Why I *Heart* Skirts and Other Thoughts on Style

Published November 30, 2012 by Elspeth

I often find myself observing the sense of style (or lack thereof) among Americans. For the record, I’m not one of those people who thinks we need to return to the days when women wore heels and pearls daily and men wore coats and hats to the ball game. There’s a place for jeans, comfort, and addressing the climate when getting dressed.

That said, I think we have taken the comfort clause to an absurd extreme in this country, and no where is it worse than in suburbia, where I happen to live. I can go days and never see a skirt unless I’m looking in my mirror. I have grown to prefer wearing a dress or a skirt more than anything else, and 5 years ago I couldn’t imagine that I’d say that.

For the record, I do own jeans. Two pair, in fact. I do not wear dresses on the basis of any religious conviction.  I wear jeans once or twice a week because my husband likes to see me in them occasionally, though he also likes the feminine presentation of a dress or a skirt. The increasingly androgynous society in which we live disturbs us both. A dress is one of the few pieces of clothing left that is uniquely feminine, so I wear them as often as possible.

I also find dresses and skirts far more forgiving and flattering to almost every female body type. As one of my virtual friends (a feminist no less) once noted, pants have to fit well in so many places it’s a wonder why women bother to wear them at all! It is also much easier to look slovenly in pants than it is to do so in a dress. When I wear jeans, I try and balance that with a more feminine blouse, hair down, redder lips. A dress is feminine enough all on its own.

Now I know a good many women have wardrobes full of slacks, jeans, and capris. They wear them every day and no one would ever mistake them for a man. What’s more, they are married to men far less concerned about these types of things than my husband is. However, I couldn’t help but think about this after reading Alte’s post, where she outlined things believers can do to mark ourselves as distinct from the surrounding culture:

1) Wear distinctive clothing.

This is something orthodox Christians can easily adopt. Around here, it’s enough for the women to just wear long skirts or dresses, grow their hair out or cover it, and wear a cross or crucifix around their neck. It doesn’t matter as much for men, as they’re usually at work or with their families, so they’re identifiable by proxy.

She has a point, and a woman in a dress does indeed stand out, particularly if she’s modestly dressed. I noted the other day when a gentleman with an accent I couldn’t quite place stepped aside for me and said, “After you young lady.” After my jaw dropped at the word “young”, I realized that it was probably my clothes and shoes that made me stand out. After all, it wasn’t the first time I’d experienced such deference in this city, where people aren’t particularly polite.

I do wish more women would wear dresses and skirts. I know it’s insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I know this isn’t a particularly Christian issue nor is it germane to the depth of our faith. I just happen to appreciate beauty is all and a feminine woman is beautiful. So sue me.

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25 comments on “Why I *Heart* Skirts and Other Thoughts on Style

  • Amen, You just get treated differently when you’re in a skirt. Your husband is much more likely to take you out somewhere nice than to the local sportsbar and the doors just magically seem to open by men. Life is good in a skirt. (I would add heels too;)

  • Great post, Elspeth (as was Alte’s.) I would love to wear more skirts/dresses. It’s so different than what I wear now, and I feel *very* self conscious when I move away from my jeans and top (albeit feminine, and no one would mistake me as butch, haha.) It’s just not common here in the Arizona desert (and I know you would say the same for your neck of the woods.) As well, my husband isn’t of the opinion that I need to wear skirts and dresses as he would rather see me in camouflage and hunting boots and outdoor-friendly clothes. I respectfully and willingly submit to that when the occasion calls for it (hunting season, in particular, lol.)

    Excuses aside, I love the femininity skirts and dresses exude. So, a practical question: where is the best place to get affordable skirts and/or dresses, even casual ones that flatter? And, I always get stuck on what looks good on top with a skirt and end up giving up because I am just not good at piecing together that sort of outfit. Surely a website exists for people like me… :)

  • You know me Karly. I will always, always, always advise to submit to your husband’s leadership and preferences. So wear your camouflage proudly. I’d never suggest you hunt in a dress, LOL.

    Not all men prefer their wives in a dress and outdoor friendly clothes are often more appropriate anyway. As I said, I wear jeans sometimes too.

    Of course there was a time when women did far more outdoors than we do…in skirts. :) .

  • Oh yes, Elspeth, I know you always advocate submission, and I never thought otherwise with your post. I completely agree. It’s not always hunting season here, though, lol, and I should clarify: my husband doesn’t have much of an opinion about what I wear on “normal” days, so I’d like to change it up then. Hmm, they do sell skirts at Cabelas and Bass Pro, though. I should check them out. :-)

    And, every time I think of women working outdoors, I think of “Little House On The Prairie.” I’ve always said if I were to live in any era, the pioneer days would certainly be what I would choose. :-)

  • I would love some hints on where to shop, I am trying to add skirts and dresses to my wardrobe but can’t seem to find a place to shop

  • I don’t get all that many compliments on what I’m wearing from my husband. You know when he compliments my clothes the most? When I’m wearing workout gear. This morning I went to a 5k walk/run (I walked) and he said, “You look cute in your race T.” LOL. So funny.

  • The most recent time my husband really went out of his way to compliment I was in jeans, a cute dark orange wrap shirt, and a cream colored cardigan- not a skirt. That was on Black Friday. I always remember very vividly when he compliments my attire as he’s not one to lavish compliments. I’m all for prioritizing turning your husband’s head over engaging in my war against androgyny.

    My husband does like it that I wear more skirts and dresses because it is (amazingly) almost counter-cultural for a woman to wear dresses more than pants- even in many churches. Our grandmothers would be stunned! This is more about my lament of the death of femininity and my desire that godly women would embrace what seems to be the last outwardly identifiable sign of the feminine: the skirt.

    After all, men have long hair and wear eyeliner. Women wear blazers, short hair, and fedoras. How often have you seen a person at a shopping center and had to look a little closer just to be sure if they are male or female? Maybe it doesn’t happen much where you guys live but it’s not that unusual here.

    But when you see a dress, 99.9% of the time you know: That’s a woman.

  • I wish I would wear more skirts. I do like them, but it’s hard to find ones that fit me. and my baby belly. HA! They are so comfortable and I do feel very feminine in them. Also, dangle-y earrings make me feel very feminine, too.

  • Joanna, My husband’s favorite clothes are usually work out/sporty gear as well. The rare occasions when he selects clothing, it’s always active wear. I think psychologically it makes him think of me working hard, and productivity is one of the characteristics he most likes. He also likes simple (solids), practical, and “logical” clothes (no sleeveless turtlenecks or the like). Like Elspeth, I’m very curvy, so looking feminine is never an issue. I couldn’t look androgynous if I tried. That said, I love feminine and dramatic clothing and owned no pants, shorts, or jeans in my twenties. I don’t mind the change now b/c I hate having to tend to lovely clothes on top of toddlers, school, and housework, so his tastes suit my lifestyle (and our tighter budget). Little ironing or dry cleaning and few high heels!

  • @byrd:

    Like I told Karly, I totally get it. For years my husband would buy me pants and jeans as gifts. Suddenly he looked t me in a sundress that I’d bought and said, “I like you in a dress.” For me longer skirts and dresses are very easy to work in. Often easier than a pair of pants, and frequently more comfortable. I love a nice fitting maxi skirt. Best of both worlds.

    My husband likes a more put together look even when it’s not a dress, so I have had to learn to disregard the fact that I’m in a skirt, don an apron when necessary, and be productive in nice clothes and full makeup.

  • Love this post! I’ve been dresses and skirts only for a couple of years now. The jeans and slacks have all been given away or donated. I am a “heels and pearls” kind of girl. And in a way, making the change to only dresses has simplified my wardrobe. I don’t have to maintain work clothes and casual clothes. Now, what I wear to work is what I also wear around the house.

    Though some people will deny this, the truth is you do get treated differently by others when you’re well dressed. I’m always being complimented by men (and women too) on my appearance. I think men get satisfaction from seeing a woman that is dressed femininely. I know my husband loves that I made the change!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  • I would like to look more put together than I have recently. But aging has changed a lot and it’s hard for me to figure it all out. I used to wear more make up and I definitely looked better, but now when I try and put on foundation or powder, I just look more done up but older. The eye shadow and powder collect in the cracks and it’s not necessarily better. So, I tend to wear less than before (often blush, mascara, and lipstick), but I feel funny when I do dress up b/c my face doesn’t seem to fit my attire. Does that make sense? I’m mostly British/Scandinavian stock and we don’t always age well. My beauty money has gone more toward skin care to keep wrinkles and such at bay. I think I look my age (39), but I just don’t feel comfortable in what I used to wear.

    Furthermore, am I the only with more pimples than when I was a teen-ager (this is helped by my expensive skin care)? Not that I can’t be more “put together.” I am just saying that it’s hard to figure out how to transition gracefully. And it’s hard to get excited and put huge effort towards it when the body and face ain’t what it used to be! That said, I know that the rewards are worth it and it is a priority. I try not to ignore it, but have hard time investing as much effort as I could.

  • I understand, Byrd. While I can honestly say I have no wrinkles (at all), I do take care to make sure I am age appropriate, and with my husband’s taste in clothing and such, it can sometimes be a challenge. He (who is also 39 to my 41) has forbidden me from referring to myself as middle aged until I turn 50, LOL. True story.

    As for the makeup, I wear very little. Primer, powder, lip stick. That’s it, and I take care to wash my face well every evening. I may email you a pic so you can see my makeup.

    I hate to shop, but I do like to talk clothes and beauty so I appreciate y’all playing along with me. I know this isn’t the most spiritual conversation.

  • Byrd5…. I just turned 40, and I can relate. I picked up some pressed powder “foundation” on the theory that it would be lighter coverage. Bah. It found skin imperfections I didn’t even know I had! I’ve switched back to foundation and no powder at all.

    I think as long as your eyes and lips are done and your skin is reasonably unshiny, you look done enough for even the dressiest looks. It doesn’t take the full regime.

    Have been skirts/dresses only for a long time. Less philosophically than because I don’t like pants.

  • Elspeth, I was just thinking of middle age, and if 40 is considered that, I’m 3 years away! When did that happen? I hardly *feel* old enough to be married and have children, lol! So, I’ll go with your husband’s 50! :)

    And, while I am still trying to figure out how to dress more femininely, I do make sure to be “made up” each day, although it isn’t much. Some moisturizer, powder foundation, a bit of eye liner and clear mascara and I feel so much better. At one point in my life, I wore so much more, but my husband wasn’t a fan, as he likes a more natural look.

    Elspeth, I’ll chat with you about anything, spiritual or otherwise. :) Sure will miss you at the end of the month…. :(

  • Old but relevant aphorism:

    “If a man wearing a dress is a transvestite, then a woman wearing pants…”

    Good luck to you.

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