Modest Fashion at the 2015 American Music Awards

This past weekend we were so excited to check out the red carpet fashion at this year’s American Music Awards.The past few award seasons have seen an increase in modest gowns and we were pumped to see what the 2015 AMA’s had in store. Unfortunately, there was noticeable lack of modesty. In fact, there were an incredible amount of outlandishly immodest gowns – one of which was actually censored by the press!

One performer, however, stood out of the crowd with her classic, modest and elegant black gown: Meghan Trainor.

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Meghan Trainor rarely fails to impress when it comes to her modest wardrobe. You may remember her gorgeous gown from the Billboard Music Awards this past year. Yup, Meghan keeps it classy and stylish!

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So here’s a shoutout to Ms. Trainor for not only being an amazing performer, but also for being an amazing example to young women worldwide. Here is a woman who has openly embraced her body type in a clear rejection of Hollywood’s dangerously unhealthy standards of beauty and shown young women everywhere that they can be elegant, glamorous and modest.

2014 American Music Awards -  Red Carpet

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So here’s to you, Meghan. Thank you for your shining example and for your great style!

 

Love Meghan’s style? Want to design your very own show-stopping red carpet worthy gown? Drop us a line a virtuousprom@gmail.com to get started on your very own gorgeous, custom made formal!

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Avoiding Dress Stress

It’s that time of year where around the country, down every school hall, girls nervously await being asked to homecoming.

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Rumors fly, expectations are set and then the waiting begins… and goes on… and on… and on….

For most teenage boys, asking out their crush is a daunting task. It takes a lot of courage to ask a girl you consider amazing and beautiful to spend time with you – especially a whole evening when expectations are unavoidably high.

I was never a teenage boy, so I can’t fully attest to their struggle, but I do remember asking out my crush to my school’s dance. Nate was home schooled, sweet and incredibly good looking. We knew each other casually from church, but as I picked up the phone to call to ask him to the dance, I felt my stomach drop out and my heart beat like a jackhammer. Nate fortunately said yes, but ladies, let me tell you – the experience was traumatic nonetheless!

As you’re waiting to be asked, just remember how hard it is for all of us to put ourselves out on the line and risk rejection. Be patient. And in the meantime, set yourself up for success by avoiding what I’ve lovingly termed “dress stress.”

Dress Stress/ [dres] [stres]/noun

Definition:

  1. Waiting until the last moment for your crush to ask you to the dance, only to discover finding an appropriate dress is nearly impossible due to shortness of time.

Around this time of year, I get quite a few clients experiencing “dress stress.” They’ve just been asked to the dance (hooray!) but the lack of time to find a dress in addition to the struggle of finding modest formals in general leads to severe “dress stress.”

How does one avoid this? Get your dress early of course! I know traditionally most girls want to go with a date, but most of my high school dance experiences were with a group of my girlfriends and we had a blast! In fact, I think in some ways we had more fun – we could fully be ourselves, didn’t have to stress about the question of a good night kiss and we just had a good time.

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Going with a date, especially your crush can be amazing. But going with a group of friends can be just as fun. So get your dress early and if Mr. Perfect plucks up his courage, hooray! You’re already ready. If not, you have a gorgeous dress hanging in your closet and a great night already planned with your besties, which, in my book beats staying at home dejected the night of the dance any day of the week!

Model Behavior

It seems almost impossible, but this time two years ago, I was looking for a modest dress to wear while performing as a harpist. No matter how many times or how I googled it, modest dresses really weren’t available online. There were a few websites scattered across the internet, but either they were so user-unfriendly or they were so out of my price range.

I’m all for paying good money for a great dress, but $300-500 for a formal dress? If that was outside of my price point, what were teenage girls doing?

And so began the idea of Virtuous Prom. The first months of 2013 were filled with hours and hours of research and reflection. Then came the decision to start the business and since then time has flown by. Our first model was blessed with a baby boy this past December (Congrats, K!), just on the heels of that our darling Paige announced her engagement to the eternally lucky Wade.

I’ll freely admit, I have more than a little nostaliga about our “little Paige” getting married. When we had our first photo shoot with her she had *JUST* turned eighteen. Looking back at her film, it’s easy to see how she effortlessly transitioned from a beautiful young lady to a gorgeous woman.

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Yup, that’s our little Paigling. It seems impossible that tomorrow we’re meeting up for a dress consultation for HER WEDDING DRESS!

Time flies by, seasons change, and in this I am reminded to be thankful for the time we are given, the wonderful friends we meet and to treasure each moment in that very moment.

Things are happening fast for our little company and one of our upcoming changes we’re thrilled to announce is that we have a new model! We are so excited to work with the gorgeous Cynthia in our upcoming collection “Be Mine!”

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Cynthia, we can’t wait to work with you! You are so beautiful and have such a sweet personality! A lot of changes are going to happen for Virtuous Prom in 2015 so stay tuned! These updates are just the first of many.

Happy 2015! May it be a wonderful and blessed year for you all!

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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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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Why Modest ISN’T Hottest – Part 2

Why Modest ISN’T Hottest – Part 2

A Frank Commentary on Why I Hate The Term

We left off in Part 1 of Why Modest ISN’T Hottest having established that in all practicality, modesty isn’t hottest (which is just fine!). Modesty can be the outward sign of virtue, it can be a vehicle for fabulous fashion or a way to identify oneself as part of a religious or ethnic group, but it is definitely not the “hottest” when it comes to being sexually provocative.

In fact, being sexually provocative should be the last thing on a virtuous woman’s mind. While it is not our responsibility as women to prevent men’s minds from wandering, we should be helpful in their quest to keep their thoughts pure.

So where’s the balance between inner and outer beauty, and where are safe parameters for embracing our beauty and modesty whilst disregarding the faulty notion that modest is hottest?

The first question is the easier to answer. Both our inner and outer selves need basic, daily attendance, such as brushing our teeth, combing our hair, praying, reading the scriptures, journaling or meditation. My advice would be that any surplus energy we have should be at least evenly split between who we are on the outside and who we are on the inside, with preference paid to our inner selves.

In other words, if you have enough time to give yourself that pedicure, take the time reflect on your character, uplift your spirit with music or stop and enjoy that gorgeous sunset.

Our second question posed was, where are safe parameters for embracing our beauty and modesty, having let go of the idea that modest is “hottest?” Well first, ladies, we really have to let go of the idea that we’re going to be showing ourselves off. Really let go. We have to ignore what the media says about how women should be hyper-sexualized and picture perfect 24/7.

Next, if you feel uncomfortable wearing it, don’t. Even if an item of clothing passes your “checklist” for modesty, if you don’t feel comfortable wearing it, don’t! It is possible for certain items of clothing to cover up what needs to be covered while at the same time doing it in such a way that it is still incredibly provocative. Embrace the spirit of modesty, not simply the do’s and do not’s.

Lastly ladies, don’t feel shame in the natural beauty God has blessed you with. Just because you choose to keep certain parts of your body covered up doesn’t mean they’re bad or evil or wicked – it just means they’re not for everyone to see. Seeking to cultivate our natural beauty doesn’t make us vain, it makes us good stewards of gifts from our Heavenly Father. Just be sure you’re also being good stewards of your inner beauty as well. ❤

In the words of Grace Kelly, “Your dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, and loose enough to show you’re a lady.”

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Your Perfect Prom Dress – Part 3

Not quite sure what looks good on you? Still trying to figure out what compliments your figure and your coloring? Here’s your very own guide to finding your perfect prom dress.

Picking the perfect silhouette…

No matter what your body type, there is is a flattering dress out there for you!

The Neckline…

It may be a bit surprising, but the neckline of a dress can make a HUGE difference on everything from how your face appears, to your shoulders and of course to your bust line. The right neckline can help you accentuate your figure’s graces and help conceal your “trouble” areas. It can even make you appear taller and slimmer – who knew!

Selecting the right neckline for you is a crucial part of finding your perfect prom dress. Here’s a quick guide to the different styles out there and what will work best for you.

The Sweetheart Neckline

Our dress, Emmeline, is a perfect example of a traditional sweetheart neckline (sweetheart necklines are so called because they look like the top of a heart). Wearing a sweetheart neckline shows off the collarbone and decollete without revealing too much. Sweetheart necklines flatter most body types, are also great at creating the illusion of curves. They additionally draw attention up to your face and make you look longer and leaner, especially in your upper body! Sweetheart, indeed!

A great example of a sweetheart neckline!

Scoop Necks, V-Necks and Square Necks

Like the sweetheart neckline, these other three necklines show off the collarbone and decollete (Elisabeth, with a square neckline is featured below), help make you appear longer and leaner, draw attention to your face, and elongate your torso.They also work well on almost all body types. Scoop necklines are especially good at creating the illusion of curves, but watch out if you don’t want to look curvier there than you already are!

A great example of a square neckline!

Crew Necks and Boatnecks

Both these necklines are great for drawing the eye to the shoulder, helping to detract from a smaller chest or sloped shoulders. By drawing the eye out to your shoulders, crew necks and boatnecks help balance out your figure, making your shoulders seem squarer and your bust line more ample. These two necklines are especially great for pear-shaped women (women whose hips are proportionally larger than their bust). Conversely, if you’re already bustier than you’d like to be, these two necklines (especially the crew neck) can definitely accentuate that “problem” and can also make your shoulders appear wider that perhaps you’d like  (our dress, Evie, is pictured below).

Evie

Cowl-Necks

A cowl-neck is a neckline that has a slight drape to it at the chest – like our dress Valerie. It is a great choice for anyone wishing to add a little volume at the bust and at the same time create vertical lines that elongate the silhouette.

Valerie

Higher Necklines

Higher necklines, like mandarin collars are GREAT for creating the illusion of a bigger bustline. The downside is that if you already have a shorter neck, this neckline can make your neck pull a disappearing act! Like most things in fashion, it’s worth a try and ultimately what works for you comes down to what you like! When in doubt, a trustworthy friend is the best shopping companion (Jeanette pictured below)!

Jeanette