4 Innovations options for Australia & New Zealand.

Canvas hanging shelves are popular and affordable. Most furnishing stores stock them, frequently in a variety of cheerful colours. If you have more hanging room than floor space, this is a good option for you.
Do check that your closet rail is strong enough to support the weight you intend to load upon it. It's usually a simple problem to fix, probably only requiring purchase of a sturdier rail or nailing wooden support bars under the existing rail holders.

Here, a professional organizer talks about making sure your closet can handle the weight of items like shoe hangers.

I use a vinyl-coated metal frame for the shoes I wear most often, and shoeboxes keep the dust off special occasion and out-of-season footwear. The picture on the box doesn't necessarily match the trotters inside it, so I label the box so I can see at a glance what's in it.
Vinyl-coated metal (wire) shoe racks are well-known amongst shop keepers, but they seemed surprised to find their store doesn't stock them (I tried Mitre 10 and The Warehouse). Thanks to Yvonne for locating the above item at Howards Storage World (they have 11 shoe storage options) and on The nearly-new TradeMe rack sold for $8, but brand new from HSW costs NZ$31.90.

They do have other, cheaper options, though, including 9-pair stacker shelves (sml) @ $25.90, and a 6-pair rack $19.90 @ (wall or door mounted). New Zealand shoppers can check them out here. To shop in Australia, go to

Mitre 10 has a chrome shoe organizer fitting about 12 pairs for $29.95, and a stackable mesh shelf at $52.95.

The two-tier expanding rack that graces our front entrance.

Above is the 2-tier Expanding Shoe Rack Chrome Finish available @ A$49.00, from The Storage (also available at Briscoes, NZ). This can be adjusted to the width of your wardrobe, hall, or cupboard space. Remove the rubber pole caps and another rack slots on top (or underneath). You can build a tower as high as you need. (Thanks again for the tip, Yvonne!)

Buy or Build?
If you have funds, you could buy something like this pigeon-holed settee...

Or, if you have more time than $$, you could try a building project. Why not remodel an old chest of drawers, replacing the drawers with shelves and partitions to form pigeon holes, or you could use an old cupboard, with or without doors.

These 3 furniture-cum-storage options were selected from the huge (but pricey) range available from

A simpler building project
Next to using shoeboxes (and plastic-coated wire racks), this is the cheapest shoe home I've encountered, and one of the few that will hold kiddie-size shoes. The illustrations show untreated timber, but a little attention with sandpaper then paint or varnish could create a very attractive piece of furniture.

For the top two planks and side pillars, the builder used a throwaway pallet (you can get these from places like Mitre 10, Tumu Timbers, or Carter Holt). The bottom 3 rails are Trellis Batten [40X10mm Radiata Trellis Batten Merch H3 RoughSawn from Carter Holt] valued at 83 cents per metre.

The joins are both glued and screwed (the trellis batten produced a lot of moisture when screwing). It is surprisingly sturdy -- the builder commented that his two preschoolers can stand on it at the same time and it hardly even flexes.

All the best with sorting your shoe family.
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