Ashley Wilcox and Clothing

Name: Ashley Wilcox
Meeting: Freedom Friends Church
Branch: Liberal Quaker, Evangelical Quaker

I am in a relationship with clothing and it is complicated.

I have never liked shopping for clothes. For me, it is a frustrating chore. I am short, so it is hard for me to find something in a store that fits (unless it has a petites section), and I never know what is in style.

I also have all of the usual guilt about how our clothing is made. That can be a handy excuse to not buy new clothes. Instead, I wear the clothes I have until they wear out, and mend any holes when they appear.

In addition to being short, I am curvy, which creates a whole other set of issues. Clothing that might seem perfectly modest on a woman with smaller breasts sometimes looks obscene on me. I stopped wearing shirts with writing on them long before I became a Quaker because I didn’t want to draw any more attention to my chest, and now I joke that the clothes I wear to work (usually a sweater and slacks) are my “Quaker plain.”

When I was 20 years old, I was sexually assaulted by a stranger who followed me home. At the time, I was wearing a big, baggy coat and a hat that I had pulled down to cover most of my face. Even so, my then-boyfriend was convinced that it happened because of how I looked.

Afterward, I dressed to be invisible―in dark, solid colors.

A few years ago, my sister gave me a bright red coat for Christmas. I love it and I frequently get compliments when I wear it. At the time, I was feeling led to stop trying to be invisible and to let my light shine. Wearing my red coat is one of the ways I remind myself to do that.

In the picture above, I am wearing that red coat along with my bridesmaid dress from my sister’s wedding (I was determined to wear it again!) on Easter morning at Freedom Friends Church.

Posted in Modern Quakers and Clothing | 7 Comments

7 Responses to Ashley Wilcox and Clothing

  1. Lou says:

    You do look fabulous in red. I recall reading that well-off 19th C Quaker women wore plain gray in sumptuous fabrics like silk. Simplicity in clothing is still a complicated issue for contemporary women. I think plain dress today might be more about choices that require replacement less often, are not the product of slave labor, and are enough for our circumstances . And circumstances vary widely.

    I’m grateful for your post, and for your reminder that how a woman looks is not why sexual violence occurs.

  2. Helen Haug says:

    Thanks for coming out about clothing. I thought it was a lesbian thing to dress in dark/drab colors and try to be invisible–to predatory men. It didn’t work; it never did stop them from trying to hit on me.
    An integral part of coming out publicly as being a gay person was deciding to dress to please myself. How ironic that it was in New York in the 80s when “Jewel” colors were in style in the catalogs and black was in style for the hip New Yorkers. I chose the rainbow and have lived happily ever after–even after fashion moved away from the Jewels and made them archaic.
    Plain dress for me is sticking with what made me happy about myself and still does. Anybody who likes/dislikes me will do so in spite of what I’m wearing.

  3. pablo says:

    “It’s a silly poor gospel that won’t let me wear my red dress,” quoth Margaret Fell-Fox. “I would be loath to lay these things [all grey and black] upon the yong people.” then she went on about outward conformity being out of the gospel as much as mere exterior difference to exalt the ego; and the importance of inward Light.
    Clearly Guildford College needs better Bible studies programs because everybody knows that the first time the term fig leaves appears in the Bible is when G!d Herself sews them together for Adam & Eve to wear. If God had wanted people to wear clothes, she would’ve created them… She did. (according to Genesis)
    Still nudity is not a bad option to some of the so-called fashion out there. They take 2 almost identical T-shirts and say one is cool and the next is not? Ha!

  4. pablo says:

    Now your blog says: “Your reply is awaiting moderation.” No hope then! I’ve never been a moderate. I’m shorted on moderation. I’ve always been in the 0.01% of extreme whatever!

  5. pablo says:

    YOU LOOK FABULOUS IN RED! wear it more often….

  6. RantWoman says:

    You have a wise sister. I also am glad you wear red!

    In the Light

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