T-shirts under dresses: Yipes? Or Yay!
Hi, friends. So, I’m a musician. And that’s why most of you normally visit my blog, to find out my thoughts on music and the topics of things I write music about. And I have big plans for some upcoming posts that will most likely be just what you want. However, I’m taking a detour on this post to talk about something that isn’t really music related. Fashion.
I don’t consider myself a fashion icon. I’m a 37 year-old pregnant woman. Not exactly a supermodel. So you can take all of this with a grain of salt. (Or grain of cupcake?) But I have always cared about my clothing, and I’ve always tried to make unique, stylish choices. I love clothes, probably a little more than I should. I also consider it a priority to dress modestly. Especially because I have two daughters who look up to me, and I am now expecting a son, who will one day hang out with women who have to make wardrobe choices of their own.
Sometimes there aren’t enough stylish options for people who want to dress modestly. There are a couple of things we’ve all tried to do to fix that.
Some of us write letters. A few years back, some proactive teens from Mesa, Arizona wrote letters to Dillards about the prom dress choices they had. And Dillards listened. It was a big victory. And now at least in Arizona and Utah, you can go to Dillards and buy basically the same cute little cap sleeved prom dress in about any color you’d like. There’s not a mind blowing selection of styles, but the effort is much appreciated.
Some of us started clothing companies based on dressing modestly. One of my favorites is Downeast Basics. Another great one is Shabby Apple. And one of the very first ones that really made a huge impact was a company called Shade. Shade’s main product was a plain cap sleeved t-shirt that could be worn under anything that might be too low cut, or that might not have sleeves. That was the dream, anyway. Lots of companies have jumped into that game. ModBod. Half Tee. Apricot. The list goes on and on. You can now pretty easily find that t-shirt in any color imaginable. And it’s been a big help. It has also become the signature Utah Mormon look. For the most part, I’m okay with that. That glorious t-shirt continues to solve a host of wardrobe problems for me. But every once in a while, it bugs.
I really dislike it when someone goes out in a nice dress, maybe in a fabric with some sheen to it, and a really cute cut. But it is sleeveless or low cut, so the person throws a faded cotton cap sleeved T underneath. Some dresses just don’t work that way. In fact, when the shirt is particularly over-washed and faded, to me it just starts looking like ratty underwear sticking out. Or sometimes no matter how well maintained the t-shirt might be, the sleeve style and/or fabric just won’t work with the dress. I realize that most people think their only other option is to buy one of the purple sparkly cap sleeved prom dresses from Dillards, which is not the most appealing concept to someone aged 25 and up. And most people in Utah just don’t care. Everyone does the t-shirt thing, so it has become accepted and normal. But every now and then someone not from Utah points out how it looks a little off, and I tend to agree. Maybe you can see here what I mean. (I mentioned before that I’m a 37 year old pregnant woman right? Also I’m standing in front of my husband’s equipment shop, which doesn’t help. But try to focus on the t-shirts.)
I’ve decided I want to suggest some new options. Whenever I can, I try to buy shirts with a similar cut to the cap sleeved T, but with nicer looking sleeves, to go with some of my dresses. They’re not easy to find. Most of the time cute sleeves also means ruffles on the bodice of the shirt, or otherwise bulky things that won’t work under a dress. There are sometimes some exceptions, like this one. But it still kind of has the gathery stuff on the sides, as you can see there in the picture.
This past month I decided to just sew a couple of things I could use, since the type of shirt I need is so hard to find. Here’s what I came up with. I just sewed some rows of lace and trim on the sleeves of some cap sleeved t’s I already had. I’m pretty psyched about how it turned out, for a first try:
Now, I don’t have what it takes to start a business right now, and I’m really not that great at sewing. So here’s my plea. People who own these modest clothing businesses, can you give us more options for ways to add sleeves to a dress? Can you make these shirts with cute, more dressy sleeve options? For some outfits, can you make us a few that are also in some nicer looking fabrics? Something with a bit of a sheen, like even rayon? Make it a full fledged line, so we can find them in all colors and styles of sleeves? And until then, folks who want to dress modestly: Can we try a little harder to find solutions that go with the whole outfit? Seek out those cute sleeves? Find a cute cardigan? (hint, there are some cute ones at Downeast Basics.) I know it is hard. Believe me I know. But I just want to prove to people everywhere that you really can look stylish and modest at the same time. Let’s give it a try. I want to hear from you about what you think about this.
In parting, let me say that I am anticipating some of the comments I will get back.
#1. “Those froofy sleeves are just too much. Too fancy shmancy. I want to stick with my plain t-shirts under my dresses.” To you I say, great. I’m not saying that we should all replace all of our plain t’s for fancier ones. Like I said before, I still love that style of t-shirt and wear it all the time. Maybe you spend most of your time in Utah, and most of your friends don’t care how it looks under a fancy dress, and most of all, you don’t care. That’s cool. Maybe it works with all the clothes you wear. And actually, some people do the casual t-shirt with fancy formal thing on purpose and it rocks. Maybe you’re going for a punk/vintage kind of look. My friend Meaghan Smith rocks that style. Doesn’t she look amazing? Style wise, honestly she can do no wrong. See Meaghan Smith. And after that, go to her official page here and check out her music, because she rocks. Honestly though, I think a lot of people think their cap sleeve+fancy dress outfits look that cool, when really they don’t. It’s a tricky thing to be able to pull off.
Possible comment #2. “For goodness sake, just ditch all the t-shirts and show your *&#$ shoulders and cleavage, for crying out loud!” I get it. We all make our own choices.
I’m just trying to suggest a few new ones.
Now if only I could find a way to stylishly add length to some dresses and skirts. Will I have to sew again?
Can’t wait to hear from you.
P.S. Want to know where I got the dresses I wore in the photo? A cool website called modcloth.com. In this case, the “mod” in the title isn’t short for modest. But there’s a ton of stuff on that site, and when it’s short/sleeveless I can usually adapt it somehow. The sheer number of options there makes it a site worth loving.