While Elle magazine hyped Miley Cyrus' entrée into womanhood with another sexualized photo shoot, Marie Claire's current issue gave a nod to a promising trend among tween and teen girls: modest fashion.
Writer Amanda Robb detailed the efforts of the faith-based Pure Fashion program, a program she labeled "Barbizon Modeling Schools for Sandra Dee types." According to the Pure Fashion Web site, it seeks to "help young girls develop into young ladies." Pure Fashion consists of seven monthly training sessions and concludes with a fashion show that highlights modest clothing.
Of the program as a whole, Robb conceded, "In the era of sexting and ‘Gossip Girl'-esque man-eating, there's something intriguing about Pure Fashion, which teaches its young charges that self-esteem isn't measured in terms of inches above the knee."
But fashion magazines lean liberal, and Robb tempered her praise of the program with an obligatory and brainless dig at the idea of Christian modesty: "Faith-based efforts to promote primness can be worrisome; one need only look to Tehran, Kabul and Jerusalem to find the disturbing phenomenon of ‘modesty police.'"
Given that Marie Claire is a fashion magazine, Robb focused much of her report on the conservative clothing styles Pure Fashion promotes. Of one teen's decision to layer "loose-fitting babydoll tops" over "cleavage-covering camis," she wrote, "her wardrobe rarely draws second glances from guys. And that's the point."
Pure Fashion goes far beyond teaching girls to cover their bodies. Robb briefly noted that the program teaches "walking and sitting like a lady" and "the deeper meaning of modesty and purity."
But a quick perusal of Pure Fashion's Web site indicated that the program directors undertand being lady-like is more than dressing the part. "Pure Fashion models will learn the basics of growing into distinguished, capable and respectful young women," the site stated. "Pure Fashion models will also be taught the art of makeup and hairstyling, all the while remembering that grace, decency and dignity are our greatest adornments."
Sure enough, the qualifications to be a Pure Fashion model emphasize behavior over looks:
- A model of virtue
- Wholesome and happy
- Modest in her thoughts, words and actions
- Convinced of her dignity and acting accordingly
- Sincere and unselfish
- Generous and grateful
- Prudent in her decisions
- Kind and gentle with others
- Energetic and enthusiastic
- Stylish yet dignified
- Courageous in defending what is true and right
- Pure of heart
- Obedient to God's commandments
- Committed to Chastity
- Follower of Christ
- Helpful at home
- A leader of many and a servant to all
- Obedient and optimistic
- Proud to be PURE!
There's a market for a program such as this. Robb noted that despite the $450 program fee and the current state of the economy, Pure Fashion "has seen enrollment grow 20 percent over the last two years." A sidebar accompanying the article showed that attendance at Pure Fashion shows has nearly tripled from 3300 in 2005 to 10,000 this year.
Pure Fashion is linked to the Catholic group Regnum Christi, which encourages Catholics to center their daily lives around their faith. But religion aside, Pure Fashion teaches young women to have self-respect, something even the most die-hard fashionistas should agree that will never go out of style.