Friday, June 24, 2011

Should We Let the Show Go On? (Part 1)



For much of known history, theatre productions have been synonymous with immodesty. There's no good reason for this, so I was delighted to witness a production that paid great attention to modesty, ensuring that all cast members, especially the girls, were modestly covered and yet still had freedom of movement for their active roles.
 

Nina Donkin and the crew of mainly teenagers produced "Psalty and the Take-Your-Time Machine" during the last week of May, giving four shows in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

The show was fun, the cast superb, and the visual display at every stop on the time machine was interesting and attractive. The dances were graceful, charming, and modest.



I remember the last time I danced on stage without adequate clothing. I took ballet classes until I was 14, then switched to tap. I didn't gain much skill with this because I was inadequately shod, but I liked one thing very much. No leotard was required. I could wear clothes for lessons.

The second year of my tap studies, the teacher planned a production featuring all branches of her dance school. Suddenly I found myself required to trot out on the town hall stage to "Singing in the Rain" wearing black shiny leggings and leotard and a sparkly waistcoat and bow tie. The costume choice didn't make any sense to me. Who goes walking in the rain with an umbrella and a leotard??

I thought, "Well, that's not so bad. I am all covered," but I didn't feel comfortable about it.

Later that year, I showed to a group of friends a photo of myself in the "Singing in the Rain" number. A guy friend looked at it and exclaimed, "Oo-oowh."

He wasn't being facetious. It was his natural reaction to the way I was dressed. I was ashamed that I'd provoked this in him and decided there and then, "No more."

The next time I performed on stage, it was my own item and I chose my costume, which was attractive, colourful, and didn't call attention to my shape.

Applying a second skin of fabric does not make you modest. Modest covering means concealing your body's shape. This can be done with flexibility, style, and visual delight, as Nina and her team amply proved in the Kids Praise show.

The "Psalty" scene that had the greatest impact on me was set in Solomon's Temple. A group of robed priests emerged and congregated stage right, opposite Psalty and the children in the time machine. Five young women wearing belted white robes and carrying glass lamps walked sedately out to form a line across the back where they swayed and gestured to the music. Centre stage, a girl danced a praise song to the Lord wearing a white pleated skirt with a skinny gold tie belt fastened around her waist, and a v-necked metallic knitted jersey over a black tee. The whole effect was stunning and very beautiful as she moved under the lights.



In the dressing room after the show, Debbie Donkin explains to Narelle the history of the Solomon's Temple outfit. Daughter Nina found in Debbie's wardrobe the sparkly jersey her mother had knitted and asked if the costume department could borrow it.
Nina says, "We wanted modesty to be a big part of this production and are thrilled that it actually ended up the way we had planned it. Having participated in many productions myself, in which the word modesty didn't exist, it was wonderful to be able to have a modesty code for rehearsals and for the show itself. Hopefully people will get lots out of this article and will try to keep their own shows modest, too!"

Next week, Modesty in Theatrical Productions Part 2, with more Psalty photos, theatrical anecdotes, and tips for choosing what to wear on stage.
Narelle lingers to capture the dressing room mood.

Backstage with cast and crew members of "Psalty and the Take-Your-Time Machine"
Signed photographs courtesy of Steven Sandbrook of Steven Sandbrook Photography.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Modelling Modesty: Urban Girl

 
How do you like our new column banner? Let us know what you think in the comments box below this post. Should the green text be hot pink?

Model is Nina Donkin, photographed by Steven Sandbrook of Steven Sandbrook Photography based in Wanganui, New Zealand. If you want a photographer who understands and honours modesty, Steven is your man.
Peaked knit beret from Postie
Merino crewneck from The Warehouse
Long sleeved crewneck tee from Farmers department store
Skirt from Ballentynes (about 4 years ago)
Purse from Kmart
Stretch lace scarf by Narelle (see here for how to make)
Leather lace-up boots from local privately-owned shoe store

Narelle tries this shoulder bag, but she doesn't think it looks right.

Narelle tries to improve the bag by draping a coordinating scarf over it, but the outfit still doesn't look right.

She changes to a small, faux-leather purse and adds a satin ribbon bow to the strap.

Do you approve of the change? Why?


How to Tie the Scarf
Loop scarf around your neck so both ends hang down the front, one tail longer than the other.
Take the longer tail and thread it inside the loop.
Take the longer end up under the opposite tail and pull it through the loop.
Pull the tail down and wriggle gently until it all sits where you want it.
Voila! ...Narelle feels un peu le francais [a little French].

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Great Shirt Hunt Trek (chapter 6)

An exploration of the Outback Trading Company
who are Outfitting Life's Adventures

RD1* is 15 minutes walk from my house, longer if I take photos. I took photos so you could come with me.

I walked to RD1 twice today because the first time my camera forgot to take its memory along. I didn't mind because the day was a balmy slice of summer in late autumn after the first big drop of snow on the hills and two days of hurricane.

*New Zealand farm supplies chain store RD1 stocks a small selection of Outback Trading womenswear.

Narelle wears her R.M.Williams Ashville Shirt.


Even the vibrant green of the Ashville Shirt is no match for the colours of nature.


I agree the view is stunning, but we can linger longer when we return. The point of this trek is a modest shirt check, so let's pop in to this shop for a squizz at their tops.
I walked into the barnlike space of RD1's farm supplies store to see the faces of six staff behind the counter and in the office space beyond it staring at me expectantly. I guess it's not every day they see in their store a woman wearing an ivory wool coat and ankle length corduroy skirt. [Note: The day got progressively warmer so camera action took place when I was minus gloves, coat, and hat.]

There were no other customers in the store to distract the staff. I figured I'd better say something to explain my presence.  A wooden dog house stood between me and the counter. I brushed my fingers over the sandpaperish surface of the roof and commented, "I need one of these. It's too noisy in the house."

They grinned, and I was excused to explore the clothing department.
 

Vintage Kimberley Shirt
NZ$39.99
black 100% cotton, long sleeves, 3-button cuff
cattle horn (or winged, whichever way you see it) embroidery across back yoke


Winged Horse Tee in olive-grey
NZ$39.99
horse print up left side
long sleeved, crew neck

On the Outback Trading website, this Winged Horse Tee is called Side Lace Tee (illustrated further below) and has a slight variation in the pony print. Below is a close-up of the side lacing.

That's all that my local branch of RD1 has for women from Outback Trading. Ask at any RD1 store for their clothing catalogue for a more definitive view on what's available (it may be more than what's on the rack).  The RD1 website will tell you where to find stores in New Zealand.

For shoppers on the American continent, let's explore Outback Trading itself.

Prices aren't listed on the site because they don't sell directly to consumers. The "find a retailer" button will help you find a source of purchase. Note that the above tops are not available on the American website. Images below are screenshots. You'll need to click on the active link below the image to view further details.
Side Lace Tee in black
95% Cotton, 5% Spandex, vintage look without a vintage feel
Perfect for any shape without bunching up, longer cut sleeves for ease of motion
Ruched Front Tee in orange, white, black
95% Cotton, 5% Spandex, vintage look without a vintage feel
Perfect for any shape without bunching up, longer cut sleeves for ease of motion

Okay, I admit this shirt sells in the menswear section, but that doesn't necessarily make it manly. What do you think? Would you wear it?
Mustang Shirt in slate
NZ$49.99 (available from RD1)
100% cotton
It's not labelled wrinkle resistent, but the textured self-stripe suggests it won't look greatly rumpled.


Snaffle Shirt in purple, navy, blue, and red
100% Cotton plaid, wrinkle resistant
Pearl snaps on cuffs, pockets and center front
Subtle front and back yokes, uniquely designed front pockets
Wistful Shirt in celery, spice, and mauve
100% cotton, wrinkle resistant

View the image on OutbackTrading and you'll see the understated but very pretty embroidery.
Willows Suede Shirt in mallard, brown, and mist
100% polyester knit, wrinkle resistant
Loving the subtle paisley embossing!

Okay, we're done with shirt shopping for now. Let's get back out in that gorgeous sunshine to enjoy the view.


Just Wave Hello to the folks that you know.

Autumn sunlight on the creek.

 Ssssssh. Bambino is sleeping.
And a fresh rose is budding. Bambino understands hibernation, but Rose blooms in fragrant disregard for the season.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Great Shirt Hunt Continues (chapter 5)

Finding crisp cotton shirts in feminine colours that button all the way up and down!

RM Williams Stockyard
Australia's Bush Outfitter


I venture on an expedition to Farmlands (NZ) about once a year. Last time the result was a promotional featuring the Butterfly Shirt by http://www.outbacktrading.com/*. This month I compared long sleeved shirt styles from RM Williams with what I'd seen in the RB Sellars catalogue (featured last week).

*Farmlands no longer stock OT womenswear. RD1 has a small selection.




I decided to purchase the RM Williams Ashville Shirt. It cost me NZ$80 when I could have had something similar from RB Sellars for nearly half the price, but I had three reasons for buying locally.

1) I prefer to try before I buy. I tried 3 sizes and checked for sleeve length (I have unusually long arms). I bought a size smaller than I normally would.
2) I wanted to be sure the colour worked for me.
3) I was able to compare a half-placket shirt (similar to the RB Sellars featured Workshirt) with the full-placket Ashville shirt and decided I preferred a full placket.




The Ashville looks similar to the Sandy Workshirt with identical collar and breast pocket shaping. The Ashville adds a little class with contrast collar and cuff lining in navy stripe, a button tab on the sleeve for rolling the sleeve up, and contrast-stitched buttonholes in navy. The Binalong Shirt is exactly the same styling as the Ashville and offers 3 colours of stripe or check minus the contrast features.

I didn't find the RM Williams webstore easy to navigate and I couldn't find an enlargement option (unless it was the camera in the bottom corner which did nothing when I clicked it). There's more detail in the catalogue, which you can download or view online (or if you've got a Farmlands (NZ) or RM Williams (Aus) store in your town, pop in and ask for a catalogue), but it's not set up like a ladies clothing store with garment description and close-up views.



Other shirt styles include the Broken Hill and plain Work Shirts (half placket), and the semi-fitted Willalooka and Bathurst shirts in check or plain with smaller chest pockets than the Ashville and Work Shirts. All but the plain (Brigalow) shirts have roll-up sleeve tabs. If sleeve tabs annoy you, unpick the stitching and remove the tab and button.

RM Williams shirts don't offer as many buttons on the placket as RB Sellars do, but for a small chested person like me that's not a problem. I like the double-buttoned cuffs, allowing for more wrist space if I've got layers underneath or want to push the sleeves up without undoing the cuffs.

You can order from the RM Williams website, or if you prefer to try before you buy, see the Store Finder for RM Williams womenswear stockists in Europe, the UK, South Africa, and the USA, as well as Australiasia.

In New Zealand, the most common RM Williams stockist is Farmlands in the North Island and CRT in the South Island. Some merino options are available at CRT online, but at the moment the online shirts are all menswear. You can view what's available in South Island CRT stores by asking for the Clobber Magazine at your local farm centre.



Are you wondering why I would pay NZ$80 for a shirt when I could get a button-up shirt from Ballentynes, Farmers, or the Warehouse for $40 to $60?

This shirt...
  • buttons from pelvis to collarbone;
  • is opaque and has breast patch pockets, meaning in the heat of summer I can go bra-less;
  • has long sleeves. Most fashion stores have stocked mainly 3/4 length or cap sleeves for several years now;
  • is designed for working comfort whilst retaining style. There's room to move but it fits me well without hugging my figure;
  • is quality cotton that shouldn't fade. (I'll let you know how that goes.) I've noticed that Ballentynes poly-cotton shirts fade very quickly;
  • will last a long time. It is very well made. No loose threads or buttons such as are often found on Asian-made garments;
  • I loooooooove the colour! No other store in this country has offered me this colour this century!
Next week, Outback Trading tops for women.
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