Polygamist clothing has roots in 19th century and 1950s





For a society accustomed to the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, the images of the women from the polygamist compound in Texas are almost shocking in their understatement: Ankle-length dresses, makeup-less faces, hauntingly uniform hair.

And while no one would accuse the women of making a fashion statement, the pioneer-style outfits are a rare example of how in an age of overexposure, modesty, too, can give pause.

The puff-sleeved, pastel dresses worn by the women in the sect are a combination of original 19th-century wear and 1950s clothing that was adopted when the church took a conservative turn, according to Janet Bennion, an anthropologist who studies polygamist women.

The dresses are meant to show modesty and conformity: They go down to the ankles and wrists, and are often worn over garments or pants, making sure every possibly provocative inch of skin is covered.


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