Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Please Stop Buying Cheap Clothes


Have you ever wondered how Walmart charges $13.98 (or $3 if you catch the clearance rack!) for a dress that looks very similar to one you would pay $49.95 for at L.L. Bean? Until the last few weeks, I always thought paying more for a garment was just paying for a slight quality increase and the brand name. So, as I strived to be about the heart and not about the look, it seemed immodest to pay for the name brand. I chalked H&M's low prices up to the fact that they bought in such high quantities they were able to get garments made for pennies. I never even thought of asking the question, "Who made my clothes?"

Even when I started my own clothing line last year and was shocked at how much it cost to get a garment made here in the U.S., I thought it was because I was paying in dollars and not Chinese yen that made it so expensive. 


With all our modern technologies, there are a lot of ways that clothing manufacturing can be made streamlined with cutting machines, conveyor belts, ultra-fast needles, whatever-- but there is still a human doing the bulk of the creation of that garment. In so. many. factories, that person is barely getting paid a living wage to work long days because the industry of cheap, quickly produced, throw-away fashion drives these factory owners to take on huge orders for too little money. Unfortunately, in this fast fashion system, as one Bangladeshi factory owner said, "Something has to give; it is often the safety and pay of the workers." 

I hesitate to generalize, because I know each factory, each company, each business, is run differently and has different standards, but the vast majority of dirt cheap clothing sold to us is sewn in a country where the labor laws are not enforced, where they allow massive chemical dumping in the rivers, and where oftentimes it is nearly impossible to track the supply chain because of all the politics and liabilities. 

The more I learn about this, the more I am disgusted, discouraged, and ready to hunker down and weave my own flax clothing. 

I'm disgusted with all the lies I've believed as a 21st century American. We expect things to be cheap, easy-to-come-by, and wrapped in plastic. Y'all, we are so far removed from the source of what we consume that we assume chicken grows in the freezer section.

I'm discouraged because I know there are millions of people who are mindlessly buying into the idea, just like I did, that a red sweater from Old Navy is going to make them smile bigger this Christmas season and have no clue they are contributing to a world-wide humanitarian disaster

I've had lots of people tell me my Fresh Apparel skirts are way overpriced... and until recently, I was apologetic about having created a product that by necessity had to have what I would call a "high end" price tag. But the reality is, I'm charging just enough to recoup my costs of Texas-grown cotton and working with a facility in Tennessee who actually takes care of their workers. What that factory owner said in The True Cost documentary about the worker's wage being squeezed in a business really hit home for me, because I'm not charging for my labor in custom-hemming every order that comes through FreshApparel.us. Some skirts I've spent over 8 hours working on... I can't imagine having the pressure of supporting a family by creating a garment for pennies.

I'm so blessed in my own situation, so burdened for this industry, and so not okay with buying tanks for $1.80 from Forever 21 anymore. What I used to think was an awesome resource for us budget-conscious shoppers now sickens my stomach and makes me question what other things I am completely naive about. 

So many of us are willing to pay extra for naturally-grown, local food-- yet we don't even question how a pair of jeans that has traveled halfway around the globe to our Walmart is the same price as a family-sized frozen lasagna. 

"Oh, don't tell me what's in it, just let me enjoy it!" I'm sorry, but where another life is concerned, that oh-so-american-consumerism attitude is seriously selfish. I admit this as someone who for the last 10 years has been addicted to fast fashion, new clothes, and awesome deals. I can't change how I've spent my money in the past, but I can and will be drastically changing how I evaluate, purchase, recommend, and curate clothing in the future.

If you haven't watched The True Cost yet, watch it free on Netflix or dig some quarters out of the couch and rent it on Amazon.  Please.

I walked around for awhile in a crazy mad confused helpless daze when all this really sank in, so in my next post I'll be sharing suggestions for how we can take immediate steps towards being a conscious promoter of ethical fashion... still on a budget, still modestly, and still with excellence. 

We cannot ignore this. 
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Monday, August 24, 2015

Review | Mikarose

Happy day! I hope y'all have started your week off with some energy, joy, and goal setting! 

Mikarose was kind enough to send me their Ivy Dress in Eggplant to review. I recently realized that I love wearing dark purple because it works for so many seasons and occasions.

 This dress is well made, flattering, and cut in a way that it's not too tight, yet not too loose. The wide pleated skirt style is timeless and on trend right now. I love that the Ivy Dress has no zippers or buttons-- just toss it on and go! No tanks to layer, no slips necessary.

It hits at the perfect spot below my knee so I'm not worried about it. (The twirl in the above picture makes it look shorter than it is)
For church, I paired it with my sister's awesome scarf, brown boots, and a burgundy fedora. My sister Emma wore it with cowboy boots and sparkly jewelry to a show at The Grand Ol' Opry and looked super cute. I shared on Instagram last week how I dressed this down for fellowship after church: 



Mikarose has a ton of gorgeous dresses. I didn't realize how "fallish" this outfit is until blogging it, ha! As I try to build a smaller wardrobe, this dress is gonna be a keeper. It's just so simple and easy. 

Y'all have a wonderful week! Do you have a favorite dress silhouette? 
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The 5 Things Currently Influencing My Style

Hey y'all! I'm not sure if it's my upcoming 23rd birthday, the encouragement I received at the Modest Fashion Guild, watching The True Cost, or a combination of all three, but I have been seriously evaluating, purging, and researching my wardrobe recently in a way that I never have before.

(I love this painting by Pino Daeni, since I have sisters and two blonde-headed brothers)

 I wanted to spend a minute informally articulating 5 things that are currently influencing how I am curating my closet:

  1. Easy-to-wear: I'm done with the days of safety-pinning my clothes into place so they don't shift awkwardly. I'm done with pouffy tiered skirts, stretching out shirts, heels that squeak. Life is too short to hold on to mediocre clothing or items that don't make you feel awesome. 
  2. Ethical: I am absolutely appalled at the (albeit limited) research I've done into how clothing can be sold for so little at places like Forever 21, H&M, and Gap. After spending most of my spring and summer providing skirts for women, I've realized just how much work it is to create a garment. A factory owner in The True Cost was speaking about working with companies who wanted items cheaper and cheaper and he said something along the lines of "There are only so many places you can cut costs to make a garment for $3, and so you end up taking it out of the workers' pay." I know this first hand as I'm barely breaking even on the Errand #17 skirt... and I'm certainly not charging $3/item. I will not be buying new from any non-ethically-sourced companies anymore; instead opting for second-hand or smaller companies who have a passion for better practices in the fashion industry.
  3. Looking my age: Now that I'm closer to 30 than 13, I'm deliberately evaluating certain styles/prints/hairdos/ensembles in order to appear less juvenile. This is a little tricky as a stay-at-home daughter (still with blonde hair and freckles) since I'm not needing to dress up for a corporate job and because I'm not doing that whole "you're an adult now show some skin to prove it" thing. 
  4. Show that I know what I'm talking about: Along the lines of looking my age, I'm also keenly aware of the fact that there are a lot of people watching me. Blog readers, girls at church, the men at the hardware store-- whether I'm comfortable with it or not, what I'm wearing says something. As a business owner, church-goer, and blogger, I should look professional, presentable, and personable at all times. I've definitely been slipping in this area the past two years since I've been sick and fatigued, but that is no excuse. [have to be honest though-- I spent all day yesterday in a t-shirt and yoga pants, praying for the strength to shower]
  5. Classy: I feel like the genuine mid-40s southern woman has exactly the poise I would like to see in myself. Just enough jewelry, just enough confidence, just enough care, just enough educated simplicity, just enough posture, just enough hair pouf that you don't necessarily notice it in the moment, but it stays in the back of your brain all day long. Maybe it goes against the "A lady never tells" southern belle rule to reveal this aim of mine, but I have to be candid with you, my dear reader. 
More than ever, I want to be deliberate. I'm tired of too many clothes, too many choices, so much variety that I don't have a "look". I'm ready to sincerely simplify. I don't expect anyone else to share these "influences"... this is just what's personally affecting me right now. :) 

My brain has been explooooding the last few weeks with thoughts, dreams, and heavy heart issues that I hope to share with you over time. I would love to hear what things you've been learning about or inspired by lately that are showing in your wardrobe! 
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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Tunics All Summer Long

 Hey y'all! How are you? It's been another long week of skirt hemming and documentary watching here.

 One documentary in particular, "The True Cost", really opened my eyes to an area of our world that I must do my part to change. I'm hoping to flesh out my thoughts for a post on it soon, but it's proving hard to condense into something that y'all would actually read. :P

 This Karen Kane tunic has been a favorite of mine this summer. It's comfortable, cool, and easy to wear. Plus, with that awesome print, you can't tell if I get anything on it that stains. :}

// outfit details \\
Karen Kane Tunic: $21.99 from ThredUP
American Eagle Artist cut jeans: $13.99 from ThredUP
Flipflops: Target years ago
Tunic: $1.90 from Forever 21


I often get asked if I have naturally curly or straight hair... well, here we have my undone hair. It's straight with a little bit of texture, but definitely no curl. It's been a while since I've had it cut and now it's at a weird length that it doesn't lay right without fixing it some way, so I have it pulled back most days.

What have you been up to this week? Have you seen "The True Cost" yet?

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

5 Reasons You Should Learn To Sew

Hey y'all! One of the most frequent things I hear whenever I share something on Fresh Modesty that I have made myself is, "Oh, I wish I knew how to sew!" or "If only I could sew like you!"


I feel the same way when I see someone has beautiful handwriting or has -yet again- pulled off cooking for a crowd of 75 with grace. But I firmly believe that every skill can be learned with enough effort. After much practice, my handwriting may look wispier than originally intended and I may realize it's more my style to do chili instead of pizza for a crowd, but nonetheless, I've acquired a skill that is incredibly useful, worth the effort, and is a big blessing to others. So, if scrolling through Pinterest isn't enough motivation for you, here are my top 5 reasons every woman should learn to sew:

  1. Tailored clothes should not be a thing of the past. I don't know exactly where along the line we adopted the mindset that clothing should fit right off the rack, but I do know this is a fairly modern concept and frankly just causes frustration, messed up body image, and a generation of women obsessed with yoga pants. Sewing allows you to either adjust ready-made clothing to better suit your body or to create custom garments that put your best foot forward. 
  2. Modest dressing is so much easier. Being able to adjust shoulders, necklines, hemlines, and weird trims to fit our personal standards makes life just that much smoother. It also encourages me towards excellence by not just throwing up my hands and layering awkwardly out of frustration.  
  3. Formal wear is more economical. Truth is, fabric is pretty expensive these days. But when it comes to formal wear, you can still make a modest dress cheaper than you can easily buy it, even from overseas. 
  4. The math/ geometry/ handiwork/ critical thinking skills translate throughout life. I've never been naturally good at math, but the practical application of sewing has really helped me better understand complicated concepts. Becoming more skilled at working with your hands is always a good thing. 
  5. Sewing your own clothes (or altering second-hand) makes you less dependent on Fast Fashion, sweat shops, and global economies. The more I learn about the $70 billion/year industry that fashion is, the more I am motivated to take a step back and get out of department store shopping. 
Being real, sewing can be easy but often it is just plain gritty hard work. It hurts your back, it boggles your mind, it can be inconvenient, there's "wasted" fabric and time. But girls, it is so so so so so rewarding. 

I'm writing about this today because a picture from 2010 popped up in TimeHop this morning that reminded me about the lengths I used to go to get sewing time in. 


I was making a tunic top from a dress (more details here). Watching my baby brother who was just old enough to make a huge mess of my sewing area of course made it more challenging, but you know what? That hour and a half or so yielded a tunic that my sisters and I have worn a hundred times over the last 5 years. 

I may be sliiiightly more naturally inclined towards sewing than some other girls, but the misconception that my skills have come easy to me is way off base. I've just put in the work. 

It is one of my goals in life to see sewing become normal again. I've created two resources already, "Creating Custom Swimwear" and "How To Sew Denim", and don't be surprised if you see more from me in the future. ;) 

Whatch'all think? Do you sew? Do you find it useful? 

Oh, and P.S.-- I'm hosting a sewing camp at our guest house September 28th-October 1st, 2015. There are two more spots available-- email me at FreshModesty@gmail.com if you're interested! 
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Monday, August 3, 2015

Instagram Recap | Summer So Far

Hey y'all! I hope you're having a wonderful week! Although blogging has slacked off for me in recent months, I've been posting pretty consistently on instagram.com/freshmodesty. I thought I'd share a few of my favorite outfits from the past 12 weeks or so. :)



A photo posted by Olivia Howard (@freshmodesty) on

A photo posted by Olivia Howard (@freshmodesty) on


A photo posted by Olivia Howard (@freshmodesty) on


A photo posted by Olivia Howard (@freshmodesty) on



A photo posted by Olivia Howard (@freshmodesty) on
I'd love to follow you on Instagram, too! Leave a comment on one of my instagram pics saying you read this blog post so I can follow you back! :)
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Friday, July 31, 2015

Sponsors | July

Hey y'all! I SO miss talking with y'all on a more frequent basis! I'm hoping things will calm down and I'll learn how to manage my time better so that I can be here more than once a week in the near future. As it is, it's time for this month's sponsor post! These companies help fund the work of Fresh Modesty and they are really worth checking out, as they are wonderful resources!

I had an opportunity to meet Cindy Fowler of Modesty4Me.com at the Modest Fashion Guild Conference last week and was so blessed by the information she shared with us! For USA-made, high-quality, small-business camis, Cindy's are at an incredible price point...jsyk. :)



Kerem Creations offers unique Messianic Judaica made by Daniel Sayag, born and raised in Israel, and a lover and teacher of God's Word. Kerem Creations was born out of a love of the Word of God and working with wood. There is power in the Word of God, and many promises of hope and encouragement. As we surround ourselves and our loved ones with these promises, our spirits are uplifted, and we gain new strength. Kerem Creations is located in Israel, and all wood products are printed and/or engraved in Israel in Hebrew, sometimes combined with a second language.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any special verse that you would like engraved/printed for you or someone you would like to bless. 
Shalom from Israel!" 




Handcrafted headcoverings, hair scarves, & accessories for women and girls! Our products are the results of sisters who enjoy working together from home to provide quality, handcrafted items for the glory of the Lord. We are always busy inventing, renovating, and exploring to find new twists to put to old favorites.


Hello all! My name is Willa, and for several years now I have been making and selling jewelry. I recently opened this Droplette Jewelry Etsy shop and am excited to start providing cute, fashionable, but affordable jewelry to girls striving to be modest for the Lord. For a limited time, you can use the coupon code SummerSavings015 to get $5 off your $15 purchase! Like my page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/droplette?fref=ts) to get exclusive deals.




The Head Covering Movement is a campaign that seeks to spark a return to the practice of head covering during corporate Christian worship. We post articles, sermons and video teachings on this topic. We also link to discussions around the web where people are talking about head covering and share testimonies of women who practice this symbol. To learn more about HCM you visit us at http://www.headcoveringmovement.com or watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dK0maTIKDk "






Modesty4me.com is a one woman company from Texas that makes and sells one of the only high neck line camis on the market. These high neck line camis fill the bill when other camis don't. If you are tired of tugging at your cami, or if you tighten the straps so much that it rubs under your arms; this is the solution you have been searching for. Two new modesty items will be introduced this year. Modesty4Me camis are made in USA.

You can read my review of Modesty4Me here.




If you've been reading Fresh Modesty for any length of time, you know I am one of Halftee's biggest fans. They have completely changed the way I can layer to make things more modest and have greatly simplified my closet. If you ever ask me a question about layering, my first response is going to be, "Well, do you have a Halftee yet?" ;)

Thanks for supporting Fresh Modesty!
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Friday, July 24, 2015

ThredUP Style Shops

This post contains affiliate links.


Hey y'all! thredUP has recently launched a super exciting feature on their website called "Style Shops". Basically, it allows me to easily put in one place all the clothes on their site that I think you might be interested in! This means that if you haven't tried this online consignment shop yet because they just have SO many pages of cute clothes, now you can scroll through a curated selection of garments that I think are either modest on their own or could be stylishly layered with a Halftee (click here for a 30% off coupon at Halftee.com!)!

I'm so excited. I've wanted to be able to do this forever because thredUP is a goldmine of deals on high-quality clothes, but I know it can be hardish to scroll through 6,533 skirts in your size looking for that perfect one! Since I'm scouring thredUP often anyway, now I can share what I find with y'all. It is a consignment situation, so they don't carry the same items all the time and things go quickly!




If you haven't ordered from ThredUP yet, you can CLICK HERE for $20 off your first purchase! If you have ordered before, please use THIS LINK  instead.

About 95% of all my clothes have come from ThredUP over the past two years. And, they recently introduced an awesome return policy, soooo yeah. I think y'all know I wouldn't share this with you if I didn't think it'd be a blessing to you. I hope you find some things you've been needing in my style shops! Check back often because I will be adding stuff frequently. Blessings!

  Thredup Inc.
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Monday, July 13, 2015

Sequins + Lace

Hey y'all! I'm really missing blogging more than once a week! 

Once again yesterday I was running behind for church. A maxi skirt, t-shirt with sequins, and a structured denim jacket is a pretty no-brainer combination. 

// outfit details //
Old Navy denim jacket: Thrift store: $3
Torn by Ronny Kobo brand skirt: ThredUP: $25.99
Boots you totally can't see: ThredUP

I finally learned my lesson after weeks and weeks of turning into an ice cube during church to wear a long skirt, boots, and bring a thick jacket... and I was still chilly when the air would kick on! 

Will any of you be at the Modest Fashion Guild conference this weekend? I'm working on my talks right now... too much to say and I have two hours! I'll be back next week with a report of how that went and what I packed... I *think* I'll be able to get it all in a carry on. ;)

Y'all have a great week! What's something you're looking forward to?
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Monday, July 6, 2015

Tangerine + Lace

Hey y'all! I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July! I've had a very full, joyful weekend. :)

I wore this outfit to church back in the early spring when all the grass was just coming in... that's why it's so bright in these pictures! :P 

// outfit details //
Shirt: Our Thrift Store, $3
Tank: JCPenny's, $4
Skirt: ThredUP
Heels: Kmart, $25

If you don't follow Fresh Modesty on Instagram, you should be! I'm hosting a giveaway with a bunch of other modest fashion instagrammers for 3 $100 gift cards and a Fresh Modesty eBook of your choice! :) Ends July 8th, so don't wait too long! 

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Sponsors | May-June

Hey y'all! I hope you're having an excellent week. I'm here to highlight the companies you've been seeing on the sidebar here for a while, to remind you to check them out!

Hello all! My name is Willa, and for several years now I have been making and selling jewelry. I recently opened this Droplette Jewelry Etsy shop and am excited to start providing cute, fashionable, but affordable jewelry to girls striving to be modest for the Lord. For the month of June, all necklaces in my store have free shipping. Also, I'm having a sale on all Independence Day jewelry, marked red, white and blue. Like my page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/droplette?fref=ts) to get exclusive deals.




Kerem Creations offers unique Messianic Judaica made by Daniel Sayag, born and raised in Israel, and a lover and teacher of God's Word. Kerem Creations was born out of a love of the Word of God and working with wood. There is power in the Word of God, and many promises of hope and encouragement. As we surround ourselves and our loved ones with these promises, our spirits are uplifted, and we gain new strength. Kerem Creations is located in Israel, and all wood products are printed and/or engraved in Israel in Hebrew, sometimes combined with a second language.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any special verse that you would like engraved/printed for you or someone you would like to bless. 
Shalom from Israel!" 





Handcrafted headcoverings, hair scarves, & accessories for women and girls! Our products are the results of sisters who enjoy working together from home to provide quality, handcrafted items for the glory of the Lord. We are always busy inventing, renovating, and exploring to find new twists to put to old favorites.




The Head Covering Movement is a campaign that seeks to spark a return to the practice of head covering during corporate Christian worship. We post articles, sermons and video teachings on this topic. We also link to discussions around the web where people are talking about head covering and share testimonies of women who practice this symbol. To learn more about HCM you visit us at http://www.headcoveringmovement.com or watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dK0maTIKDk "






Modesty4me.com is a one woman company from Texas that makes and sells one of the only high neck line camis on the market. These high neck line camis fill the bill when other camis don't. If you are tired of tugging at your cami, or if you tighten the straps so much that it rubs under your arms; this is the solution you have been searching for. Two new modesty items will be introduced this year. Modesty4Me camis are made in USA.

You can read my review of Modesty4Me here.




If you've been reading Fresh Modesty for any length of time, you know I am one of Halftee's biggest fans. They have completely changed the way I can layer to make things more modest and have greatly simplified my closet. If you ever ask me a question about layering, my first response is going to be, "Well, do you have a Halftee yet?" ;)

Thanks for supporting Fresh Modesty!
Read More

Monday, June 22, 2015

Reader Round-Up | Your Deodorant Suggestions!

Hey y'all! Wow, thank you for comments on the last post! I mentioned that I hadn't found an aluminum free deodorant that worked for me yet and y'all really came through with suggestions via email, FB messages, comments on that post, even Instagram! I thought I'd just round them up here in a simple list for my own benefit and anyone else who is trying to make the switch.




Reading the ingredients for some of this has given me some ideas... I'll report back in a month to share what I've tried! :) Thank you all again for your sharing what you use, I really appreciate it!
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