When I was a little girl, I knew what clothing items were appropriate and which clothes were not. Although I do not remember hearing the word 'modest' up until I was 9, almost 10, years old, appropriate/inappropriate were commonly used words in the Crosby house.
I remember clear as day the first time I really encountered an 'inappropriate' clothing item and thus had a valuable object lesson on the definitions of those two words. I was probably about seven years old at the time, and my mom and I were shopping at the mall. We were in JCPenney when I saw a really cute shirt that I wanted to try on. It was one of those shirts that has a striped tank and then over the tank there's a little jacket that sort of resembles a bolero. Except it's not as teeny as a bolero-it's like a little jacket that ties...right at the bust line.
Now remember, at the time that this story takes place, I was seven. So in one sense, a clothing item that drew attention to that part of my body was really not a big deal at that age. But in the other sense, it was still a big deal because regardless of age, no clothing should be purposefully drawing attention to that part of the body. This shirt was obviously doing so, and so my mom told me, "Cady, that shirt isn't appropriate, so we're not going to be buying it." She gently explained to me why it wasn't appropriate, but I remember that I wanted that shirt so badly. I reasoned and pleaded, but to no avail. My mom was adamant in her position. She said, "We can look for other pretty shirts, but that one's just not going to work." I realized that this point was not to be debated so I stopped arguing (which was basically what I was doing).
Fast forward three years.
A friend of ours who wore only skirts and dresses told my mom, "I have this really great book on modesty I want you to read! Can I give it to you to borrow? It was the book that convinced me to wear only skirts."
My mother made various excuses to get out of borrowing the book because she didn't particularly want to be convinced to wear only skirts. But eventually, she gave in and read the book.
We were on our way to church one morning when my mom broached the subject with me, 10 years old at the time. She told me that she had been reading a book called Dressing with Dignity, and she really wanted me to read the book. Of course, I said okay. But then my mom said, "I really think we should stop wearing pants." I was not expecting that at all, and frankly, I didn't like it. I liked my jeans and I didn't see a reason to only wear skirts. So I asked, "Why do you say that?" She told me, "In the book, there's a study that was conducted about women wearing pants, and what the study says, along with all of the other facts that are in the book, makes me really feel like we should stop wearing pants."
I said I would read the book, so I did. Written by Colleen Hammond, this book is eye-opening and shocking. It made me think about things I had never thought about before. By the way, this woman has had an inside look at the culture. Mrs. Hammond had been a cable network anchor, image consultant, actress, model, and beauty queen. But this research and her convictions made Mrs. Hammond turn away from her careers and become a wife, mother, writer, and speaker on modesty.
I had thought before that I was dressing modestly and that my clothes, pants included, were just fine. But this paragraph alone turned that whole idea upside down.
"Using newly developed technology, they [advertising agencies] tracked the path that a man's eyes take when looking at a woman in pants. They found that when a man looked at a woman in pants from the back, he looked directly at her bottom. When he looked at a woman wearing pants from the front, advertisers found that his eyes dropped directly to a woman's most private and intimate area. Not her face! Not her chest!" (Colleen Hammond, Dressing with Dignity, page 49)
That information is from a real, conducted study. Sorry, but this is not a conspiracy theory. Men's eyes do this, not neccessarily on purpose, when a woman is wearing pants. And I do not mean just skinnny jeans or skin-tight pants. Any pants attracts this reaction.
Just wearing skirts doesn't necessarily fix the problem. Short skirts, skirts with slits up the front and tight skirts can do the same thing. If you want to get away from being a near occasion of sin to men, then wearing long skirts is what will do it. Short skirts (meaning skirts above the knees) do the exact same thing that pants do. Actually, I think that in many cases, it does worse damage. I've seen dresses and skirts that offend my sense of decorum, not just my sense of modesty. I can only imagine what this must do to guys.
Needless to say, that really made me look at things differently. Since guys are our brothers in Christ, we young ladies have a responsibility to dress in a way that will not be a near occasion of sin for them. I think that the above is definitely a near occasion of sin for them.
After lots of discussions, heart-to-hearts, and some thinking about how we would make this work practically, the ladies of our family did decide to wear only skirts/dresses. There are 3 basic myths when it comes to a woman wearing only skirts, and I will now cover those.
1) You can't clean a bathroom in a skirt. Yes, you can. I speak from experience. I actually don't even find it more difficult than cleaning a bathroom in pants. Sure, maybe you can't get into those frustrating areas quite as easily-but for the most part, a bathroom can be cleaned just fine in a skirt. Don't get me wrong now; I do NOT propose cleaning a bathroom or anything else for that matter in a flowery skirt and blouse. Actually, I wear a very casual T-shirt and sweat skirt. (Yes, I do have a sweat skirt! Sweat pants material but in a skirt! Value Village treasure...:)
2) Modest and frumpy are synonyms. I try to dress as modestly as I can so that I am not a near occasion of sin to my brothers in Christ. However, I don't need to dress in a sack to be modest! Honestly, I really think that this is one of the biggest fears that we young ladies have if we're preparing to make a change to only skirts. "What will people think of me?" Yes, I struggle with that too, especially if I'm in an area where EVERYONE is in pants or shorts, which is basically everywhere. But you can curtail that by dressing prettily while still wearing a skirt. Find denim skirts and basically any shirt will work with those.You'll look pretty, feel pretty, and be beautifully feminine. One of the neat, unexpected benefits has been that I have NEVER felt underdressed for any event I have attended because of wearing skirts.
3) No one can find long skirts anymore, except maybe in costume stores. How about Value Village and Goodwill? I have had so much luck finding nice long skirts at Value Village especially. Yes, you have to separate the good from the bad (read: the long from the short), but the skirts are nice and they're cheap! Most of my skirts are from consignment stores. I can only think of three that are not.
So, how do I dress on a day-to-day basis? I have two denim skirts and two corduoroy skirts right now, along with about four or five summer skirts. Each day, I'll pick out one of these skirts and then just pick a nice blouse to go with it. For blouses, I wear a lot of polos, long sleeve or short sleeve. Sometimes I'll wear a shirt that's not collared but is long-sleeved, and those are nice too. I have quite a few cardigans and nice sweaters that I wear often too.
Ankle-high socks don't tend to look great with what I wear, so I've purchased multiple knee-high, white cotton socks to last me through the winter (and spring, and maybe summer! It just depends on how the weather is that year! ). These have worked really well and I'm so glad I found them. On Sundays, I wear something nicer, like a charcoal-colored skirt or black skirt, along with a dressy top. I have a couple tops in particular that I think of as just "Sunday clothes."
|This is a great example of what we wear on a day-to-day basis.|
By this time, you might be wondering if I am for some reason against wearing dresses, since I have not mentioned any being in my wardrobe. I am by no means against wearing long dresses! I would love to be able to wear them...however, it's very difficult for me to find long, pretty dresses that I would wear. All of my younger sisters do have dresses, but as of right now, I have zero dresses in my closet. My mom has very few as well. I know that some others have been able to find lovely dresses that work well for them, but the dresses I've looked at have either been too expensive or I just don't like them. That's my take on that.
So, what about nighttime wear? We don't wear pants to bed either. Instead, we've looked for long, pretty, feminine (but not revealing) nightgowns to wear. We've had some luck for the younger girls in our family, but Mommy and I haven't had found many nightgowns for various reasons. For instance, most of them are either too low-cut or too short. I've tried a couple of nightgowns and none of them have really worked. After having found that sweat-skirt I mentioned above, and another skirt that's almost the same, I just use these skirts and a casual T-shirt for night. That is just what works for us-do whatever works best for you and your family, your convictions.
Now, I also have speech and debate tournaments.The classic tournament attire for most are slacks and blazers, maybe an occasional skirt that is supposed to extend below the knee. Obviously, I do not wear slacks, so I needed to find a 'tournament skirt'-so basically a suit with a long skirt. That's quite hard to find nowadays. But my mom had unwavering faith in Value Village, so we went to take a look. I found just the skirt I needed for $7.00! And two blazers for $5.00 each! Actually, I just went to Value Village today too, and I found yet ANOTHER blazer that's perfectly gorgeous for $4.99. I am so delighted...=)
If you're wondering where to purchase long skirts, here are a few suggestions. I don't think I need to say it again, but I will. Thrift stores! They are absolutely wonderful, because you can often find long skirts for very cheap. But also, Fred Meyer's has had a lot of great options for summer skirts. Last summer, I got two skirts for my birthday and they were both from Freddy's. So it's worth going and taking a look.
I would absolutely recommend Colleen Hammond's book, Dressing with Dignity. This book is chock-full of information about the history of fashion and the how's/why's of modesty today. It's a fabulous book that is convicting and eye-opening.
After reading this post, you might be thinking that I do not have any temptations against modesty, I don't have any sins of vanity, that I am perfect, etc. Let me assure you...I do. We all have the same sinful nature, and to be honest, that is the most persuasive part of the arguement for wearing only skirts. All of us have a sinful nature, and we are all being called to bring each other to a higher level of holiness. And if wearing skirts helps us achieve that goal, then I believe we ladies should at least be willing to consider making such a huge switch, even if it means sacrificing comfort and fashionablility.
Thank you so much for reading this post! Please feel free to comment and do know that I absolutely love it when anyone comments.