Be-You-Ti-Ful – A Different Way of Looking at Sizing

Ever hate going into a store, finding that perfect “must have,” grabbing your normal size and heading off to the fitting room only to find it’s too small? I think most women have felt that sense of dismay, quickly followed by a vicious onslaught of self-criticism. If you haven’t, count your blessings and brace yourself because – get this- clothing manufacturers DESIGN this situation to happen.

Shortly after World War Two, with consumerism reaching dizzying heights in the US, marketing analysts quickly found that the more time someone spent in a store, the more likely they were to purchase something. The underlying psychology goes something like this: the more time we spend in a store, the more likely we are to want to buy something to justify the time expended in the hunt. It makes sense, right? Who wants to feverishly shop for hours and leave empty handed?

Armed with this knowledge, retailers did all they could to ensure that we spent as much time as possible shopping. One of their tricks was to deliberately change the sizing on women’s clothing so that it was no longer standardized. A size 10 was no longer a size 10 across the board – it might be an 8 in one brand, a 12 in another and so forth. And, so, women were forced to hunt out their correct size, thereby spending more time shopping and achieving the end goal of the retailer – more sales.

What was good for the retailer is inevitably bad for our self-esteem. Companies know the effect this wide variance in size has on how we view ourselves and they capitalize on it. Old Navy, for example tends to run quite large, so women can wear a size or two smaller than normal and feel a bit more confident and cheerful – something that’s very much in line with Old Navy’s branding.

Companies like Abercrombie & Fitch take a much different approach. They purposely skew their sizes to be very small thereby adding to their brand’s exclusivity. As if $88 sweatshirts didn’t make them exclusive enough; but I digress.

No industry is more notorious for their skewed size charts than the wedding and formal industry. Habitually, stores like David’s Bridal run two sizes smaller than normal clothing, quickly leaving brides-to-be and bridesmaids in full freak out mode. And who could blame them? Who wants to buy a dress that makes you feel like a cow merely because of the number on the tag?

Well, we for one don’t – and we don’t want our customers to feel that way either. So, we are happy to announce that all of Virtuous Prom’s dresses, save a few, are now only available to order with custom measurements. That’s right, for no extra charge your dress will no longer be a size number – it will be a size you! Because you are be-you-ti-ful and we hope you never let anyone make you feel otherwise!

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Be-You-Ti-Ful

Be Yourself. You’re Beautiful.

That’s not a message that the fashion industry sends out much, is it? It’s hard to open a magazine, click on a website or turn on the TV without feeling that you really need to be thinner, taller, tanner, richer and a host of other things.

We believe something different, however. We believe we’re all perfect, even in imperfection. Be yourself. You’re Be-you-ti-ful!Beyoutiful

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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