Posted By Jennifer McBride on August 22, 2010
(Originally published August 30,2004 at Ladies Against Feminism)
Until I became a mother I never knew how fun it could be to dress little girls! When my little daughters (ages three and one) were born, I quickly found out! While I enjoy seeing to it that they are dressed adorably (especially in matching sister outfits!), I have an even deeper desire to see them dressed femininely and modestly.Thankfully, even in our current culture–-with fashions at an all-time low–-it is still quite easy to find sweet, feminine clothing for very little girls. Adorable dresses, both for dress-up and everyday wear, are usually quite abundant. (Unfortunately, once they get a little older, the selection does go down considerably. There is a good article at this link on dressing girls modestly.)
While it can be quite easy to dress our little girls femininely, I have found that often a little extra attention needs to be paid in also dressing them modestly, even while they are very young. Sometimes this is an area that can be forgotten or overlooked. As mothers, we need to be alert to this, since it is our responsibility not only to teach these things to our daughters (and one can never start too soon!), but to protect their modesty as well.
While we certainly do need to teach our little daughters how to sit, act, and play like ladies, we need to see that they are well covered during the learning process! Also, little girls need good, hearty exercise and activity; however, they should not have to compromise either femininity or modesty to obtain it. Many times it seems that one is sacrificed for the other; this does not have to be the case!
In days gone by, little girls wore dresses all the time, whether they were playing with their dolls, riding horses, or playing ball. However, they also had the proper accessories to keep them well covered while doing so. In our day and age, when little girls wear dresses, the accessories are usually forgotten. Girls can look very well dressed, dainty, feminine, and put together while they are standing still, but add in a little activity and those skirts don’t always stay where they should! Therefore, one of the most important things about little girls in dresses is that they need to be covered properly under their dresses! A quick glance at history offers the obvious solution: Bloomers! Worn by little girls down through history, bloomers (also known as pantaloons) are a wonderful, practical way to protect your little girl’s modesty while not hindering her activity.
Mrs. Coleen Sabin, a seamstress who sews modest clothing, sums it up well on her website, Lydia of Purple:
For some of you new to modesty, bloomers are the answer to little, and older, girls with dresses or skirts. The crawling infant knows nothing of modesty, but this is the most beautiful time to train them. As these infants start walking and running, they become very used to wearing bloomers. When they are learning to dress themselves, bloomers are part of their attire. As one of my own daughters said, “When I was small and getting dressed it felt as if my legs weren’t dressed till I put my bloomers on.” I’ve raised 6 girls through, and to, teenage time and know how they feel. These little girls grow up so fast, and before we know (it) they are riding bikes, swinging, racing, jumping on trampolines, climbing trees and just being children. With bloomers, girls can stay modest even while turning cartwheels. My little girls quickly became young ladies, and bloomers were the answer to climbing ladders, doing farm chores, and horseback riding. Slowly during their teen-age years my girls went to wearing half-slips and outgrew many of those childish ways. Of course, bloomers still come in handy when winter comes.
There are many, many patterns available, and most bloomer patterns sew up quite quickly. You can make a variety in different colors and fabrics to complement your little girl’s wardrobe. Following is a short list of resources for patterns and ready-made pantaloons or bloomers:
- Sense and Sensibility Patterns offers a girl’s Pinafore/Pantaloon pattern in sizes 1-10. (One I’ve made many times!)
- Modest Patterns offers bloomer patterns, as do the the mainstream pattern companies (often the bloomer pattern is included with a dress pattern).
- Practically Pretty by Design will custom-make pantaloons or gathered bloomers in any size.
- The King’s Daughters and
- Taylor’s Scarlet Thread and many other modest clothing companies!
There are many other variations on the bloomer idea. These include soft cotton capris, bike shorts, and leggings. They come in almost any color you could wish for and are easy to find at very decent prices. I have collected a fair-sized stack for my three-year-old in various colors. When she puts on a dress, she just adds a pair of matching or coordinating shorts or leggings underneath, and off she goes! (Sometimes she needs a bit of help with the matching and coordinating!) I particularly like the capris, as they show from underneath the dress and give a little more old-fashioned look to an outfit. In the winter, leggings work wonderfully and serve the dual purpose of modesty and warmth. (As a side note, I have found that, in addition to modesty, bloomers and their equivalents also seem to complete an outfit, giving a more finished look.)
The brand that I have been happiest with is Gymboree. In the summer they carry a large selection of soft cotton shorts and capris, and in the winter they carry both cotton and velour leggings. Their clothes are very well made, and though they can be a bit pricey, they have excellent sales! There is also a booming Gymboree industry on Ebay, where you can find marvelous deals. Hanna Andersson is another favorite supplier and also offers a wonderful selection. Again, the clothes are a bit on the expensive side, but watch for sales and check Ebay! Land’s End, Wal-Mart, thrift and consignment stores, and garage sales are all places to shop, too!
I have found dressing my little daughters this way to be the perfect solution in achieving femininity and modesty. (And, I must say, I think it makes shopping for and dressing them even more fun! ) Arrayed in this manner, they are free to run and play, turn somersaults, swing, and be flipped upside down by their daddy in complete modesty, looking like the little girls that they are, with femininity preserved.