Sunday, July 13, 2008

Modest, Feminine Clothing

It was only a few days ago that I received the book (that I ordered) called Passionate Housewives: Desperate for God. The title caught my attention while I was looking for a different book recommended by the book Teaching the Trivium: A Christian Guide to a Classical Education by the Bluedorns. Anyway, the Passionate Housewife book is written by two ladies and the back of the book has a picture of each of their families along with a very short blurb about each. I noticed that while looking somewhat modern, they were all wearing skirts (except the males, obviously) and I began to question that. Then, I looked into the website,, which is edited and managed by one of the authors of the housewife book. It was there that I found for the first "official" time, sites and information dedicated to women who are choosing to wear skirts/dresses exclusively, especially long one (I haven't seen any that are at or above the knee). This idea intrigued me and as I began to consider it I found myself questioning EVERYTHING!!!

The first question was the obvious, why? They claimed verses that speak about women not wearing things of mens and of course, modest clothing. They (seem) to believe that the Bible speaks for women to wear dresses and skirts and a modest length is below the knees. At first I defended myself, saying that my typical wardrobe (jeans and a t-shirt) was rarely if ever, immodest. However, as I thought about it a little more I realized that my jeans are probably a little too tight (and I refuse to go a size up!!!) and my shirts are usually a little too low-cut for me to feel extremely comfortable, but since I have been judging myself against other people, they never seemed too bad. And really, they aren't too bad, but they aren't the best. However, I could still consider myself a modest dresser. One of the things that bothered me was the idea that pants were "mens clothing" because my clothing doesn't come from the men's department and who is to say that pants are exclusively men's domain? Of all the issues, this is the one that I haven't figured out yet.

Their next argument was for the visual separation of men and women, meaning women should embrace their feminine side, with dresses and skirts. This idea probably speaks more to the reasons for skirts than the idea of pants being "mens". I liked this idea very much. As I began to think about it more I realized that I have been suppressing my femininity for a long time because it just isn't acceptable. I feel like I have had people in my life who have shunned feminine things and expect the rest of us to do so also. This was a little bit freeing because as I started to consider my true feelings on the subject, I am not opposed at all to the wearing, primarily, of skirts. I think that pants are still appropriate at times, like heavy labor in the garden and planned physical activity (like going to the gym). However, even those times seems to be less that essential. I think I will always keep a pair of pants (or two) just because.

In my typical fashion, I went to the fabric store and spent a fortune on fabric to make a million different (okay, 5) floor length skirts. I want to make them and I am excited about wearing them, but then I started thinking (always a bad sign...). I have two primary fears: one, that I will look ridiculous in them and instead of looking pretty and feminine, I will look giant and lumpy. The other is that my decision will not be accepted by people close to me (like my mothers and sisters) who don't share the same beliefs. Both of these hinge on being accepted and since I don't feel like there is a strong logic behind this decision, other than the desire to appear more feminine, I feel the attacks would be coming strong and I would be unprepared to face them.

THEN, I did some more research this evening as I was cooking dinner for me and the kids about the idea of skirts and modesty and something struck me: the long skirts are an outward expression of our internal modesty. I liken it to baptism. You don't go get baptized and then hope to become a Christian since you have put on the outward signs; your heart has to change first and then you are willing to put on the outward show because it is a matter of showing your changed life. Dresses and skirts really do that for a woman; they show how her attitude has changed to reveal a humble spirit. I am, and always have been, an "anti-feminist" because I have believed, especially after my "women's history" class, that feminism has trapped women more than the traditional roles of making babies and homes ever did. Today, women are expected to excel at school, go to college, start a career, obtain large quantities of satisfaction from said career, maybe pick up a husband, pump out a few kids, but still keeping the "career-mentality" of sacrificing everything for job. Meanwhile, they are also expected to exploit their sexuality to the best of their ability when necessary and look like a Hollywood model the rest of the time!!! I think I prefer the idea of "just" staying home with my children and being a part of their lives. However, with all my "anti-feminist" thinking, I still got really caught up with the ideas and trends. Even now, there is a part of me that wants to walk away from everything and finish my degree and pursue some satisfying career. How foolish that part of me is!!!

Modesty of spirit is not something I have figured out yet. I hate to be judged a failure by my husband, even when I know full well that it is true. I pick fights constantly and have not yet figured out this "servant's heart" thing. My world revolves around me and I don't like it that way. The Bible says that serving others is a win-win situation. I agree, because the opposite is true: serving self is a lose-lose situation. Me doing whatever I want is not only not improving myself and cultivating plenty of sins, like laziness, selfishness and greed, but the other people that are forced to sacrifice are also hurt by my selfishness, mainly my children. Kids need the love and attention of their parents and being selfish deprives them of every benefit life has to offer.

So how do I change? This is my critical question. I recognize that women who are choosing to wear a long skirt even in the heat of the summer have a dedication to something larger than themselves. This is a good thing. I will make my skirts because NOT making them would be selfish at this point, since I have invested so much money. I won't be fashionable this winter, but maybe I need to take even that focus off myself and realize that looking a little frumpy or old-fashioned in an eternal light is nothing; bringing my children to know the Truth and the Way of the Lord is eternal. Long skirts might just be able to humble my spirit a least I hope they will. I also hope that I enjoy wearing them!!!

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