A modern Orthodox Jewish bride-to-be had some specific requirements for her bridesmaid dresses: They had to be pretty (no "sky-blue taffeta monstrosity with a mermaid frill and a plunging neckline"), affordable (under $250) and — here’s the kicker — modest.
By that, Arielle Landau, meant they had to have hemlines past the knee, sleeves and reveal no cleavage.
She scoured the Internet looking under the categories of "Modern Orthodox bridesmaids dresses" and "Jewish bridesmaid dresses." Some were too pricey, some too modest, she writes in the New York Daily News, "covering everything from clavicle to wrist to ankle."
Finally, she Googled "modest bridesmaid dresses" and voilà — up came "Modest Bridesmaid Dresses: LatterDayBride & Prom."
She clicked on the link, she writes, "and almost cried."
"Thirteen pages of gorgeous, flattering dresses unfurled before me, and all had sleeves, high necklines, backs and hemlines that hit below the knees every time. I was awe-struck," Landau writes. "Of course Mormons would have similar modesty standards. Of course they wanted to feel pretty. And, apparently, they didn’t want to pay more than $250 for a dress either. Hallelujah!"
Landau’s bridesmaids wore the same dress from the site in "cobalt, periwinkle, sky blue, dark purple and orchid," and they all "coordinated beautifully."
The below-the-knee, over-the-shoulder and no-cleavage look is old news to Mormons. It is also required of all LDS "sister" (female) full-time missionaries.
With the recent surge in women missionaries, online retailers — such as Shabbyapple.com, Jenclothing.com and shadeclothing.com — are jumping at the chance to serve that population with apparel that fits their modesty needs and their fashion sense.
Now even DownEast Basics, with stores in Utah and other Western states, has clothing that would be appropriate for those young LDS women who have strict needs.
"The current trends of longer skirts and dresses gives sister missionaries more options than they’ve ever had," says Jonathan Freedman, one of DownEast’s founders. "Mid-calf apparel happens to be in style right now regardless of the need for modesty."
Of course, Provo’s "Sister Missionary Mall" has been designing LDS-appropriate clothing for more than 15 years — long before the surge. Now it’s a lot busier.
Peggy Fletcher Stack
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