Thursday, April 5, 2007

From Pants To Skirts (and other decisions regarding modesty)

For a while, I have wanted to describe my transition to more modest and feminine attire. It started a couple of years ago, and was such a curious period in my life – the time between the moment when I first realized I don't want to continue dressing like Britney Spears, and right now, when I can say I have found a style I am more or less comfortable with.
Of course, it happened gradually. I think the first change I made was making sure my midriff was covered at all times. My chest and knees went next. The latest changes I committed myself to were wearing shirts that covered my elbow, and keeping my legs entirely covered. Another change I made during that period was getting rid of clothes that were too tight or too flashy.
And I didn't even begin talking about skirts! Prior to making The Big Change, I had no skirts in my wardrobe and had no idea how to wear them or move in them. But after trying skirts for a bit, I've realized how feminine they are, how they almost always look more modest than pants, and how much better they fit me (when shopping for pants, I often had the feeling they are not made for someone with hips). I switched to skirts entirely; right now, I only make an exception when I clean, sleep or exercise, and when I get married (God willing) I do not wish my husband to see me wearing pants at all.
The transition didn't always go smoothly. There was a period when one day, I'd wear a long skirt and a lovely modest blouse, and the next day, I could be found in a pair of torn jeans a t-shirt that was a tad too tight. Sometimes I'd realize my heels are too high, I'm wearing too much makeup or my accessories are too attracting.
There were also moments of frustration when I discovered the shops in my area offer a very small variety of modest clothes. That was a time for finding creative solutions like searching second-hand shops, wearing layers, making alterations and swapping with friends. Naturally, every woman's style is individual and there's plenty of room for creativity – it can be simple, elegant, hip, romantic, modern, retro or anything in between, but whatever we choose, we must remember we are King's daughters and should dress and act accordingly ("The King's Daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold" Psalm 45:13).


Tracy said...

Thank you! I too have never felt quite right in a pair of jeans, although I did wear them. Dress pants suited me better, as far as fit and comfort. This was a strange thing for my parents, as they have a small farm, and thought that I was just trying to be "dressed up all of the time". Not true at all though. I'm 36, and have been struggling with the dresses /skirts only issue for some time. I don't think that I have worn pants twice this year. My husband loves it when I am in a skirt or dress, and compliments me often. However, he is not opposed to pants, either. He says he doesn't care if I ever wear a pair of pants again, but if I want to that is fine with him.
As for our daughters, they are 14 and 8. I have not imposed a no pants dress code upon them. Yet. I'm not sure what to do here. Do I just lead by example, or impose a law? For now, I'm leading by example, but they must wear a skirt or dress to worship, AND one more day a week. They can choose the other day.
It is difficult here, too, to be able to find the clothes that I want. It must be a worldwide problem!
Blessings to you, Anna.

Anna S said...

Thanks for sharing! I have heard from many others how difficult it is to find modest, flattering and feminine outfits (oh, and did I forget to mention inexpensive? :P).
Regarding no-pants rules, I'm really not sure what to say. How do your girls feel about wearing dresses and skirts? I'm sure that if their Mom wears skirts and Dad loves it, it's excellent example!
Of course, I don't think pants are necessarily immodest. Only it's difficult to find a pair that isn't too tight or low-riding AND isn't made for larger sizes. I still have a few pairs I might wear under a skirt if I go hiking or jogging. But I DO think skirts and dresses are an important part of being feminine. I even notice I walk differently when I wear a skirt!
If God blesses me with daughters, I think I will just make sure there are only skirts and dresses in their wardrobe as soon as they are old enough to walk :) hopefully they will get used to it, and no issues will arise. If they grow up and say, "Mom, I want that pair of pants", it will be allowed if it's just as modest as a skirt.

Candy said...

First, thats so great regarding the comment you left me about reusing that broken mug! :) Yay!
Second, thanks for this post! You just reminded me why I am trying to lose buy some new dresses and skirts. When I used to be skinny :) I wore dresses and skirts all the time. Since I gained a bit of weight, I dont wear dresses/skirts all that often. But I love them and so want to be wearing them again. I think it is so feminine too. Well, as of yesterday I started working out one hour on my exercise bike. I plan to do it everyday and get back to wearing dresses more. Much more!
Thanks :)

Sheri said...

Anna - what a great post about modesty! Thank you for sharing the ways our Heavenly Father has helped you to change. I’m so proud of you my sister! In terms of the whole pants/skirts ideas, I'm with you that pants (or summer time capri pants) are necessarily immodest, but skirts are almost always modest. I'm trying to add more of them to my wardrobe and seeking God (and my husband's advice) on everything I put on this temple. I’m growing right along with you! And, thank you again and keep shining for HIM!

Oh and that pie you made yesterdaylooks DELICIOUS! I am definitely going to try your recipe.

Anna S said...

Hi Candy,
I actually find that when I gain a bit of weight, skirts feel more comfortable than pants, because they tend to be less clingy. But of course, it depends on the style of the skirts/pants you own.

Sheri - thank you for the encouragement! If God sends me a husband, I will also consult him about the clothes I choose. And I'm certain men (at least the RIGHT type of men! :-)) appreciate modest attire.

Christine said...

Hi Anna! Your blog is a breath of fresh air; it is so delightful to hear the wisdom of a young lady. Keep flourishing and growing in Him. There is no better joy than resting in our Savior.Blessings to you!

Jordin said...

Hi Anna!

I haven't "made the switch" entirely, mainly because I have A LOT of pants in my closet right now--and no sewing skills or money! ;)

Eventually, I hope to wear skirts only. Matt (my fiance) says that he doesn't really care if I wear only skirts/dresses. However, when I do wear them, I feel much more feminine and sweet--and he treats me differently... :)I also find it easier to submit to him/my father when I'm wearing a skirt. I don't know why, but it usually is. :)

One of the reasons I want to make the switch is because pants tend to highlight *certain areas* that shouldn't be highlighted. Even if they aren't low-rise or tight.

Thanks for sharing this! I enjoyed it!

Anna S said...

Christine and Jordin, thank you for the encouraging comments!

Jordin - I understand exactly what you mean. :) I still have a lot of pants, and I didn't have a lot of money. Still don't. I'm very thrifty when it comes to buying clothes, so it took me a while to slowly fill my wardrobe with skirts. I looked for the best deals, searched second-hand shops, dug out old clothes and altered them. Believe it or not, I altered a skirt my mother used to wear before I was born (!) and now it fits me perfectly. I received so many compliments for it, because it looks nice, retro and feminine. :)
So, it was done, but not in one day, and I had to be VERY creative to fit it into a tiny budget.

Robin said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Anna. You sound like a very mature young lady and I'm sure that your parents are very proud of you. I admire the stance you are taking on modesty - our society needs more thoughtful young ladies like you. I would only caution you on not letting it become a form of legalism. When that happens the "rules" become what we live for and we lose our focus on Jesus.

Becky said...

Anna, your perspective is so refreshing. And not even one bit judgemental. You have such a lovely spirit and I am glad to read about your choices and decisions as a young woman of God.

Modesty, as you said, is definitely the key, and unfortunately our world does not encourage such things in our young women (or old women for that matter). It takes the teaching of women to the next generation to promote a more modest appearance.

Funny, I was just thinking that today when the car pick up line at school was going strong. A wonderful Christian school and yet to see some of the things the moms come in to pick up their children. Oh, my!

Christie Belle said...

I am a big fan of skirts and dresses too. I still like my comfy jeans, but I love feeling feminine. And I agree, it is SO hard finding pants for women who have hips or any kind of shape for that matter! But overall, you are so right on with the modesty thing, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful topic! I totally agree with you. It has taken me a while as well to try to fill up my closet with more modest clothing. It is a work in progress. I definitely am able to save financially when shopping at the thrift store for skirts.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and alot of us stand 100% by you :)

Anna S said...

Thank you, dear Robin, Becky, Christie Bell and Glamour Mom!

Robin, I am with you on the legalism part. As a matter of fact, I thought about it just this morning while cleaning. I mean, we can do all the "right" things, but what is it worth if we don't do them with joy, love and on top of all, humility? What is it worth if we walk around with an "I'm-oh-so-righteous" attitude?
I am FAR from saying any lady who disagrees with me on the pants, sleeve length or any other issue is immodest. Posting this was not about trying to set a standard for others; I just wanted to share a few "guidelines" I committed to. I know many terrific ladies who dress in a totally different manner, yet they are definitely modest and gracious in their manners, their behavior, their quiet and gentle voice and the way they never try to draw everyone's attention to themselves. I admire them and wish to learn from them.

Emily said...

Hello Anna,

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such an encouraging comment!

This post is great and describes the same kind of transition phase I am going through with regards to modesty as well. I am trying to wear skirts more, cover my shoulders more, etc. It is not easy (especially with warm spring here now), but as you said, we are daughters of the King and therefore should dress accordingly!

LOL about the "when shopping for pants, I often had the feeling they are not made for someone with hips" comment - I know all too well!

I hope you will continue to visit my blog. I will definitely be here often! God bless you :).

In His care,


Robin said...

Anna, you are a very wise and mature young lady! I admire your strong convictions and the way you partner your lifestyle with them. Thank you for being such a wonderful example to other women. I only brought up the legalism issue because I have dealt with it on a huge basis with some very close people in my life. And it is something that has nearly destroyed them. But you sound like you are very aware of the dangers and your motive is right and true.
I have always insisted that my daughters wear dresses to church. They have all resisted me at times, but I feel that it is an "act of worship" to dress more special for church than you do any other time. I believe that this is a battle worth picking. It is refreshing and exciting to read your opinions about modesty Anna.

Anna S said...

Thank you again, dear Robin.

Emily, thank you for visiting!
A bit on the warm weather issue: I know what you mean! As it happens, summers are scaldingly hot here. So when I first thought about extending the length of my sleeves and skirts during summer, I was a bit doubtful. "Am I going to be boiled alive?", I asked myself. Then I decided to give it a try. Now I think it's more the type of fabric than amount of it that determines the hot or cool feeling. I choose light cotton mostly, and go through the summer with 3\4 sleeves without feeling like a martyr :) I also discovered that if my clothes are not tight, they feel cooler.
Another thing to remember is that clothes offer protection from the burning sun. With two recent cases of melanoma in my family, it's certainly something I must think of.

Emily said...

That is so true Anna! Fabric is what makes clothing hot or cool. And clothes offer protection from the sun, covering you up.

Oh how I wish we still had parasols! No wonder ladies in the 19th & early 20th century were able to stay somewhat cool with those huge dresses, having parasols to walk around with to shade them!

It's going to be interesting this summer, because years before I would show as much skin as possible in order to get a nice tan. But I'm going to have to give that up this year. But it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make if it is honouring to the Lord and my future husband!

God bless you Anna :). You are a great inspiration to other young ladies!

In His care,


Anna S said...

Thank you again, Emily. I used to love tan as well, but realizing how dangerous it can actually be (apart from the modesty issue) made me much more careful about it.

Parasols do look so nice on all the 19th century paintings. They are so elegant! It's a shame we don't have them anymore.
What I think we could still have is hand fans. When I visited Spain a couple of years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the ladies there actually carry hand fans and use them, and it doesn't look one bit outdated.

Autumn said...

I know what you mean about jeans not being made for people with hips. Like my mother, and ALL of my grandmothers, I don't have a small rear either. And jeans are definitely not made for people like that! Mom and I found out that By buying jeans a little big they fit better. I just have to wear a belt! It is sometimes still hard to find clothes though. Tracy is my mom. She wears skirts every day. While skirts are comfortable, I think that pants are more comfortable. But I won't wear pants if Mom and Dad say that they aren't modest.

Anna S said...

Autumn, I don't think it can be said that skirts are modest and pants are immodest, period. However from my experience, I think it's much easier to find a modest skirt than a modest pair of pants. And more often than not, skirts are more feminine.
While I love skirts and only wear skirts these days, I believe it highly depends on individual style. Yesterday, as I went through my closet, I tried on a loose pair of pants with a tunic that reached mid-thigh. It looked both modest and feminine, so I might make an exception for this outfit.

Buffy said...


I am reading through your previous posts so I don't know if you will pick up this comment as it is quite old.

It's nice to be able to talk about issues like this without fear of censure if I don't completely agree with you, which is what you get from a lot of sites!

I think you have addressed two topics here: modesty and femininity.

From a personal point of view I am not as much bothered about modesty as you, except I really hate it when overweight girls and women show off their midriff. Ladies, please!! Do they ever look at themselves in a mirror? I really feel it is important to present a pleasant picture to the people who have to look at you all day. I know men find this as unappealling as women.

I would rather a girl had on a short skirt (if it suited her) or showed a bit of cleavage than she looked like a man or took no trouble whatsover with her appearance. But I think you have to have a sense of what is appropriate. An immodest 50 year old is much more embarrasing than an immodest 20 year old.

I find men have different views about how they like their girlfriend or wife to dress, except they all want her to look like a woman. My previous boyfriend liked me to wear long, modest dresses. My current boyfriend (who is my fiance) likes me in skirts of all lengths. In fact I would probably be more bothered about wearing a short skirt now than he would be about me wearing it.

I do think you should try to dress to please the man in your life. If he likes you in short skirts and you feel that is immodest you could wear them round the house and put something else on to go out or when friends come round.

As for trousers (pants mean something else in the UK!) I am trying to move away from them and wear skirts and dresses 95% of the time. I think jeans are useful for gardening or rambling but are not ideal for everyday use. They have become too much of a 'uniform' for women under 50. There are some trousers that are very feminine though. I bought some beautiful 'Turkish' trousers in France which are dark red and really baggy and feminine. And there is an Indian outfit called Salwar kameez which is both feminine and modest.

Anna S said...

Hi Buffy,

I saw your comment, of course, because I have comment moderation.

And yes, you are right, I addressed both modesty and femininity in this post. As a matter of fact, I think those two go hand in hand. Modesty is not only about long dresses; FAR from it (as a matter of fact I have a story about it which I'm going to share soon).

BOTH modesty and femininity are God-given principles. In Deuteronomy 22:5, we are told that a man is not supposed to wear a woman's attire, and vice versa. Men are supposed to look masculine, while women should look feminine. We are also told to be modest.

Now, modest dress is of course something culturally variable; people have different authorities, societies have different norms. In Afghanistan, I'd probably be arrested for walking around with my head uncovered.

I also agree that immodest dress can be appealing when worn by a young, fit, pretty woman. The question is, do we WANT that kind of appeal? I know I used to have it. And I said, no thanks. I certainly won't start arguing here about covering/not covering the elbow, color of stockings and so on... but I really think each woman could ask herself: do my clothes attract attention to my face or my body? Am I comfortable with that?

Buffy said...

Yes I think you are right. Of course, I am also seeing immodest young women from the point of view of being a woman myself and not a man and I am sure the thoughts and feelings are very different!

The thing is, we are sort of fed the line in the Western World that to be sexually attractive to lots of men (even though nothing happens) makes us a more succesful woman. I suppose I had just accepted it at face value, but you have made me think, is this right? I must give further thought to this!

Daughter of the King said...

Wow this is a great post..I am 50 something and have not worn pants for 3 months..just pj's...bottoms ...anyways...I found a great teaching at:
the preacher is S.M. Davis and his sermon is:
The Language of a Christian's dress
LEt me know what you think....I would be interested to know.
WA. State

Candace said...

I went back to look up this topic. I like how you explained your point of view with understanding.

I'm thinking about switching over to dresses 95% of the time. Right now, I'm struggling with weight issues.

I'm also applying to a ministry called Mercy Ministries to try to get my life back on track emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

As I think of this, I'm thinking about how I am going to pack. I think if I leave out jeans to start with, that should help.

I figure if I'm not so worried about exposing my body, I could focus on recovery.

A friend of mine from years ago told me how she would handle the cold seasons. (She should know...she lived in Milwaukee) She was Apostolic and never wore pants. She wore leggins under her skirts when it turned cold.

But how do you handle exercise? The only thing I could think of was a scooter (I think that's what it's called...skirt with shorts underneath sown in) of modest length. I had one here, but I outgrew it.

Sorry this is so long.