Probably one of the best parts about preparing for a mission (aside from the scripture and Preach My Gospel study, of course) is clothes shopping. Since the change in missionary dress and grooming standards (girls can wear color and patterns now!), shopping for mission clothes has become an absolute joy. What girl doesn’t like shopping right?
Well… the joy of shopping is slightly lessened when you can’t find anything even remotely long enough or modest enough. Sigh… Mormon girl problems.
As if the missionary/Mormon standards weren’t enough, I have my height adding to the problem (Lauren Nef – turning dresses into shirts since 1995).
But never to fear – for I have some missionary shopping pro-tips (put to the test by actual missionaries) that are guaranteed to give you the best, fashion-forward missionary wardrobe you could ever asked for.
Step 1: Do Some Research
It can be overwhelming to simply start the shopping phase without even knowing what you want. Look around the church missionary website, browse Pinterest and Polyvore, and even look at the girls in church to find some inspiration. Think about what colors/patterns/styles look good together and which ones would look good on you.
Step 2: Be Bold
Don’t be afraid to take risks with your style. Yes, missionaries are not supposed to wear faddish or distracting clothing, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear a black skirt and white button-up all the time. The church wants you to look fashionable, professional, and put-together. Try on stuff that you aren’t sure about, pair a bright color with a pattern – find your signature style. If you have trouble styling yourself, see step one.
Step 3: Shop Smart
For the love of all that is good and holy – do NOT start shopping at expensive stores first.
I made this mistake – spent a lot of money at Macy’s and other stores when I could have bought all of my stuff for a fraction of the price elsewhere. Specifically: at a thrift store. By far, I have had more shopping success at thrift stores than at any other store. Lots of vintage (i.e. LONG), durable skirts and cheap blouses – run ’em through the washer a couple times et viola! Fashion-forward outfit.
You could also ask your RM friends if they have any clothes that they do not want (believe me – after 18 months of wearing the same clothing, they are bound to want to get rid of something).
Step 4: Function over Form
While you want to be bold and cute and smart, you also have to keep in mind the work you have set out to do. Yes, I know it is adorable on you, but that linen skirt will not stand up to the wear and tear of 18-month missionary service. Whilst shopping, go for durable, washable, wrinkle-free fabrics. Some of these include: polyester, nylon, acrylic, wool (make sure it is pre-shrunk), flannel, and cotton blends.
For shoes – no, you do not have to wear clunky, old-lady shoes, but you also don’t want to wear dinky, little, patent-leather flats. Find shoes that you can wear all day without any discomfort. Break them in before you leave so that you make make any necessary adjustments (like adding insoles or heel slips).
Here are some additional tips from real RMs:
- “Pockets [in skirts] will save your life!” – Sarah K., Michigan Lansing Mission
- “I shopped mainly at the thrift store for my mission, which meant that I wasn’t heartbroken when something wore out. I also took a lot of clothes that I already had because I was already comfortable wearing them.” – Caroline U., Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission
- “Mind you, you will be wearing [your clothes] for almost 2 years, so make sure you would be okay with each of those things for that long.” – Ashley N., Italy Rome Mission
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed right now, I understand. But allow me to let you in on a little secret:
Your clothes don’t matter.
Nope, they don’t. So you don’t need to worry about it. Yeah you want to look professional and all, but people are going to be listening to your beautiful message, not critiquing your clothes.
So have fun shopping! Then get back to studying the scriptures and Preach My Gospel.
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