Religious garb fashionably modest

By K.O. Jackson
The Journal Gazette
Posted on Thu, Aug. 17, 2006

When heat waves hit, some people don’t dress down to
stay cool.

Their clothes stay on: Modesty is the best – and only
– policy, they say.

Keeping their clothes on – even when heat and humidity
rise – is a religious lifestyle.

“There’s nothing wrong with fashionable dress, but our
whole thing is to stay modest,” says Lynn Vann,
presiding overseer of the 130-member Fort Wayne East
Congregation of Jehovah Witnesses.

“Our dress, regardless of the weather, is based on the
1 Timothy Scripture. Our dress should not detract from
who we represent, and that is God.

“There are some women out there who dress
scandalously. But you won’t find us wearing short
shorts with our butts hanging out, or guys wearing
pants hanging down low, or women revealing breasts.
Our young people want to be fashionable, but we are
modest. We stay away from fads and extremes in
dressing, but we are known for dressing well.”

Staying cool during the summer doesn’t mean wearing
less; it can be as simple as wearing the correct

“Our women wear natural fibers, and that keeps us
cool,” says Sister X of the Nation of Islam during a
phone call to the national headquarters in Chicago.
“Our head scarves aren’t as heavy in the summer as the
ones we wear in winter. We want to be comfortable and
dress moderate.”

Regardless of the weather, Orthodox Jewish tradition
requires men to wear long-sleeved shirts and women to
wear ankle-length skirts.

Although Jeff Gubitz, executive director of the Fort
Wayne Jewish Federation, says there are few Orthodox
Jewish families in the area, that doesn’t mean other
Jewish families don’t adhere to the dressing

“Our dress is traditional and conservative. I don’t
think that’s any different than Christian
fundamentalists, Amish or Muslims,” he says. “Men keep
their arms covered, and women keep their bodies

“When it is hot, you wear more cotton that helps to
stay cool in hot weather. I was in Toronto on a very
hot day, and some Jewish men had their hair cut short.
But they still had their ear locks. We are modest. But
some of the dressing you see isn’t so much a question
of modesty but a question of taste.”


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