Merlene Davis: Appropriate dress and self-esteem are fashionable

Laura DeMoor is one of the seven young stylists who will compete in the Step By Step design contest.
Laura DeMoor is one of the seven young stylists who will compete in the Step By Step design contest.

I used to think it might be because I'm getting older and turning into my mother. Now, I'm not so sure.

Regardless, I am continually surprised by the inappropriate attire some women wear on occasions that require a more modest touch.

I've attended a couple of funerals in recent weeks and witnessed tops that revealed far too much and a few skirts that barely hid a bottom.

Apparently midriffs have given up the fight altogether and have chosen to live free and unencumbered by cloth of any kind.

Who is serving as the full-length mirror for these women? Who is telling our sisters that dressing like hoochie mammas is only acceptable if they are heading to a dark dive of ill-repute?

Perhaps these women could take a few lessons from the founders, board members and volunteers at Step By Step Inc. The non-profit agency offers support, encouragement and Christian direction for young unwed mothers. SBS is always looking for ways to improve the self-esteem of its participants by emphasizing their inner beauty rather than concentrating on their outer looks.

Because of a shortage of donations similar to what all non-profits face, the group needed a fund-raising event and came up with "Step into Beautiful," a fashion show that includes a contest similar to the wildly popular Lifetime series Project Runway.

The contest will highlight the creative talents of future designers.

"It has been so much fun," said Susan Freeman, SBS president and co-founder. "It is a great mother-daughter event and teen event. Some of the graduates of Step By Step and their children will be in the fashion show. I am so excited."

The outfits in the fashion show, and those styled by the seven winning contestants, will be trendy and modest at the same time, she said.

What a concept.

The group solicited stylists and designers who were 14 to 18 years old and asked them to create an ensemble from their own closets that could be worn with confidence and grace.

The winners were asked to dress and accessorize a model. That overall look, including the model's hairstyle, which the contestants will supervise, will be judged in the contest.

A total of $400 will be awarded, with $250 going to the winner. The judges include Janie Olmstead, owner of Images Model and Talent Agency, and Lexington Herald-Leader fashion writer Harriett Hendren.

The event will stress inner beauty, Freeman said, and positive messages for women.

WLEX-TV news anchor Dia Davidson, the featured speaker, will base her remarks on 1 Peter 3:3-4: "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."

SBS was founded in 1995 when three women came together to help unwed mothers. Since then, the group has served thousands of mothers and children in Lexington and is branching out to neighboring communities.

My hope is that some of the women I've seen lately will spend $10 for a ticket to the event and find an outfit or two that will be more appropriate for more somber occasions.

Maybe they will learn that beauty isn't about what you reveal, but how you carry yourself.