Friday, May 21, 2010

Is a Jumper a Modest Dress or a Mans Robe?

When I was setting up Modest Clothing Distributors I had my daughter proof-reading and editing some text for the web site. When she finished I noticed that she had deleted the phrase modest jumper every place that I had mentioned it in the text. I exclaimed that we needed to keep that terminology. She came unhinged over that concept. She wanted to rename the jumper, something like a modest over dress, or a modesty vest, or any thing but modest jumper. I promptly explained to her about keywords and of course we kept modest jumper in the text.

The jumper is, of course, a staple for the modest clothing industry. It reminds us of an era bypassed by the hustle and bustle of women clawing alongside their male counterparts to reach the top of the ladder, and somehow we feel like modest clothing doesn't fit into that picture. The jumper, or modest over dress (as we began to call it) though, evokes images of little girls wearing a modest dress at school and play and a frilly, little, dress to church on Sunday.

But why is it called a jumper and not a modest over dress? My wife and girls surmise that maybe it's because the modest girl has to jump into the dress because there is usually no zipper or buttons. Or maybe it's because girls jumped around in the modest over dress all the time. One of my girls thought that it was because they only played jump rope when girls wore a modest dress everyday. Then the youngest guessed that it's called a jumper because they always played hop scotch in the “days of modest clothing”.

Needless to say we have had a lot of fun trying to guess why the modest over dress is called a jumper. Since dad is a quasi pointy head, I had to find out the history and etymology of the term jumper. The first thing I found was that in British English a jumper is a sweater. That was curious, because a modest over dress looks nothing like a sweater. So why is the modest over dress called a jumper? Well it seems that jumper is a derivative of the French word jupe. This seemed to be getting a little closer, because jupe means skirt. It still puzzled me though because a skirt is only half of a modest dress. Finally, I fell upon the theory that jumper ultimately derives from the Arabic jabba. Imagine my despair when I found a modest clothing web site selling jabbahs, to men. A jabba (or jabbah) is not a modest dress for women at all, but a long robe worn by Arab men.

I guess we will never really know why the modest over dress is called a jumper, but since the majority of women looking for modest clothing are going to type jumper into the search engines, at Modest Clothing Distributors, modest over dress is out and jumper is in