Friday, February 25, 2011

Modest Options at Chadwicks

 A quick peep at showed bright, pretty tops with neutral bottoms, styling influenced by a range of 20th century decades.

Boutique Narelle appreciates that Chadwicks models present themselves in a modest manner. We hope you enjoy seeing what Chadwick's offers American ladies for Spring fashion in 2011.

Can't buy it yourself? Use the inspiration to adapt what you already have. Notice the use of accessories and colour.

Apparently Broomstick is the new Mermaid. The row of stars you see below the images are customer ratings. If you find a garment you like, it's helpful to rate and comment so other shoppers looking for modest clothing know that garment is a good choice.

This yoked denim skirt has been voted by shoppers as the favourite skirt style from Chadwicks.

It has a back vent. Greatly will I applaud the store that provides a backview of such features. Chadwicks isn't one of them. If you see a skirt you like but are in doubt as to whether the back has a vent or, if it does, whether it will be modest, there is a solution. No, I don't mean sew up the vent. I've tried that twice, with hilarious and embarassing results.

If a garment has a vent, it's usually because the manufacturer didn't include enough fullness for easy movement. You need the extra give that the vent allows. Next post we'll provide images of a denim skirt back vent that its owner filled with fabric, creating a pretty pleat without loss of movement.
I checked the details on the Trapunto Skirt. It doesn't have a vent. Yay!

Remember, click on an image to enlarge it. When you've finished viewing, click your Back button to return to this post.

Friday, February 18, 2011

How to be Modest AND Comfortable in the Heat

My home isn't air-conditioned. February's heat is upon us with unusual intensity and there's only one thing I can write about  -- practical ways to be modest and comfortable in the heat.

When the thermostat rises, much of the western world has one urge (apart from seeking an air-conditioned or watery spot) and that is to strip off. If you're reading this then that probably isn't an option for you. So how do you stay covered but not feel ill from the lack of air circulating over the surface of your skin?

I've spent considerable time creating a temperature-appropriate wardrobe. Each summer I'll have two or three outfits and wear-and-wash them continuously in the few weeks of real heat that our climate usually offers. The outfits don't tend to last more than a season or two, and I'm perennially struggling to keep pace with the current season, but nevertheless, sewing my own heat survival kit allows me to be comfortable and modest.  Here's what I've learned.

From long sleeves to short in a jiffy.
In the heat, this cotton top (design by BN) is brilliant and beautiful.
  1. Eschew close-fitting garments.
  2. Avoid knit fabrics, which are designed to cling. Go for cotton weaves.
  3. Look for clothing design that lends itself to modesty in a single garment.
The under-bust blouse seam allows for the addition of an inset panel. From inside, the piece looks like the front half of a singlet crop-top.
1. Eschew close-fitting garments.  This includes style and fabric. A close-fitting style will enhance the garment's perspiration-display abilities. Figure-hugging fabrics don't allow for air to pass over the surface of your skin. Have you thought of going without a bra during the worst of the heat? My mother and I do and oh, what relief!

Does that shock you? A few weeks out of harnass won't turn you into a sag bag. However, you can't just drop the bra and expect to be modest while wearing t-shirts. You need to apply Points 2 and 3, below.
Interfaced patch pockets provide the modesty,
100% cotton weave provides the comfort.
This BN shirt was designed to look good with its cuffs folded up.
2. Avoid knits. Go for cotton weaves. Cotton holds its shape, is absorbant, and if you choose the right weight and print, is opaque (meaning you can't see through it).

If you're thinking, "But I don't want to iron in the heat!" my reply is, I don't iron any of the garments you see in this post. They're washed with a slow or medium spin, then hung on an indoor rack or hanger (no peg marks!), with a judicious tug here and there to prevent creasing as they dry. These cottons are fairly crease-resistant and I don't mind starting the day with a slightly crumpled look -- after all, as soon as the fabric gets between me and a seat it'll crease anyway.
Does this outfit look warm to you? It's not. The only concession I need to make for extreme heat is to roll the cuffs up. See below for why it's so comfortable.
This patch pocket is ornamental. Modesty is obtained from two layers of fabric used at the front, forming a lining for the transparent broderie anglaise.
The back is one layer of fabric.
I've pulled the shirt against my body so you can see the join where two-layered front meets one-layered back.
It's not normally as noticable as in that photo, and probably you wouldn't have noticed it if I hadn't pointed it out, but next time I do this pattern I'll make sure I have enough fabric to double the back as well as the front.
3. Design elements such as linings, bodice inset panels, or breast patch pockets mean you can be modest without needing another layer underneath. On a very hot day, do you know the comfort of a loose-fitting cotton top over a cotton-lined cotton skirt with nothing else underneath?  Sweat moistens your clothing, air passes through it, evaporation occurs, and voila, you have your own cooling tent operating with you inside it. (See The Great Shirt Hunt for more details.)
Three more things you need to know:
  1. Nobody else needs to know you're not wearing underlayers today. Be modest in manners as well as appearance.
  2. Loose doesn't have to mean shapeless. My tops are loosely tailored using darts or ties so they look attractive but maintain wearability.
  3. If you don't live in a perpetual heat zone, you may need to adjust to the concept of trickling perspiration. It's not a bad thing if you're appropriately attired. Get into the mindset (as you did to dressing modestly) and you can be comfortable!
Try these ideas and let us know how you get on!

[Boutique Narelle's comments feature is now open.]
PS  People have asked me how did I get the yellow blouse to have so many tiny gathers. In case you're wondering that too, here's the secret. The fabric was gathered in the factory long before I touched it. Above is a sample of raw fabric. Click on the image to view the amazing detail.

Friday, February 11, 2011

For Love that Lasts

While stores go crazy with the roses and ribbon, chocolate hearts, and cuddly bears associated with Valentines Day, we pay homage to love that begins with vows of faithfulness and through the years remains stedfast.

This happens when a man and a woman are individually 100% committed to nurturing their marriage, no matter the provocation.  Do you know a couple like this? They may be hard to find, but they do exist, and I'm so thankful to the Lord for their example.

This song is in honour of enduring love, and a prayer that you will know such love in your own life.

Candleglow beaded satin gown owned by Elaine Swanney. Tiara owned by Narelle. More details here.


I'm writing you, dear, just to tell you,
In September, you remember,
'Neath the old apple tree
You whispered to me
When it blossomed again, you'd be mine.
I've waited until I could claim you,
I hope I've not waited in vain.
For when its spring in the valley,
I'm coming, my sweetheart, again!

I'll be with you in apple blossom time,
I'll be with you to change your name to mine.
One day in May, I'll come and say,
Happy the bride the sun shines on today!
What a wonderful wedding there will be,
What a wonderful day for you and me!
Church bells will chime,
You will be mine,
In apple blossom time.

I hope that you meant what you promised
In September, you remember,
And I've thought of the day
I'd take you away
Just to have and to hold for my own.
It's such a long time since you kissed me
And told me that you would be true,
But when the orchard is blooming,
My sweetheart, I'm coming to you.


Sheetmusic available from

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

Magic Sleeves Make Modesty Easy!

Hat and t-shirt from Postie. Scarf from The Warehouse. Skirt by Boutique Narelle.
Here's a quick solution for the next time your top needs some extra fabric in a hurry. Maybe you need to cover your upper arms, shoulders, and back for modesty, or to protect your skin from sunburn. To do so, all you need it a shawl or wide scarf.
I take most of my own photos. Fashion shoots as both model and photographer tend to be tedious...back and forth from the camera, setting the delay switch, posing, going back to check the I'm delighted to have discovered a way that simplifies this. The following images were shot as video with photo stills captured from that. You won't get the image quality of a photograph, but hopefully you'll enjoy the 'how-to' sequences that are thus enabled.

This lightweight scarf stuffs easily into my handbag. When I find my t-shirted self exposed to the sun for too long, I can whip out the scarf, drape and tie, and continue in the sun with peace of mind.
The trick will also work if you need to cover your front. Perhaps you have a low cut top, or need sun protection above your usual neckline.

Reverse the tie sequence, starting by draping the scarf across your chest, loop over behind and under your arms and tie at the front. Tie again for additional security.

Pretty and Practical!

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