Friday, July 13, 2007

Dressing with dignity for our loved ones

These thoughts were inspired by a post over at Jordin's blog, Paths of Peace.

When I tell people I'm working towards becoming a full-time homemaker, one of the arguments against such a decision is: 'You're going to become frumpy. You will have no reason to dress up and look good, and you will end up losing your sense of dignity!'

Why, though? Why is it that we are motivated to dress nicely for strangers, co-workers, fellow students and even neighbors, but not for the people we love the most – our family? Why is it that at home with our loved ones, we don't mind wearing clothes we wouldn't even think of wearing anywhere else? And who wants to stay at home if being home means being frumpy?

Do I think our husbands, children and other family members should love us just the way we are, no matter what we wear? Of course I do. But the way we dress expresses our attitude. If we dress fancy outside and frumpy at home… well, just think about it. What sort of message are we conveying? Don't the memories we create for our family matter enough for us to dress in a respectable way at home?

I don't want anyone to misunderstand me; I'm far from saying we should wear our best while washing the floors or hanging laundry. I'm talking about basic dignity here. Torn clothes, clothes with stains or missing buttons are unacceptable in my opinion. If an item of clothing can't be fixed or has a stain you can't remove, it shouldn't be worn at all. I also think hair should be brushed, face washed and nails trimmed and clean at all times. These simple things will make us feel better and can change our entire attitude about spending our days at home.


Sheri said...

Anna, what a thought provoking post… I very much agree with you that as women, we should aspire to bless our husbands, our children, and most importantly, our Heavenly Father through the way we dress. I personally think that “housewives” have gotten a bad rap, partly because the outside world perceived them with a ratty ponytail in, baggy sweatpants, no make-up, and a worn t-shirt on. Sad, but true.

I for one love seeing pictures of the days when homemakers dressed-up (not in ball gowns. Hee. Hee.) but in pretty dresses, etc. My grandmother, Jean Riley, is a great example of this! To this day, she always makes her self look nice, even if she’s just doing minor chores around the house.

I do have my days in workout clothes with a thrown-up pony tail (thank you Anna for this convicting reminder), but the majority of the time I dress-up in nice clean, pretty, modest, feminine, ironed clothes. Not only does my husband like it, but I feel so much better when I take the time to “dress with dignity” as you say. Also, aren’t we setting an example for our children too? Again, Anna, great thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Yesterday, I went on a picnic with my mom and her friends and my brother and boyfriend. I wore a pretty skirt and top with a sun hat (nothing fancy or expensive), and it just felt so much more poetic to sit and watch the lake and boats wearing something that was aesthetically put together.

MInTheGap said...

I think that the reasoning goes-- "they see me in all states of dress as it is, and it's so much work to dress up, so I can wear whatever."

I mean, you make an excellent point, but the idea of dressing up at home is so foreign simply because, like you said, they'll love me no matter what I wear.

This malaise is linked to the whole "do you date when you're married" question. When there are so many things weighing on you something has to go, and all too often it is the important, though seemingly not important, things that go.

We should dress for each other, and we should date, but all too often we don't.

Alexandra said...

People tend to dress down on the weekends when they are not at work, and I think maybe they have it in their minds that if you stay home, you will always dress down.

If you are a stay at home mom or wife, you ARE at work, and there is no rule that you have to dress down.

For the most part, I still wear what I wore when I worked: dresses and skirts. They are a bit more casual(no "suits", silk or dry clean only clothes anymore), but still suitable for the office. Also, I still put on make-up when I leave the house, not much, just foundation, lipstick and a little blush. Just because I'm home doesn't mean I have to change and become frumpy mom.

Kathleen aka Coffee Mom said...

I find that on days when I haven't showered or done my hair or makeup I feel icky. The same goes for when I'm wearing a ratty old shirt or ripped shorts. I feel frumpy. When i feel frumpy I know I send out "frumpy vibes"
While I don't wear a dress and heels every day I like to be neat and clean. It makes me feel good!

Tracy said...

I have to sort of laugh at this post. Not to be disrespectful, but because of comments that I get. I grew up in a home where I very raely saw my mother in a dress or skirt, even if she was going out or to church. She LOVES jeans. I HATE them. I've always worn slacks, a pretty blouse, a skirt...

Even my mom wants to know why I'm always dressed up. Really, I'm not, I just don't throw sweats or jeans on.

I've worn nothing but skirts or dresses for close to a year, and just this past week, my husband decided that our girls should follow my lead. I'm thrilled!

The girls look so feminine and pretty! It really makes a difference in how we all go about our daily tasks.

A friend of mine recenlty commented on how pretty I always look. She said," I think it is the dresses/skirts. It's not that you are dressed up, you just look like a lady."

Deborah said...

I totally agree with you! I find that I get more into the daily routine and work more if I wear a uniform so to speak. I always dress to the shoes each morning, put on some make-up and then don the beautiful apron I treated myself to from Kitchen Madonna! They are so cute and make me feel cute and special throughout the day, yet still remind me of the purpose at hand.

I just found your site. You've some great thought-provoking stuff here! Keep it up!

Autumn said...

Our bodies are a temple for the Lord, so we should ALWAYS look our best no matter who is around. This was a very good post Annna.
I don't like to wear old raggedy clothes unless I am doing VERY dirty work. But even then, the clothes are in good condition (not ripped or torn or anything) I just don't like them or they might have small stains or something.

Coffee Wife said...

I can't wait to get my cape dresses! Then I can slip one on right before DH comes in!

Coffee Wife said...

I hit the enter button to fast hahaha! As I was saying: I've found that I get slobby as I clean the house and cook - and then Erlend comes in and my hair is going in five directions and I'm grody. It'll be nice to have something to slip into and a quick fix of my hair...viola! I've let myself be sloppy because "I'm not going out..." but that's not the way to be for my family!

Beautifuly Created said...

You make a very good point.

I use my clothing as a cue for what part of my day I am in. So even though I am not going out of the home to work I still dress to work. I get up in the morning and dress in work out clothes to exercise, then I dress for the day in clothing appropriate for the task I have to do for the day. If I know that it will be very messy my clothing will not be the best but other wise I am presentable and abel to be seen by the public eye.

Even when I wore sweats and tee's alot because it fit with my job I tried to dress well. Alot is said about yourself in the way you dress.

Anonymous said...

I dress every day in clothes that I wouldn't be embarrassed to be wearing if I had drop-in visitors. We rarely have anyone drop by without calling, but by treating things that way my family always gets to see a put together mommy.
I do have a couple of "housedresses" that I put on when doing that icky cleaning like the bathroom and mopping floors, but I change back into my nice dress when I am done. I have a hook in my closet that I keep one of the housedresses on for easy use when needed and only wash it once a week unless it gets soiled.
I think it's important for our own well-being to look nice. We feel better about ourselves and I think we're more respected by our husbands and children as well.
As for clothing that is torn, missing buttons, has broken zippers, etc. I throw them away. If it has gotten to that point, there's no sense in patching it up to wear around the house and I respect others enough to know that Goodwill and Salvation Army shoppers don't want it either. Plus it keeps my closet cleaner and reduces clutter.
Great post!

Susie said...

This is one area that I have been convicted of lately. Recently I have been going through things and purging items, including clothes. Though I'm not in the finacial situation to go and buy a ton of new clothes, I can, however buy a few good quality ones when I do get the chance and keep up what I do have already. I've also found that my taste in clothes have changed as I'm becoming more drawn to feminine clothing as my walk with the Lord has increased. Also, there is one woman at my church who is always dressed beautifully (even if she is wearing jeans at home, she'll have heels on and a pretty, modest top). In turn, her daughter, who goes to our church as well, is the exact same way (everything in place, feminine, and modest even when dressed down). They are both homemakers and living examples how one mother's kept-up look has rubbed off on her daughter. It makes me think of what kind of message I will be leaving for my daughter on how to dress if I'm not being an example for her at home.

Anonymous said...

I refer to unkept appearance of KAH's as *mommy grunge*. I've appeared this way from time to time but thankfully what usually happens is the Donna Reed or June Cleaver look. :o)

Laura H said...

Well done Anna,
I really like this post. It spoke a lot to me. I have to admit, I live in jeans then I do in skirts. It is just more convenient, and less work, to slip into a pair of jeans in the morning, and put your hair in a kerchief. But I am learning, that my appearance is affecting my family too. My Dad would like me to wear more dresses. I just don't fit most dresses, because of my weight. I have "big" hips.:) I will change my ways, and find more dresses, and skirts, to wear!:) I want to be pretty for my family, and my God!Thankyou for this post!

Laura H

Anonymous said...

I have found that with working and having a baby, I have less time to take care of myself and my apperance. While I was still on maternity leave, I made a point of at least showering everyday, because so many new moms complain about not getting in even a quick shower. I easily got one in everyday. Then I went back to work. I have a hard time finding time to hop in the shower, clean the house, get dinner, take care of Amelia, unwind from work, etc etc etc, and some things fall by the wayside. Before Amelia, I was starting to get in the habit of wearing makeup everyday; that's something else that's fallen by the wayside.

This is one of the big reasons I'm so happy to be quitting my job and coming home; not just to take care of my family and my home, but also to take better care of myself. All the stress that I feel from working outside the home will be gone, so I won't need all the un-wind time I feel the need for now. I'll be able to take the days at my own pace, and my daughter's pace, instead of trying to conform to some "artificial" schedule.

God Bless!

Anna S said...

Thanks for sharing your insight on this, ladies! I hope we can all find a beautiful, simple, feminine everyday style that will allow us to feel pretty as we go about our daily tasks.

Dawn Marie said...

I dont really have the frumpy look problem. When I get dressed in the morning it's normally in a jumper, a cape dress or a top and skirt and I wear that all day long. My hair is always in a headcovering, so that's taken care of.
Living on a small Army base I see the frumpy housewife look every day. I see the same women in sweat pants, a faded shirt and their hair is a mob of a mess on top of their heads either walking the dog or walking their child in a stroller. I wonder what their husbands think of coming home to that every day? Honestly, it would take, what...5 minutes for them to put on a nice top, pair of capris or jeans and take a brush thru their hair. They would look so much more presentable.
Housewives already get a bad rap like Sheri said, but when you have the label Army housewife, it's evem worse.
Well ladies we just have to take the stand and pray other ladies will follow along. ;)
Bless you all!

Emily said...

Great reminder, Anna, thank you. We should be well dressed and well presented whether we are at home or out and about.

James said...

I would tend to agree. I think that's important to dress well at work and at home because it is a reminder of one's dignity. If there's anyone to dress up for it your husband or wife. Now I agree that there has to be a certain amount of reasonableness for things such as scrubbing floors. However, knowing that he's coming back to a well-dressed and groomed wife is a nice thing for a guy. Similarly need to care for their appearances for their wives' sake. You're right that people can let themselves go with that stuff. Now that said, I'm all in favor of ditching the tie at home- but again, the outfit is still substantively there.

I would agree that sadly too often these days, few girls wear dresses at all, and it is a shame.

The problem is that overall, we've become too casual a society- one with few boundaries and bounds of behavior. Our casualness in attire simply reflects this fact.

Mrs. Nichols said...

We should continue to get up, shower, dress as if we're going out for the day (unless we're getting ready to bleach the bathroom) and do your hair and makeup. YOU will feel better for the effort and you will be ready to leave the house quickly if you need to run out, and you will be ready to receive guests if someone pops by unexpectedly. If you keep up a somewhat similar standard now, it will be 'no big deal' to continue it later. When I had my first child, my OB-GYN suggested that I shower and get out of the house everyday and that I will feel better. I took his advice, getting showered before my husband left for work in the morning, kept a simple wardrobe, and did hair and makeup everyday, whether I left the house or not. It helped me to keep a schedule and feel ready for whatever the Lord brought for the day, without feeling 'undone'. I do have SAHM friends who would probably fit the 'frumpy' description, but that is their choice. And it IS a choice. Lord willing, you can keep a nice wardrobe and take basic care of yourself and freshen your makeup before your husband gets home. If you have a mirror near the front door, you can keep an extra lipstick and powder nearby to freshen up if the doorbell rings.

It really does not take much time at all to get ready for the day. It IS a bit tougher when you have a newborn, until they start sleeping through the night, because you will be exhausted like you've never been before, but it's worth it if you can do it sometime throughout the morning (and it is do-able most days).

I'm enjoying your blog. I wish I even thought it were *possible* to be a SAHW or SAHM when I was your age. It took me a long time to think so, then ask the Lord to please make it happen in my life. My husband had to *process* the idea for awhile before he was onboard, but said, "if the Lord can make it happen", and He did make it happen, all in His good time.

I am just now learning how to sew and hope to hone my bread-baking skills (I've been home 5 years now). I would have been nice to have the time to do those things before children, but I'm thankful that even now, the Lord is gracious in allowing me to learn.

Mom-E said...

;) Just don't be surprised that for awhile after having children, fashion usually gives way to practicality when days blend into nights and an aversion to having pureed peas on every nice bit of clothing that one owns ;)

Anna S said...

Heh ;)

Well, there are certain kinds of work around the house for which I will not wear my best - like cleaning or changing a diaper, for instance :) But, general neatness and cleanliness are not some lofty goals I think.

Mom-E said...

LOL ;) Agreed!

I just say that because I've seen alot of women get pretty bummed right after having babies because they feel they can't 'keep it together' because they can't uphold the 'perfect picture' they had in their head about how they thought it should be.

Not saying you have that picture in your head- just throwing it out there for thought to encourage you to consider it. :)

When baby is a newborn some days it may be difficult to get a shower, and then you may feel guilty if you DO because you're away from your baby for 10min LOL If one had a c-section (and even if one didn't) wearing normal clothes may be painful. Sometimes you may get so little sleep you can't put words together to *say* comb and brush let alone *use* them. It's OK. :)

Mainly I say this now so that if ever you, or anyone reading, finds themselves in that position- of feeling overwhelmed and thinking you're not making it or not doing a good job, that you'll think back to these words and realize that it's normal and it's OK etc. :)