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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On Wearing Dresses: The Practical Aspects

I've been thinking about writing a skirt/dress post for a while, as the twenty month mark of my "year of skirts" looms, and last night I decided that today would be the day.  Then I awoke to find that modesty was apparently the topic of the day on a number of my favorite blogs, with the skirt vs pants issue being raised and discussed and thoroughly examined.

This, however, is not a skirts vs. pants post.

It is a post about skirts and dresses.

But, since wearing skirts can apparently be a shockingly controversial topic, I'll begin with my standard disclaimer:

Standard Disclaimer (that must accompany all skirt/dress/headcovering/modesty posts):  I'm not saying I think that you have to wear __________ items of clothing, or that ________ will make you a better or worse person.  I'm just sharing my experience.  Thanks in advance for not being offended by things that I haven't said/written and for not reading anything that isn't here and responding to it in a heated manner!

I write that disclaimer somewhat jokingly and yet... it's also somewhat serious.  The "issue" can be so ridiculously overblown that the words "skirt" or "pants" can cause an otherwise sane, rational person to see red.  But I digress.  That is not what this post is about and I hope that it can stay that way here and in the combox!

There's a myth that's out there, that I myself used to believe, that wearing skirts is somehow stifling and difficult and, some would even claim, immodest.  After all, how can I play around on the floor with a toddler and a preschooler and not show something that's inappropriate.  Whenever I hear those claims the first thought that always comes to mind is that, if you're facing those problems, you quite simply aren't wearing the right types of skirts.

I'm not saying that skirts and dresses are appropriate for all types of work or occasions and common sense must be used.  If you're working with heavy machinery, skirts probably aren't the way to go.  And while I would wear a skirt to work in the garden, I wouldn't wear one riding horses (oh I can just see the horses at my parents house using that as an excuse to bolt), or while driving Grumpa's tractor.  So yes, there are exceptions.

However, for day to day life, I've found skirts and dresses to be ideal for my vocation (although today I'm going to focus on the practical).

I'll admit, I did begin wearing skirts because I felt that it was easier (for me) to dress modestly in them.  Here's the thing:  my hips have been in a perpetual state of flux for the past 58 months.  They expand and then kind-of go back and then expand again in roughly two year cycles.  Throughout the cycles I "could" fit into my jeans, for the majority of the time (one of the few advantages of the words "low rise" being printed on pretty much every pair of pants a few years back).  But "could" didn't mean that I "should." Sure I could button that top button... but as I began to learn more about my faith, I just didn't feel comfortable in painted on jeans.  It seemed that I needed three separate wardrobes to cloth my ever changing figure.

When I made the switch over to skirts I quickly realized that, with the right skirt, I could do away with the triple wardrobe (at least on my lower half) and have maternity and non-maternity tops (and dresses that work pretty much throughout the pregnant/not-pregnant cycles, depending on their cut).  My clothing budget went way, way down (and it wasn't high to begin with after I got married).

Yet initially I struggled to find skirts that worked for me as I went about my day.  I quickly realized that not all long skirts were created equal.  If that skirt in anyway impeded the length of my stride by being to narrow, I wasn't going to enjoy wearing it.  And the skirt that hugged by hips, tapered in towards the knees and then flared out with cute little godets at calf length?  It wasn't practical and it certainly didn't feel modest, despite it's length and thick fabric.

Over the past twenty months I've developed a skirt/dress buying rule that works for me.  It's based on what I feel comfortable in.  If you are thinking about wearing dresses and skirts more often, these are some dress buying ideas to keep in mind, and then you can assess them and figure out what works for you.  Here's what I keep in mind:

Length

This was tough for me.  I constantly see skirts that are almost long enough.  They would look long enough on the rack.  Then I try them on and find that the hemline fell just short of t he tops of my knees.  I would give the dress a little tug in the dressing room, and it would be perfectly knee length.

Yet, when I'd get the dress home and began wearing it, I would find myself annoyed.  I would be tugging constantly.

You see, despite the fact that I once loved mini skirts and short shorts, I now find myself bothered when I wear anything above the knees.  Knee length and I'm set.  Above the knee and I tug... and tug... and tug.  It's not pretty.  And it's incredibly annoying.

So... If I don't love a dress enough to alter it and add a bit of fabric around the bottom, it needs to stay in the store.

Finding a length you feel comfortable with when wearing dresses can be incredibly important.  If you feel like something's too short (even when it's pretty long by societies standards) you're not going to be comfortable in it.  And that's going to make dress wearing a lot more difficult.

Fit

As a mom, I avoid pencil skirts and narrow maxi dresses at all cost.  If I can't take a normal length step in a dress without the back layer of fabric and front layer of fabric catching and restricting my gait as I walk, then I won't be comfortable in a skirt.  I need to be able to run and play and get down on the floor in a skirt.  And narrow skirts just don't allow that sort of freedom.

Also, this overlaps with length.  If you are buying a narrow skirt, try sitting down in it.  See how long it is then.  Are you tugging on it?  Are you still comfortable?  These are important questions since you won't be standing all the time.

On the other hand, a skirt with a wider, more flowing cut, allows me to play with the girls without worrying about anything riding up.  And a flowing cut can often fit throughout the bodily changes that go hand in hand with motherhood.  Especially if the skirt fits below your baby bump.

The logical "does this fit" would also fall into this category.  Buying (or sewing) the right size is important.  No one wants to squeeze into something that's much to small.  If you want a closet full of comfortable dresses that you want to wear, trying things on and making sure they fit correctly, is definitely important.

Fabric

Another important factor to take into account when shopping (and not just for dresses and skirts) is how sheer the fabric is.  These days quite a few companies would like to pass off see through jersey knit as a comfortable clothing choice.  However, few women feel comfortable in the clothing that turns see through when the sun hits it.  While slips can help with this (and when I'm not in Florida where it's 1000 degrees and a million percent humidity I appreciate slips so much more!), it can also be nice to just pass on the too sheer fabric and get something that you don't have to worry about becoming transparent in a certain light.

The Top Side

When buying dresses I'm a bit more forgiving when evaluating the neckline.  In our society it can be a serious struggle to find a dress that both covers one's cleavage and one's bum.  It's unfortunate, but it's true, and it's been true for quite a while.  I will buy dresses that are much too low cut if the rest of the dress is acceptable.

Then I do one of two things.  If the dress is long enough I'll snip a bit of fabric off the bottom, re-hem the dress and then sew in a triangle of fabric at the neckline to cover up all the parts that I'd rather people other than my husband didn't see.

If the dress isn't long enough, or I haven't gotten around to sewing it, I wear one of the cami-secrets (those little camisole cutouts that most drug stores have in the "made for TV" section) that I have laying around the house.  I have to replace them every few months, but since I wear them almost every day, and they seriously help my comfort level by modifying tops that I wouldn't otherwise wear, it's definitely worth it.

39 comments:

  1. LOVE your post on skirts/dresses. With my figure, I only go for the skirts and totally agree that it can be rather frustratingly difficult to find something ready made that I enjoy wearing.

    If I were the paranoid sort I would say skirts offered in stores are designed to convince women that only slacks are comfortable and flexible.

    You missed the essential of being machine washable. I occasionally find a top or skirt I love only to find it is hand wash or dry clean only!

    So my skirts are made at home, long enough, machine washable, my preferred colors, flowing enough that I can get down on the floor with modesty, and oh so comfortable!!

    But if like me you love a floor length skirt, or at least, top of the shoe length, it WILL catch on the wheels of those desk chairs that have castors. Just saying from experience!

    Maybe I should go blog on this topic too. I love it so much, and love reading about it.

    Hope you get lots of nice responses.

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    1. @Ann Seeton - What a good idea you have to make your own skirts. Where do you get the patterns?

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  2. I just started wearing skirts more frequently since moving to FL. Living in a warm climate makes it much easier. I haven't really found a way to make skirts comfortable during colder weather, as I find tights/leggins etc. pretty uncomfortable and when we lived up North, we spent quite a bit of time outside, all year long.

    I really like wearing skirts in FL, as I feel they are more flattering than shorts and I can't stand wearing long pants or jeans in the heat. I don't have a problem really doing everyday activities in a skirt, and I do find that they are great for warmer weather.

    As far as dresses go, I have spent over 9 of the last 10 years (since my oldest was born) nursing...my kids all nursed until past their 3rd birthday, anywhere and everywhere in public; I never found a way to make that work (except for specific nursing dresses, which I don't care for) and I'm not a fan of using a nursing cover. The easiest way for me to nurse is to just pull my shirt up and use a camisole or belly band to cover my belly. Which is hard in dresses, so I've never invested in any as I never found them practical for me, as my kids nursed ALL.THE.TIME, anywhere, well into toddlerhood.

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  3. Thanks for this! I'm thinking of mostly switching to skirts for the duration of my pregnancy, with the exception of the basketball shorts I love, and it may be more of a habit afterwards as well... Do you have any suggestions for how one acts while playing w/children in skirts? I've always been the tomboy/athletic type, and we found out we are having a boy in October, so your thoughts on that would be great!

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  4. Fabulous post, thank you!

    I don't own any skirts as I have always thought that I am too short for long skirts as I'm only 5'2". Would you mind discussing this?

    Thank you!

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  5. Oooh I love this post. I have started wearing more dresses and skirts for the very reason that you pointed out: they are definitely more forgiving to a post-partum mother. So much more comfortable around the hips and tummy area for me.

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  6. Good post, though I would like to say that I wear a dress driving the tractor and our Mennonite friends wear dresses when they ride their horses. I would take a dress/skirt over pants any day. They are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Not to mention that you almost always look better/classier in a dress. I find I get a lot more respect when out in the public since switching to strictly dresses.

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  7. Cam- I don't use the cami secrets or even sew, maybe it's tacky but I just throw another shirt/blouse over the top of my dress. Most of my dresses that are low cut are nursing ones so I wouldn't want to change them anyway. Thought I'd throw that out there for others to use.

    Blue Henn- I have two boys. One is a very active two year old. I'm worn skirts most of the time all my life and more so lately since the climate I live in is such that I hate my legs swelling in pants. But I digress...

    You can do anything with a boy in a long enough but forgiving cut or material. I find stretchy fabric skirts (the kind with elastic) to be the best. I don't behave any different really than with pants although when I sit on the floor I do out of habit tuck my skirt. What I mean to say is I tuck it under my bum or under my knees if I have a child sitting in my lap.

    Running, jumping, climbing, I've done all in skirts. As long as their long enough, nobody can see anything. You might have to hike it a little for the climbing part but that's it.

    It's more natural then you'd think.

    Full of Thought- I'm 5 4". I find skirts that come to my shins rather than ankle length don't make me so short looking. But it also depends on the cut. Some cuts can be just as flattering at the ankle.

    Hope that helps.

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  8. I hope this comment isn't taken as oppositional - since this is a post on the practical aspects of wearing skirts/dresses and those will definitely be different for different folks...

    FullOfThought, I claim a height of 5'3" (but if I'm honest, it's really 5' 2.75") so I hear you on long skirts! My approach to this is pretty of opposite of Cam's and it's been honed in the ridiculous climate here in Washington DC, but I hope it'll be helpful.

    I really prefer pants for a number of reasons: price (I've always worked for the Church - which I love doing - but money has to stretch), versatility, the fact that I don't own a car (not all stores - Goodwill, for one - are accessible to me & my garments take more wear-and-tear) the fact that I don't own a sewing machine (nor have a place to store such thing!)

    However, DC summers require special clothes: temps 85 - 106 (and no cooling off at night - 80 degrees is a "low" which kills this CA native) with humidity at 40 -80%. The *best* garments for this weather 3/4 length linen slacks, but those are not cheap and aren't appropriate for my job, so I've been wearing more skirts.

    Here are my tips as a short, short-legged, bike commuter:

    Things I wish I had known:

    1) You really can't ride a bike in (just) a skirt if your legs are short. If the skirt is knee-length or longer, American bikes have pedals/derailleur up higher than European cycles or cruisers (and I have a hybrid bike with an upright stance, but still this is true) and your skirt will get caught in the chain. If your skirt is shorter than knee-length it will ride up and you will flash the whole neighborhood.

    2) Chafing! This never happened to me in CA. I am not obese (healthy BMI, thankyouverymuch), but my thighs do touch. I chafe to the point of bleeding. It is awful (and has lead to a very awkward "lady doctor" appointment.) If you are on a budget, you should know that Spanx or the knockoffs are quite expensive (nearly $20 for the knockoffs at Target where I live), so I don't consider them a solution.

    Solutions: Unlike the author here, I haven't run into a lot of jersey or other bad fabric when skirt shopping. I buy light cotton or linen skirts. I've had good luck at H&M and at discount stores and in pricier store's clearance sections. Oftentimes lightweight skirts come dyed very dark/bright colors or have thin cotton liners, so they're not see-through. (You could not pay me to wear a polyester slip in this weather!) I buy knee-length or shorter, A-line or pencil, as a short pear-shaped girl. I have no issues with this modesty-wise.

    But the big secret is: leggings! Nice 3/4 length cotton leggings , they are "in style" so they can be found in stores, they come in neutral colors, they are often cheaper than Spanx, etc. Voila, I can ride my bike to work in a skirt (I just go in the restroom and change out of the leggings when I arrive.) And I think they are cute for less professional looks.

    In the winter you can wear the leggings over tights if it's super cold. I find, too, that for skirts in the winter here, the best thing is to wear straight tighter (not painted on) skirts of a thick or densely-woven fabric, with tights, socks, and boots. Anything A-line lets in too much cold air for me.

    For dresses in the summer (I buy things of the same materials from the same stores as for skirts), I wear leggings underneath them too when walking long distances or biking. (I have the opposite philosophy to the author for tops of dresses. I like a color or some top interest to a dress and with no sewing machine and not liking "moving parts" to my clothing, if it's too low cut, it stays on the rack.)

    Sorry for the essay-length comment but hope it's helpful to someone out there!

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  9. My husband wouldn't care for it if I dressed in a matronly fashion, and I'd really stick out like a sore thumb if I did so in my area of the country, but I think it's great if it works for you. I have been nursing for many years and most dresses just don't allow for that. It's frustrating because sometimes I *do* need to wear a dress! I do have a few cute skirts that I enjoy wearing on "fancier" days, Mass, etc. but for my usually "mom about town" day-to-day life, it's yoga pants and tank tops or fitted tee shirts :) I find these are the most practical for the things I do (cleaning, cooking, exercising, shuttling children about, playing on the floor, gardening, caring for the kids.) It's kind of my uniform!

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  10. @FullOfThought -I'm only 5ft and I wear dresses all the time. Skirt proportion is the key. Find the length that suits your body. I am short through the legs and would look ridiculous in full length. I prefer mid-calf (tea length).

    @BlueHenn -playing is easy in the right skirts, just like Cam mentioned. If you are really worried (or doing cartwheels), leggings under your skirt puts and end to all worries. Just remember, women in the last 2000 years have been wearing skirts and doing a lot more than just playing with their children :)

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  11. @ Ann- Machine washable is definitely a must! LOL! I didn't even think of it because it's such a given. If it's not machine washable it's not going to survive around here.

    @ Blue Henn- For me full, looser skirts are definitely the way to go. They don't restrict movement and when I'm playing with the girls they move with me and don't ride up.

    @ Full of Thought- I'm so glad Paula responded because she said what I was thinking. I think that body type plays a big roll on what will work, although there is a good chance you'll have to hem longer skirts (I do and I'm 5'5") so they aren't too long. I think maxi skirts these days are made for women who are 6' tall and who are wearing 2" heels!

    @ allthemasons- They are so much more forgiving post-partum!!!!

    @ Paula- I've definitely noticed people do react differently. I'm much more likely to have a door held open for me these days, which is awesome when I'm manuvering a stroller!

    @ Deltaflute- I think layering is an awesome strategy too and not tacky at all. I didn't bring any camisoles this summer and I am seriously missing them.

    @ peregrinator- I love the legging advice! I haven't needed it (sadly... I miss the cold...) since we moved to Florida, but leggings were a must when we were in Northern California during winter!

    @ Annonymous- I've been nursing for pretty much the past four years, give or take a few months, and it's as easy for me in a dress as it is in any shirt. With a camisole, cami-secret and layering, a lot of times it's even easier. And I am grateful that my husband prefers my style of attire and would definitely not prefer yoga pants and t-shirts (I don't think he'd probably describe me as "matronly" either... although in our society I'm not exactly sure what that means... Where I live most of the "matrons" are in not-so-flattering bikinis showing way too much on the beach...). He does appreciate that I dress up for him. I cook and clean, play with the kids, exercise and run a business and dresses haven't slowed me down in the least. It's kind of like my uniform! :0)

    I do stand out, both in California and in Florida, but I'm okay with that. To not stand out, in a land of short shorts and bikinis, I'd have to compromise my personal standards for modesty and show way more than I think is appropriate for me to show... and I'm not okay with that sort of compromise!

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  12. I have ridden a bike in a skirt. It isn't that hard if you pick the right skirt. A knee length skirt will work, as long as it is full enough that it falls down between your knees.

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  13. Cam-

    Matronly works.

    ~thomist

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  14. Loved this post! I wear skirts almost exclusively in the summer. Frankly, I just don't like shorts. 3 kids, work outside the home full time, work at home full time, skirts don't slow me down in the least.

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  15. Dear Anonymous - if only one could change their personality as easily as one can change their clothes. A dress may make you look "matronly" but your current personality makes you seem like a jerk.

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  16. @Sophie Miriam: not with short legs, you can't ride a bike in a skirt! I just want to let all the other short-legged gals know they're not crazy.

    Because I have to keep my seat low (short legs, gotta reach the pedals) if I wear a knee length skirt, the skirt gets caught in the chain. I am one skirt poorer, so I know!

    But, if I wear anything at or above the knee, the skirt rides up. This I also learned the hard way. (And I would like to apologize to everyone along R St between 6th NE & 6th NW for that one Sunday...)

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  17. I wear bloomers under any of my dresses or skirts. I made it myself from muslin and Butterick pattern 6884. The light weight material is perfect for summer and those who have their thighs touch. Plus, it helps with the crawling and jumping around after children.

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  18. I would love to wear skirts more often. Though I don't mind my skirts falling just above the knees (at 5'6" I still have longer legs than my 5'9" husband) as long as the skirts are flowy (sp?) and have a sway to them, because when I sit down the extra fabric used to create the flowing sway tends to drop the hem past my knees.

    I do not like straight pencil-type skirts, even ones that go below my knees, because when I sit down they always ride up and I'm constantly playing "tug'o'war".

    I like wearing dresses, but honestly, being overweight (I know, I know... I've struggled with it for years) it's hard to find dresses made out of material (and priced right) in which I feel comfortable crawling around on the ground, doing the dishes, mopping the floors and generally being spit-up, "peed", or bled upon.

    My modesty I need to work on is the "cut-to-low" shirts. It's not that I intend to show off so much cleavage, but having so much cleavage makes it difficult NOT to show it. I try to wear camis or tank tops under shirts, but often those are cut not much higher than the shirt. I don't like shirts up close to my neck, they make me have panic attacks because I feel like they're cutting off my breathing. What I really need to do is just break down and grab several neutral colored tank tops that have a boat-neck cut, and then wear my colored v-necks over those.

    Someday... *sighs*

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  19. I find myself mostly in cropped pants of a comfy cut, and 3/4 sleeve no-iron cotton blouses in various colors. This works well for about 3/4 of the year in our very warm climate. I have several long-ish (tea length) skirts which I like as well, but mainly for church and "dress-up" events.

    I am 5'10" and have liked the fact that "maxi" dresses have made a comeback; they do seem as if they are made for very tall women. My nearly 6' daughter has some, and I can't imagine shorter women wearing most of them without alteration.

    This is a subject on which I am very much "live and let live", as long as the clothing is decent and modest, e.g., no cleavage, no see-through, nothing tight. And, at my age, no sleeveless. ;)

    Marie

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  20. Bethany - I am large busted as well (40dd nursing) so I totally understand what you're saying. I found a really great little item on etsy called a t-let: http://www.etsy.com/shop/gettisaccessories?ref=search_shop_redirect
    They're a little pricey but very comfortable and they don't come so high as to make you feel claustophobic and they cover the sides without cutting off your arms. They only cover the bust, so it's not too hot to wear, and they're made of jersey, nice and stretchy.

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  21. I myself have just started wearing skirts MOST of the time. I have to ease into it since my husband and my family consider me mostly a tomboy.

    I have also had a problem with "chafing" in the summer. Instead of wearing a slip, I use (get this!) my husband's boxer shorts!! I figure, no one is looking at my undergarments, it helps with my transition from regular shorts to skirts, and since they are cotton, they are generally cooler!

    In the winter, I don't really wear leggings, although I can see they would probably be warm. I myself wear knee hi's. I was afraid I might look too "Amish" wearing them, but there are some pretty patterns and various colors out there to buy. Also, there are "above the knee hi's" I just saw in the dept. store this past winter. Some of them were pretty too!!

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  22. I gave up pants for Lent, and since then, I wear skirts about 95% of the time. I used to wear jeans and a blouse for everything, and since my husband liked the way I looked, I figured he would be opposed to me wearing skirts all the time. I, too, thought he would see me as "matronly". I couldn't be more wrong!

    Our husbands don't want us to look trendy; let's face it, men really don't know or care what the latest fashions are. They want us to look beautiful and modest (whether they say so or not). There is something incredibly attractive to a man, when his wife dresses up for him and when seeing her body is a privilege for ONLY him. I say this as a sister in Christ to the PP- Your husband won't think you're matronly, and yoga pants are immodest and unflattering- on EVERYONE. If you're doing yoga, cleaning house, etc., where them! But if not, put some real clothes on... ones that aren't skin tight around the tush, and ones that can't pass for pajamas. You will be amazed at the respect you get in public and from your husband. :)

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  23. I'm sorry - I didn't mean matronly as an insult! I just meant dressing in a very conservative, old-fashioned way as opposed to more current fashions. If it works for you and your husband likes the look, that is wonderful. I was just saying that mine would not care for it if I looked so drastically different. I live in Southern California so maybe in other parts of the country I could fly under the radar more but here, not so much. It would look as though I were in costume.
    @Meghan - My husband thinks I look great in my yoga pants! They are comfortable, practical, and I think they are flattering. I won't be able to wear them forever, I know - but for now I look like 90% of the moms at our (Catholic) preschool and I am just not one to want to stick out. That's not to say that I'm wearing tube tops and hot pants around town. I like my body and I guess I don't see the point in trying to hide it under tons of fabric and with clothes that make me feel weird. I think if that style works for you, that is absolutely great. But some people really enjoy fashion, keep up with it, like to look modern, etc. and there is nothing evil about that.

    Cam - How can you nurse in a dress if it doesn't button up the front? I have been nursing practically non stop for 8 years and I have yet to find one that I don't have to completely pull down. When I am out and about and I need to nurse the baby, the easiest and most discreet thing for me to do is just pull up my shirt. How do you manage in a dress? Do you pull the neckline way down?

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  24. Thanks for this post! I've been thinking a lot lately about making a conscious effort to wear skirts more. For one thing, they really are more flattering for me if they are the right length and style. During the summer, I have mostly skirts and about 3 pairs of shorts. I find myself reaching for one of my skirts whenever I can and only resorting to the shorts when everything else is dirty! I am not sure what I'll do when fall and winter come though. Most of my cold weather wardrobe is jeans. I'd love to get some more skirts, but we're on a very limited budjet. I suggest you do a post about fall/winter skirts in the next few months :)

    Also- thanks for the info on those cami secret things. I've been debating on whether or not it'd be worth the money, but I am going to buy some now!

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  25. anon- I buy nursing dresses and just wear a top over them so I pull the shirt up and the dress to the side (or however it's designed).

    Japanese Weekend or Majamas or Milk Nursing Wear. A little pricey, but I only own two dresses anyway.

    I've been nursing for 2.5 years myself. So totally understand.

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  26. I'll say I love skirts - but I don't think I stick out in southwest Florida, and I don't think I've ever stuck out in SoCal either, where my mom is from. I'm probably not as conservative as Cam, because I feel comfortable in things a bit tighter (my wanna-be ethnic-ness coming out, I grew up in Orlando, I love me some stretch jersey even on my ghetto booty), but I still don't wear stuff above the knee.

    Besides, headcoverings don't make you stand out if you wear wide headbands or scarves, like I do. Especially in FL and CA, I feel like most people think, "oh she's a hippie!" and not, "oh she's a brainwashed religious freak." But since I'm a mix of both, y'know, I wouldn't mind either. ;)

    I find that being modest doesn't have to mean being matronly - or old fashioned. My fav fashion mag, InStyle, has tons of outfits that are very modest AND modern. Anyway, because the eclectic range of styles that are big today, I don't think we have to sacrifice. We have to be creative...but we don't have to miss out on great fashion!! Button up peter pan collared shirts are big, a-line skirts never go out of style, 40s/50s retro is still in, shirt dresses are a forever classic, boho chic comes back every summer, even high waisted, flared jeans for those who like pants...the list goes on. Great fashion leaves some mystery!

    With that said, I think I'm in the same boat as Cam, in that I love skirts because I love the way they make me feel - pretty, feminine, modest. But trust me, sometimes I come home and happily throw on my old sweat pants...which I'm sure doesn't phase my husband one bit (although my mom makes tons of awful comments about them when I wear them around her!!).

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  27. I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I find it interesting that you have such Puritanical sensibilities and tastes and are Catholic. I really do not mean that as an insult to you or to those who practice religions with Puritanical roots - but most Catholics I know are a little... looser - if that's the right word. You strike me more like the conservative Evangelicals/Baptists that I know with your choice of attire, politics, commitment to a more traditional role and your homemaker-oriented hobbies. That is definitely not a bad thing at all. Please don't misunderstand - but it just doesn't remind me of the Catholics I grew up with who, used, er, colorful language and loved them some Scotch on the rocks and Pabst, teased their hair to glorious heights and rolled their eyes at the "goody two shoes" Protestants in their long skirts at their teetotaler casserole picnics! I wonder if women like you are a growing trend in the Catholic Church, having taken some of your ideals and lifestyle choices from the Protestants?

    Margaret

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  28. Hi Margaret-

    I think it's a growing trend among young Catholic women to learn a bit more about what their faith teaches, than it was in recent decades.

    I don't think it's Puritanical, because we certainly don't see sex in a Puritanical light. However we do see it as something that's reserved between a husband and a wife, who are open to life.

    I think more young Catholic women are conscious of the term "near occasion of sin" and how it isn't kind to flaunt what you got, and make life more difficult for our fellow man. No you don't have to cover from head to toe and my skirts run a range of lengths and style, with ease of wear being high on the list as a mom, but I, like many others, have rejected the idea that flaunting my sexuality is an ideal to be chased after.

    On the other hand, I think many young women are rejecting the social idea that we somehow need to act like men. There's definitely been a reemergence in more "feminine" arts, as women realize that they're useful to know (and also that you can often make items of much higher quality than you can buy at a reasonable price).

    I don't think it's a taking of things protestant. I think it's a reflection of women who are serious about their faith (although you do see that reflected in different ways... this is just a major way!).

    We are supposed to be in the world, but we're not supposed to be of it. Being a perfect reflection of the norms of any earthly society isn't what we're supposed to be striving for.

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  29. Dear Margaret,

    Not all Catholic women aspire to be on the "Jersey Shore" by there behavior and dress. I know because I have met plenty of them.

    ~Thomist

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  30. I think maxi skirts ARE in style. They've been pretty popular the past two summers. Plus I know plenty of "fashionable" women who wear a lot of sun dresses or skirts in the summer. I've always liked dresses and skirts, ever since I was little. I find them to be more comfortable and cooler. Plus I enjoy looking more like a lady. ; ) I don't think it's "matronly" or "Baptist" to dress modestly. I am Baptist though. ; )

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  31. I know you love your cami secret, but I must be wearing mine wrong, because I hate them. I find they don't stay down and flat, and I also get a line right across my breast where the edge of the fabric is. Any tips? They seem to look good on you. I always just end up wearing a full cami instead.

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  32. I love wearing skirts, but my biggest problem is finding ones with POCKETS. It's mostly due to that that I still wear primarily jeans; I just can't give up pockets for normal day wear. That being said, I want to go shopping soon to try and find some skirts with good pockets, I know that they're out there somewhere. That or find a good pattern and start sewing some.

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  33. Cam I’m going to take a hint from you and structure my comment as you did your post.

    Skirt Length
    Just my opinion on shirt/ dress length. I like skirts that are actually to my ankles (why ? Because they make me look thinner) Ok I’m going to say it. I’ve got some major curves and they aren’t all in the right places. Anything that is above about mid-calf (almost as a rule) makes me look shorter and like my hips are about to explode.

    Fit
    I like semi-slim or A-line skirts. This choice is often dependent on the fabric and the season. Summer more A-lines and winter more semi-slim and straight. (not stead fast rule just an observation of my trend.) I have no kids to deal with and once again Semi-slim (not pencil skirts look best on me). I want to hint that I have some kind of shape but I don’t want you to see my shape like an outline. (No tight butt tuck or hip to thigh cling for me)

    (End of Part 1)

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  34. Fabric
    In the summer I want something flowing and kind of flirty. Winter I want thick and structured. In the summer I ALWAYS seem to wear a legged corset or old fashion pantaloons (Keeps my thighs from chapping when they rub together and helps to remain modest even if my dress creeps up a bit or you can kind of see thought the fabric).

    Top side
    I tend to wear a skirt and top because dresses are hard for me to find due to my size 12 top and size 16 to 18 bottom. . (I have a fairly large bust for the size of my waist). I’m kind of a strangely shaped hour glass. When I have a V-neck top I wear my cami-secrets (my husband calls it my boob bib), and if that’s not appropriate to wear because of the neckline (like a scoop or a square) I find if I pair it with a sweater it seems to be better. The two dresses I do own and wear out of the house have fairly high neck lines but are almost always worn with a sweater,


    Questions you might be asking your self.

    Does she always wear a skirt/ dress? It really depends. I seem to flow in and out of wearing skirts. Right now I wear a lot more jeans than I used to. I find I wear more jeans in the summer (strangely) but I find that my choice of whether or not to wear skirts is really dependent on if I can wear sandals. Since I live in Houston and their are only about 6 weeks of "cold" days where sandals are not practical during the winter I wear them year round. Location also seems to dictate my skirt wearing, For example I was in Colorado last week. I'm from the flat lands and I quickly discovered that the majority of my sandals had 2 to 4 inch platform heals. In my opinion I can't walk up and down hills in sandals so I didn't wear the skirts I packed, Now I'm in Minnesota and I think I might break out those sandals so skirts are once again an option. I always wear skirts to mass because it just feels right.

    Why does she care about her skirts so much?

    It's because they make me feel more feminine. I like to feel like a lady and skirts help me to do that. They also force me to act more to like a woman. My mother always told me you're going to act the way you dress and people are going to treat you the way you are dressed. So if you're going to dress like "a woman of the night" other people are going to treat you that way. If you dress like a business man by wearing a pant suit your coworkers are going to treat you like one. If you wear a skirt you act like and possibly others around you will treat you like a woman. Personally I like men opening doors and pulling out chairs for me and I find men tend to do those things more often when I'm wearing a skirt, It's almost like by wearing a skirt they feel like you are giving them permission to treat you like a lady instead of like just another man.

    I haven't read the other comments yet so I might be commenting again. Next comments shouldn't be this long.

    Wow I think I like this comment I think I might post it on my blog, Thanks Cam for giving me the oppertunity to think about and write down what I guess I've been feeling for a while.

    (end of Part 2)

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  35. Cecilia Therese
    - Thanks for the pattern idea. Unfortunately that specific patter has been discontinued however I’ll look to see if I can find something similar.

    Cathleen
    - Thanks for the husband’s boxers idea! I love it and would have never thought about it.

    Thomist – I agree it’s ok to be matronly but I don’t think Cam really is but you’re the one who lives with her.

    Margret?
    Where/when the hell did you grow up? (Must have been the 60s' - early 80's) I'm up there with Cam. I think we look perfectly normal and not overly scrupulous or puritanical. All of my friends (the 20 – mid 30’s crowd all of which are catholic) are trying to dress more modestly for ourselves and our husbands.

    Courtney
    - Have you tried putting a bit of “plastic griping” (can’t think of better descriptive words) on the snapping part that goes over your bar straps? It has helped mine to stay on. I know what you mean about the line. It’s kind of annoying. I am considering taking the ones I have, making a sort of pattern and lengthen it to hit just under my bust so if there is a line it will be farther under my boobs where you can’t see it as well.
    Bethany
    - Haha! I hate pockets because they make my hips look huge because they always seem to add more poof where I don’t need them. Now with that knowledge you can imagine why I know all about pockets in skirts. Here are a few patterns I got with the intention of getting rid of the pockets. (Hint Hint Wait till they go on sale for 99 cents apiece at places like Jo Ann’s and Hobby Lobby. ;) ) Hope the links work and these help get you started.
    - http://www.simplicity.com/p-7502-misses-miss-petite-dresses-project-runway-collection.aspx
    - http://www.simplicity.com/p-7455-misses-amazing-fit-dresses.aspx
    - http://www.simplicity.com/p-6062-misses-miss-petite-amzing-fit-dresses.aspx
    - http://www.simplicity.com/p-6164-misses-skirts.aspx
    - http://www.simplicity.com/p-5915-misses-skirt-pants-or-shorts.aspx
    - http://www.simplicity.com/p-1607-misses-skirts.aspx

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  36. Hello ladys, im new to posting. i was searching for sites that talk about skirt/dress wearing these days. my husband has been trying to get me to wear thm for about 11 or so yrs now. i only owned 2 skirts and 2 dresses, that just hung in my closet. well i gained weight so had to get rid of all them. so hes been buggin me to get more. so i did finally break down and buy a skirt outfit for easter last yr, he LOVED it on me, and sed " now thats what im talking about ". Im a SAHM and he just likes the whole " housewife" look. he doesnt care what other housewives wear, he jus has wanted me in dresses/skirts. so 2 wks ago it was so hot i went to walmart to get a sundress, boy did that make a difference on how i felt. i was cooler, felt more feminine and hubby loved. so i went back and bought 2 more. sence thn he has bought me 4 skirts that go with lots of shirts i already had and 2 more skirt outfits. so ive been wearing nothin but sundresses and skirts for 2 wks now, and we both love it !! Who wouldve thought that a tomboy, homeschooling mom of 3 boys and a girl would be sporting just dresses/skirts. I will keep my jeans and capris in closet just incase, but i put a pr of capris on the other day and boy were they uncomfortable, so off went the capris and on went a skirt. Hubby is loving it bigtime !! Most of the women in our church wear skirts/dresses so i will fit in there, as far as my friends, they accept me for who i am so they said if im more comfy and if hubby loves, why not ( evn tho they are pants, capris, shorts wearin gals). So anyone out there that is unsure, give it a try, you wont be sorry. A little hint, i know this might sound silly, but it does change your attitude also, ive been more in the " june cleaver" mode sence wearing. Ive always cleaned great and cookd n baked, but i dont know, i feel more housewifey, lol.

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  37. I love wearing a skirt or a dress. I rarely wear trousers. Most jobs can be done in a skirt. I do DIY, painting a decorating in a tunic apron. I wash the car and work in the garden with a pinafore over my skirt. I like A line skirts which enable me to walk normally. Pencil skirts are very restrictive.
    Sally

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  38. I always wear a skirt or a dress. It makes me feel pretty, feminine and ladylike. The big problem was my bicycle with the danger of the hem getting caught in the wheel or the chain. A narrow skirt was too restrictive. I tried culottes but narrow legs looked silly and wide legs were as bad as a skirt. A girlfriend at work showed me her bicycle skirt guard, which fitting over the back wheel and the chain. End of problems.
    Susan

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