Going Mormon for Modesty

I’m going Mormon.

After all, I do love watching “Big Love,” and I can’t deny the appeal of having a “sister-wife” who wouldn’t mind doing the laundry for everyone in the family.

But mainstream Mormons no longer practice polygamy — it’s been against official church policy for more than a century — so the “sister-wife” situation is off the table. And anyway, there’s no way I could join a religion whose leaders sanction converting dead Jews to Mormonism for “the benefit” of their eternal souls.

But I have converted to their shopping.

You see, my older daughter, Girlchik, is now a tall 10-year-old and at that hard-to-fit age where kids’ sizes no longer work and she’s not ready for adult sizes. And mightily though I’ve tried, it seems impossible to find a junior-sized dress that doesn’t look like it’s made for “The Girls Next Door” or someone in a rap video.

Complicating matters further is that with my husband having grown up in a Chasidic family, we attend lots of frum weddings and other simchas where girls really need to be covered up — and a shrug over a spaghetti-strapped bit of tulle-y party froth just won’t cut it.

So off I set, in search of an appropriately modest dress for my Girlchik.

I looked high. I looked low. Multiple times I maneuvered through Macy’s and Mandee’s, and bobbed through Bloomies. I targeted Target, looked through Lands’ End and noted Old Navy’s too-casual offerings. H&M was hit or miss and Limited Too is now so limited it no longer exists. She’ll have to wait about 11 years before she’s ready to wear something from Forever 21, where the dresses look more appropriate for streetwalkers on 11th Avenue than an almost-11-year-old girl.

Combing through all of the girls’, juniors’ and even petite women’s departments for something appropriate, I came up with zilch.

So I turned to the domain of the desperate, that Magic 8 Ball for the modern. I Googled.

Googling “tznius (meaning modest) junior’s dresses” led me to a couple of Web sites touting products aimed at Orthodox Jews: “Funky Frum,” and “Modest World,” which says that it’s “the first rabbinical approved clothing store on the web,” but neither had anything other than boring, solid color long skirts.

So I branched out, Googling my way into the world of “modest junior dresses,” which got me to a bunch of Web sites for the Christian and Mormon sets.

I found a cute long denim skirt with silver grommets on this Web site tailored to the needs of Muslim women, though it wasn’t what we were looking for for Girlchik.

At the online store of “The Kings Daughters,” which seems to be run by and for ultra-conservative Christians, the dresses there look more like what the ultra-conservative Mormons favor – like those prairie dresses we saw so much of during the 2008 raids on the polygamous ranch run by Warren Jeffs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I’m not much of a fundamentalist anything, so I preferred what I found on this mainstream Mormon clothing Web site, the slightly misnamed “Great Lengths Shorts,” which carries more dresses and skirts than shorts.

I ordered Girlchik a pretty skirt and a dress, and when both arrived this week, bingo — they fit and looked great.

Of course, the dress is way more covered up than what we saw at the super-fun bat mitzvah party of the daughter of friends that we attended last night, where Girlchik’s 5th grade friends were wearing spaghetti strapped, short party dresses. We’ll see if she’ll feel comfortable wearing the cute but not as bare dress to the next bat mitzvah party.

But at least now she’s set for the engagement party we’re going to in Crown Heights later this week.

And for the time being, at least, the Mormons have my business.


Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Debra Nussbaum Cohen is an award-winning journalist who covers philanthropy, religion, gender and other contemporary issues. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and New York magazine, among many other publications. She authored the book “Celebrating Your New Jewish Daughter: Creating Jewish Ways to Welcome Baby Girls into the Covenant.”

Going Mormon for Modesty

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Going Mormon for Modesty

Thank you!

This article has been sent!