This is Not an Anti-Pants Manifesto

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on September 21, 2010


It’s more of a pro-skirts testimony.

For the most part, I appreciated the Pants! Pants! Pants! discussions of last week. Certainly the original email called for a response and most of them were extremely well done.

The thing is, it seemed to me that as the roar of the crowd rose the charity decreased. Suddenly a contingency of individuals came out of the woodwork to damn women who had chosen to forgo pants.

It was asserted that such women were married to husbands with control issues, they were extremists and/or they were doing a disservice to their fellow women. There were other even more insulting allegations but since they seemed to be coming from a very small minority I don’t think they’re worth repeating.

Do I wear pants? Yes, but rarely. And it’s not because I think pants are evil or because I am married to a man who insists I wear them. Mr. Beguiles couldn’t really care less what I choose to wear. I know which of my outfits he is especially fond of and I like to wear them because he’s my husband and I enjoy catching his eye.

Despite those things, I did decide to jettison most of my pants a couple of years back. And I did discuss this with my husband. And not because he insists on having a say, but because he knows me better than anyone and is a constant source of valuable advice, spiritual and otherwise. He knows that I came from a very liberal background and he knows that there is (or at least was at one time) a tendency in me to go to extremes to counter my upbringing. It was almost as if the pendulum had to swing far right before it could settle back peacefully into the middle. That was a journey that I needed to go on. It was a journey that bore great fruit even though, admittedly, I made statements and held beliefs for a short period of time that I no longer do.

My decision to wear mostly skirts is not one I regret, though who knows? One day I may find myself favoring pants again. As many converts can attest to, there is a time of correction that we must go through, especially if our conversion has been an extreme one. Having come from a background that asserted that men and women were the same, that celebrated androgyny and encouraged women to be more masculine, I needed to surround myself with femininity to counter those habits that had taken root in my youth.

As I stated over at Faith and Family Live: Skirts make me feel womanly and maternal. In their own special way they remind me to be gentle. They also help me dress modestly and they flatter my particular figure. As silly as it sounds, perhaps God recognized that I had certain personality traits that could only be corrected with a good dress.

To be honest, it saddened me a bit when I read the recent comments attributing bad motives to people who wear skirts. Obviously, anyone who says that all women must do this all the time is completely off-base, but those people are few and far between. Most of us who wear mostly skirts are simply walking our own unique paths, and if we talk about it, it’s for the same reason anyone talks about something that’s improved their life — to share with others in case they find it helpful as well.

God bless you all–sisters in pants and skirts alike!

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

The Little House That Grew September 21, 2010 at 2:42 am

Long live skirt wearing mama's. Who knew there was so much passion about what OTHER people want to wear…who cares really. When I get dressed it is more for me than anyone else..just call me ….ummm..comfortable!!

Bethany September 21, 2010 at 2:48 am

Great post! I especially loved one of the last lines: "Most of us who wear mostly skirts are simply walking our own unique paths, and if we talk about it, it's for the same reason anyone talks about something that's improved their life — to share with others in case they find it helpful as well." You really could replace "mostly wear skirts" with anything that we women feel strongly about. In my young mothering circles, it's usually scheduling vs. demand feeding, natural birth vs. epidurals, homeschooling vs. not, it could go on. But if we could all see that the reason women want to talk about something is because it has improved their lives AND, in turn, if we could talk about these things with that intent (and not the intent to just condemn those who aren't like us), then we'd all be better people.

Young Mom September 21, 2010 at 4:01 am

Nicely said! Their is so much "Us vs Them" in all of these arguements. I think that what people wear really is their own business. I happen to prefer pants after my extreme modesty upbringing. Skirts still have a tendency to make me feel marginalized, ignored and stepped on, and if I wear them to much I find myself resenting men. But my figure looks great in skirts, and I find myself more and more able to wear them and enjoy them. :)

Kate Wicker @ Momopoly September 21, 2010 at 10:05 am

Beautifully said.

Colleen September 21, 2010 at 12:44 pm

You wear your skirts with modesty and beauty and I'll wear my pants the same way :) I really can't believe how out of control this "argument" gets. I'll get heated when it comes to discussions over abortion, but when it comes to clothes…puhlease!

The Stationary Mission September 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm

It is sad that there are such arguments, over pants vs skirts and other things like homeschooling/natural birth/epidural….all of these things exist so that there are options. Some are good for some and some are good for others. Just more things that pit women against each other and it's really sad.

The Cottage Child September 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm

"perhaps God recognized that I had certain personality traits that could only be corrected with a good dress."

I love that – it's good humor and a wise recognition (and reminder) that He works profoundly in the day to day.

I wear both, without a thought except to my canckles, and like you and so many others have pointed out, I have to wonder is this the hill we're prepared to die on? Really?

Miriel September 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Thanks for this, Hallie. It's a good-natured and gentle reminder to *everyone* that there is more than one way to dress modestly and–more importantly–to live a holy and faithful life.

Kristen @ St Monica's Bridge September 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I love skirts and wish I could wear more, except, God blessed me with a rear end that is not agreeable to skirts. I was JLo, before JLo, in that, er, area. For me, they won't be modest but for a very vocal minority, this makes me a liberal, a "feminist", a woman seeking to become a man, so pants are usually a more acceptable alternative.

Conversely, my brother's girlfriend (and we are hoping someday wife)is tall, thin and beautiful and carries off her sundresses, skirts etc are modest and feminine so she is called a zealot, a submissive, etc. (She is the occasional pants wearer as her job as a youth counselor comes with a uniform.)

Our modesty suits each of us but the world seeks to label us as otherwise for different reasons. Let us focus on what unites us not what divides us! As Colleen said earlier in comments: You wear your skirts with modesty and beauty and I'll wear my pants the same way :).

You say po-tay-to and I say po-tah-to…

Amy September 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I love this post because it highlights how silly this is getting. Breast or bottle, natural birth or drugs, organic or well – not, work or home.

You are a refreshing voice of reason!

Melanie B September 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Well said!

simchafisher September 21, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Hallie, you are a grown-up, and we need more people like you. Nicely done.

Sarah September 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Amen sister!

Kelly September 21, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Superb post! Thank you, Hallie.

Salome Ellen September 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm

I'm a nearly-60 mother of six and grandma, and I have worn skirts and pants in varying ratios throughout my youth and marriage. And I never thought it "meant" anything except that this was what I had/could afford and felt comfortable in. My only regret is that I lost the habit of one-piece dresses while I was nursing (pretty much constantly over a 12-year span) and now I only own a very few, almost all for "special occasions." Oh, yeah, and my hemlines have gotten lower as my age got higher. ;-D

Lady Caitie in the Pretty City September 21, 2010 at 11:25 pm

You are one classy broad! ;)

missy September 21, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Thank you…I especially relate to "perhaps God recognized that I had certain personality traits that could only be corrected with a good dress"

Martha September 22, 2010 at 2:30 am

Bravo! I was feeling a little vexed reading all of Simcha's comments while wearing my everyday skirt… but without reason. Most of us were very reasonable on the comments; I found a lot of charity and common sense, if you were willing to look for it!

Thank you for your well thought out, charitable, and appropriately timed (I think we needed a breath), post!

Ashita September 22, 2010 at 5:40 am

The reason I wear skirts, mostly instead of pants, is that in this current fashion swing, I have a harder and harder time finding pants that fit me even comfortably, let alone modestly/nicely. Skirts are easier to fit, and I can find three or four nice ones for the same price as ONE pair of nice pants that fit me! (Plus, skirts are so cute and feminine!)
I am a teenage girl, the oldest of five. And yes, I do quite a bit of child-snag-lunging.

Barbie September 23, 2010 at 4:06 am

This "debate" has been most amusing to me. I have to admit, I'm a little creeped out by my long-skirt wearing sisters. They remind me of the original The Stepford Wives, which I saw when I was like 10 or 11 years old and I was completely scared out of my mind! I think it makes them look more like the United Pentecostals, not so much Catholic.
My kids are in a co-op and part of it is optional Mass attendance. I really am trying to attend Mass this year and the Church we attend is a pretty formal one, so I've joined the others in skirt-wearing. Also because I just had a baby and I don't want to have to buy the size pants that would be necessary to fit me. I am also short, so I choose to wear skirts at the knee, rather than at the ankle, because I don't want to look fat AND frumpy. And because I am carrying extra weight, I feel extremely frumpy going out in tee-shirt & sweats, so I tend to wear comfortable knit cotton skirts when I go out.

Claire September 24, 2010 at 11:23 am

I love wearing skirts, and I admire those who do wear them frequently. In fact, I used to wear skirts just about every day when I worked in a more formal office. I felt pulled together and feminine in my suits, which by the way were not "power suits", but feminine cuts and silhouettes. Now, I rarely wear skirts/dresses, especially in the summer because I do not feel "dressed" without pantyhose or tights and I think my scary, very white legs look horrible without pantyhose. I still dress in a feminine manner, but I sure miss those skirts.

Ouiz September 28, 2010 at 3:58 am

I can't add much to the conversation, except to say that when these sorts of conversations come up, I am reminded of Romans 14:4: "Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand."

We all agree that modesty is the key part here. How that plays out in our clothing choices may take many different forms.

For the most part, I wear skirts because I felt led to do so, and it helps me feel more feminine; however, that doesn't mean that I think wearing pants is sinful, makes you less holy, or implies that you are immodest.

I love what Rachel Balducci wrote in the post above. I want to look put together when I go through my day because I never know who's watching, and who is forming judgments about Catholicism or homeschooling based on my appearance.

I don't want to obsess over it, and I don't want to look like I just dragged myself out of bed after a week-long bout of the flu. Somewhere in-between those two extremes is where I shoot for.. *grin*

tgz September 28, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I really like you and your perspective on modesty. I think you are balanced and have a positive perspective about being a woman = dressing gracefully (instead of "being a woman = having the obligation to disguise my femininity").

On the topic of pants, I hope I will not shock anybody with my question, but I have a problem with an argument I've seen repeated to exhaustion in other blogs dedicated to modesty (not in yours, thanks be to God!)

The question is: When people say that women shouldn't wear pants because they draw men's eyes to the crotch and the butt areas, shouldn't they send the same advice to men?

Because, as far as I've talked to my woman friends, women do check men's body, including crotch and butt too (most times unconsciously, and in my experience more often at certain times of the cycle, and then we avert our eyes, but we have already looked)…

So, why isn't this advice to wear skirts (long enough) given to both men and women? And don't tell me that women don't "check out" men's bodies, because it simply is not true.

I do hope that someone will answer this question I have. And I hope I managed to phrase it in a respectful, non-offensive way (English is not my 1st language, so forgive me if I didn't). I really do want to know.

tgz October 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Why does nobody answer this question? It's not the first time I ask this at a modesty-minded blog, and I've always been left unanswered :( Mrs. Beguiles: I'm OK with you not answering, as you are rightfully spending your time with your baby. But I hoped for commenters to give their opinion…

Any answers?

sibyl October 17, 2010 at 3:17 am

OK, I'll try to answer. I think the reason we don't talk about it for men is that a skirt has not been a part of men's dress for more than 1500 years here in the West. (Obviously, a few isolated places, like Scotland, have men in skirt-like garments.) And the tradition for women has, until extremely recently, been skirts. Femininity is still, in many minds, firmly connected with skirt-wearing.

Now, the whole business about where people's eyes go — that I can't speak to, as I'm not a behavioral scientist and do not know which is more frequent, for men to check out women or vice versa. It seems to me that if men are as visual as everyone is now saying, then it might be a HELP to them to give a little less temptation. However, no one is responsible for another person's sin, and Godly men seem to find ways to avoid looking, or at least to repent when they do.

Frankly, I think skirt-wearing is a cultural tag. It tags the woman who does it exclusively as someone who has decided on a more traditional expression of femininity, and therefore rejects some key aspects of modern social thought, among other things.

Not that there is anything wrong about this: actually, I have begun to wonder if the reason there is such passion surrounding this issue (which so many deem petty) is that skirt-wearing signals a growing sense that something is changing in the culture, or that the normal weapons for safeguarding one's identity are proving inadequate.

That sounds way more didactic than it had to be. Anyhow, I think it is similar to homeschooling, in that what seems at the start a completely crazy and irrelevant gesture that only weirdos would make gradually becomes more and more present to everyone, both in its positive and negative aspects, as a gesture requiring attention. This is a cultural shift, I think, that we may not have seen to the end of yet.

(My two cents. And further, I like to see men in nice jeans and untucked button-down shirts. Maybe it's because I don't have to look at what's underneath? ;) )

tgz October 18, 2010 at 2:38 am

Thanks! You raised good points :)

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