Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Great Dress Experiment: More Results

While my Dress Experiment ended a few weeks ago, I'm still noticing the results of it. This is because, as I noted in my last "dress" post, I've started feeling much more comfortable in dresses and skirts then in pants. Maybe it's my post baby body that also makes me feel, with all my post baby curves, that dresses tend to be more flattering! I actually reached a milestone this week, I'm one pound less then I was pre-baby (which means I've lost 43 lbs) but the weight is definitely distributed differently!

But I digress, back to the subject at hand. The changes that I've noticed from wearing dresses haven't been limited to myself. I've noticed that when I'm wearing a dress people really do react differently. Unfortunately not all the reactions are positive, but many of them are.

Since I've started wearing dresses I've noticed that men of all ages are more respectful. The only exception was on an exceptionally hot day (we're talking 110+ degree heat) when I wore a dress that I usually wear with a sweater, sweater-less. It was a sleeveless dress, but it covered absolutely everything else (other then my shoulders). After some leering encounters at lunch that day I decided that sweltering was the preferred alternative. So while I don't understand it, apparently bare shoulders do affect some people adversely. With that exception however, most men have been very respectful. They stop and hold open doors and smile and nod in a friendly way.

Women in the senior citizens age group have also been very supportive. As a woman's age gets closer to my own, however, I've noticed a general disdain for wearing dresses. Now I should be more specific because it's not all dresses. I don't think I would get the same reaction if I were wearing a tube top and a mini skirt (although then I would probably get another type of glares that women reserve for each other). However I get the distinct impression, from the way a number of young women have acted around me, that there are certain assumptions being made because of the way that I'm dressed, before I've had the chance to speak a single word.

I thought about this for a while tonight, since the baby's already asleep, and decided that most of the assumptions that they make, that cause frowns and occasionally glares, are probably true. My religious beliefs are very conservative and they clash with the status quo in our culture. Most of the things that seemed hilariously funny or even just appropriate, during my pre-conversion days, make me wince now. My pre-conversion self probably would view my current self as prudish and boring (but happy, much, much happier!). I do my best to be obedient to my husband and to try to let him take the lead in our home (this is still a struggle, and I have a feeling it will be until the day I die!).

These aren't popular views these days and they certainly aren't going to win me huge numbers of friends (offline at least, online it's easier to find people with similar beliefs and it has made me feel much more normal reading about other young women who are doing their best to live their faith). Our parish doesn't have many young families and while I love our home here I wonder what it will be like if we end up in a city and parish, with other young Catholics, when my husband moves on to his next graduate school.

As the Great Dress Experiment continues to unfold I learn more and more that I didn't expect to discover when I set out. I can't help but wonder what's next.


  1. Just wanted to say that I understand every single thing you said. It's also great for me to be able to meet other women online who share my faith and most (if not all) of my lifestyle choices. :)

  2. It's definitely been encouraging for me too! It makes me feel much less alone in many of the beliefs to see that there are other women out there going through the same things.

  3. It has been too long since I stopped in to your blog! I have also been pondering issues of modesty as I rebuild my after-baby wardrobe, and have only worn pants for photo-session work. It has made a difference in how I carry myself and how people respond to me. My two best friends have noticed I am sure, but oddly, haven't commented yet!

  4. I'm in much the same situation as you are. I truly admire the conservative woman you are and the courage to live out that faith in very real ways (The Great Dress Experiment!).

    With our small families and the internet to connect with similar minds, we're blessed. That's not to say that I don't completely identify with your wish that more young people at your parish shared the same traditions. :)

  5. Hi! I wanted to say that I enjoy your posts here and on (that's how I originally found your blog). I feel the same way about finding like-minded Catholics; very refreshing!

  6. Very early on in our relationship my husband asked me to wear more skirts (I’ve always liked them but often wore jeans etc) and like you it didn’t take long before I just felt more comfortable in them. Now after being married 5 years and with three children I haven’t worn anything but skirts and dresses for years (except for the occasional sports). For me its not a faith thing I just think that femininity is so important and wearing a skirt and being reasonably modest are part of that. Also feel very comfortable in what I wear and don’t really understand why people think it’s so difficult (after all women wore nothing else for thousands of years and had much harder lives than we do). People do treat your with more respect, they are more flattering of a natural body shape (esp post babies) and in my view women just look better dressed as women ! Good luck.

  7. I discovered your blog on the Catholic community, and it's fast becoming a favorite. I love your entries on modesty, and the dress experiment. While I'm older than you (in my 40's), I have almost completely put aside my pants and jeans in favor of skirts and dresses (which I've always worn for Mass, anyway). I also started veiling at Mass, so that topic is of interest to me as well. More power to ya, sister! Maria

  8. I read your “Great Dress Experiment” with interest. I did something similar. Like you I guess I found marriage, motherhood and maybe age / maturity made me think more carefully about modesty and expressing my femininity. The problem I found was that nowadays we mostly wear skirts / dresses as “formal wear” so we have forgotten the practical side of things (like wearing the right underwear) which was second nature to our mothers / grandmothers, who wore them every day. Of course formal styles are impractical (especially with children) and unlined skirts are immodest. But slightly longer and fuller skirts / dresses they are very comfortable, practical and modest and you need a slip if your skirt is thin / unlined or clingy with tights (pantyhose). I found when I got used to it I was much more comfortable physically and mentally in skirts and now my rule in choosing clothes is that they should be modest – feminine – attractive (esp to my husband) which almost always means a skirt.


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