Beliefs Columns Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Hallelujah! Mormon women’s garments just got a lot better

Screen shot of 2014 LDS Church video about temple garments. The video depicts a store where Mormons may purchase temple garments. 

(RNS) — Last month on social media, I started seeing cryptic references to improvements to the fit and fabric of Mormon women’s temple garments. Women were waxing rhapsodic about this, like Lululemon levels of rhapsodic.

In general, I’m skeptical about rumors like these, having heard many times that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was “just on the verge” of creating a sleeveless top, for example, and then seeing nothing come of it. Ditto with wild rumors about garments becoming available in other colors, or hopes that LDS policy would revert back to the old days where temple garments were worn only in the temple and not every day. (Dream on, people!)

This rumor was a bit different, in that these women actually had bought examples of the garments in question. One posted a photo of the enclosed explanation that came in the package:

So I gamely ordered my own, and let me just say: These are miles better than what the church used to offer women before. Consider me a convert. Here are the main things I like about them:

  1. Silk-screened markings. This may not sound like much, but to me this is a game-changer. Who wants the markings to poke up and be visible through outer clothing, requiring you to wear an extra layer just for disguise? The silk-screening means the markings are present but not raised or three-dimensional, so as to be discernible to no one but the wearer. Which is as it should be.
  2. Stretch cotton fabric. This is the best and most breathable fabric I’ve ever had in years of wearing garments. It has mesh side panels to let air in, and a hint of Spandex (5 percent) to complement the 95 percent cotton. Very little shrinkage, too.
  3. No itchy tags! Again, this may seem a small thing to people who aren’t bothered by tags, but for those of us who are the functional equivalent of 5-year-olds in our demands for personal comfort, it’s a real step forward. These garments’ labels are just silk-screened on the back, like with a lot of T-shirts you can buy today.
  4. A much better fit. The way these garments are cut seems to actually relate to the real bodies of women. Go figure. In the past, women’s garments seem to have been made either from the “woman as potato sack” pattern or its opposite, the too-tight kind where someone placed an ill-advised bra cup with a very discernible bust seam in a more-or-less horizontal line that cut right across a woman’s nipples in an embarrassing way. Sisters, if you have ever dared to dream of a Goldilocks Garment that would neither dwarf you with its saggy enormity nor confine your bosoms to a relentless straitjacket, you might try this new stretch cotton version. It feels like I’m wearing an Athleta yoga top with bicycle shorts. I can entirely forget it’s there.
  5. The underarm is not constricted. An earlier iteration of garments from a couple of years ago made them so tight around the underarm that I felt like I had rubber bands digging into my flesh — and the marks to prove it — unless I went up to a size that was larger than I needed in every other way.
  6. The bottoms fit well too. Jeans slide right over the garment bottoms without causing the bottoms to ride up to the tops of your thighs when you put your pants on! (It’s the little things, really.)

So yeah, I’m a fan. I’m particularly glad that the church has actually listened to women. A few years ago I remember participating in an online quality survey the church put out for men and women, asking about members’ garment satisfaction. You will be shocked to hear that I was very specific about my likes and dislikes, some of which I complained about in a 2015 post. 🙂

I didn’t expect much to come of that survey, I have to say. So I was surprised and happy to find that almost everything I complained about has been corrected. I’m thrilled from the standpoint of my personal comfort (because like I said, I have a 5-year-old’s flexibility about said comfort), but there’s something even deeper than that: the refreshing sense that the LDS church listened to women.

Really listened. And made changes based on what we wanted.

That doesn’t happen often enough in my life as a Mormon woman, so gosh dang it, let me say thank you.


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About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

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