Quakers consider “plain dress” in Second Life

At The Click Heard Round the World:

Historically, Quakers have tried to set themselves apart from others by wearing more modest, simple clothing, what we called “Plain Dress.”  Now that Quakers are getting more active in virtual spaces like Second Life, how does our testimony of Simplicity and Plain Dress translate in this electronic realm? …

Today only a small percentage of Quakers practice this form of “radical” Plain Dress.  Many other Quakers realized that strict Plain Dress in itself could be seen as a form of pride and ostentation, since it makes you stand out from the crowd in any modern environment.  But still many Quakers practice some form of Plain Dress, whether it is simply abstaining from the latest, expensive fashion fads or wearing the most utilitarian clothing for whatever they are doing.

In the virtual world, there are no clear guides or precedents.  My Second Life avatar, for the cost of a few pennies, can wear what appears to be an Armani suit, with blinged-out rings, necklace and watch.  Does that make me ostentatious or just one of the crowd of similarly kipped out newbies? …

I don’t know any easy answers to these questions.  For me, the testimony of Simplicity is not so much about my outward appearance. It’s about not letting my thoughts and desires around these material and virtual possessions supercede my quest to be a more loving, centered, spirit-led person, in whatever world I happen to be inhabiting.

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2 thoughts on “Quakers consider “plain dress” in Second Life”

  1. Greetings f/Friend,
    I have been living out my convictions in plain dress for four years. For me it is a leading, tho I resisted and struggled with it for two years before submitting. So many miracles and blessings have come out of my leap of faith. It has affected my entire life (of course!). If you are familiar with Quaker practice, you know about listening to that still, small voice. That voice finally convinced me with this message: “Would you have the lighthouse look like the rocks?” Since coming out plain, many, many ships tossed on the stormy seas have found shelter with me. I am ridiculously easy to spot anywhere I go. People come to me for prayer, sharing sorrows, asking for help, or to just safely be human and vulnerable, even my fellow Friends. Plain dress for me is part of a call to ministry. I think it must first be an inner movement of the Spirit that then affects an outward change. There are no hard and fast guidelines or rules about the articles of clothing. It has never been about that. If you feel that this is the direction God is leading you in, ask for a clearness committee and try it out. Blessings,LD.

  2. Do I as a Friend dress for myself, or for others? Is “plain dress” something that I alone benefit from (however I define it) or can it be used as a witness and “teaching tool” to benefit others as well ? Is “blending in” visibly with “the world” , albeit plainly, the only logical outcome of embracing a faith which in so many ways goes against the grain of the world?

    Plain dress with a definite “Quaker” aspect to it is, I think, a good thing. It can unite us as a group, remind us of our path, free us from silly fashion related choices, and make us distinct in the world. We are already distinct from the “mainstream” in many ways. Being set apart by dress seems (to me) to go hand and hand with this. I have never understood why some Friends have no problem in setting them selves apart from “society” in a spiritual, inner manner, but don’t want to do the same thing in a visible one.

    I am no less an individual because I wear Quaker garb, and my mode of dress allows me in some ways to transcend self-orientedness and identify with the group that I am a part of. Why should not people, when seeing me on the street, think or say, “There goes a Friend.”?

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