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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Amish Proverb....

"The most beautiful attire is a smile."

Since I dress what many Quakers have dubbed "The New Plain", and which I affectionately call modern plain, this simple Amish proverb means a lot to me.

At first my family (I know they still secretly think this way) thought I was a bit nuts. Not my husband, not my sons, but you know....sisters, parents, etc. After all, to slowly begin to transform into this new style of dress is a change for folks around here. Not that we're all high fashion models in Susquehanna County, PA, but you know, you gotta look "good".

I've spent much time, and too much money, on trying to look great. The worst part was when I started watching "What not to wear" on TLC and HELLO!!!!! ..... I thought I had to use all those style tips and makeup tips and get my hair done and, and, and....


I don't even remember when it started happening. A small voice inside me began whispering simple things. I began thinking, "What a waste of time" when I was dying my hair. "What a waste of time" when I couldn't decide what top to wear with these jeans, and suddenly had clothes laid out all over and just couldn't decide. I had tons of shoes with boots to go with that skirt, slip-ons to go with those shorts, and boots to go with that one pair of pants. If I saw something on sale, I may not need it, but hey, it's a bargain, right? Wrong. That little voice started asking.... "Why".

Why indeed, and that's how I began answering. Why.

On a whim, I bought an Amish cape dress on ebay that I saw. Why? I don't know, but when I tried it on, I enjoyed it. I put in in the closet and wore it to my son's preschool one year for Halloween and it was fun, and I hated to take it off. I bought a few more....more Mennonite style which, without the cape style, could pass for a simple dress. I was hooked.

But then I felt like I was doing it again...spending time finding the right cape dress that didn't look Amish, fit just right, etc.... and I was doing it again. What a waste.

I had a denim skirt that I bought on sale and never wore (the one that I bought the boots for and never wore them either). I put it on and, thankfully, it still fit (hahaha). I paired it with a simple long sleeved tee and it felt good. It was practical. I already had it, and it felt right. My new form of dress is long denim skirts and simple tops. Easy, cheap, comfy.

I still had the desire to wear simple dresses and found Taylors Scarlet Thread online. It's a family of fabulous seamstresses that will make dresses, blouses, skirts, nightgowns, etc. Just simply choose your style and send your measurements. Sarah will send fabric choices in an email and voila, a few weeks later you have a lovely dress. I love their aprons too! I cherish my handmade dresses of fine quality from The Scarlet Thread, they still look like brand new two years later, and you can't beat handmade clothing.

I started feeling the need to stop wearing makeup. I hear you all gasping....and it's okay. LOL! Yes, I stopped wearing makeup. I think my mother still has nightmares about it, but that's another subject all together. It is simply freeing and I'm happy, enough said.

I also stopped dying my hair. I began seeing my first grays when I was about 17 I think and began dying my hair at 19. It's been a vicious cycle ever since. I am now off the dying bandwagon and am salt and pepper and natural. It was the best decision made thus far and I get more compliments on my hair now then ever before. I think mom's still having nightmare's about not dying my hair as well.

In Gehman's Country Fabrics and More in Lebanon, PA, I purchase my knee high socks (great quality, made in the USA and lovely). As Mrs. Gehman and I were conversing about dressing plain in a modern world, she did ask me why I decided to begin dressing more plain, more modest. I told her the honest truth. I wasn't sure exactly why, but I listened to that inner voice and it felt right. She said something that I think about often. I can't remember her exact words, but she remarked how pretty our plain girls look when you can focus on their lovely faces and smiles instead of their clothes.

That's how I feel. Focus on what I have to say, see the good I try to do each day, not on what I wear. And also know that my favorite attire is my smile.

Many Blessings,
Mary Jo


Gettysburg Homestead said...

Do what you feel is right. I commend you. Around here the ladies that dress as you are of the Apostolic faith. Long skirts and t-shirts or long shirt tees.

I have stopped wearing makeup, but due to my job I do still were uniforms with pants. I can't quite let my grey show yet as I am only 35. LOL.


Mary Jo said...

Thanks for the comment Mary! In fact, I just turned 40 last week and I'm happier now than ever. Funny how life and experiences does that! We're still kids yet Mary!

I do also admit that long skirts are very comfortable. I even play soccer in the yard with my boys, ages 5 & 7. I still own two pairs of jeans in case there I need to go out in a major snowstorm or something...I'm stil a practical gal.

Blessings to you!

Kathleen said...

Great post!