Mormon garment survey

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garment surveySometimes I get asked about “Mormon underwear” — most recently by a Protestant woman at a retreat I led in Maryland this past weekend. People are naturally curious. It’s unusual for a religion to require some of its members to wear a holy undergarment that no one else can see.

So, for the record, I love the whole idea of the temple garment. It delights me that there is no concept of something being irredeemably profane in my religion. God sacralizes an item of clothing that is not only quotidian, but an aspect of humanity that we might be tempted to regard as unclean.

In doing so God points us once again to a Jesus who was born in a trough and has entered into every messy, dirty, mortal aspect of our lives.

Even underwear can be sanctified.

Now, note that I said I love the whole idea of the garment. I do not always love the garment in practice. In practice, it can feel like a set prop from The Itchy and Scratchy Show. The fabrics used are economical but synthetic. They don’t typically breathe well. The inside neck tags are so nightmarishly itchy for me that I admit here in front of God and everyone that I sometimes cut them off.

And for women, a whole host of other problems arise with garments. The one I hate most is bust cups whose seams dart directly across the breasts. So much for modesty and subtlety.

But other women have additional complaints. Petite women, in particular, say that the bottoms are so huge they ride all the way up to just underneath their bustline. One tiny woman I know has to roll her waistbands over at least once, and sometimes twice, just to get them to approximate where her actual waist is located.

quality controlSo I was quite thrilled today when I discovered a link to this detailed survey that the Church is conducting about garment preferences.

It’s encouraging to know that the Church is trying hard to identify people’s main issues with the garments and to address those issues as much as they can. It’s a very specific survey, one that requires you to know the make and fabric of your particular garment choices. (I had to do some guessing there because, as I said, I already removed most of the identifying tags.) You can review one type of garment and return to take the survey again for another.

I’m not expecting any momentous change here, but even a few carefully considered alterations could make a big difference. I hope the survey gets a wide response.

  • Anarene Holt Yim

    Hallelujah! Thanks for the heads up.

  • Listeningclosely

    Complain, complain, complain, is all I see on this site. Why are people so
    unhappy? What’s next? Maybe, they need a taxi service to drive the people to their Temple. You know the weather is bad sometimes and I don’t want to have a problem. Then the “gay” issue. Stop the world and let me off. What isn’t there to complain about when we are looking for faults. This is in any religion not just the “Mormons”. This even happened with Jesus Christ. The people heard things they didn’t like or understand and previous “disciples went back and walked no more with him”. The complainers are always here and always will be because they want it their way and even if things were perfect there would still be complainers because it isn’t perfect enough.

  • Sharee

    Thank you for the link to the survey, which I was unaware of. I just ought some new garments last week and made some of my complaints to the clerk who helped me saying I had filled out comment cards several times and it didn’t seem to do any good. I said I wanted to now what other way I could make my concerns known. She said nothing to me about this survey. She did tell me that they were going to do away with the round neck, which almost gave me a temper tantrum. That is the only style that gives comfort to those of us with an ample bust size. I have now taken that survey and hope there are enough other women who agree with me that they will keep the round neck–and also find some way to keep the poly-cotton garments from going dingy and gray after just a few washings.

  • Thank you, ListeningClosely. Your complaint about complaining has been duly noted for the logs.

  • They’re getting rid of the round neck ones? Nooooooooo

  • Brekke

    Lots of words to complain about complaining…

    This post was extremely positive towards the survey that the church is conducting. As someone who has had certain health problems that are aggravated by garment wearing, I’m also thrilled that the church is seeking feedback.

  • OK, that was weird. But I’m glad they are collecting information. So, so glad!

  • Sharee

    So, Jana, do the survey and complain about that. If enough people want the round neck, surely they will keep it.

  • Momo

    Your complaints about those who complain have been duly noted.

  • maddy

    My request:
    Please, please get rid of the “cap” sleeves!

  • Beth

    I hardly dare hope that this survey might lead to changes, but I am very excited that feedback is being sought. I want to love my garments and to enjoy wearing them, and feel honored to put them on each day. Instead I dread getting dressed every day. I do not want to wear underwear that does not fit and makes me feel frumpy and unattractive. Resenting the garment cannot be a good thing, but I feel completely stuck. Some bishops have been sympathetic, and some have pretty much blown me off, telling me that they haven’t heard of anyone else having problems, and I should just get used to them. Which I guess makes sense since theirs are basically white secular underwear. There’s a reason why you don’t see anything resembling garments in stores selling women’s underwear. I wouldn’t mind having to pay to get mine altered to fit me better, but I have been told that is forbidden.

  • Sharee

    I complained to my bishop that since they only made the full-cup style in tall and I was short so the cup came further down on my body than my breasts, he said it was perfectly fine to take them up in the shoulders. He said the Lord didn’t intend that we be uncomfortable when wearing our garments. Although we aren’t supposed to alter them in order to wear less modest clothing, when it comes to making them fit, it’s fine. I understand you can also order your garments custom made, but the cost would, of course, be higher than the ready-made ones.

  • Sarah

    Did any of you know they are making drisilk garments where you can specify cup sizes? I found out when I needed to order nursing tops, Heaven on earth.

  • Mormonette

    I asked for full length bottoms in a variety of cuts (boot, trouser, and athletic). A variety of colors. Mastectomy friendly tops. A variety of sleeve lengths beyond what is available currently. Higher quality of trim on the longer sleeve hems and necklines and a camisole neckline option designed to be seen.

  • Carrie

    Count me in on that. Why do we need them? They roll, scrunch, hang. That and bottom lengths. Caps sleeves first.

  • Carrie

    I am sorry you see this as a complaint, for many women garment wearing is a self worth struggle. Many very faithful women feel uncomfortable in them. This post is opportunity for us to express options that will help us. Stores do it all the time. The garment has undergone many changes over the years, it’s sacred nature has not been lost, but the changes were necessary and wise. Each of those changes happened because of complaints. The most recent changes were over 30 years ago when medical professionals complained about access to the physical body because of the sacred cloth. We now have 2 piece garments. It was a gift, but a gift that needed vocalization. This survey and post are apart of that.

    I hope you take time to enjoy some of Jana’s other fantastic posts. She has been such a boost and help to me.

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  • Joni

    Did you know you can also leave feedback about the ceremonial clothing? I left a comment about how much I hate having to cover my face during the endowment when the men dont. We are supposed to be temple worthy daughters of God and equal partners with the man, but when it comes right down to it we can only commune with God from behind a stifling polyester curtain.

  • Garson Abuita

    Is there a process for Mormon women to ask another Mormon woman in a position of authority for feedback or advice on questions like this? Or do you have to talk to the (male) bishop? This is a genuine question from a non-Mormon.

  • Ron

    Oh Jana you make be smile! I love you sense of humor. Love your blog! Thank you for your books too. Bless you!

  • That’s a great question. No, there isn’t currently any avenue other than an informal conversation with a woman’s Relief Society president (who is not authorized to give advice on the matter).

  • Really? No, I didn’t see that when I took the survey. I will go back and do it again, because that is very important! Thanks for mentioning it.

  • Thank you, Carrie. And yes, there is room in the Church and elsewhere for constructive comments that encourage us all to do better in whatever it is we make, write, paint, sew, etc. Wanting to improve is in fact a key part of Mormon tradition.

  • Joni

    “the Lord didn’t intend that we be uncomfortable when wearing our garments”

    Man, this should be on billboards.

  • Joni

    “a camisole neckline option designed to be seen”
    This is a really good idea! My husband wears crew neck garments under polo shirts and casual buttondowns, and the neckline on those is designed to be seen. It’s weird that with women’s garment tops, if even a quarter of an inch of it shows it’s a sin. We have to add a camisole or tank, yet the whole point of the men’s crew neck seems to be so that they *don’t* have to add a T shirt if they’re wearing a shirt with an open neck.

  • Addy

    They have already made them. I purchased mine from the Mesa distribution center. I have a top that is sized as “32 C”
    I like the thought of it, but the sizing I was given does not work for me.

  • Will

    While I dislike the garments for intimacy issues, I used this as an opportunity to mention that I did not like their Return Policy. It literally gives me anxiety to buy them knowing that if I’m dissatisfied with the fit, my money is just gone.

  • Garson Abuita

    Thanks for the answer!

  • Sue

    I have never discussed the fit of my garments with my bishop. But I sure would talk about them with my Relief Society President, if she was collecting data. Who talks about their underwear with a male church leader? If a bishop says that he has not heard of such issues, then he needs to get a clue. Of course, he hasn’t. I am so glad that I saw the survey. I wonder why it hasn’t been made more public.

  • Lyn

    Stop complaining about the complainers!

  • Steve

    Changes have occurred before and it feels like its time again to make minor changes that will help members feel more comfortable. We commit to wear our garments for the rest of our life. We should expect to be comfortable doing it.

    Here is a great historical timeline that reflects the changes. It’s interesting.

  • Steve

    Can you explain your intimacy issue? Does it stem from a low self esteem due to wearing the garments? My wife does not feel self confident as she feels like her garments reflect church ownership of her body. She also is embarrassed to discuss these feelings with our Bishop. She’s met with the Temple matron who was in her 80’s and didn’t understand her concern. She just kept telling her to endure and attend the temple frequently. Then suggested she talk with her husband, the temple president. She declined. These are real issues that don’t get discussed or resolved. She would be happy with only wearing them while attending the temple during the ceremony.

  • Sue

    I totally understand and agree with your wife. When I was first married, I felt like the church wanted me to hide my body because it was something of which to be ashamed. I still have some of those feelings, decades later. I wish your wife well.

  • Stephen T

    Wrong! A woman or man can speak with a Temple Matron about these issues.

  • Brooke

    Last year in a Stanford Institute class, I learned that anciently, a veil symbolized authority and power, and that that’s a likely correlation to women wearing a veil in the temple. It makes sense that there would be a different connotation, historically, than what we think of today.

  • Hedgehog

    I have no qualms about my garment neckline being seen. It definitely beats an additional layer. I haven’t been accused of sinning yet.

  • Hedgehog

    I also suggested unmarked garments should be available for trying on purposes.

  • Cheryl

    Hold up, you’re not supposed to cut the tags off??!! Oh, I am definitely taking that survey.

  • Ashley G

    Where did you find the link to the survey? I took it and it seems legit to me but I have some friends that feel I’ve been duped into a fake survey that is stealing my identity or something. Do you have a link to the page where you found the link for the survey?

  • Lewis Craig

    Intimacy issues? Take them off! Buy a nice negligee(s) if you are a woman. If you’re a man… put on or don’t put on whatever your wife wants. These things spice a marriage. Have some fun. I have a friend who has been a bishop twice and his wife has a nice supply of sweet nothings, or so I’ve been told. 🙂

  • Just Some Guy

    I asked for mens that are patterned for someone who is not fat, flabby and sedentary. The arm would fit King Noah in an Arnold Friberg painting and the legs fit Hershel Walker thighs even in a size 30.

    How ’bout some that are a lycra/ spandex compression style?

  • Jessica

    I did some research on garments and why they go dingy– turns out they don’t start out pure white– they’re an off white that has dyes added to them. Bleach will remove those dyes and leave behind dinginess. I’ve had fantastic success in getting whiter whites by using tide with bleach alternative (and as a side note, it gets stains out better than anything I’ve ever used, and I have a baby!). I also picked up a tip from somewhere and now I separate my truly white items from those that have gotten dingy or really dirty (socks!) and do separate loads. Makes a huge difference in keeping those white items white!

  • Joni

    Then why don’t the men cover their faces too? They have at least as much power as we do.

    I don’t automatically have a problem with the veiling… it’s incredibly annoying but I could live with it if there was ever a reason given for why we do it. But I have a real problem with the fact that it’s only the women who have to do it.

  • Sharee

    Thanks Jessica. I too had heard that they do not use white fabric to begin with, which seems rather stupid to me (and I said so on the survey). I do not use bleach. But I will get some Tide to see if that will help. I appreciate the suggestion. I am single, so the only whites I wash are mine. I don’t have enough to separate out my garments from other whites (I don’t wear white socks, anyway, so no dirty socks to mix with the other stuff), so that won’t wor for me, t I will try the Tide.

  • Will

    Honestly, I don’t find them very attractive. Dressing appropriately outside of the home is one thing, but I’d love nothing more than to see my wife in a cute bra and underwear or a tank top and shorts for bed. I wish I weren’t so visually oriented but those garments affect the libido. It’s difficult to expect men/me to suddenly be attracted to something foreign that I’ve never seen before.

  • Will

    Sure, it’s heaven when she takes them off and dons something sexier. I just miss the days when she was sexier 24/7, without even trying (cute bra/underwear vs. garments), compared to just when she makes a concerted effort to which is almost close to never.

  • Here, here! I actually addressed that issue directly! To be frank, I’m a card carrying member of the IBT club and those cup doohickey’s I have always referred to as “boob pockets” are completely insane on me. I don’t know what cup size they are meant for, but I’ve yet to meet a woman that doesn’t either have seams way under her breast or have those seams cut across her breast uncomfortably. I cheered for the camisole style tops and eagerly bought some. They tossed the lace (thanks for at least trying to make the garment pretty?) but went to the awful scoop neck. Unfortunately, they added a bunch of fabric so petite me suddenly had garment showing everywhere. I’ve since given up. If a tiny fraction shows, most people assume it’s just a cammi top. No kidding. I have had a few Mormon women act like I was super immodest, but heck, the guys get away with it all the time! If this top has to basically be so covering as to be seen with anything other than a crew neck tee-shirt, then can we at least cut the “immodest” shaming or add something gorgeous that will allow for it to be “seen” and not “questioned”? This would be fantastic!

    They got a lot of words from me including my offer to not only talk to them on the phone but drive the 2500 miles to SLC. (Which, FYI, I’ve done before over these cammi tops and the need for a full extra inch of fabric in the shoulders. I was told they could actually get me fitted garments, but it was a special order situation and I’d have to wait to have them made. I’m a Master Costumer in the International Costumer’s Guild and not afraid of a sewing machine, fabric, or even lack of a pattern, but they told me I couldn’t just make my own.)

  • Moirraine

    Pretty sad that the “survey” wasn’t sent to members – they HAVE OUR EMAILS.

    Pretty sad that the church has garments that can’t be whitened by any means.

    Pretty sad that not many aren’t going to be able to input anything because their “quota” is “filled’.

    This is baloney, they didn’t want real opinions at all.

  • Joy

    Totally agree with the last comment. The survey is no longer active. Who’s opinion did they really want after all? Agree with the fact that the church has our email and could’ve emailed this. I just happened to hear of the survey in passing and found this blog when I googled it. I might call headquarters tomorrow and tell them I want to take the survey that is no longer available.

  • Sue

    It is disappointing that the survey was so hush-hush. No one whom I talked to had heard about it. Robert Kirby’s column in the Trib was the most publicized news about it and the survey had ended by then. I was able to take the survey about 9 days ago, do I feel fortunate.

  • Moirraine

    They can and should be doing what all decent companies do, imprint anything needed onto the garment.

    Tags hurt – some, like me, have such sensitive skin that the first thing that comes out is the tag.

  • Regina Fillangie

    lol! Jana, you’re awesome! I’m glad to read about other FAITHFUL women who share the same thoughts and feelings and sometimes struggles. I’m also sad to read people who are NOT listening closely and are quick to judge.
    Thank you for your blog! 🙂

  • Sue

    When I went through the temple with my son before his mission, I don’t recall the Temple Matron saying anything about removing the tags or not. I’m not sure it’s a problem to remove the tags.

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  • Beth

    I have, much to the dismay of a few bishops, had no problem discussing at great length and in great detail my problem with garments. Some have been sympathetic and have said their wives felt the same. Some have indicated that since other “faithful” members have only expressed gratitude for the garments, I must be the problem. My current bishop has told me (and has gotten confirmation from the stake president) that altering the garments at all is verboten.

    Part of me hates the church I love so much for this challenge. Part of me is at least grateful that I am not burdened with whatever self-consciousness is preventing others from saying to bishops what they say to me and to other women. Maybe this is part of my patriarchal blessing promise, that I will be a peacemaker?

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  • Scott Roskelley

    Personally, I have no comment on women’s garments other than the following. In Bereshit Rabbah 20:12, it says that God gave Adam and Eve garments of light which were like a torch. I am in favor of getting rid entirely of the poorly designed garments and going to organic micro-bead, or transparent nano-particle based UV-light tattoos for the sacred markings. I also don’t think a marking over the navel is necessary since the navel itself is a divine natural marking and remembrance of how we were connected to our mothers through a cord rich in stem cells.

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  • Stephanie

    I’m a long-time garment wearer and I would like to see if the Church can add a “control-top” feature to our garment bottoms. Everyone I’ve mentioned this to has agreed. I’m not vain, I just know that since wearing garments (over 10 years ago), my body has developed a “pooch” that it never had before. Regular underwear somehow taught my body to “hold it in”, while garments are more of a “let it all hang out”. I’ve also had a couple of kids in the last few years, so my body is now begging for it. If anyone can pass this along to the proper person (since the survey is closed), I’d really appreciate it 🙂

  • Sharee

    Even though the survey is close you can still put in comments–at least you still could a couple of days ago. I like to wear my garments snug so everything doesn’t flop around. However, I think your idea is a good one. Until they do, try the Carinessa (not sure of the spelling). It’s part spandex, so helps with holding stuff in.

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  • Sarah

    Your logging of the complaint about the complaint has truly just made my day. 🙂