Monday, August 13, 2007

Skirting The Issues

Mrs. Wilt at The Sparrow's Nest has a thought provoking post here entitled "The Blight of Casualization on Women's Fashion" and there has been a great deal of discussion in the comments. I decided that I would add my opinion here, since I didn't want to write a book in her comment area! I agree with Mrs. Wilt, but I just wanted to share my personal reasons for dressing the way that I do, most often in skirts!

First, a quote from Mrs. Wilt:

Sadly, this trend is a common one in our culture today- with youth tends to come sloppiness in dress. Until recent years, ladies knew the difference between formal, semi-formal, and casual dress; and pride was taken in adhering to the dress code in social situations where it would be required.

In years past, it was irrelevant if you were poor when it came to dress. Yes, you might not have the finest clothing, but an effort was made to look presentable in any circumstance. Clothes were pressed and clean. Shoes were shined. Hair was kempt.

Doesn't it seem like we have come a long way from that widely accepted standard of dress in a very short space of time? It does to me. As I look around, I see more men and women inappropriately dressed for public all the time. Today I was lined up at the grocery store behind a woman dressed only in a skimpy bra and thin pajama bottoms, and a man in soiled, ill fitting, holey track pants and a stained undershirt. It doesn't even surprise me any more - now, isn't that sad?

My grandparents and parents set a very different example for our family. My father's mother died when I was 5, but I distinctly remember that she always smelled nice. That wasn't easy for a women who made her living as a butcher. In her working clothes she was always neat and clean, changing her starched white smock when it became messy during the day. After hours, her clothes were beautifully tailored and modest. She was an 'ample' women, but she wore lovely, well fitting dresses and suits, many were her own creations. She loved bright jewelry and had a large collection of 'costume' pieces that she wore. Her hair was always 'tinted' and curled, very neat and stylish.

My mother's parents were both very neat and clean also. They had clothes for at home, and clothes for going to town. They had special clothes for Sunday. My Nanny ironed everything - yes - even her slips, braziers and panties! My Poppa had hats for every occasion, but never wore them indoors. Nanny wore dresses every single day. Her work dresses were pretty but simple, and usually covered by an apron. She had two 'business' suits too for she acted as my Poppa's secretary for many years as well as being a wonderful homemaker. Her clothing was always neat and pretty, and I loved her knife pleated skirts. My Nanny sewed but when she became stooped with osteoarthritis, she had a hard time finding dresses to suit her figure, and I was able to help her alter them to fit.

Once, my Poppa accidentally cut a few of his fingers off in his portable saw mill. He gathered them up, washed them under the river pump and headed home for a shower, shave and fresh 'town clothes' before heading to the emergency room to have them re-attached. He didn't even tell my Nanny what he was up to, until she discovered blood on her 'best' towels. He would never wear his work clothes to town - even in an emergency!

My grandparents held a standard of dress, that despite their circumstances, lack of financial resources or education, meant something important to them. It wasn't a question of trying to look pious, or to compete with neighbours, or even to portray a certain image - it was just the right thing to do!

My parents have held a similar standard of dress and continue to. Neat, clean, modest. Except for a recent 'suspenders incident' with my not yet retired father, I have always been glad for the way my parents dressed, and for the example they set for our family. My mum is a thrift store queen, and she always looks lovely and well put together.

More and more lately, I find myself in skirts. I have some comfy capris that are perfect for gardening and other chores, but I reach for my skirts if I don't plan on a day of pulling weeds.

Recently I went shopping for some track pants with my mum. I wanted something that would be comfortable for bicycling with the family, and was finding the waistband on my capris uncomfortable for my often swollen liver. I hate track pants, but I knew they would be the most practical for exercise. That's what they were designed for - but for some reason they have made their way out of the gym and into day to day life!

I went to Cotton Ginny Plus, because I know they make great quality cotton track pants - my last pair lasted me 10 years but are now too large. I was happy to find some in capri styles on sale and began to try them on. When a large was way way too large (oh, happy day!) I asked the sales girl for a smaller size. I started to try on what she brought, but they were all skin tight. I checked and realized she had brought all smalls. I asked for a larger size and she acted very offended - based on how the large fit, she felt I must be a small. She did not understand that I was not comfortable in skin tight clothing. I eventually purchased the medium, but as I was at the cash register, I noticed that all of the sales girls were plus sized women in very tight clothing.

I am a plus sized woman. I have lost 50 pounds - very slowly in the last 18 months, since loosing weight is taxing for my liver. I have another 40-50 to loose but I've been 'stuck' forever, so we are trying to increase activity and see if that will get me loosing again. I have been living with extra pounds practically all my life, though I am not on over eater and have been on a low fat diet for about 20 years.
I know very well that my clothing size is important. If my clothes are too large, I look 10 pound heavier, but if my clothes are too tight, every roll and love handle shows - and my weight is revealed! I want to be modest, because I know that God requires it, but I also desire to be appropriately dressed to make the most of the figure I have.

So, why do I wear mostly skirts?

I like they way a skirt makes me feel. My skirts are long and modest, but not frumpy. I like skirts and modest cotton shell tops layered with light blouses for summer. I feel feminine and neat, cool and comfortable. I have casual skirts and dressy skirts, and I like the fact that with just a few pieces I can mix and match and create different outfits. I can hide my figure flaws and feel pretty comfortable.

I like that I am pleasing my husband by wearing skirts. He likes me to be ladylike and modest. I have more nice clothing now than I have ever had in my life, thanks to C.J. Banks and their wonderful clearance racks! Finding a source for modest and comfortable clothing has been a blessing to both of us. I usually sew for the children and our home, but not often for myself, so my wardrobe was limited.

Last, but not least, I like the way I am treated when I am wearing skirt. There. I've said it! I know it is totally selfish, but I enjoy the increased respect I receive when I go to town dressed neatly, modestly and in a skirt. I have had more grocery baggers offer to help with my load, I get more 'ma'm's' and friendly smiles, I even have men holding doors and taking off their caps. More women smile at me, and some even offer compliments. It's just nice to be treated like a lady!

When I was talking with my husband about this he offered his male point of view. "Maybe it's because men are naturally designed to be more protective of a woman who appears feminine and modest. Let's face it - men may enjoy dating girls who are immodestly dressed, but when it comes to marriage, they usually choose a more modest girl. Men like to know they can be helpful to a lady."

I am not advocating all women wear skirts, but just wanting to share my personal perspective. I am still slowly making the transition myself - there are days when capris or pants are just more practical for me. I am saying that modestly and femininity are beautiful. Gender neutral clothing is, in my opinion, unflattering. Clothes that are too tight, too short or too revealing are not modest, or even apparently comfortable by the amount of tugging and adjusting I see publicly these days!

Ladies, wear what God calls you to, dressing appropriately for the circumstances He has placed you in! Please Him first, your husband if you have one, and find clothing that flatters your unique figure. Be mindful of how your clothing choices send messages to others, whether you want them to or not. Think of the little girls looking up to you and modelling themselves after you. Don't be a stumbling block, but a blessing!

And whatever you wear ... don't forget to wear your nicest smile - universally acceptable, always appreciated, and most often imitated! It's the very least we can do for one another, don't you think?


  1. Heather,
    Excellent, excellent post! Thank you for sharing your viewpoint and life experience. I really appreciate your perspective on this. :o)

    In His joy, Mrs. Wilt

  2. Heather, a very excellent post! My grandparents were (are) the same way. Always dressing appropriately. The story you told of your grandfather goodness! I can't believe he was thinking of showering and shaving while he stared at his cut off finger!

  3. Oh, I also came by to let you know that I gave you a "Nice Matters" award over at my blog! =)

  4. Mrs. Wilt - thank you for helping me think this through with your great post! I appreciate your blog so much!

    Tammy - I really don't know how he did it actually, but men were made of sterner stuff in my Poppa's day I guess - he even put on aftershave!

    Thank you for the 'Nice Matters' award - I am very surprised and pleased!

  5. Heather,
    This is a lovely and thought provoking post! Thank you for taking the time to write it clearly.

  6. "Suspenders incident indeed. . ." Haqrrumph

    That was merely a case of necessity - I didn't want to be embarrased when my shorts were feeling the effects of gravity, and there is a lot less waiste for them to cling to/. So suspenders were necessary for the moment. And they workd, that is until my daughter made so much fun of me that I was compelled to change.

    Here I thought I as making a fashion statement. Chuckle chuckle.

    Thanks for the wonderful visit. We had three great weeks together.
    And I'm happy you arrived home safely. That is always our prayer as you travel. . . that no harm will come to you and the children.

    Will see you soon.


  7. Lovely, lovely post.

    I have similar memories of my grandparents, and thoroughly enjoyed reading your entry!

  8. Hi Heather,
    You are so very right about the casualization of our civilization. There is one plus side, however: Less time at the ironing board...more time blogging! :-)

    Thanks for sharing your perspective on a timely issue with such humility and candor.

  9. I don't disagree on the whole decency and cleanliness and self-respect/respect for others side of things. I wonder how different the culture is in the States. I mean here we have plenty of people barely wearing clothes (which is one issue) or people wearing dirty, raggy or inappropriate clothing (another and imo sadder issue), but I have never had anyone comment on my clothing or treat me differently on the days I am in skirts/dresses than when I am in pants.

    I am just amazed at your grandfather. My dh has been taken to hospital in pjs and when I was taken in with a suspected subarachnoid bleed, I went in with vomit stained clothes and didn't even think about it. What a man of iron your grandfather was!

  10. I have been migrating to all skirts lately myself.... every time I hit a bit of a bump then there is always another post from a blog etc that makes me feel convicted all over again

  11. thank you so much for your imput...I am hoping that my daughter will try to take the time to look her best (and in a modest way) she is such a scraggle muffin and gets dirty quite easily but lately has been trying to clean up not only before leaving the house but even at home too.
    ~simply stork~

  12. Heather, thank you so much for posting your thoughts on this. God has perfect timing--I don't get around to reading other blogs often, but this post was a great blessing tonight, after writing out my experience working through a tough issue on just this very subject. It's uplifting and refreshing to read there are healthy, positive reasons for choosing skirts other than the heavy, critical reasons I've been faced with for a very long time. God bless you.

  13. I am glad you have been blessed by this post - as I havwe been blessed by your kind comments!

    I am travelling right now with the family - in skirts, and actually have been very cool and comfortable - as well as feeling feminine and neat, so now I know I can 'skirt a vacation' too!

  14. Correct me but I'm wrong, but was your nanny required by her employer to wear those clothes. I know a person who worked as a live-in combined housemaid and nanny girl in the 1950's and 60's (when she was in her late teens and early 20's) for a rich family (who however paid her bad) and she had to wear a white blouse, a black skirt and apron for the dirtier work. She also had to wear a name tag and tie her hair back in a ponytail. I've seen photographs from her then, and she's has talked about how much she hated it, but so was it back then and she couldn't complain, she had to wear uniform. But when I think of it, I think that waitress girls of today don't complain over having to wear waitress girl uniform, even if they hate it.

  15. I guess that I didn't make it clear enough - 'Nanny' is my love name for my grandmother - as in Poppa and Nanny. I did not grow up with a hired Nanny - we were simple folks living a simple life in Northern Ontario - cutting wood every Saturday to feed the fires all winter long.
    My Nanny was a true lady and wore dresses and skirts because she felt that was the ladylike thing to do! I still have the apron when used when painting - and she painted the house all by herself, in a dress!

  16. Sorry, I was thinking of employed maid and nanny girls without reading more.


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I so enjoy reading your comments when you kindly share your thoughts!