it's modesty shirt season
a sartorial safety net for hiding tattoos, riding public transit, and following dress codes
I’m spending the weekend staying over at my family’s house, which means I have to hide all my tattoos. It’s also a heat wave weekend so you can imagine my despair at figuring out what to wear. I packed some loose jeans and alimony pants to cover my ankle + leg tats. For torso coverage: two thin cardigans, two tank tops, and my go-to modesty shirt: a thin cotton long sleeve button down from Chelsea Mak (unfortunately sold out). I KNOW I packed it, I remember throwing it inside a bicolor insulated grocery store bag along with pickleball gear and a ziploc of kibble.
But now I can’t find it. So I’ve been stuck in a knit cotton cardigan, trying to sit in the coolest room in the house as each hour passes, my face appearing more febrile and damp as the afternoon heat mounted. I’ve retraced my steps, checked the car, but my modesty shirt is nowhere to be found. At the time I needed it most.
The modesty shirt is essential because while it might not be your favorite/most interesting piece to wear, there will be a highly specific use case where you’re gonna wish you had it:
covering up to decrease chances of unwanted attention public transit (in this application it becomes a subway shirt)
protecting your bare skin from sticking onto public transit seats
following dress codes in religious/cultural/social spaces
Ideally, the shirt is lightweight so you can stuff it inside your bag and withstand hot weather. An invisibility cloak you can easily transition in and out of.
Right now I’m so close to driving to the closest TJMaxx and buying the first linen long sleeve top I can find. But I also don’t want to be overly obvious about why I need to cover up skin, not trying to get asked too many questions you know? I still have no idea where my modesty shirt went but I hope it will turn up. If it doesn’t, here are five replacements I’m contemplating (+ 4th of July sales that apply to some).
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