modern modesty

My style has evolved so much in the past few years. In college, when I really became interested in fashion, my style was very trend-based. I gravitated toward daring looks that were slightly bohemian with dashes of rocker edginess. And while I still hold that style near and dear to my heart, I'm learning to appreciate a more refined and sophisticated aesthetic. The bottom line: dressing up when you're 21 and dressing up when you're 25 are two very different things. This look is all about what I'm calling "modern modesty." In the past, when I heard the word "modest," I often thought of the following terms: boring, buttoned-up, frumpy, ill-fitting, unflattering, unfashionable... I could go on and on. In short, "modest" is a just a nicer way of saying "plain," right?

Well, not so fast. You see, over the past few months I've been re-watching Mad Men to prepare for the final episodes airing later this week (!!!). One of my favorite parts of the show is the fashion. Now while I could easily write a whole other post on Mad Men style (and maybe I will), what I want to focus on is its handling of modest dressing, especially in the earlier episodes. Joan is my favorite character for many reasons -- one being her killer fashion sense that manages to turn heads without being revealing.

Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris

Watching these women look so glamorous without dressing flamboyantly or provocatively inspired me to reassess my definition of "modest," which led me to this pivotal question:

Is "modest" just a not-so-nice way of saying "classy"?

I think so. And once I happened upon this realization, my entire outlook on dressing changed (and is still changing). I realized that the term "modest" has gotten such a bad rep over the past few years that it needed to be, well, modernized. You can dress modestly and still look (and feel) like a modern woman. That's the mindset I embraced as I pieced together this ensemble.

I started with this black, maxi-length pleated skirt, which creates so much interest and texture. I added a plain white scoop neck T-shirt and an oversized dark gray cardigan to offset the skirt's busyness. I kept the accessories classic and understated. This Black Envelope Clutch from Ash & Willow is my current obsession. I'm literally wearing it with everything. It's simple, yet impossibly elegant and versatile. The detachable leather and chain strap makes it the perfect piece to go from day to night with ease. I can't help but feel that Joan herself would have had this clutch in her wardrobe.

The Greer V-neck Necklace by Gorjana came in my first Rocksbox and it adds the perfect amount of minimalist sparkle to this look. If you haven't signed up for Rocksbox and you've been hearing all the buzz about how great it is, now's the time to try it out! You can get your first month of Rocksbox FREE by entering rivasravesxoxo at checkout. We're talking unlimited designer jewelry each and every month -- doesn't get much better than that!

T-shirt: Triple Thread (c/o)

Skirt: The Limited (similar)

Cardigan: American Apparel (similar)

Necklace: Gorjana via Rocksbox

Clutch: Ash & Willow (c/o)

Shoes: Steve Madden