In a previous post regarding the LDS garment, we had a lot of positive affirmation that we weren’t the only ones who recognized various issues with the garment. In fact, it is one of  our most viewed blog posts to date. In the first post I merely outlined some of the problems of the garment without giving any solutions.  I did this because I didn’t want to blur the argument that problems do exist with an argument about change. This post, however, will deal with solutions. If there is a problem, shouldn’t we look to find solutions?  Is the LDS Church even looking for suggestions? Yes, it is. Every distribution center has a suggestion box just for the garment. So, if you come across a solution in this post that would make your garment-wearing experience better (and you live near a distribution center), we invite you to put it in a suggestion box!

First and foremost, I would state the purpose of the garment is NOT TO REGULATE MODESTY! This idea needs to be thrown out the window. To regulate a behavior is to take away free agency and this can be problematic in our Mormon theology.

“Wherefore, men (and women) are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man (and woman). And they are free to choose…” (2 Nephi 2:27)

“And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves…” (Moses 6:56)

“…teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” (Joseph Smith)

“…for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free.” (Helaman 14:30)

How do those scriptures align with regulating someone to dress modestly?  Regulation goes against everything we believe in all the way back to the beginnings (choice in the premortal world – choosing a plan that would allow free agency, the choice made by Eve in the garden, etc.). Some would argue that there is in fact a choice, but that the choice is whether or not to attend the temple (by choosing to wear garments or not). That may be true, but at the same time, choosing to wear the garments so you can be temple-worthy completely takes away your choices regarding modesty. I can’t think of another instruction/promise/covenant/commandment that eliminates our choice. Is there a lock on your tv remote that only allows you to watch BYUtv on Sunday?  A person covenants to keep the law of chastity in the temple, but no one is wearing a chastity belt to enforce this covenant. Garments cannot be about modesty. If they were about modesty, then tall women have the advantage over short women because they can (heaven forbid) show more leg. If that idea is hanging around, we need to get rid of it!

Let’s talk about how to improve the garments. Here are our goals: less exposure, better comfort, and better fit. We will state the problems or concerns with the garments from our last post and the solution(s) just below.

Note: I want everyone to know that you can go to a distribution center and get measured/fitted for your garments. While they still follow strict alteration allowances (perhaps depending on the person doing the alterations), I believe this needs to be advertised more! I had no idea you could do this until I posted the last blog.

Women

Problem:  Short/petite women, due to the length of their garments, have to wear longer shorts (or can’t wear shorts at all) than taller women.
Solution:  Create a shorter bottom altogether.

Problem:  While wearing a shirt that has a wider neckline, the garment is often exposed near the collarbone.
Solution:  Replace the lace edges on the top with a plain, flat binding. Reduce the shoulder width of the top.

Problem:  Petite women can’t wear cap sleeves without exposure of the garment because it is wide and slips down on the arm.
Solution:  Remove the sleeve on the top and reduce the shoulder width.

Problem:  Any time a woman bends down, sits, or squats, the top waistband of the garment – if not more – is exposed.
Solution:  Provide an option for a “low-rise” waist for bottoms.

Problem:  Any time a woman reaches for something high her garment is exposed.
Solution:  Make the garment fabric look like any other undershirt so if it is exposed it doesn’t look like anything unique.

Problem:  Pregnant women whose shirts are more fitting around the middle expose the navel marking in the garment.
Solution:  Move the marking to a more discreet location on the top – maybe on the side or closer to the hem or even on the waistband of the bottom garment (or silkscreen!).

Problem:  Bigger women will have a bigger waist, and therefore a longer garment length.
Solution:  Create a shorter bottom.

Problem:  Any form-fitting shirt will reveal the back embroidery of the garment through the shirt.
Solution:  Replace the lace edges with a plain, flat binding.

Problem:  Any form-fitting pants will reveal the embroidery of the hemline of the garment (or just the hemline if there is no embroidery).
Solution:  Create a shorter bottom.

Problem:  Any white shirt will reveal the embroidery around the neck and back.
Solution:  Replace the lace edges with a plain, flat binding.

Problem:  The garment waistband is so skinny it digs into your skin.
Solution:  Create a wider non-band for the band (examples pictured below).

Problem:  When a woman wears a knee-length skirt that is not tight fitting, she will have garment exposure when she walks.
Solution:  Create a shorter bottom.

Problem:  Some tops have bigger armscye (arm hole) causing exposure of the garment.
Solution:  Make the garment fabric look like any other undershirt so if it is exposed it doesn’t look like anything unique.

Problem:  The garment waist is so uncomfortably high it has to be pushed and bunched down (or pulled up to the armpits).
Solution:  Provide an option for a “low-rise” waist.

Men

Problem:  Garment bottoms will crawl up so you have to pull them down almost every time you sit down.
Solution:  Hanes Premium Boxer Briefs have been the only ones that don’t do this to me – replicate this design.

Problem:  The garment crawling up can make things uncomfy around the wedding tackle area.
Solution:  Hanes Premium Boxer Briefs have been the only ones that don’t do this to me – replicate this design.

Problem:  In wearing a white dress shirt, you can see the markings through the shirt.
Solution:  Move the markings on the top to a more discreet location, perhaps on the sides of the garment. You could also silkscreen the markings on which would altogether eliminate the bumps that stand out through the shirt.

Problem:  If you are wearing a thin shirt like a golf shirt, you can see the markings through the shirt.
Solution:  Move the markings on the top to a more discreet location, perhaps on the sides of the garment. You could also silkscreen the markings on which would altogether eliminate the bumps that stand out through the shirt.

Problem:  Short men are left to wear longer shorts or their garments will be exposed at the bottom.
Solution:  Create a shorter bottom.

Problem:  Bigger men will have a bigger waist and therefore a longer length in the garment, usually resulting in exposure.
Solution:  Create a shorter bottom.

Problem:  The garment bottom hemline appears when wearing most pants, especially when sitting with suit pants.
Solution:  Create a shorter bottom which would put the hemline higher on the thigh where the pants are more loose.

Problem:  Sometimes the sleeve can be exposed when wearing a short sleeve.
Solution:  Create a sleeveless top option (see pictures below).

The eternal smile

Problem:  The “eternal smile” top is too low and too thick making it very noticeable.
Solution:  Create different variations of a V-neck and a smaller, more discreet band (see pictures below).

Problem:  Wearing two tops can sometimes make the fit very tight and uncomfortable around the armpits.
Solution:  Create a sleeveless top option.

Problem:  The crew neck is too high. I had a mission companion whose crew neck still showed even when he was wearing a tie!
Solution:  Create different variations of a V-neck or just copy what Hanes, American Apparel, or Calvin Klein has done with their crew necks.

Problem:  The crew neck collar is too wide.
Solution:  Copy designs from Hanes, American Apparel, or Calvin Klein (see pictures below).

Problem:  The crew neck is poor quality and will look like bacon after a couple of washings.
Solution:  Copy designs from Hanes, American Apparel, or Calvin Klein (see pictures below).

Problem:  Material is poor quality and will turn grey and become thin before the garment is even worn out.
Solution:  Copy Hanes, American Apparel, or Calvin Klein fabric (see pictures below).

Cultural issues

Problem:  In Africa, some cultures don’t wear underwear under their dresses for sanitary reasons.
Solution:  Create a short slip that mimics the dresses they wear with the markings.

Problem:  In Africa, some cultures don’t have toilets and garments becomes an issue when squatting.
Solution:  Create a short slip that mimics the dresses they wear with the markings.

 

ILLUSTRATED SOLUTIONS:

Here are different tops listed in this order from top to bottom: LDS garment, Hanes, American Apparel, Calvin Klein

Notice the different neck bands in the image above. The LDS garment is the widest and is wrinkled giving it a “bacon” look. The narrower, better quality necks lay flat. Also, the Calvin Klein top is tagless, making it more comfortable.

 

Featured from top to bottom: LDS garment, American Apparel, Mossimo (Target)

For those who wear the scoop-neck garment top, a V-neck would be the most practical alternative. The American Apparel and Mossimo examples shown above are much thinner than the  scoop-neck garment top.  Also, these two V-necks have different depths, allowing for more flexibility.

 

Sleeveless top for men

To avoid bunching in the armpit, a sleeveless top would be a good option. It would also limit exposure of the garment.

 

From top to bottom: LDS garment, Hanes Premium Boxer Brief

Notice the quality of the waistband in the LDS garment compared to the Hanes bottom. The length of a boxer brief would also make the hemline more discreet. And the tagless feature of the Hanes bottom is more comfortable.

 

Women’s bottoms listed from top to bottom: Calvin Klein and Barely There

These waistbands are made from the same material as the rest of the underwear. Even though the Calvin Klein bottoms have a more narrow waistband, it does not dig into the skin like the LDS garment does. The Barely There bottom features a wider, more comfortable waistband. Both would be great alternatives. Also, notice the leg of the Calvin Klein bottom – this lays flat and is not as noticeable as the LDS garment.

Different options for the women’s top

Conclusion:

Is Ann Romney wearing her garments on the Jay Leno Show? Can you tell? How about this – stop looking! It is none of your business!

So the general complaints about the LDS garments for both men and women are that they do not fit correctly, they are not comfortable, they are made from low-quality fabric, and they are not attractive. Improvements made to address these issues would most certainly cost the LDS Church more money and would therefore raise the cost of the garments. This would be a big issue because the Church already subsidizes some of the cost of the garments to keep the price lower for those who do purchase and wear them. Additionally, the Church is in a little bit of a predicament with cost of production. They have to produce a lot of garments and keep the prices really low so that every member can afford them. When the focus is on creating a budget item of clothing, the quality will be lacking. You get what you pay for.

With a budget in mind, it would be very difficult to initiate all, or perhaps any, of the aforementioned options and improvements. I also think there would always be poor fittings due to the the wide variety of body types and personal preferences regarding fit and fabric.  Maybe it is time to turn back the clock to when members used to buy their garments from retailers like Sears and put in the marks themselves. There are hundreds of different underwear companies that make it their business to find the best fit for all types of bodies – different cuts and  styles – all to ensure that their customers are happy. I personally don’t think the Church could ever compete with that. Maybe each ward or branch could have a lender sewing machine for those that don’t have one so members could put in the marks into their own underwear (“garments”). Maybe they could drop off their underwear at a distribution center and have them marked there for a certain price. Another option would be to have stations at the distribution center where you could sew in the marks yourself or have a silkscreen printing option.

Old LDS Garment Advertisement

In my opinion, choosing your own underwear solves ALL the issues.  The church would save a bunch of money and man power that could be well spent in other places. If members picked their own underwear, would you be able to tell if someone was a Mormon or not? Would you be able to tell if a Mormon has gone to the temple? No and no! How great would that be? Members could choose whatever underwear fit their body the best and put the marks on themselves. What makes a garment a garment? The markings. What helps you remember the promises you made? The markings.

*A special thanks to Martine for helping me with this post!

Born and raised in Northern California, Paul received his education at Ricks College and BYU with a BA in Spanish, minor in PE Coaching. Paul served his LDS mission during the years 94-96 in Rosario, Argentina. He now runs a skate shop in Provo, UT. He's married and has 4 boys.

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