Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dressing Femininely...does it matter?

Why skirts?

I used to think that women who chose to wear only skirts and dresses were from the backwoods ...or were overly zealous in their faith and a bit pushy and self-righteous...or had 'body image issues' (aka: lack of self-confidence)...or were meek, doormat-types who let their husbands make all their decisions for them. Have you ever entertained any of these stereotypical views like this? I'm embarrassed to say I have!


I already dress modestly, so why should I care anyway?
I am LDS and women wear dresses and skirts to church
services on Sunday and also when attending the temple,
so wearing skirts and dresses is not new to me entirely.
But wearing them on the weekday definitely was!


IMAG2252
Holding my brother and sis-in-law's sweet daughter

Really, who wants to 'dress up' everyday? And can you ride a bike in a skirt? What about cleaning days? Or winter time? Sitting on the floor, playing with kids? Would I have to give up my power for influence if I gave up wearing pants....in other words, would anyone 'pay attention' or listen to a woman in a skirt?


And what if it just gets plain boring wearing skirts and dresses all the time?!

(In two months, hasn't happened for me yet)


I am still not of the mind that wearing pants is wrong for women or that I will never wear them. I do believe that I can dress femininely in pants, too.


But I have discovered how comfortable wearing skirts can be and that I do enjoy feeling feminine in them...and that I haven't had to "give anything up" in doing so! I have felt a change in my heart towards feeling stronger in my personal resolve to live true to who I am and whose I am (God's daughter). How can I keep such good news to myself? I'm also really excited to continue this experiment with my young daughter, as well.



Where did my interest start? Hm...



I have to back up a bit. I started watching past episodes from the Duggar family TV shows from TLC in 2010. I noted which activities Michelle and her daughters wore skirts for (answer: everything!). I didn't really feel that spark to do that myself immediately.

A few months passed and I while researching out of curiosity, I came across a few blogs and websites and read more about other women's experiences choosing to dress modestly in skirts (some of which are linked to under Modesty in my blog's Homemaking page). I really loved reading this post over at Raising Arrows, which is part of their She Wears Skirts Series. It's entitled "Why Skirts?"


My interest piqued when I noticed that some of the effects other women noticed and shared about because of their choice to wear skirts more often were the very things I really wanted in my life, too.


For instance, I wanted to feel valued and embrace my own freedom and capabilities. I wanted the freedom of a personal standard of dress which would serve me well, no matter whose company I was in. I wanted to be taken seriously without having to sacrifice my integrity on any level. Why did I "have to" choose either 'frumpy mommy' or 'ultra-stylish super mommy?' I really wanted to find a way to embrace the stage of life I am in! Further, I wanted to have others be able to recognize "me" and not be distracted by what I was wearing (either because it was too casual or otherwise). I wanted my personality and who I am to shine through, not to be dependent on an outfit or a 'look'.


Those were some of what was driving my curiosity, beneath the surface reasons of comfort and "cuteness". I really started to think and examine what true femininity meant to me and what it was I was really wanting. I thought about whether the way I was dressing each day was actually honoring my true self and who God wanted me to be, whether that was dressing sloppily, which sent the message to others that "I don't care" or "I have little value", or wearing something too tight or low-cut in the neckline, for whatever reason.


Like I said, it's not something I struggled with daily, at least not consciously, but it was a pleasant surprise when I did my own "femininity" experiment how it solved most of those issues. Sometimes blessings come in ways you least expect them to!


Who was I 'following'?

One other thing that became apparent to me through this experience that I was really wanting real life role models, or mentors, who were like me, to pattern myself after.


I was tired of role models on TV whose lives didn't look anything like mine: immorality, immodesty, coarse language, etc. (Insert pretty much any popular TV show here). I was tired of having to settle for styles found in the closest stores. Why of why are more and more women's clothing made to look good only on 21 year old bodies? At least, it's made for a wide range of sizes, but so much out there is for women who want to dress like they're 21...the other option being to dress like you're 65. Um...where's the middle?? Being 21 forever is overrated! Why can't we just age gracefully and appreciate the age we are actually at, as women?


 It was difficult to find a style that fit me, my body type after having a few children and that also fit in with my lifestyle, which is a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. And, no, I am not interested in wearing only jumper dresses ;-)


Popular culture left me feeling less satisfied, when it came to dressing and portraying who I am. The focus was on materialism, competition between women in order to feel valued, and uncovering or accentuating parts of the body in order to be accepted or admired. It really didn't have anything that addressed who I am or want to be. Or, for that matter, have anything to do with real love.


Who would I like to learn from or take for my examples?

I found, then, that I deeply wanted to have peers who I could feel confident associating myself with, in dress. Not just women who dressed out of habit or default, but who were purposeful about it.

I discovered kindred spirits in those women whom I 'met' online on their blogs!

They were married, with children, spent time caring for their families and wanted to live their lives in a way pleasing to God. They weren't weird or crazy or overly zealous. They were pretty average, in most things. But something about their confidence and how they embraced their womanhood appealed to me! They were not apathetic or indifferent about what they wore. They were joyful and happy! And willing to share with generosity how they came to feel that way! I realized it had something to do with modesty and femininity. That was one way they showed they were set apart from the rest of the world, in a happy, confident kind of way. I noticed!


I then decided to give it a try and see how it felt for me. I blogged about that first experience HERE. {Stay tuned for a post where I show some of the outfits I wear, including skirts, for 7 days!}


I do want to add that it's not the dresses or skirts that made the change, but the way I felt and the way my heart changed in the choice and wearing of them. I know that our Father in Heaven cares about us as His daughters and that even in small things he wants us to be blessed. Dresses and skirts were the vehicle toward that discovery for me. "By small and simple things, great things are brought to pass." That discovery may be different for other women, and we all find ways to glorify God that are meaningful to each of us, so I hope my decision and feelings are not taken as a judgment of other's decisions of What to Wear--it's not intended to be.

My hope in sharing my experience through words and photos is that it may serve as a positive message for anyone wondering if modesty matters. I am not a fashion plate and I do not claim to be an expert. I am a woman, wife and mother who has had a positive experience with dressing femininely. If it has worked for me, it can work for you.


7 comments:

  1. Glad to hear that the jumper dresses are out ;)

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  2. Anonymous6/01/2011

    I love this! Thanks for sharing. I also wear mostly skirts and love it.
    Rebecca wells

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  3. I've never even considered wearing a skirt all the time. It would kill me. Too uncomfortable. This was an intriguing post though. Glad you've found a new way to be you. Have you heard of Dress your Truth? Google it, might add another layer to this discussion.
    I don't even think I have enough skirts for 7 days in a row...

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  4. Hey, I hear ya, Kristin...if you had asked me if I would consider wearing a skirt any day besides Sunday for 3 hours, I would have laughed and shook my head. Yes, the secret for me is finding skirts and dresses that are comfortable and I like wearing. Yay for cotton blends! It's been fun trying something new; thanks for the comment! I'll go Google that now...

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  5. Heidi, if I wear a jumper I will post a pic, k? ;-) Denim? Plaid? OVERALL DRESS? (shudders)

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  6. Hey, Eve! I made a decision to not wear pants when I was 17. I felt it was the feminine way God intended women to dress. It helps differentiate between male and female. The word "modest" in 1 Timothy 2:4 means a long garment that is flowing. That describes a skirt to me. My heart and attitude really changed when I made the decision, and I know it's because I made the decision wanting to please God and submit to His design. I do not at all look down on others who don't have the same dress standards. God is very concerned about what's in the heart too! Thanks for sharing this!
    I'm a new follower! :)

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  7. Jill, thanks for visiting the blog. I appreciate you sharing your own personal convictions about wearing skirts and femininity. Glad to know you are following!

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Thanks for your comment today! I love reading your thoughts, too. :-)