Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Life in the MTC

The church has recently released information regarding life in the MTC that gives a great perspective on the rigors of what missionaries are doing in the newly revamped training programs in their MTCs around the world.  They recently posted a new infographic about missionary life in the MTC, a video showing MTC life, and an article with more information.

Those of us who have served full time missions in the past remember the excitement as we first walked through the doors of the MTC with our families and had the fluorescent sticker stuck on us to identify us as the missionary as we went into a large room with our parents to a quick orientation, after which our family exited out one door and we went through another to start our mission.  It was always an emotional time, and one that is remembered with nostalgia.

Now, things have changed, and missionaries are dropped curbside, or put on a plane for a foreign land where they arrive at the MTCs around the world on their own--ready to serve.

The whole MTC process is so much more streamlined than before, that more missionaries can come and go more quickly through their training and be out in the field sooner.  It's exciting to have this happen in our lifetimes.  It's exciting that the Lord is hastening his work.  Seeing that He is making use of the concentrated resources of the MTCs worldwide is moving.

Pre-MTC preparation

Years ago as an MTC teacher, I was surprised to see how many missionaries were unprepared to be in the mission field.  Many had never even read the Book of Mormon cover to cover, or sought to find their own testimonies.  I could always see a difference between those that were ready to serve, bursting with desire to testify of Christ, and those who were going because it was expected.  Even more surprising were those that had a testimony, but let their nervousness to be away from home cut their MTC experience and mission short.

Here are some suggestions (in my opinion) of just a few of the things that will prepare a missionary for success in the MTC, and also success in the field.

1.  Gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.
2.  Read the Book of Mormon cover to cover a few times.
3.  Study the Standard Works of the church.
4.  Be familiar with basic gospel principles.
5.  Read and study Preach My Gospel, and have working knowledge of how to use it.
6.  Be organized and disciplined in your study habits, so that you can  maximize them as a missionary.
7.  Overcome fear of public speaking or sharing your feelings with others.
8.  Take opportunities in your youth to be away from home for a time.  Often missionaries who struggle with this are those who have never been away or lived away from home.
9.  Learn to be obedient.
10.  Learn to live without constant attachment to technology, or with prudent use of technology.

Obviously, this list is not complete by any means.  There is so much more that could be said about not only preparing for life in the MTC, but life as a missionary.  The skills you gain to prepare for a mission, not only will ensure your success as an emissary of the Lord, but in life.

May the Lord bless all of the missionaries currently serving, and may we all find a way to participate as His work unfolds on the earth.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Layers, Layers, Layers

After a sister missionary has her call in hand, one of the challenges she faces is designing the wardrobe that is going to meet her needs for the next 18 months. It is really important that time and energy is put into gathering just the right items that fit not only personal taste and style, but the dress and grooming guidelines set apart by the Church itself. When choosing items to take, it is critical that sisters take things that are going to last, be easy to care for, and are appropriate for where they are serving. So, if you are called to serve in a place that has hot summers, and cold winters, how do you make your wardrobe work without having to pack double?

Cold Winter?
New travel weight restrictions, and limited suitcase space already require that sister missionaries pack savvy and smart. While this may seem impossible, it is not. The secret to making this work can be summed up in one word—layers. Any outdoorsman worth their salt can tell you that the best way to beat the cold is to plan layers. Skiers, hikers, boy scouts, and backpackers have known this for a very long time, and the market has developed all kinds of specialized thermals, socks, boots, and outerwear. The problem is that most of it is geared for rugged outdoor activities—not girls walking or riding bikes in inclement weather while wearing dresses. The secret is to capitalize on the best of both worlds—wear layers engineered to keep you warm and dry that you can hide under classy, polished, and appropriate outifts.

Hot Summer?

Important Questions

To begin, there are a few questions that a sister needs to answer about her mission. This information will be valuable in determing what to take, what thickness, what fibre content, and how much.

  • How cold is the coldest weather in your mission, and conversely, how hot is the hottest?
  • Does humidity play a role in how hot and cold it feels when you are out in the elements?
  • Will you be walking and using public transportation, on a bike, or in a car?
  • Are items available in your mission that will fit you and that you can afford?
  • Will your living quarters be climate controlled, or do you need to plan for a more Spartan experience in your apartment? (like bringing a down comforter or sleeping bag—usually this one is specified by the mission leadership.)

Bringing layers to wear under and over the clothing that will be worn as a missionary is the easiest and most efficient way to pack. The basic layers are as follows: baselayer—this would be what is next to your skin (over your underwear), mid-layer—this is your outfit, insulation—this is the layer that traps body heat and it's the layer most easily shed during the day when you are warm, and finally the outerlayer—this is your outerwear. Each play an important role in keeping you warm and dry.

For example, a sister could have a spring outfit that would be a basic skirt and blouse (the mid-layer). This outfit can be made warmer by wearing thermals (baselayer), and wool tights (mid-layer), layering a cardigan or sweater on top (insulation), and wearing warm, waterproof boots and outerwear (outerlayer). As the temperature changes during the day, it is easy to peel back some layers to lighten the outfit if necessary. The ease in packing comes in when instead of packing double outfits, one outfit can be made to be worn in both climates. In the summer, the outfit (mid-layer) can be worn without any layers under or over, to keep the sister cool during the toasty months.

Here are a few facts that can help when choosing clothing for all seasons.

  • Natural fibres keep warmth better than synthetic fibres. (fibres such as wool, silk, down, alpaca etc.) However, they are not as durable as synthetic fibres. So, a blend of the two is the most desireable to take advantage of the best of both fibres.
  • Cotton is not a great insulator as it looses its ability to insulate when it gets wet. (such as with wet weather conditions or sweat)
  • Wool, on the other hand, stays warm even when wet. This information matters when choosing hosiery or thermals.
  • Silk is a great fibre for baselayers because it is lightweight, but warm for the weight so you don't feel like you are padded down. It also dries quickly, and is a great all season fibre.
  • Down is generally considered the best insulator in a coat or bedding, but it also loses its ability to insulate when it is wet. It takes a long time to dry too. So if you are wearing a down coat, make sure the outer shell is waterproof.

One last consideration is whether or not the mission has “transitional” weather. This is weather that happens between seasons. In places where there are 4 seasons, this would be Fall and Spring. This is a time where it is not yet hot enough or cold enough for full blown warm summer or cold winter, so it is helpful to have a jacket that is warm enough to cut the chill, but not hot. We suggest for this time just take a lightweight outerlayer that can be removed or worn depending on the temperature.

So, when planning your outfits, it is important to think about how many months a year you will be wearing winter gear, and how many you will be wearing summer. Plan your layers—baselayer, mid-layer, insulation, and outerlayer—and you will be glad that you thought ahead!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Build it and they will come

No this is not a blog post dedicated to "Field of Dreams..." We are talking about building your missionary wardrobe!  I was in the store talking to a mom tonight about why it matters so much what her daughter takes on the mission.  It dawned on me that a blog post was called for!  So, here goes...

First of all, let's talk about what LDS Sister Missionaries are doing.  They are teaching the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are seeking to know the truth, and through this teaching, they are inviting people to change their lives and futures forever.

That is huge.

The church recently posted the following video that was so moving about what Sister Missionaries are doing.

Many people who join the church chart a new course in their lives because they are cast out of their families for believing.  In my mission, I saw people who had to change their professional careers to embrace the gospel.  Even harder, we saw people who had to make great sacrifice to be active members of the church.  In all of these specific instances, I have seen firsthand that these beautiful people have been blessed beyond belief for their faith.  Truly, not all who join the church find that they have to make such extreme sacrifices, but it is a big change for almost all of them.

Why do I bring this up?

Well, if you are going to profess to represent the Savior, Jesus Christ, you had very well look the part and be the representative that the Lord has in mind for you to be.

So often when we see sister missionaries come into our shop, they are just looking for the current fashions.  This is not a sin, but without fail, if we happen to meet up with them again after their missions their perspectives have changed.  Although it is important to look sharp, it is less about fashion and more about looking the part.

Now, to look the part, you don't have to be frumpy, shapeless, or dowdy.  No way!  We dropped that stereotype a long time ago!  The LDS church itself actually updated the guidelines for sister missionaries in August 2010.  The photo shoot that came later can be found on the church website.  It is a great example of how to be polished, well dressed, and neatly pressed--and these girls are invariably fashionable within reason.  So, in your shopping it is important to look for pieces that are easy to wear and care for.

Secondly, after realizing what you are doing as a missionary, realize that it takes a little effort to prepare temporally to serve.  This not only includes being physically fit, or able to serve, and keeping your finances straight so you can leave for your mission--it includes planning your wardrobe so it is hassle free and appropriate.

This is where we come in.  We have built a business on helping sister missionaries to serve better by providing a place where they can shop and get value.  What we mean by this is that our products may not always be the least expensive, but they are the most competitively priced for what we offer.  We work really hard to make sure that the garments we carry are appropriately cut, appropriately opaque, and washable.  We try hard to toss in a little fashion as well to "dump the frump" and keep our looks, colors, and cuts updated.

(we have a little bit of a lookbook that scrolls on the homepage of our website.  Check it out here. or just look online

Finally, getting at the main reason for this post...I wanted to express that when you build your missionary wardrobe, you are not just travelling.

Missionaries do travel, but their main purpose is not travel.

They may take in a few sights where they serve, but they are not tourists.

They may fly in a plane to get to their mission, but they are not frequent flyers.

They are missionaries.

They are moving away and relocating for the time of their mission where they will live among other people, and preach the gospel.

So the temporary "travel" tips that one might think would affect how or what a missionary packs, is not the big concern.

The bigger idea is "How can I maximize my wardrobe, reflect my values, and minimize my efforts to stay pressed and polished as a missionary?"

The general guidelines for what to bring to each mission are usually decided by the mission president (with input most likely from his wife...)  I know this is true because I called the Missionary Department at Church Headquarters in Salt Lake and asked point blank.  The woman I spoke with said that each mission list is based on general guidelines, but that each mission president had it as his prerogative to determine what the missionaries would bring to their missions.  So, when you get your call, you may have very detailed information, or you may not.

This is our take on it.

How to Build your Sister Missionary Wardrobe

1.  Look in your closet for pieces that you already own that are mission appropriate.  This means that they are sufficiently modest to cover garments, new enough that they will last, and easy enough to care for.  Set these aside to begin to build.

2.  We start out with the skirts and dresses.  We suggest taking a minimum of 6-8 skirts if you are taking a couple of dresses, or the maximum of 8-10 if you are not taking any dresses.  The reason for this is that as a missionary you only do laundry once a week.  That means if you have any accidents that soil your dress or skirt (splashed by mud, dirtied by the children of an investigator, jumped on by a dog, spill at lunch, or issue of a personal nature) you are covered with backup.  You would need to plan to have a skirt every day for a week--which is 7 days--7 skirts.  Then, by having a couple more, you can plan for warmer or cooler weather by having a couple of seasonal skirts.  You also have enough to rotate for your whole mission so you aren't scrambling for clothing as yours wears out.

So, take the ones from your own closet, and see how many you have.  Then decide how many more you need to acquire, and whether or not you are going to take a couple of dresses

3. Make sure you have a blouse to go with each skirt.  Look through what you already have, and then decide how many more you need to acquire.  The rule on the blouse is that in order to make the cut, it has to go with at least 3 of the skirts to be "mission worthy" for your wardrobe.  Also, take note if everything you are choosing goes with just 3 of your skirts...that means you have to rethink what you are taking and make sure the skirts are similar enough that you can mix and match...  Make sure that if you are taking some layering shells that have to be worn under a blazer or cardigan, that they don't dominate your wardrobe.  They aren't bad to take, but they do limit how often they can be worn.

4.  Add in the cardigans, blazers, and sweaters.  Depending on your mission climate, decide how many cardis, blazers, and sweaters you will be taking and choose basic colors and styles that will compliment your blouses.

5.  Add a couple of belts and scarves, and jewelry to change it up a little.  With a few little accessories, you can really stretch your wardrobe.  Little accents like a skinny belt to wear over a cardigan, or a scarf to dress up your dress will make a world of difference to liven up your outfits.  You are living on this wardrobe after all!

6.  Always buy new shoes for your mission.  The one mistake that sister missionaries make is that they think they can get by with the little ballet flats they wore for the couple of years before their mission.  Truthfully, shoes are the one place where you should spend some time and money researching out what works for you, and spending the money to get the best.  If your feet hurt or you are getting blisters and can't work--it doesn't matter how darling you may look.   You are incapacitated.  If you have hard to fit feet, take the time to go visit a boutique that has people trained in fitting you (...shameless plug for our store...)  It is definitely worth it.  Women with very tiny feet that can wear children's sizes, please don't buy them!  Children's shoes that are inexpensive, but look nice, are not really built as sturdy as adult shoes because it is assumed that children will not wear them for long.  There are some shoe companies that do decent shoes for children, but you will also pay more for them. Be willing to spend the money.  You will not regret it.

The wardrobe math here is staggering.  

If you take 8 skirts and 8 tops that can be interchanged, you have 64 outfits.  Add to that the variables of 2 cardigans and 1 blazer, and you have increased the number of outfits from 64 to 192 unique combinations.  Now, add 2 scarves to the mix, and you have increased the number to 384 outfits.  If you add a couple of dresses to that, you could wear them with the scarves, cardis, or blazer and you can add another 12 outfit combos with the dresses, for a grand total of 396 unique outfits.  Considering that you only have approximately 540 days as a sister missionary, that means you won't even wear each unique outfit twice...  Plenty of clothing for you on your mission.

So, build your wardrobe to be low stress and hassle free, and the time and headache you save will help you to focus more on your missionary work and those you were called to teach.

Build it, and they will come...unto Christ.  What you wear does matter, so plan accordingly.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How Do You Make Fashion Modest?

So, this morning we were on a local morning talk show called "Good Things Utah."  It is a great local interest talk show that showcases not only happenings and products of Utah, but things that fit culturally with the population of Utah.  The hosts are moms, totally beautiful moms, but they try to be down to earth and just talk to the audience as if you the viewer are just one of the girls, or maybe a neighbor.  It was a fun experience, and I hope that we get the chance to do it again.  Click here to see our segment.

The reason for this blog post is that the hosts asked me a really great question today on air, and I don't think I completely answered it.  Here it is:

Niesha (host):  "I think it's tough though these days to look fashionable, and be covered up at the same time."
Me:  "You know, It totally is."
Niesha:  "So how do you do that with what you carry there..."

There wasn't enough time in the segment for us to talk more about how we do what we do, so I decided it would be a great topic for a blog post!  So, here goes!

The main three things we do to keep our fashion fresh and relevant is to do these three main things:

1.  Watch trends and build some of these trends into a more modest version.

2.  Stay current with popular colors and fabrics, but do them in versions that are more opaque, washable, durable, and affordable.

3.  Always fill in our styles with new cuts of classic basic pieces that will stand the test of time.

So, I'd like to address each one of these individually.

1.  Watch trends and build some of these trends into a more modest version.

We will watch what is very popular in fashion magazines, in big box retailers and boutiques, and also as fashion forecasts.   We even attend fashion shows, and trend watcher seminars from time to time to try and stay current.  What we find is that the biggest change we can make is to lengthen a garment to make it appropriate for our customer.  

(Ironically, this isn't always because our customer wears a religious undergarment that must be covered--we just have an average customer that is taller than most, and there aren't enough affordable places that cater to taller people.  Our average customer is about 5' 7" and that is almost two inches taller than normal.  So it affects how we build our pieces, which we often proportionally lengthen.)

An example of this would be doing a pencil skirt, but changing the length.  Most of the current pencil skirts skim the knee, but we did a version of it that extends past the knee to a more modest, wearable length.  Look at these two skirts.  The one on the top is from a higher end department store, and ours is underneath it.  (We do need to take a better picture of this skirt with a model in it, not just a dress form.  However, this is the skirt worn by one of the models in our segment above.)

Skirt from unnamed big box retailer. 
It measures 19", and is made of Poly/rayon/spandex just like ours.
Sells for $69.50

Our Edyn pencil skirt.
It measures 27" (and can be
altered for a shorter customer).
It is also made of Poly/
rayon/spandex.  It sells for $32.

Another example would be the Peter Pan collar. We have seen so many of these blouses on the market, but most of them are sheer and sleeveless, or have such a short cap sleeve that many women can't wear them.  We did a version with the trendy collar, but in a blouse that includes sleeves and can be more easily worn alone.  The one on top is in a trend forecast, and the one beneath it is what we carry in our store.

Blouse with the trendy Peter Pan collar.
The sheer yoke, sleeveless style,
and very tight fit in the body
body make this  top not only
inappropriate for a modesty
conscious person, it isn't very flattering on
most figures (unless you are tall and skinny : ).

Our version of the blouse.
It is in an opaque fabric,
has a sleeve, and is a more modest
cut in the body of the blouse.
It also looks good on a
variety of figures of "real" women.

2.  Stay current with popular colors and fabrics, but do them in versions that are more opaque, washable, durable, and affordable.

We try and plan our tops, and a fashion color or two of skirts, to reflect the popular colors of the season.  We favor solids over prints, but even with our incarnations of blouses and skirts we will include a print that reflects the color trends of the day.  Often there will be a style of blouse that we love, but it is very sheer.  Even though we carry sheer products from time to time, we try to always carry layering tees to wear under them for modesty--or even better, if we can put our own version of a blouse into production under our own label, we try to find new fabrics that are opaque enough they can be worn alone.  Often, what makes something inappropriate is the sheerness of the fabric, not the cut of the blouse.  

Sometimes designers make a beautiful garment that would even be opaque enough to be modest, but their pieces would go for $300 to $1000.  This is not just because of the design work, but because their beautiful fashion is made of real, delicate silk and hand sewn.  It really isn't practical for everyday folks to wear things like that, and the cost is absolutely prohibitive for most average consumers.  Changing the components, and making for a mass market changes the price quite a bit.  Ex: take a $300 beaded cashmere cardigan, and make a version in nylon/bamboo inspired by the original for about $45.  The feel of the fabric will be similar, but one is machine or at least hand washable and much more wearable and affordable.  

3.  Always fill in our styles with new cuts of classic basic pieces that will stand the test of time.  

Another way to keep things fashionable but classic is to produce basics.  This would be where really traditional skirt styles done in updated cuts would come in.  An example of this is our knee-length aline skirt.  The aline skirt in general has been a great skirt for women because it flatters a variety of figures.  However previous to 2000 it was more common to wear things on your natural waist.  In time, women have discovered that often it is more comfortable to let things simply rest on your high hip.  It elongates the look of the torso (sometimes) and you don't have something binding you in the middle.  So, the classic, traditional aline that sat upon the waist would no longer feel relevant to a customer used to wearing things lower.  Simple.  We redesigned our aline skirt to have a waistband cut on the bias so it stretches for the customer to wear high or low, and voila!  You have a classic, basic that has been updated and made relevant for new customers.

We also will always carry the basics in our skirts.  Black, brown, navy, taupe, wine, gray, charcoal...  These are the basics that will always be relevant.  We can add a couple of colors for variation, but the classic neutrals will always be popular and round out a wardrobe.

It is easy to re-dress a basic, old skirt from your closet with a new brightly colored top, scarf, or sweater.  So, the skirt doesn't need to be re-done, you just style it again with something new.  

So, how do we keep current, but stay covered up?  Bottom line, when we can't find something that works, we make up our own.

That is a little of what we do.  As always, we try to have something for everyone.  Come in and check out our new line today, or better yet, check us out online 24 hours a day! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Change in Missionary Age Inspired, Life Changing"

On October 6th, 2012, a ground breaking announcement rocked the homes of Zion.  During the of General Conference, it was announced that sisters will now be able to serve a mission at age 19, instead of 21.  In our home, there was great rejoicing.  As we cried tears of joy, offered prayers of thanks, and nodded our heads in support of the new announcement--it opened up all new possibilities to women that previously were not as available.

Honestly, I can say that I gained little by waiting until I was 21.  The one thing I did learn was patience, and doing things on the Lord's timetable--not mine.  Even still, I have to say that I am thrilled about this new announcement.  There are so many amazing youth out there just waiting to serve, and this will give them the opportunity to just get out there.

The one thing that I would comment on (and you must view the video to see this) is the reaction of those in attendance to General Conference at the Conference Center.  It seemed that when it was announced that the young men could serve earlier, there were some young men that looked a bit shocked and terrified.  However, when they announced that sisters could now serve at age 19, the young women rejoiced.  The difference in reaction made me chuckle a little.

Let me just comment a bit on sisters in the mission field.

First of all, as a sister missionary I was able to get into doors that the men never were. I remember one significant baptism we had as missionaries.  This was a head of household man who was very intelligent, educated, and spiritual.  He was trying to lead his family in righteousness, but was unsure of where to go for spiritual guidance.  He was a member referral that had been previously visited by Elders many years before.  In the course of teaching him, he remarked several times that he was so grateful that sister missionaries were there because he felt he could trust us more.  He had been very nervous with the elders, thinking they were "CIA agents" from the USA or something.  When he saw two young women that came and were inviting him to change his life, he said that he was more willing to listen.  His experience was not uncommon for us.

Secondly, sister missionaries bring with them a little bit of maturity that really goes far in the mission field.  The elders in our districts always were a little better behaved when we were around.  I don't think this was because of the age difference.  I think it is because of the phenomenon of the male/female relationship in general!  Think about scout campouts and how young men behave there vs. in their own homes with their moms around...  I'm just sayin'..

Thirdly, sisters bring the heart to the mission field.  Just like women are the "heart" in the home, sisters have a unique ability to bring that feeling to wards and stakes in which they serve.  We don't often talk about this, but women soften life around them if they are in tune with the spirit.  This is the same in the mission field.

Finally, the number one thing that prepared me for marriage and motherhood was being a missionary.  If I could advocate for every worthy young woman to serve, just like the elders, I would.  The truth is that not every woman is required or encouraged to serve like the young men--but if they do and are able, great blessings come to their future family.  I will have to do another blog post about why my mission was such a positive influence--but until then just know that it was probably the most significant thing I did to prepare me.

Well known LDS educators, Richard and Linda Eyre served as mission presidents in England.  They recently wrote an article about how much they love sister missionaries.  My favorite quote in their article was this, "We wanted our daughters to be returned missionaries who would marry returned missionaries and increase their chances of a mutually respectful partnership. "  They not only loved having those sisters in their mission, they have loved having them in their family.  Logistically, it is now easier for sisters to handle full time missionary service in the logistics of their lives.

At any rate, we are thrilled here at SisterMissionaryMall, and also MissionaryMall about the amount of youth that are serving.  As the ranks of missionaries swell, we have seen our business pick up--which is always a cause for rejoicing--but at the end of the day, the truth is that we just love missionaries.

We love who they are.

We love what they do.

We love the example they are to our own children.

We love who they become through selfless service as missionaries.

Most importantly, we love the impact they have on the world.

Best wishes to all of you younger missionaries--and older missionaries too.  May your efforts be magnified and blessed.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Swing of the Pendulum

Fashion is a constantly swinging pendulum.  

Often we even allow it's swinging to torture us.

Let me explain.

Designers seem to go from one extreme to the other, in order to levy the most shock value.  Often, the trends are ridiculous, and most people can't pull them off, but yet when that is all there is to be had in stores, we find ourselves wooed and convinced that what we are wearing looks nice.  It really is a pendulum that swings from one extreme to another.

The nice trends are the ones that come in between.  

These are the trends that most of us find we can wear, and that are the constant basics of our lives.  The good news is that while the pendulum has been in flux over the past few years of "anything goes" the runways are now touting more of the "moderate" styles!  We are catching that silly pendulum midstream, and we at SisterMissionaryMall, love it!

Exhibit A--the Micromini
To illustrate this, I call your attention to exhibit A--the micro mini.  Was this ever a good idea?
Obviously, the designer who came up with this one really hates women.  Either that, or the designer was a tiny Asian woman who loves her thighs.

Exhibit B--The Maxi
Soon after this tiny skirt length swam its way off the tennis court and into the fashion current, it was swallowed up by a bigger trend that is still current among the masses.  That is the Maxi length!  Take a look at exhibit B--the maxi.  But please focus on the hemline, not the neckline.  We won't go there in our discussion yet, so save that for yet another day.  (Apparently in fashion math you can add to the bottom but only if you subtract from the me old fashioned, but I like it when people talk to my face--not my chest...)

The "maxi" as it is currently known is not a new thing.  As a matter of fact, this was the only skirt length, or acceptable clothing for women in the modern world for as far back as anyone can remember.  Everything you could wear as an adult woman was a "maxi" up until about the 1920's.  It just became cool again in the 1970's.

So, here comes the good news.  Are you sitting down?  Okay, remember the wonderful "knee-length" and "tea-length" dresses and skirts we wore two decades ago--and then two decades before that?  Well, they are really back!  On the runways this fall, expect to see some of the skirt lengths that you could even wear to church and not feel guilty!  They are not only SisterMissionary worthy, they are once again fashionable!  You don't have to push the envelope, and wear a skirt that may or may not cover you when you sit down!  You can wear a sensible, comfortable skirt of a reasonable length, and not be over 65!  (no offense to the active grannies that are out there these days!)

Here are some of the fun things we have seen on the runway for this fall, and in designer lines coming up for spring.  Don't be too surprised if some of these fashions "inspire" more affordable versions in our store over the coming months!

This darling beauty is not only long enough, it has a great neckline, appropriate sleeves for real people, and actually sits on the natural waist.  Wear this and you are unmistakably a woman!  Hooray for that!  We do need to get this poor gal a slip, though.

This little black and cream beauty features some beautiful border detail that really makes the dress. I just was in awe of the fact that the ballet neckline on this dress is actually do-able for the average gal!  I wish I knew what to call this lacy detail.  It's almost a cutout, applique.  At any rate, does it matter?  The sleeve is amazing. I can even envision this one with a 3/4 sleeve without losing any of its beauty.

Why is this gal looking so glum?  Because her skirt covers her bum?  Maybe it is because she is now taking her life seriously, and her clothes reflect that she is a respectable gal.  Grandma would be so proud!  The style of this dress really is so 1930's, and we love it.  The print is a fun retro floral too.  Classy.  Now if we can just get her to smile a little...and maybe put on some red shoes?

A vision in green!  This isn't a yellow green, or a sage green.  This is just pure, good old green--almost a kelly, and maybe a little jaded.  The length on this skirt is perfect, and there is enough fullness that she won't get caught showing off anything she doesn't want to.   Furthermore, the genius that put pockets in this posh frock really outdid themselves.   Pockets in a skirt are often a thing of the past.  We love the swing of this pendulum...even if we have caught it midstream.  Of course, we must mention that this gal is eyeing your sandwich, and she is hungry!

The last new look that caught our eye was the flowing, feminine silk chiffon of this dress.  Although I wish were completely lined (and you could do that without losing the charm) this dress is still so classic.   These lines are so flattering on almost anyone.  You don't need to rely on a super curvy form to pull off this look.  You just need to be you.  From the self belt, to covered buttons, this dress was made for a stylish woman.  The hemline on this dress is perfect.  Not too short, not too long.  Just perfect.  (unlike those three sentence fragments that my junior high English teacher would find anything but perfect...along with my prolific use of ellipses...but I digress...)  Redheads everywhere are rejoicing that "rust" has finally come back into the limelight.

So, back to our little pendulum--swinging from one extreme to the other.  Well, I guess that right now we are "mid-swing" and there are great things coming around that are the right length for us "real gals."  So, take advantage of this opportunity to update your style a little and go for the classy.

As always, we stock current colors--in your size--in a variety of styles of great skirts and dresses to fit your individual taste.  We hem to suit, and are ready and willing to outfit you for your mission--or even update your "Sunday Best" with a new skirt or blouse.  Come in and see us today!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Feeling Great to Be Girlie!

Gunne Sax dresses were all the rage.
It was cool to be pretty.
In the 90's a funny thing happened.  The whole grunge movement reared is unkempt head and drove fashion to develop some bad, unfeminine habits.  Basically, the 80's were a decade that championed what it meant to be a girl.  We primped and painted ourselves up and dressed in lace and puffy "Anne of Green Gables" sleeves.  We wore pearls around our necks, and our waistbands around our waists.  It was a lovely time.  We didn't have to fight with the image of strung out, skinny girls with flat tummies and ample bosoms.  It was a time where we could be comfortable, but beautiful and girlie.

Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love
The nineties lowered waistbands, in keeping with the grunge movement of fashion that looked like it was salvaged from a dumpster.  We lowered the rise on our pants as women, making our body shapes look more like men and trying to streamline our torsos.  We wore ugly, worn out things and hoped we looked cool.

We didn't look cool. We just looked neglected.

In real life, the truth is that most women have a little belly because it is part of our anatomy and our heritage.  We are women who become mothers and nurturers, and it is a beautiful and divine thing.  Even looking back over the years, women constantly were worried about their waistlines, but accepted that by having a waistline you are curvy, feminine, and beautiful.

We like to look nice, and to feel beautiful.  It is time to embrace the feminine again--and to stop saying that it is for grandmas and old ladies.  The truth is, grandmas and old ladies never abandoned their femininity--and now it is time for us to embrace it too!

The good news is that Girlie is back.  

It is in fashion to be feminine again.  (Thank you Marc Jacobs, Mad Men, and Monique L'huilller to name a few...) We are finally moving away from the harsh, heroine addict fashion and austere, corporate man-like fashions.  What is on the horizon?  Here it is.  Actually, it has been coming on for at least 4-5 years now.  So, love it, and live it, and hope it doesn't go away again!

Beautiful curvy shapes with skirts that fall on the natural waistline, and fun retro prints (like polka-dots).

Floral prints are also back.  This includes even the typical "granny florals" of the past.

Feminine accessories, such as scarves and belts are back.  Belts are even worn on the actual waist, and jewelry is feminine and includes details like roses, cameos, pearls, and lockets.

Lace is not just for underwear or trim.  We are seeing many pieces made entirely of lace, such as t-shirts, dresses, skirts, even pants.

Pretty pastels are back too.  We are seeing peach, mauve, rose, baby blue, and even sage green.  All of them are back--and they brought their friend "cream" back too!

So, revel in being a girl.  Cherish being a woman.  Seek the soft and the beautiful--with just the slightest touch of sassy...Feel great to be a girl!

All of the items pictured here are available at SisterMissionaryMall--it's not just for sisters!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The blouse is back!

Pirates, Peasants, and Poets
Anyone who grew up in the 70's and 80's remembers the blouse.    Even though this item of clothing has its roots in menswear (think pirates, peasants, and poets...) they are primarily womenswear now.

With its updated 1970's fashion, the blouse was the quintessential clothing piece for a polished woman in the corporate world.  The 70's and 80's were the "dress for success" era, where if you "dressed" like you were upper management, you were more trusted and could move up in the company.

1970's pattern
(Which, by the way, is still how perceptions of success are perceived today...and also the reason that it matters how sister missionaries dress!)

The blouse basically became a woman's version of a men's dress shirt.  We wore them in silkier fabrics, with feminine details (like lace collars, and bows) and they were cut to flatter and drape on our shapelier figures.  They were so popular and durable, that for years, every DI, Salvation Army store, and Saver's was full of these polyester blouses.

Well, guess what!  The blouse is back!  It has actually been back for a couple of years now, but we are finally seeing the trend here in the conservative west.  (What that means is that we are finally gutsy enough to wear them even though our eyes have been telling us we are wearing what our moms wore...)  Anyhow, there are a lot of advantages to the blouse that make it very popular again today.

Here is a list of why the Blouse is a great addition to your wardrobe:

1.  Many of the fabulous styles can be found in washable fabrics that are easy to wear, and easy to care for.  So, the runways feature the blouses done in silk, while we can find them done in polyester.  Polyester has become so well done these days that it is hard to tell often if it is silk or not!  The fibres actually have to be tested with a "fire test" to see if the burn or melt--burning meaning it it is silk, and melting being polyester.  So, wear that polyester with pride!  You look fabulous!

2.  The cut of the blouse is more appropriate for real women.  Going the way of the Dodo bird are the fashions that highlight the "yoga" body that most of us don't have.  (that is of course, unless you are actually on your way to yoga, which apparently I am all day everyday when I'm at home in my yoga pants...) The blouse is not as fitted as the tailored "mens" style clothing we have been packing ourselves in for the past 15 years.  We have lumps and bumps as women, and the blouse drapes more comfortably over them.  You can actually look and feel thinner because you aren't wearing some little knit ditty that makes you look like...well, a stuffed sausage.

3.  No more busting buttons!  One of the best things about a blouse is that often the style doesn't button up front.  It is hard to have a great fitting blouse that buttons over the "bumps" of the bust!  Nothing like playing peek-a-boo with your top because you can't keep your placate closed on your shirt.  Unless a shirt is tailored just for you, it can be tough to keep things "locked and loaded."  A blouse solves this, and all the while letting you enjoy the cool comfort of a woven fabric.

4.  The fashion trend now allows us to dress down our nice blouses by pairing them with jeans.  This is a nice departure from the buttoned up, corporate, Sunday best version of the blouse that makes them fun to wear.   For Sister Missionaries, of course the fashion choice is clear.  However, that means that the blouses you take on your mission can be repurposed a little while later at home!  (and believe me, these blouses will survive, despite your best efforts!)

Here are some great blouses we are carrying right this minute at our store!  

We designed these babies ourselves, and carefully chose the fabric and construction to make them comfortable and durable for Sister Missionaries.  They fit well, are easily altered, and built to last.

This top comes in a nice Rose, Sky Turquoise (pictured), Smoky Taupe, and Berry Red.
If the elastic in the sleeves bothers you, we can take it out.  

This blouse has coordinating cuffs on the short sleeve under the blazer.
Currently this blouse is only available in Cream with black trim.  

Here is that same bow blouse under one of our favorite blazers.

There are more to come!  Just keep in mind that "The Blouse is Back!" We are so glad!  You will not only feel better in a blouse, you will look better too.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tooele Teen Tossed out of School for Modesty...

In national news, a Tooele, UT teen was tossed out of school because her skirt was "1/2" too short" for the dress standard of the school.  As shocking as this is to everyone else in the country, to us in Utah, the theme is all too common.

Hemlines are a subject that has come up often in LDS circles.  It is so funny how things have changed over the years.  I was actually  looking at pictures of my Mom in the 60's and seeing her dress patterns that she sewed dresses from in High School and was shocked to see many sleeveless and shorter skirts that would not have been acceptable in the current culture of modesty.

So, as this has been niggling at me for a while because I really think that modesty is more than just hemlines and necklines.  So, this post is basically about modesty.  We have built a business on modesty, so it is important.  However, I have often had to contend with customers that come in and say "that is too bright" or "that is too fashionable for missionaries."  We disagree.  Missionaries can be fashionable, and colorful--and still be modest.  This brings up the question, "what is modesty?"

I could quote LDS church leaders, and pamphlets all day long about how important modesty is etc, but I have to say that at the end of the day it is more than just the length of your skirt or how high the neck of your blouse goes.  It is also your intent in wearing what you are wearing.

If you mean to call inappropriate attention to yourself, then you are not modest.  If you hope to excite the men around you by what you are wearing, then you are being immodest.  If you are trying to make an inappropriate statement about your morals or standards by what you are wearing, or trying to "walk the line" then you are simply not modest.

Just being covered isn't enough.
That is the main reason people often try to spell out specifically what modesty is and isn't because it is harder to explain intent than to just say "a skirt that is no more than 2" above the knee."  For this reason, the explanation of what modesty truly is becomes reduced to how little someone is wearing--but it has everything to do with why you are wearing what you are wearing as well.

I would even go so far to say that often something that is immodest on one person is not immodest on another.  For example, women with very curvaceous figures often look more provocative in an article of clothing than another would because the clothing--while the right length--fits differently on one person or another.  I have even heard it explained that so long as you are covered, you are modest.  To that, I also disagree.  Just because you are covered does not make something modest. If it is too tight, or  sheer you are still not modest.

When making fashion decisions, I follow the rule of thumb that is "if you wonder, don't wear it."  If there is question in your own mind about the appropriateness of something, then just steer clear of it.  For you, you are probably right.

This always brings to mind the scripture in Mosiah 4:29-30  (yes, I'm taking some liberties in the language, so please see the original text...)

"...I cannot tell you all the things whereby you may [dress immodestly]; for there are divers ways and means, and even so many that I cannot number them...but this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts [and intent], and your words, and [how you dress and act], and observe the commandments of must perish.  And now, O [daughters of God] remember and perish not..."  

There really is so much discussion we could have about modesty--but at the end of the day what you wear says so much about who you are that it merits some thought!

As always, we carry a large selection of modest skirts, dresses, and tops.  We range in sizes from XS to 3X and sometimes even carry skirts up to 6X.  We also have trained sales staff that can help you navigate good fit, fashion, and function for you and your individual  needs.  

Come and see what we have to offer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Altered Consciousness"

So, with the title of this blog, you might think I'm talking about substance abuse--on the contrary! Today we are talking about alterations!  

When we talk about alterations, we are talking about changing a ready made garment to fit your body more specifically.  Most off the rack garments (meaning things you buy everyday in a store) are made according to the metric or measure of whatever the designer determined was the best body shape and measurements.  We don't often think about altering garments to fit these days because of the glut of knit fabrics and items we wear these days.

However, the truth is that we are all different and have our quirks, lumps, and bumps.  So, if you go into a shop and something doesn't quite fit you right, but you are crazy about it--then consider getting it altered!

It sounds like a labor intensive process, but it is really simple.
Some alterations you can even do yourself if you sew, so long as you have a friend to help you mark the garment for alteration or a similar piece of clothing to use as a reference.

Here are the tools you will need:
1.  A good pair of scissors (preferably sharp, and not used to cut paper)
2.  A sewing measuring tape
3.  Pins--and a pincushion really helps
4.  Measuring chalk, dressmaker chalk, tailor's chalk or something of that ilk

All of these tools are found at your local fabric store, or Walmart.  There are even many grocery stores that carry these items, so they are very affordable.  Many of them are even in basic sewing kits.

There are 3 basic types of easy alterations that can have a dramatic effect on how a garment fits you.  These are the ones you could probably do yourself, or are inexpensive to have done.

1.  Lengthening and shortening hems and/or sleeves
2.  Taking in or letting out the sides of a top or bottom
3.  Removing or adding embellishment on a garment

As a missionary, these alterations will make sure that your clothing fits you well, and helps you to look polished.  If your clothing doesn't fit you well, it will not only change how you feel about what you are wearing, it will change how you are perceived in what you are wearing.  So, fit does matter.

We are so accustomed to not thinking about how a garment can be altered, that we just suffer with poorly fitting, off the rack clothing.  So, next time you are in a shop, and you just love a blouse--but it needs a little tweaking--think of your local alterations shop and don't be scared to invest in something you are going to love!

We have a full service alterations shop at our store, and turn around times are very fast.  Basic sleeve shortening and hemming is always free.  Other alterations we offer for a minimal charge.  
Come see what a difference fit makes!