“Dressing modestly doesn’t mean being frumpy”

Hoping to inspire girls and women to dress in a way that doesn’t compromise their convictions regarding modesty and yet not making them feel “frumpy” or unattractive, Charity Jewell Walter launched Dainty Jewell’s in 2010. Walter, who grew up in North Carolina, aims to provide modest clothing for women across the United States and abroad.

Walter tells FashionUnited why Dainty Jewell’s remains dedicated to providing affordable, modest clothing. She believes that dressing modestly is more than a fashion statement and dressing with ladylike class is a privilege all women should have access to.

FashionUnited: When was Dainty Jewell's launched and what was the idea behind launching a modest line of clothing?

Charity Jewell Walter: I launched Dainty Jewell’s in October 2009 on Facebook, when I was only sixteen years old. At the very beginning, I mostly embellished and upcycled clothes and made hair accessories. It wasn’t until the summer of 2010 that I actually launched my first clothing collection. It consisted of unique, one-of-a-kind items and upcycled skirts, tops, and dresses.

Can you tell us more about the company and Dainty Jewell's label?

After my original collection was released, the demand for my pieces became high enough that I had to go from using one seamstress I’d personally hired to expand to a production that now exceeds 80,000 pieces of clothing per year. We’ve had the privilege of providing bridesmaid dresses for thousands of weddings around the country and the world.

The embellishments, ruffles, and detail I used for my first few garments inspire the ruffles, bows, and detail I still use today. I tend to be inspired by earlier eras such as the 1930s-50s, as so many designs of that era were naturally modest. You’ll find pieces with a vintage flare in just about every collection I release.

To date, Dainty Jewell’s has released 14 collections, one spring and one fall per year, with a new spring collection coming in mid-March! It’s been so exciting to see our presence grow, especially over the past few years. Our social media platforms combined have almost 200k followers to date.

“Dressing modestly doesn’t mean being frumpy”

Is the label only available online? How do you plan to expand Dainty Jewell's' presence in the near future?

As of now, we are almost entirely online at www.daintyjewells.com, though I would love to expand into physical stores someday! We do travel to various conferences and events across the country throughout the year, which gives customers a chance to see the designs in person beforehand and is great for those who prefer to try on before they buy.

We also have a “modestwear party” program where hostesses can have Dainty Jewell’s parties with friends and family from the comfort of their own homes.

What are Dainty Jewell's collections like?

We carry modest styles for women in sizes S-3X and for little girls in sizes 2-16. Many of these styles are perfect for weddings, formal events, and as bridesmaid dresses, but a significant portion of our pieces can easily be dressed up or down for less formal events or even for everyday wear. In addition to our regular selection of girls’ and women’s apparel, we also have a modest swimwear collection, a new basics line we plan to expand, and the “couture” collection: high-quality, exclusive dresses made of premier fabrics with stunning detail.

What has been the consumer response to Dainty Jewell? Is it aimed at customers of of a particular faith?

We’re finding that consumers of many faiths and beliefs value modesty, and it’s been so exciting to see that. I believe that women in our generation are really beginning to see how classy it is to dress modestly and that dressing modestly doesn’t mean being frumpy. We get lots of comments and feedback from followers and consumers telling us how much they appreciate our designs and our company visions to see modesty gain ground. We’ve even had fathers express to us how grateful they are that their daughters have the option of purchasing clothing that keeps them appropriately covered.

“Dressing modestly doesn’t mean being frumpy”

What is the current turnover of Dainty Jewell's? How do you aim to increase sales and where do you foresee Dainty Jewell's five years down the line?

I definitely see us continuing to grow! We’ve had so many neat opportunities lately, including being featured in USA Today’s article “Modest Fashion Has You Covered.” I’m excited about many future possibilities, including releasing a modest bridal gown line, opening retail locations, and being able to provide clothing more often in the event of humanitarian crises and to children in developing countries.

Actually, my biggest dream is to have Dainty Jewell’s be involved in starting an orphanage in one of these countries. As of right now, we are building a brand-new warehouse that will offer so much more space, functionality, and flexibility than what we have currently.

There is a vast difference between faith and fashion. Fashion is said to be consumerist but faith is in a way against consumerism. How does modest fashion deal with this issue?

My faith is based on the Bible, and dressing modestly is taught as a direct principle in I Timothy 2:9, among other passages. Modesty itself is foremost an attitude: it’s the way a woman carries herself, thinks of herself, and prefers others to herself in humility. A lifestyle of modesty is one of respect. I believe that a woman respects her husband by saving herself for him alone, and she respects other men—and their wives—by covering her body in a way that doesn’t attract inappropriate attention.

“Dressing modestly doesn’t mean being frumpy”

Dressing modestly and providing modest fashion is a way I honor God—first, by showing ‘Him’ that I take the call to modesty seriously, and second, by making modest fashion more readily available so that other women who want to honor God in this way have a means to do so. I love taking the natural gifts and resources that God has given me and using them to promote the biblical principle of modesty. I feel that our culture as a whole doesn’t value modesty, so without the modest fashion industry, a lot of women would have a difficult time finding apparel that aligns with their faith, values, and convictions.

While the fashion world is very consumerist, fashion is not just a trend or a fashion statement for me and many of my customers. Even if overall public interest in the modest fashion industry dies away, we will still choose to dress modestly.

What do you think of the current state of modest fashion with a lot of brands and designers getting into this segment?

It seems the modest fashion industry is definitely on an upward trend recently, and I’m excited to see that more people are enjoying dressing modestly and realizing how classy it really is. It’s my hope that this trend continues for a long time to come!

Where according to you is modest fashion headed with controversies surrounding the attire vis-à-vis western brands creating dedicated modest fashion collections?

I believe we’ll continue to see a growing interest in modest fashion as women begin to see dressing modestly as a way to respect themselves, be classy, and for some, reflect their faith. We want to see modest fashion spread worldwide! It’s not just about brand; it’s about working together to make fashionable, modest clothing available worldwide.

Pictures: Dainty Jewell's company