Modest Weight Gain – Does Modesty Make Us Fat?

‘Tis the season for pumpkin pie, first, seconds and thirds at Christmas dinner and hourly holiday nibbles, so I thought I might address an issue that I, like most women in America, have wrestled with: my weight. So let’s chew the fat:

During my early high school career, I was a chunk. No two ways about it. Like many white females from upper middle class backgrounds, my (and my best friend’s) solution was simple: dual eating disorders.

Although we probably didn’t realize it at the time, we both developed anorexia, or, as we thought of it, self control. Over the summer between sophomore and junior year of high school, we both lost about forty pounds. I have destroyed the photo of homecoming that year, but it’s easy enough to describe to you: Just imagine two skeletons, one in a pink dress and one in a sky blue dress and that was pretty much us. Perched on our size two and size four bodies (we were both about 5’9 at the time), our faces looked like bobble-heads.

Fortunately, our twin eating disorders were just phases that passed without any serious health or psychological complications. I was in a bad car accident at 18 and as a result couldn’t (and can’t) sit for long periods of time without severe back pain. So, throughout college I regularly went to the gym to study as part of my pain management and maintained my figure with very little stress.

After graduating college, I moved to London for my master’s degree, where I walked everywhere and (accidentally) became underweight again. It wasn’t on purpose (I could get away with eating anything!), it just was a side effect of not having a car. My year studying in London was my first year as a Latter-day Saint. I knew about the temple and a little bit about the stricter modesty requirements I’d have to adhere to after receiving my endowments in the temple, but for the most part I wore what I had always worn: fairly conservative clothing, but I did own the occasional sleeveless dress and shorter skirt.

When I came home from London, I began preparing for the temple in earnest: leggings with all of my skirts (even knee length ones), cap sleeves or longer, etc. Layering became a life-saver to salvage some of my less modest clothing and make them wearable after my eagerly expected endowments.

As I began to layer, lengthen hemlines, cover my arms and do other outward steps of preparedness to enter the temple, I quickly lost touch with my body. A maxi skirt will not tell you you’ve gained 5,10 or even 20 pounds the way your skinny jeans will shout at you when you’ve gained a pound or two.

In the midst of preparing my spirit for greater closeness and greater covenants with my Heavenly Father, I lost touch with the mortal temple He had blessed with me.

Finally, my doctor forced me to step on the scale and there in black in white was the unavoidable truth: I had gained about 50% of my ideal weight. Ouch.

Problem was, I simply hadn’t noticed, My leggings didn’t complain. My t-shirts hadn’t said a word. Nothing in my new temple-ready wardrobe had said a peep.

Naturally, I was crushed. That number on the scale mocked me and cut me to the quick. How had this happened?

Ladies: modesty is a healthy, spiritually mature practice that helps us live out our faith. If you’re not careful, though, it can easily cover up gradual changes to your figure that, over time, accumulate into big (no pun intended) problems. Be diligent. Covering up certain aspects of your figure does not mean they no longer need to be toned and proportionate. You may not see your upper arms as much anymore, but don’t trade them in for bingo wings. Take care of yourself. Treat your temple well. It is still a thing of beauty and deserves our full effort in maintaining its health and God-designed architecture.

Below: Me in Calista in November 2013; the reshoot in February 2014 

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Two sneak-peaks from our upcoming collection, Be Mine (I’m still a work in progress!):

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Lisa’s Wedding Dress – A Tale of the Perfect Wedding Gown

I first met Lisa the morning of the Arizona Bridal Expo. Things had not gone to plan at all that morning. My business partner overslept, the other one was running late, my roommate suddenly had no idea how to tie up my corseted dress (I tried, it’s virtually impossible to do on your own!).

Things were a mess and my stress level was through the roof and somewhere in the stratosphere.

That day we were running late and just about everything that could have gone wrong had. I was setting up our booth and had the brilliant idea to put up our banner by myself. As I stepped onto my wobbly chair I thought to myself, “This is stupid.”

Yes, yes it was stupid, as I had time to reflect on during the next few seconds whilst falling off my perch directly onto my left kneecap. Thankfully, reinforcements showed up just in time and they were able to help complete the set up of our booth as I clutched my knee in pain, praying it wasn’t fractured.

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I was still sitting on the floor trying to look graceful (I couldn’t put any weight on my left leg and was therefore was confined to the floor), when a voice appeared over my head. I looked, and there was a bride to be who looked as worried as worried could be.

There was Lisa, who had been drawn over to our booth by the sample dress of Fiona we had on display.

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Call it kismet, but Lisa and I instantly clicked. She later told me that we were the first dress booth she had stopped by and that she immediately knew Virtuous Prom was the company for her. She didn’t look at any other retailers. Like her soul mate that she married this past weekend, we were it for her.

I vividly remember how worried Lisa was about her dress. She said it was the only thing she was worried about when it came to wedding planning, but boy was she worried. I’m not an overly physically affectionate person, but she was so worried after a minute or two I just reached out and held her hand and told her, “Everything is going to be OK. Let’s get together and talk about what you want in a dress, no pressure. You don’t have to buy your dress from us, but I know I can help you. You don’t need to worry.”

I meant every word of it and was ecstatic when Lisa gave me a call about a week later.

In the coming months we worked on the design for her wedding dress. Initially, Lisa was so overwhelmed we literally went through each decision step by step. What kind of neckline do you like? Square? Rounded? Sweetheart? We went through every facet of the dress baby step by baby step until Lisa had the confidence to say, “This is the design. Let’s make it.”

When Lisa’s dress was finished, it was overwhelmingly beautiful. She had asked for “bling” and we delivered on that in spades. The pictures I took really don’t begin to do it justice.

I drove over to Lisa’s place for the “reveal.” As I unzipped the garment bag and Lisa looked at her dress for the first time she audibly gasped. It was perfect. It was exactly what she had dreamed of.

There was an electricity in the air as I lovingly took the dress out and she ran her fingers over the hand beading and lace. There was a sort of magic in the air. This was her dress. The dress.

When she went to try it on, there was a twinge of nervousness – would it fit? Would the zipper make that awful sound everyone woman has heard at least once in her life when her zipper doesn’t want to zip?

The dress fit perfectly. It didn’t need to be hemmed, altered, taken in or let out. It was exactly Lisa’s size.

When I saw Lisa walk down the aisle this past weekend, I’ll freely admit I teared up, not only to see my friend marry the love of her life, but because, in my own small way, I had helped her along in her fairy tale romance.

Throughout the night I was complimented on Lisa’s dress. It was all Lisa, I told them. All I did was help. “Oh, no…” her friends and family said kindly, “you really did a great job.” I smiled and thanked them, not wanting to argue over the compliment.

But it was true. It really was all Lisa. All I did was help.
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What to do When Virtue Doesn’t Seem to Pay off

For those of you who love Jane Austen, I have found my Mr. Darcy (at least as he’s presented the first half of the book. For those of you who haven’t read Pride & Prejudice (or seen the movie), Mr. Darcy is the BOMB. He is the MAN of the early 19th century. Almost two centuries later, women still swoon when they think of having their paths cross with a real life, dreamy Mr. Darcy.

In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy is moneyed; cultured; dark, tall and handsome; provides stimulating (if not almost always abrupt) conversation, is rather lacking in common politeness, and does his best to stay away from promptings of what he fears to be a foolish heart.

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In those final exhilarating pages of the book, the reader finally understands that Mr. Darcy’s inner struggle has been with a heart so deeply capable of love and passion it’s staggering. He is in love with his darling beyond words, beyond reason, beyond that common love that so many believe is the real thing. He loves her completely – for her mind, body and soul; and his love is so overpowering he cannot begin to act rationally – he confesses his love and proposes, in the rain no less!

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So, recently, I met the most lovely creature. Unbelievably handsome, a fellow baseball fan, smart, sensitive, a great listener and, it’s hard to describe, but his character and personality were just perfection. I felt completely safe with him and was attracted to him like a magnet, but objectively I don’t think he would be considered charismatic.

When our paths crossed, as they did frequently (sometimes due to some choreography on my part!), I of course wanted to look stunning. I wanted to turn his head and have him see me as a woman, not just a friend

I knew the quickest way make his head turn would be to raise my hem line, leave a few more buttons on the top of my buttoned down shirt open… you know really show myself off.

I decided against this and went about my days and weeks cute but without compromising my standards.

Nothing happened. Wait a second, I’m being virtuous, a good girl in my choice of dress and I’m not being showered with blessings (i.e. Mr. Darcy)?

My thoughts crept back to how easy it would be to turn his head by dressing more provocatively. With all transparency, I played the idea back in forth in my head more than I ought.

As my ideas and emotions pinged back and forth like so many tennis balls, I realized more and more that being provocative would work.

As l realized this, though, I knew I wouldn’t want things to start any relationship with only inflamed sexual passion as the main motivator. Yes, of course, I want my future husband to find me beautiful and be attracted to me, but I want so much more! I want to be a Mrs. Darcy someday. I want to be loved for my loyalty, bravery, deep love of others and everything else good that makes me me!

So my Mr. Would Be Darcy, I adore you, but I respect myself more than attract you at any price. And, if you really are Mr. Darcy, I know you would respect that deeply in me. Until then, my true Mr. Darcy, I stay patiently and virtuously yours.

To Customize or Not to Customize – The Pros and Cons of Having a Dress Bespoke

Back before the Industrial Revolution made it possible to manufacture things like clothing on a mass scale everything was bespoke, as in “it was bespoken” and then made exactly to the client’s wishes.

Very quickly people realized that buying something mass produced was a lot cheaper and the tradition of bespoke largely died out.

Well, we’re bringing bespoken back! Yah!

You ladies don’t know where fab is at! Yah!

(Sorry, Justin Timberlake… I just couldn’t resist!).

But in all seriousness, having a dress customized can be a truly wonderful and amazing experience!

Here’s why:

1) You get to control the design. Whether it’s showing us a picture or giving us a jump off point for inspiration, this dress is your design and NOBODY else’s. It’s exclusively yours! One of a kind couture, some might even say!

2) It will fit you without needing to be tailored extensively.

One of the reasons we got started at Virtuous Prom is a good friend had recently helped his niece “hem” her dress by using double sided sticky tape. The niece and her family had made a special journey, traveling hundreds of miles to the nearest big city to purchase a prom dress, only to be greatly disappointment. They didn’t find anything there that was modest enough or that began to fit properly. Crushed, they selected the least of all evils for her to wear to the prom, went home and “hemmed” it with an office supply.

Hearing about this debacle made me want to help out women everywhere. Very quickly I realized that tall girls have problems finding longer dresses, shorter girls need them hemmed (which can be quite costly) and 99% of girls don’t have their bust, waist and hips all sharing the same size. One of our models has a 10/12 size bust, a size 6 waist and size 8 hips. When a pre-made dress fits her bust, it hangs down the rest of her like a potato sack!

Retailers do their best, but they just can’t account for the unique and beautiful diversity we all possess. Having your dress custom made, however, makes all those issues a breeze.

3) We will help you with every step of your design!

Most of the gals I work with have a really clear idea of what they’d like, but not everybody does. One bride, Lila, that I worked with was so nervous and overwhelmed that we literally went through every aspect of the dress step by step: Do you like lace? Ivory or white? A scoop neck? No sleeves? Long sleeves? And so on. She very quickly gained confidence and her dress turned out AMAZING. When I saw the finished product in all its glory all I could say was, “Wow, wow, wow…. about twenty times in a row”

Next on “To Customize or Not to Customize,” we’ll talk more about Lila’s dress, the in depth side of collaboration, the electricity in the air when she first saw her wedding dress and of course pictures of her on her big day!

In the meantime, here’s a selection of some of the custom work we’ve done recently:

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We were commissioned to make a dress based on a a $1300 gown from Latter-day Bride in Salt Lake City. We ended up saving the bride over $1,000 and we matched the pattern, cut and even the lace to perfection!

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