And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands;
And it looked to me like that verse says that we ought to be making our own clothes. But I'd never heard such a thing before. So I looked into it a bit more on scriptures.byu.edu, which is one of my favorite scripture sites. And I found this from Joseph F. Smith's Journal of Discourses:
Every Latter-day Saint should be proud to wear homemade clothes, from head to foot, and when we begin to study our best interests, and the interest of Zion we will do so though it costs us more now than to wear the stuffed, starched, glossed and glittering shoddy of the world, or even the best the world affords. Money spent in home manufactures, is money saved to the community, it is money laid up for future use and benefit at home, while money sent abroad builds up New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Lowell, and the world generally all of whom are opposed to the people and the work of God and will only return evil to us for the patronage we bestow upon them.
We should be prepared, not only to manufacture our own wearing apparel, but also to make all our mechanical and agricultural implements, our household furniture, our building materials, our wagons, carriages and equipment, with all that is necessary for the righteous and legitimate use of man, that when Babylon shall fall we may be prepared for it, and not be found among those who shall wail and lament because “no man buyeth her merchandise any more.”
I see some of the sisters wearing fine hats trimmed with silk ribbon, also silk shawls, dresses, neckties, etc., which are of their own production and make. This is as it should be—“the beauty of the work of their own hands.”
Here's another from President Woodruff's Journal of Discourses:
I have no objection to the ladies—our wives daughters and mothers—in Zion adorning themselves as much as they please, if they only make what they wear. Set out your mulberry trees and make your own silk; get straw and make your own bonnets; make your artificial flowers to adorn yourselves with, and let all be the workmanship of your own hands, and do not import these things at the expense of the means we have in the Territory. I have not any fault to find with your adorning yourselves, if you only make that which you require yourselves.
Brigham Young was saying the same thing:
I do not care how beautifully you are adorned, ladies, if you will only raise the silk and adorn yourselves with your own hands. That is the requirement of heaven. It was so almost forty years ago. The word of the Lord to his Saints then was, “Let the beauty of your apparel be the beauty of the work of your own hands.” If you will observe this, adorn yourselves as much as you please. Make your hats and bonnets, and also make hats for your brothers and sons. It is your duty to do it. Preserve that that the Lord has given you, and waste nothing.
George Albert Smith also talked about it:
The revelation given to the Church years ago to let the beauty of our garments be the workmanship of our own hands, although it has not remained a dead letter, has never been fully complied with; and it is time that we, as a people, should be thinking of some new industry by which the kinds of clothing we desire may be produced, and also have a production or staple of some kind that we can send abroad that will bring us wealth in return, instead of sending away all our money, and bringing nothing back.
There was a lot of talk of raising mulberry trees and silk worms at the time. It looks like the idea was to do the whole process of making your family's clothing (and tools & furniture & things) in house, or at least, in the faith, among the Saints. It's fascinating to read. And it's interesting to think about: if we were doing this, then we wouldn't be dependent on the fashions that are dished up in Paris or wherever else they come from. No need to dress like the latest Pop-Tart Icon. If we had these skills things like prom dresses would be ever so much more pleasant to arrange for. And the difficulties we had finding Kate's dress would have been largely done away with. We shopped for that wedding dress all day, and never found one that was didn't require some sort of modification for modesty.
Of course, the living of this particular counsel is going to be a bit more tricky. I think I'm going to have to learn some more before I can actually do anything that comes close to the homemade, head to toe, that the brethren were talking about.