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.