The first explicit call to modest dress occured in 1951, when Church authority Spencer W

But there is a way in which this attitude can be read as subversive in terms of Church doctrine, especially when one considers the history of sumptuary laws in the Mormon Church. (There is a useful article in the Mormon periodical Dialogue that outlines the subject in more detail.) Though we might imagine the discourse on modesty to call back to the conservativism of the Einsenhower era, this is not the locus of the nostalgia for modest behavior-it is, in fact, its origin. Kimball extolled young, unmarried Mormon women to distinguish themselves from their non-member peers explicitly through a more conservative code of dress:

„There is no reason why women need to wear a low-cut or otherwise revealing gown just because it is the worldly style. We can create a style of our own.”

It is important to note that this address, given at a BYU devotional, was aimed mostly at unmarried young women. As Kimball argues,

„We knew of one mother who remonstrated with her lovely daughter who intended to buy a modest evening gown. When you are married in the temple that will be time enough to begin wearing conservative clothes.’ What can be expected of the new generation if the mothers lead their own offspring from the path of right. The fellows could show courage and good judgment if they encouraged their young women friends to wear modest clothing. If a young man would not date a young woman who is improperly clothed, the style would change very soon.”

Kimball assumes that women who are married are already living the law of modesty because of the nature of their temple garments; here, as in most of the discourse that follows, the concern is that unmarried women might delay that sense of responsibility until after they take their temple vows.

The mother pleaded: ‚Darling, now is the time to show your pretty shoulders and back and neck

The loose standards that Kimball sets out are a reaction against, rather than a return to, the styles of the 1950s-in fact, his distaste for revealing clothing resembles a return to the fashion of the 1910s, before hemlines were raised and bustlines lowered in the so-called Roaring 20s. And it is certainly of some significance that Kimball himself experienced adolescence in the 1910s-he is demanding, to some extent, a return to the conceptions of modesty that existed during his own days of courtship.

Yet Kimball’s call to arms is all very general. The restrictions that modesty fashion bloggers set out above-specific prohibitions against revealing this part of the body or that-are simply not extant in this early discourse. In fact, the next significant prohibitions against immodesty among LDS youth are even less specific than Kimball’s address above. Let us examine the 1965 iteration of a pamphlet still published today called “For The Strength of Youth,” which serves to outline the standards which young Mormons are expected to uphold.

The letter of the law in these pamphlets is far less respected than the spirit of the law, and the “law” is an attractive but non-sexualized, and therefore sanitized, femininity

The pamphlet also extols young women to “dress to enhance their natural beauty and femininity…Few girls or women ever look well in backless or strapless dresses. Such styles often make the figure look ungainly or large, or they show the bony structures of the body…Clothes should be comfortable and attractive without calling attention [to the body].” It is also careful to warn women against wearing pants outside of athletic activity: “Pants…are not desirable attire for shopping, at school, in the library, in cafeterias or restaurants.”

Thus we can see that in the 1960s, second-wave feminism and androgynous dress were the chief modes of discourse that the Church set to dress its women against. Counterculture was at the top of the immodest hierarchy.