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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Skirts Exclusively

"Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly." -St. Francis de Sales

Do we dress to inspire an aura of virtue?
The Catholic Lady is a myth that exists inside the soul of every woman, a vision of the beauty of feminine virtue.  She is not lukewarm.  The Catholic Lady is decidedly counter-revolutionary and necessarily full of zeal.

And that brings me to the point: skirts exclusively.

There are two reasons why the Catholic Lady wears skirts exclusively: femininity and modesty.  The Catholic lady goes beyond what is acceptable in her dress and always does what is best.  Indeed, for thousands of years of Christian civilization and especially at its heights, women have worn beautiful elegant skirts to proudly identify themselves as ladies.  It is impossible today to wear such beautiful and feminine garments on an everyday basis, but we each go as far as we can.

What sets the standards for "modest dress" these days?  There are so many women who say they can allow short skirts, they can allow pants, they can allow sleeveless tops, they can allow low necklines, they can allow flip flops, and even shorts!  (I have too often been among these compromising women.)  But where does it stop?

Or do we defy compromise and dress only according to principle?  Do we accept our femininity as a fundamental truth that becomes the basis of our reasoning when it comes to choosing attire?

Don't we want to be the most elegant and the most modest we can be?  Shouldn't we desire to wear dresses like the Christian ladies of virtuous eras?  Unfortunately, we cannot walk around dressed like they did, but maybe we can appreciate their elegance in a more modernly tolerated a-line skirt and loafers or a beautiful up done hairstyle and modest blouse.  I am not putting down specific standards because of course it takes good taste more than anything to dress like a true Catholic lady.

Skirts exclusively is a given for the Catholic lady.  We do not compromise when it comes to principle.  Both the Catholic lady and skirts are modestly and elegance combined.


What do you think?

34 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I was able to read through your past posts & I appreciate your being so open about your convictions. My daughter & I wear skirts 99.9% of the time. My daughter is very feminine in the skirts she chooses to wear. Me well Im feeling frumpy in long denim skirts & khaki skirts. Maybe I will learn to sew & transform my frumpy wardrobe. Any ideas that could help? I like your style but I am plus size.... Thanks again :)

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    1. Maybe some maxi skirts or a nice black a line one for the winter? I think that dressing up the top adds a lot too, with a scarf or necklace or cardigan! I have been wearing tall riding boots for the past couple of weeks with midi length skirts and it definitely makes me feel classier than my usual long skirts and flats. I think it is okay to wear slightly shorter skirts with boots since you can't really see any leg, but I guess some women might have other opinions. Anyway, I'm sure you are doing a great job and I commend you! I would love to see some photos of your outfits to put on my blog sometime!

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    2. Great ideas! I never thought scarfs or cardigans. Next time I'm out shopping I will have to get some accessories. I will post done pics in the future. Thanks again! :)

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  2. I agree with you; I have been thinking about modesty more lately and I want to use more skirts (I'm also thinking about wearing almost only dresses and skirts at some point), not only because they are more modest but because they are classy and feminine. I'm not ashamed of being a woman and I don't want to hide it, I love it. I'm just a little concerned about throwing away all the pants I own...

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  3. I totally agree with wearing skirts exclusively. I was told that guys aren't necessarily tempted by pants today because they're used to them. But why stop at this minimum and not encourage an excellence of modesty that is an emulation of Our Lady. What would she think of my dress? Those ideas strengthened my resolve to wear skirts and dresses, to do not just the minimum, but the most feminine and most modest thing.

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    1. That is definitely commendable! Thanks so much for sharing!!

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  4. Yes! I agree with you! Thank you so much for putting that out there! God bless you :)

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  5. "Skirts exclusively is a given for the Catholic lady."
    Well who made you the fashion police. I completely disagree with this. I have read a few of your blog posts and you seem to be obsessed with defining the ideal "catholic lady" in terms of your preferences and opinions. In another post you pose the question "does the true catholic lady swim?" Well, yeah, if she wants to. I will take my catholic daughters kayaking and teach them to light campfires and to swim and do all the same stuff that I'll teach my catholic sons to do. There are many different kinds of Catholic lady. It doesn't make a woman less ladylike if she prefers some more traditionally male activities. I think you could be a little less black and white in this regard in your posts.

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    1. There should be tremendous space for preferences and opinions in everyone's life. But the subject of skirts for women is one that accords with the natural order and so is more objective. I am basing my promotion of skirts for women upon centuries of Christian custom in the Western world, understanding that as our culture moves away from God so these customs decay. Just because we live in a world where there are many different kinds of Catholic Lady does not mean we should stop striving for the ideal. That would be denying the reason we are all here; to work towards the order of God's creation in Christian civilization.

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    2. The idea that there Catholic Ladies must wear a skirt or that certain sports are demeaning for women has no basis in Catholic teaching or tradition. I can think of several female saints that wouldn't fall into your definition of "lady". This is just your opinion of what constitutes the ideal Catholic lady. Really it doesn't matter whether she wears skirts or pants, it's the holiness of her life that matters.

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    3. Also, I'm confused at how you came to the conclusion that skirts for women are part of the natural order.

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    4. Also the idea that a Catholic Lady must refrain from certain sports is also against the fact that God has given human beings certain talents and abilities that can be used for His glorification. A woman may possess superior athletic ability or skill. Is she to repress this ability that could be used to glorify Him?

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    5. It's true that the habit does not make the monk but it does identify him. After all, the body and soul are not separate.
      Women wearing skirts is part of the natural order in that it is a customary expression of femininity. This has basis in both Catholic tradition (the over 700 years which represented the height of Christian civilization) and in Church teaching, most notably Pope St. Pius XI, Pope St. Pius XII, Giuseppe Cardinal Siri (1960 letter in Italy Against Men's Dress Worn by Women) and St. Padre Pio.
      I cannot see the benefit of participating in athletics which necessarily compromise modesty and elegance especially for the Catholic mothers who are my general audience here.

      Letter of the Congregation of the Council 1930:
      "In order to facilitate the desired effect, this Sacred Congregation, by the mandate of the Most Holy Father, has decreed as follows...Let parents keep their daughters away from public gymnastic games and contests; but if their daughters are compelled to attend such exhibitions, let them see that they are fully and modestly dressed. Let them never permit their daughters to don immodest garb..."

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    6. It may be a customary expression of femininity but that doesn't make it a part of the natural order. In some cultures men wear dress-like clothing. On the point of Church teaching, it may have been advised that women wear skirts up to the quite recent past, but most within the church would agree that it is not necessary to police the clothing of the faithful beyond general instruction on modesty. There is also nothing even close to a strict church position on this matter, it is one of those things that the church can actually change it's attitude on. As opposed to doctrine, which doesn't change.
      As regards athletics, I can see your point in terms of modesty but I fail to see how elegance comes into the equation. If a woman likes a sport, kayaking for example, why shouldn't she do it? It's perfectly possible to wear modest kayaking gear. It may not be the most elegant, but I certainly don't see how a woman is reduced in any way by partaking in sports. You haven't really addressed my point about God-given talent. If a woman possesses skill at a particular sport, isn't it sinful for her to waste that or to fail to develop that aspect of herself? And how can there be an objective standard for how sports are categorised as unladylike?

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    7. I would add that these things are merely externals. There is nothing inherent in wearing pants that would cause a woman to be either less holy or unladylike. There is also nothing wrong, in and of itself, with women competing in sporting events. More important than "appearing elegant" is the interior disposition of the soul, for both men and women. There is little point in looking refined and elegant if we are not looking toward God. But one can look unrefined and still be looking toward God.

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    8. The whole point is that according to the natural law, there are men and women. And according to Christian custom women wear skirts. Bl. Jacinta said, "Those who love God should not follow fashions. For God never changes." So women wearing skirts is a custom very rooted in the Christian order as proved throughout history. To argue that the interior is more important than the exterior is against reality. Our bodies are connected to our souls! So why not dress as femininely as possible in order to express our God-given nature? I never said we should neglect the interior life just support it by our dress.
      In today's society I agree that we should not condemn women or as you keep saying be the "fashion police" or the "sports police". But I've never known a Catholic lady to have a vocation as a tennis player! I think God calls us more generally to be wives, mothers and nuns. Everyone is at a different place and you are welcome to go on your way. But that doesn't mean we stop striving for the ideal. As Fulton Sheen says, "To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its womanhood."

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    9. While I accept that it has been the custom for women to wear skirts, I do not accept that skirts are an expression of the natural order. Yes there are men and women, and there are fundamental differences between the two. But I think the Church's understanding has moved on a bit since the days when women were instructed to wear skirts and stay at home. My main problem is not so much with that though, but the fact that you are presenting an ideal of womanhood that consists largely of your personal opinion. Just because you wear skirts exclusively does not mean it is the ideal.
      In terms of the exterior vs. the interior, I never said is was more important, I said that with regard to the heart of a person, the interior is more important. You can't know what another person is thinking or how their relationship with God is by looking at their dress. (Unless they are dressed completely immodestly etc.) Your idea that women would not have a calling as a tennis player is absurd. As far as I can see there is no solid theological reason why women should wear only skirts, work as a doctor, or play sports. That somehow seems like the success of marriage is based upon the ignorance of a woman or her willingness to give up her own aspirations. I just think your opinion of the ideal is too narrow and shallow and not at all linked to actual holiness or Catholicity.

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  6. So do you think women should never work outside of the home? Should women avoid university?

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    1. I'm sorry but I really can't answer for the way you feel. There are dozens of books and theological works on Catholic femininity that I encourage you to explore if you have real interest in the topic. Among others are The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildebrand and Dressing With Dignity by Colleen Hammond.

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    2. In fairness, it's not even the dress thing that bothers me. It's the idea that women should refrain from certain sports. Whatever about the tradition of skirts, I really find it very hard to believe that there is any sound theological reason for barring girls from sports. As you suggest though, I do intend to research it further.

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    3. I just wanted to come back to you with some other points that occurred to me:

      1 - Why is it that these historical discussions of fashion or refined-ness only focus on western fashion?

      There are ancient cultures in Asia where pants were traditionally women's garments, and skirts traditionally for men.

      For that matter, a whole lot of saints probably wore robes. Somehow that never translates into men ought to wear robes.

      2 - The most modest we could be would be to wear a niqab.

      3 - As far as elegance goes, all I'll say is that it's a very limited idea. It's all well and good for a stay-at-home wife, or a woman with a nice upper class job, to talk about elegance - it's much different for those who have to work jobs that may be dirty and messy and active. Not everyone has the privilege of sweeping around in loafers and nicely done hair.

      4 - There is not and never was a mandate by the church that women should wear skirts exclusively or refrain from sporting activities because they are unladylike. Yes, certain Cardinals, Bishops and Popes have made suggestions down the years on the attire of women. But that is all they are. Suggestions. The de facto Church position on this is that it is up to women to use their own judgement in what is modest attire. Any additions to this or suggestions on "ladylike" attire are nothing more than personal opinion.

      5 - Many of the female saints did not conform to the image of the "Catholic Lady" that you present. Joan Of Arc, Catherine of Siena, Quiteria to list a few.

      6 - As I mentioned before, God gave all men and women talents. If a woman has talent at a thing such as tennis, that is for the glory of God and just because you have no experience of female Catholic tennis players does not mean it doesn't happen. There was a famous figure skater who used to dedicate her routines to the Blessed Virgin. It doesn't get any more epically ladylike than that. Also, I do think it can actually be sinful to refuse to develop God given talents.

      7 - Scripture specifically states the idea that the interior disposition of the heart and actions are the more important factor in demonstrating virtue.
      1 Pet. 3:3-4 Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.

      8 - Finally, your views are more likely to alienate young women than attract them to the faith. I have sisters, aunts, and a fiancee. They don't wear skirts all the time. That doesn't make them any less Catholic ladies. Your judgement of the fashion sense of some young women strikes me as a bit lacking in charity. You say in the article that you aren't judging, but the very opposite comes across in your writings.

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    4. 1. Because Western customs are based on Christian civilization. Asia, India, etc. costumes are the result of pagan influence.
      2. There are extremes of modesty within these cultures because they don't have the balance of Christianity.
      3. Up until very recently (late 20th century) working men and women did dress well, what I would call elegant. Look at some pictures.
      4. I already cited numerous Popes and holy writers who cautioned women against adapting the revolutionary fashions of the 20th Century. Perhaps none more notable than Our Lady of Good Success.
      5. St. Joan of Arc was indeed an exception from the feminine role model. And there are exceptions. 100% of women are made to be Catholic and feminine, more or less. There is no reason why this should require us to neglect our talents!!
      6. Figure skating can be amazing. How is that an argument against modesty and femininity and skirts? I don't disagree with you. I would just add that for the majority of women, motherhood is epically feminine in a much more dramatic way. In real life, sports tend to be a recreational thing not a vocation and if engaged in should absolutely be done so with dignity and modesty.
      7. I in no way speak against the interior life. St. Francis de Sales is an amazing director in this regard. "Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly."
      8. I do not go around demeaning women who wear pants and play sports. I write only to the ideal and get so much feedback from women who embrace Catholic femininity! This is a blog for Catholic ladies interested in modesty and elegance after all. Making a judgment is not uncharitable and if it was everyone would be guilty.

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    5. I can see that we are not going to agree on this point. I just have one other question. If there is a church teaching on women wearing pants, why does the Vatican dress code permit women to wear pants? If the Church really holds to this as something vitally important to women don't you think they would ban pants in the Vatican?

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    6. The Vatican dress code did not permit women to wear pants until relatively recently actually and they still have a very strict dress code enforced by guards. Most women, including Michelle Obama wore the traditional black dress and mantilla for Papal audience.
      It's important to remember that women who wear pants today are just following society, they can't be blamed personally. But many people including me believe that for the benefit of sustaining the principles that raised civilization to where it is today women should dress in a traditionally feminine way.
      “Society speaks through the clothing it wears…It is often said almost with passive resignation that fashions reflect the customs of a people. But it would be more exact and much more useful to say that they express the decision and moral direction that a nation intends to take: either to be shipwrecked in licentiousness or maintain itself at the level to which it has been raised by religion and civilization. -Di gran cuore - an allocution of Pope Pius XII to a Congress of the "Latin Union of High Fashion” on November 8, 1957

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    7. Surely though, if the Church itself actually believed that women should only wear skirts, and if this was a universal and unchanging rule, they would not allow pants in the Vatican? They do allow it. In fact, there are more restrictions for skirts than for pants.

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    8. It shouldn't be a rule to wear skirts though. It never has been because clothing is a cultural expression not something that comes directly from the Church or the state.

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  8. I feel silly asking this,but should I wear dresses or skirts even when cleaning house, working in the yard, or sick. I wouldn't want my pretty clothes ruined. I enjoy dressing pretty, but my husband and I are poor and I don't want to wear out the dresses and skirts I have or get rid of my pants, sweats, jeans, Capris, and shorts when I can't afford to replace them with more dresses and skirts. Please give me your advice. Thank You and God Bless, Donna

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  9. I feel silly asking this,but should I wear dresses or skirts even when cleaning house, working in the yard, or sick. I wouldn't want my pretty clothes ruined. I enjoy dressing pretty, but my husband and I are poor and I don't want to wear out the dresses and skirts I have or get rid of my pants, sweats, jeans, Capris, and shorts when I can't afford to replace them with more dresses and skirts. Please give me your advice. Thank You and God Bless, Donna

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    1. I gt a lot of thrift store clothes for $2- $5.

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  10. Thank you. I love a good bargan. Thrift stores are a great idea. I have been to them before and should have thought of them. Do you even wear skirts and dresses when doing housework and yard work as well.?

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    1. I do, but I have lots of washable clothes since my daily life is so messy...I wear loafer type shoes, cotton skirts and sweaters or knit tops. My main wardrobe tips are lots of thrift store finds and practice!

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    2. Also, know that God will bless your efforts!

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  11. Thank you. You are so sweet and I appreciate your help. God Bless. 😊

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