Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Modest Dressing

Candy recently posted about how she came to be a "dresses only" Christian, which is something which she writes about periodically. I think it is a topic often of interest to Christian women.

The Catholic Church does not have a required position on whether or not women need to wear only dresses or skirts. Modesty is touched on in the Catechism:

2521 Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.

2522 Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.

2523 There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.

2524 The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person.

The Vatican, and many individual Catholic churches, (usually the ones most prone to tourists) have a dress code which prohibits shorts and bared shoulders.

Catholic author Colleen Hammond wrote a book called Dressing With Dignity, and has a blog by the same name, here. It looks as if the more recent posts are focusing on modest fashions on the runway, but if you look through the archive of the first year or two, you will find more substantial posts on modesty and feminine dress.

Catholic blogger Helen at Castle of the Immaculate has a series of posts on modesty. She, like Candy, came to the conclusion that she should wear dresses or skirts only. But she won't wear anything shorter than 3/4 length sleeves! I admire her dedication!

Usually on this blog, we highlight our differences with Candy. But sometimes it is nice to mention the many things we share in common, and a commitment to modesty is one of those.

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Tracy said...

excellent post Kelly, I totally agree!!

Lynn said...

I am almost dresses-only, but not at all dogmatic about it. I find it more comfortable, and people actually do treat me differently at the store, the bank, etc :)

Rachel said...

I agree with you, Lynn. I wear skirts and tops - mix and match, stretching the wardrobe. Thus, being a good steward of my husbands money :)

In reading her post it should be dresses only - as a skirt hugs the bottom. HUH? I'll refrain from commenting on how tight her top seems to be in the photo on her blog. I'm not into picking apart a person - just seems to be the pot calling the kettle black. Again, she makes assumptions that all women wearing skirts have rear-huggers on and it's wrong. But she's entitled to her opinion. She also seems to believe you have to do certains things (cook from scratch, homeschool, stay home with children, wear dresses, etc) in order to be a "christian" woman. There is not one specific role to play - we are not robots. We are individuals. We go thru stages in our lives and many changes and life throws us many obsticles. I stayed home with my children when they were little. When the youngest went to school I wanted to help my husband/family financially. I work at home during the hours my kids are in school. It works for us! :)

Kelly said...

Rachel, I had to go back and check the skirts part, because I remember Candy saying the last time the topic came up that skirts are okay, too. She didn't say specifically not to wear them, but that she found them less flattering in general. I agree that she seems to assume that clothes fit everyone the same way.

While my husband and I have never been "convicted" on the dresses only issue, that is what I wear most of the time. I don't think I've worn a pair of shorts in several years.

I wear skirts or dresses exclusively in the summer, but I do wear pants more in the winter, depending on how wet the weather is. My winter pregnancy wardrobe is all pants, because I have a difficult time finding maternity dresses or skirts that fit correctly. I'm only 5'2" so I have a lot of problems finding a good length for clothing. Personally, I have a lot more skirts than dresses because I've spent a lot of the past few years nursing!

unknown anon said...

I'm looking forward to the next post "guaranteed to make the world mad, but to ring true to believers."

Any bets as to the subject matter? She's finished the Dave Hunt trash.....

Perplexity said...

I saw that too, unknown anon. I'm waiting with baited breath, not.

When it comes to dresses/modesty/femininity, in my opinion it's not necessary to wear dresses or skirts to be modest or feminine. I own one skirt, two dresses and one professional skirt suit. None are worn more than once a year, if that. I am not comfortable in them and my lifestyle is not conducive to them.

I think that more than what a person wears it is how they carry themselves, how they behave, what their intentions are and what their actions are.

I'm more comfortable in a pair of jeans and a cotton shirt than anything else. These days, cotton shirts are very easy to come by in dressier styles; they're not all t-shirts. When I put on my good fitting jeans, a couple of layered cotton shirts, my boots with 2" heels (my highest possible heel because I am a clutz), do my hair, put on make up and wear my contacts - my husband is visibly pleased and thrilled. He loves the look, the fact that I am comfortable and happy, and he loves the heels - which is why I wear them.

I don't wear skin tight jeans; at almost 41 I'm way past the age of even considering pouring myself into my clothing. I simply look, and feel, nice and know without a doubt that my husband loves the way I look, carry myself and behave when I'm dressed as such. Others notice it too; I often appear much taller because I carry myself better and don't slouch or turn inward upon myself. When I wear dressed, my discomfort is almost always noticed by someone, especially my husband - well, especially me, but my husband is next.

Basically, I don't think the actual clothing has much, if anything, to do with being modest or feminine; aside from the obviously barely there clothing. Actions, behavior, intentions and comfort play a much larger role.

Lynn said...

perplexity, I agree. With the obvious exception of some current fashions that wouldn't be modest even on a grandmother. Or my four-year-old, for that matter! How we carry ourselves makes a really big difference.

Most of the reason I started wearing dresses/skirts was that I found myself turning into a mommy-slob, and the lowest maintenance way to avoid that was to wear a dress :)