Rebbie Brassfield: Wearing LDS garments in the summer when you’re vain

The heat has descended. For the three of us still wearing temple garments, it’s a stressful time.

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“Is this cute or does it just cover my G’s?”

I sent that text to two friends — a mirror selfie of me in a forgettable Madewell dress I bought not because I necessarily liked it but because it would cover my Latter-day Saint temple garments.

I knew I could trust these two friends partly because they both wear garments. More importantly, I knew they were both (sorry, guys) as vain as I am.

It can be hard to find such friends these days. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but many Latter-day Saint women don’t really like wearing garments. Millennial women are abandoning the symbolic religious rite for reasons of doctrine or hygiene or fashion. Generation Z seems to be collectively going on missions and then leaving their garments in Brazil or wherever they served. But the three of us are still trying to wear them — and in the summer, no less.

Since early April, my friends and I have been texting almost every day in the pursuit of garment-friendly shorts. We send dozens of links. A few days later, each of us responds with mirror selfies wearing the shorts purchased from said links. We are shocked every time to discover that women’s bodies are all different. For one of us, our legs are far too long for the shorts. One insists hers are “the wrong shape.” One is pregnant and has the luxury of wearing shorts under her belly, thus extending the fabric a few crucial inches so as to cover her garments.

“I want to be pregnant!” we say. (We don’t.)

Baggy is back

Our efforts have resulted in the fascinating discovery that the cool girls of Instagram are suddenly, somehow, wearing long baggy shorts. OK, so they pair them with a crop top or tank, but we’ll take it because any positive press for long shorts means we might someday have more shopping options than SexyModest.

Before having kids, I had solved the summertime garment issue by simply wearing dresses. Flowy, breathable, god-sent dresses that now take up more than half my closet. Problem is, I now have two young sons and spend most of the summer being water-ballooned. I’ve been advised to wear my garments when it is sensible, but what does this mean in a season I spend in a perpetual state of sweatiness and water ambushes?

Of course, there’s the knee-length short option. You know the shorts — stretchy tight denim to the knee, sometimes cuffed or fake-distressed. The Utah County uniform, which I own and wear and you know what? It’s so hot.

I am too hot in the tight-to-the-knee-shorts, and I am vain. I want something not to my knee, I want something that breathes a little. I want something that, dare to dream, is cute and trendy. So I press on with my friends in an effort to find shorts because it’s 2024 and we have been told women can have it all.

We text one another from Deseret Book’s dressing room — Wait. Which style did you say works with these shorts? The one I have on goes below my knee, and I’m crying. We smile too hard at the checkout counter, racked by the guilt only a Latter-day Saint girl can know: We have purchased petites, but we’re tall.

Dare to dream

The longer I attempt to reconcile my faith with my wardrobe, the fuzzier the rules seem. My sister-in-law lives out of state and wears a scoop neck garment top under a V-neck. “It looks just like a camisole,” she says. “No one knows.”

In Utah, though, people know. Would I be flaunting my garments? Is it worse to show off my cleavage or, rather, the place my cleavage was before I had kids? I think of a woman I once saw at a grocery store wearing athletic shorts with garments hanging out a solid 2 inches below the hem. There is no way she was unaware of what was happening, and I was offended religiously and sartorially. I also was oddly jealous. Here was a fellow saint with no shame over her religious commitment — just a bold fashion statement toward the heavens: HEY, I’M DOING WHAT YOU ASKED.

After I began writing this, a friend sent me a TikTok with the caption “garment-friendly outfit inspo!” Every muscle in my body tensed before I even hit play. (I should not have hit play. I’ve seen this content before, and it does not leave me feeling inspired, but sad.) The poor girl got destroyed in the comments — by current members asking how dare she show her kneecaps and ex-members wondering how she could belong to an organization that is obviously killing puppies.

The same kind of remarks, I’m sure, will appear in the comments section of this column. Thanks in advance. Watching the video, I found myself deeply grateful for the safe haven of my group text, for friends who are smart and beautiful and such good people. For the positive peer pressure, I, a 35-year-old woman, apparently still need.

My group chat and I dream about how garments could change. We brainstorm different cuts and sizing. We gasp at how close, but far, they are from some of Kim Kardashian’s underwear line. Could there be a jewelry option? A tattoo option? We think about the many ways we could show commitment to God that isn’t an outfit underneath our outfit. The scriptures are full of people like us, attempting to serve two masters, but we can’t help it. We’re religious, and we’re hot.

(Rebbie Brassfield) Tribune guest columnist Rebbie Brassfield.

Rebbie Brassfield is a writer and creative director in the advertising industry. She lives in Saratoga Springs with her two young kids, where she spends most of her time picking things up. You can find her overanalyzing at @MormonsInMedia on Instagram, or see more of her work and writing at www.RebbieBrassfield.com.

Correction • July 7, 2024, 3:40 p.m.: This column has been updated to include the first line, which was missing due to a production error.

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