On Friday I brought out a Nine West blouse I really like - and really don't like. The color and pattern are really great, and it feels wonderful on, except when I bend over and I think that there is way too much bosom on display. I wore a jacket over it today, and kept sneaking surreptitious looks downward. I am always reluctant to show any hint of cleavage; I got way too much attention as a teenager because of my cup size, and am always making an effort to Cover Up Up There. It's my area of Shame, nonsensical as that might be.
Taking the daily pictures has been making me think about this more and more. I realized I am always yanking my sweaters and jackets closed in the slightest breeze, pulling anything drapey across my chest, pulling up necklines. However, the camera tells me that wearing my cardigan open looks - FINE. If my jacket blows askew in the Chicago wind, I am not instantly drawing the Male Gaze. Wrapping that waterfall sweater around me or crossing my arms looks defensive and kind of weird.
By the end of the day in this troublesome blouse, I was wondering what harm was done if someone got a glimpse of my bra. It's not exactly a plunging Victoria's Secret, and I'm revealing only a sliver. I concluded that I would wear that blouse anytime I felt like it.
Only now, looking at the pictures, I don't think it's very flattering on its own. All of that soul-searching was for naught.
Over the weekend I was introduced to the concept of the modesty blog by this wonderful article at The Blind Hem. There are apparently many blogs devoted to the idea and practice of dressing modestly, primarily for religious reasons. This had never occurred to me, as the bloggers I follow are all pretty covered up, as a rule. The modesty blogs are more than clothes, of course, they discuss dietary habits and sexual attitudes and religious practice as well.
Go ahead and Google "modesty blogs." I was kind of tickled to see such an assortment of women; white, Asian, African-American, frum(ish), homeschoolers, sewist, hipster. I came across at least a couple writers that annoyed and offended the crap out of me philosophically, but the clothes were mostly pretty cute. I saw ankles and knees and high heels and bare arms. They didn't look any different from what I wear every day.
Except of course when I am wearing a scandalous v-neck like the one above.