When I was in the process of writing questions for the survey, I wrote this particular question out of curiosity, but I didn't think it was very consequential. However, the comments submitted in the "Other" category indicate that there may be a cultural divide within the church regarding the expression of personal style. It should be noted that personal style means self-expression through clothing. This question is not asking about fashion or trends.
Some women wrote that they didn't feel like they could develop a personal style because of modesty standards. On the other side, some women equated personal style with fashion and wrote that LDS women are supposed to be set apart from worldly standards so this shouldn't even be an issue. One participant said that she was taught that personal style was a "natural man" thing.
This dichotomy is very intriguing. What do you think? Are LDS women supposed to look different from "the world." Is self-expression through clothing important, and do garments play a part in that? Below the graphic is a sampling of comments submitted.
If you're wondering how Traditional/devout (TD) members answered as opposed to Nuanced/progressive (NP)- stay tuned! I'm going to post about demographic groups soon!
"I was wearing what I believed to be "modest" clothing all along. I dressed in a way throughout my term years that would accommodate farmers. I was surprised after being endowed at how many little ways my clothes didn't cover the garments. Later in my adult years I because extremely frustrated with the difficulty of dressing professionally on top of garments." (EX, 25-34)
"They don’t hinder my style, but it is more difficult to find clothes in my style that are modest." (NP, 25-34)
"Slightly hindered for a few years but then a new design came out and it hasn't been a problem since." (TD, 35-44)
"They have such a high importance to me that I have integrated them into my personal style." (TD, 35-44)
"There are certainly items I think are cute that do not work with garments, but there are plenty of options and styles that work with garments and my personal taste that I'm happy with." (TD, 18-24)
"I struggle to find my personal style, perhaps because I have only ever felt free to explore limited options for my style- those that would be considered 'modest' as related to being 'garment appropriate.” (NP, 25-34)
"I felt like I didn’t have a choice about style. Unless 'garment friendly' was a style. I found clothes that fit the garments and were somewhat cute. The garments being concealed was the priority." (NP, 35-44)
"As I process through time in the LDS faith I feel that garments and other teachings prevented me from ever identifying a personal style, so I answer it this way with a little sadness, regret, and anger." (EX, 35-44)
"I feel like modesty was always party of my clothing and appearance identity. There were a few times growing up shopping I expressed interest in something not modest and my mum's reaction made it clear that it was not for me. So I don't really think I ever really developed a style outside of church prescribed modesty standards. After all 'modest is hottest." (EX, 25-34)
"When I was younger, (I’m 65) they hindered my personal style big time. Not so much after 55. I stopped wearing the bottoms 2 years ago. Used the excuse that they made me hotter. Threw all the bottoms out a few months ago. Still wear the tops, only because I don’t like the feel of my bra against my skin. So they are basically an undershirt." (NP, over 65)
"They portray my personal style as a covenant keeper." (TD, 35-44)
"My style was garment friendly only because my parents wouldn’t allow anything else. When I lived on my own I didn’t mind until I gained weight from size 0 to size 8 and then I couldn’t find clothing that I gelt good in with garments." (NP, 18-24)
"I wasn't allowed to develop a personal style because I knew I would be wearing garments someday. I had to dress the same as all of the women in my life." (EX, 25-34)
"There are some things I like that I don’t wear because of garments, but I don’t typically view it as a hinderance because there are so many things I like that I can wear with garments." (NP, 25-34)
"My personal style is mine alone, I don't allow it to be dictated by wearing the garment." (NP, 45-64)
"I always made it a goal to be endowed, so I had them in mind when I started forming a personal style long before I was endowed." (TD, 18-24)
"My style was always based on what I could wear with garments, even as a child. I don't know what my personal style could have been." (EX 35-44)
"In 1992 - this wasn’t a question we asked ourselves because it was a “natural man” thing to think or suggest garments hindered personal autonomy." (NP, 45-64)
"Currently feel like is greatly hinders my personal style (as I begin to trust my own personal authority) but previously felt like they didn’t hinder my personal style at all." (NP, 25-34)
"They give me guidelines for my style not to be too extreme in ways I ultimately wouldn't be proud of later as styles change." (TD, 25-34)
"I feel comfortable and modest in some necklines that would not cover all garments but don't come anywhere close to showing cleavage (on me). Different cuts of garments fit differently and sometimes are quite narrow / high. I also would feel comfortable and modest in semi-sheer sleeves that don't really show much skin but would show the garment if not otherwise covered. All that said, personal style isn't a big priority for me, but I face a lot of challenges trying to put together a wardrobe that works for my body and sensory issues even though style isn't a top priority. Garments add a layer of complication that has sometimes been overwhelming." (NP, 35-44)
"I felt I was never able to develop a personal style because my clothing choices were so prescribed and quite limited. Adding garments made it harder because I was continually desperate to be comfortable and couldn't factor in style." (EX, 25-34)
"It is harder to find clothing to cover my garments but it is important to me so I wouldn’t describe it as a hindering. Some of that difficulty come from cultural norms. I was recently in Japan and none of the women showed shoulder or cleavage. I don’t think the garment hinders my style I think the style that are popular in the USA make it more difficult to find clothes I would like to wear." (TD, 35-44)
"My personal style was deeply rooted in “modesty culture” at the time, so it didn’t change. But I have found my personal style now, almost 10 years later, and garments hinder this." (NP, 25-34)
"My garment wearing has changed significantly over time. My personal style is important to me. How garments interact with that style has changed over time. Also, living in Utah means that whether or not I wear garments is a matter of public comment." (NP, 45-64)