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Modest influencers have begun to make a name for themselves within the fashion industry. We here at The Reflective want to bring the stories behind each of these power houses from many different faiths and backgrounds to you. We’re kicking off this series with Apolistic Christian blogger Alexa Dudley, otherwise known as @1998Miss. See below to hear about her journey as a modest woman and as an up and coming influencer.
1. Modesty means something different to every woman, every community and every religion. What does modesty mean to you in the context of your faith?
As an Apostolic Pentecostal young lady, modesty means so much to me. It means choosing to let my body be clothed in a way that is pleasing to G-d. He is holy, my body is a temple and he is in all of us so I should dress as such. I cover my shoulders, chest and knees with what I wear. I also only wear skirts because in our faith women should not wear men’s apparel. Additionally, I don’t cut my hair.
Modesty was never forced on me by my apostolic faith. In fact, most of my life I dressed what I would now consider “immodest” for sometime but one day I felt personally inclined to dress differently. I prayed and read the Bible… then made personal choices on how to dress. Modesty is a matter of the heart and God worked on me from the inside out.
2. Were you always interested in fashion? Tell us about your experience dressing fashionably and modestly
I have always loved fashion. When I was a little girl I was obsessed with Gymboree & had every accessory and matching outfit. I loved purses, hats and sunglasses!!! I got it from my momma!! I also used to spend an hour every night in both middle school/high school planning out my outfit for the next day. I would parade around the house in different combos in front of my mom and sister until I found the right one. The next morning I would be so excited to wear my look to school. I loved going to school and being the most dressed up girl. I lived for the crazy comments on my looks. I wanted to dress differently. I wanted to be spicy and chic.
3. What made you decide to start sharing your modest fashion on 1998Miss.com? How did you first get started, how did you grow your community, where are heading etc?
When I committed my life to G-d completely and gave up cheerleading to pursue my calling to be a missionary and future doctor, I really started to get a community growing. I shared looks before on Instagram, but I really started the 1998Miss journey when I was a senior in high school and took the modesty plunge. With help from my mom, cousin, and most importantly G-d + weeks of waitressing to save money, I launched 1998miss.com! I had one loyal reader - my mom. I kept on going regardless and I loved it. I started linking modest looks and telling girls my age that I, too, was chic, trendy, fun and young all while being covered. I didn’t care who read it - I was doing it because I loved it.
It was slow going at first and my peers thought I was weird… People talked about me, but I kept on. By the time I entered college a year later, my modesty convictions had really changed and my blog started to pick up. By my Junior year of college at Sewanee I had made a 360 as to what modesty meant to me and I had developed a dedicated following. People still talked - actually a lot more but I didn’t stop. I didn’t let the negativity stop my mission to show women everywhere that modesty doesn’t mean compromising style. I was invited to attend modest fashion week in Dubai that same year…then interviewed for Hafsa Lodi’s book, spoke on a panel… Now I’m being interviewed by The Reflective!
4. What’s your dream for the modest fashion community? What are we missing, what do we need?
My dream is to continue having modest fashion weeks but for mainstream fashion weeks like NYFW to be inclusive to our community. I want to be on the front row in the US as an apostolic fashion influencer where modesty is slowly becoming more relevant. Yes, modest fashion week is amazing because you can actually envision yourself wearing the clothes, it’s inclusive and I love the community, but it won’t ever truly be inclusive until we are included in mainstream conversations too. I want more women from my faith to have a seat at the table! Where are the Jewish & Apostolic models for big brands?! If the stunning Halima can do it so can we! Let’s make room at the table. My other goal is to sit on some sort of interfaith modesty committee - I love the interfaith aspect and I want to make room for more women! The Reflective is doing awesome things like being inclusive to multiple faiths…which I absolutely love! Go Reflective Gals!!! Keep it up.
5. Tell us about modest fashion week!! How did you hear about it? What does every modest gal need to know about it?
This is perhaps my biggest G-d moment because it was my biggest dream to attend. Ever since I started my blog, I dreamed of going. I literally said to my mom what if I could go to London Modest Fashion week and she said yes that would be cool. (It was kind of like “In our dreams” vibes… I said it so casually and it seemed super unrealistic. It was like me saying I wish I could fly lol.)
Three years later, G-d made it happen...I was invited to Dubai for Modest Fashion Week and had the opportunity to speak as a panelist. It was pure magic, the most beautiful, eye opening and insane experience of my life. It honestly felt like a dream. First off, the Middle East is magical, the clothes are beyond fabulous and the conversation about modesty is incredible. What I believed was modest prior was actually immodest to so many women. This amazed me!!!! I found that modesty was not black and white like I expected. Rather it is a multi faceted, multi cultural and an interfaith personal experience for individuals.
My understanding of modesty grew and I’m so thankful for this. I met the most amazing women: Franka, Hafsa, Ifrah, Ozlem, Ines, Isra and so many more. Meeting these women who would become big blessings in my life, attending with my mom, speaking about my faith to others and finally seeing G-d make my dreams come true had to be the best part! I was the first Christian perspective and the first to say, “hey there are more women who love modesty from the apostolic faith!!!” So in truth it wasn’t anything I could make happen for myself, it was all G-d. I’m just a girl from Missouri who loves fashion.
Covering your hair, is more often than not, a religiously affiliated form of modesty. The covering of a woman's hair is symbolic of its sacredness. Hijabs, sheitals, kippahs, turbans, veils, kamilavka, dastars are all an expression of modesty. Throughout 16th and 17th century England, and America until the turn of the twentieth century, veils, ornate caps, bonnets and ladies’ hats were worn by many Christians to cover the sacredness of their hair, as well. Between the feminist revolution of the 60s, rapidly changing Western culture and the influence of Hollywood and the media on society, it’s no surprise that the fashion reflected globally throughout each decade in the later half of the 20th century is radically different than what came before. The tradition of hair covering faded with the 60s, but the tradition hasn’t been lost completely, just like the tradition of and value in modesty hasn’t been completely lost either. We are a community of modern modest women living in 21st century America; proof that tradition can find a place in mainstream fashion.
Many women in our community, our team included, found modesty later in life - a once lost or forgotten value. The decision to explore modesty externally usually begins with the understanding that there is something private, something that’s your own that you’re meant to keep to yourself and your close ones. Once you commit to that understanding, the next step is usually reflecting that belief in your dress; baby steps like wearing longer skirts or baggier pants and tops with sleeves and high necklines. As that decision to explore modesty continues, you may find that mindset goes further like wearing more full-coverage activewear, swimsuits and, eventually, to some, coverage over your hair. Speaking to Tamar Tzubeli, now Abda, we identified with her journey in modesty as she finds her footing in expressing modesty through hair covering. She wasn’t a stranger to the practice but it wasn’t something she necessarily considered for herself.
“I never had any pressure to cover my hair. It was more of a decision I made when I got engaged. Before that I actually didn't even think about it, believe it or not. I have really great hair. I was blessed with naturally amazing hair that I have to do nothing to.”
Not only did Tamar share her story, but she also curated a special collection of scarves for women of all faiths or those who just want to wear them as a statement piece or accessory! Shop Tamar’s picks below and make sure to #scarfitup as you post your scarf looks!!
Read more about Tamar's
hair covering journey