April 19, 2021

Is Your Clothing Rebellious?

‘Tis the season for sun dresses, short shorts, halter tops, and temptation.  The winter’s over and women everywhere are wearing less in an attempt both to to get cool and to attract the opposite sex.

It seems that the season either started earlier this year, or I’m just noticing it because the neighbors next door have a pool, and the unseasonably warm spring has lead the young ladies to wear two piece swimsuits.  I’m glad my boys are still young.

In any case, it’s not just this dad who is having trouble with the trends in clothing– schools and workplaces seem to be struggling more than ever before to control the runaway hemlines, necklines and bare midriffs that are running rampant.

Schools see it as dress code rebellion.  Teens finding clothes that they believe are trendy and wearing them to cause distraction.

Skimpy continues to be trendy for teenage girls. Skimpy continues to be discouraged by school dress codes.

As spring brings warmer weather, the clash is often greater than polka dots and stripes.

Oh wait, that works now, doesn’t it?

As long as it’s skimpy.

But not in school.

“To be fashionably dressed is not necessarily to be appropriately dressed,” said Bert Smith, principal at Batesburg-Leesville Middle School in South Carolina.

“Our buildings have air conditioning. There is no reason to dress in such a manner that would be detrimental to their schoolwork.”

Allowing girls to go to school with skirts that are too short and shirts with straps too thin creates a disruption and distraction, officials say.

Do they know what they are doing?  Probably.  They want to look trendy.  They want to be cool.  They may even feel that the clothing gives them a bit of confidence.  But I don’t think for a minute that these girls do not know what effect their look has on boys.  They cannot be unaware in the sexually charged world they now find themselves in.  I mean, when the biggest name in sex peddling mocks feminine mystery in its very name, and teenage girls are shopping there, I don’t think that there’s much they don’t know about who’s checking them out and what they are doing.

But if you thought dress code rebellion was only in highschool and only perpatrated by teenagers, think again.  ABC had an article entitled “Cleavage: The Owner’s Manual“.

The weather’s getting warmer and necklines are dipping lower — sometimes, too low.

From the beach to the mall to the office, women seem to be showing off their cleavage more than ever before. Why? According to Elisabeth Squires, author of “Boobs: A Guide to Your Girls,” American breasts are getting bigger while shirts are getting smaller.

“We are seeing more cleavage these days for a few reasons. First, the fashion of the day is tight and skinny. At the same time, women are bigger than they were even 15 years ago. Bra fitters tell me that an E cup is the new C cup,” Squires said on “Good Morning America.”

“We have to remember that while more women are showing more cleavage, you really have to use your breast power responsibly,” Squires said.

So why is it that women need such a guide and need to be told these things?  You would think that this might mean that women are ignorant about how what they wear effects others, particularly men.  Why is is that we have to have books written about when is the appropriate time to expose parts of yourself?  Logically, this must be because there are some instances where it is not.

This begs the question why is there any time that it is appropriate if the effect of showing one’s cleavage is to attract male attention– but then that would mean that I would be trying to hold a moral standard!

There is no reason that a woman cannot dress to be cool in the summer and be modest.  I can understand that there are some gray areas and there are some outfits that a woman may just like and not realize what they are revealing.  That is one of the reasons that you must take what others will see into account (in a different way than “will I look cool”) when you purchase your clothing.

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19 thoughts on “Is Your Clothing Rebellious?

  1. Whenever I think on the clothing standards of our day in comparison with the “old days” I am shocked when the summer fare runs around. Did you ever stop to consider that in pioneer days the women wore ankle length or floor length dresses with a petticoat underneath, and possibly stockings, plus the bodice usually had a high neckline which covered the clavical and long sleeves or at least three quarter long. How did those women keep from passing out! I mean they had no A/C, they worked long hard hours infront of a stove or fireplace, and in the garden…. really, I think we could all keep it in perspective here.

    Ladies, you are not going to die, or pass out from heat exhaustion if you wear a T shirt with short sleeves instead of a tank or halter. You are not going to die if you wear long pants or a long skirt instead of shorts.

    Mrs. Meg Logan

  2. My husband swears that he’s cooler in a light-weight long sleeve shirt and jeans, working outside all day…so that covers the men that want to bare down to the waist…plus, dh, being easily sunburned does this as an alternative to slathering sunscreen all over himself.

    Mrs. Meg L, I agree, how did those women do it? No A/C with all the hot activities they did? Canning, cooking, washing clothes over a boiling pot…we modern women are wimps!

  3. I’ve mentioned in comments before that I always take my husband shopping with me if I’m going to be buying clothes. I suppose you could say that I wasn’t raised with a modesty meter. I’m more aware of how I look in certain things now, now that I’ve been learning from other bloggy women. But, I still need my husband’s guidance. Also, I can go a little overboard. I’m young, so theres no reason for me to being buying granny clothes yet- and he has to remind me of that as well. He helps me find a medium.

  4. Meg, are we sure that women dressed all the way up to the collar and down to the ground even when they were in their own house? I haven’t done the research, so I don’t know either way. While I’m sure they dressed up any time they left the house, the distance between the houses and the fact that they’d be doing a lot inside the house would say to me that informal wear may have been worn– though it would certainly be more modest than informal wear now. I could see some kind of pantaloons or something worn instead of a full dress.

    I do know that as late as the 1950s a woman was arrested for indecent exposure for her swimsuit– it showed her knees and shoulders! Much has changed there.

    Mary, I don’t work outside all day, but I’m sure that if one’s fit and as long as the material doesn’t absorb too much sweat you could be cooler.

    Bethanie, I think that you’re very wise in bringing your husband along for the balance you describe. It’s hard not to be caught up in one of the extremes. Also, there seems to be less of what would make someone modest, which is sad.

  5. “I could see some kind of pantaloons or something worn instead of a full dress.” SHOCK… yeah, I don’t think women were wearing pantaloons even at home, this was considered the woman’s underwear! Her husband would be in a tizzy over that!

    Bethanie, I wish I could get my husband to go shopping with me!! LOL… But he does other things, like for Christmas he bought me this pattern set for floor length dresses, I am so excited to make some. Unfortunately my sewing machine is packed away. *sigh*

    I found some really nifty floor length dresses in the junior section of Target this season too. I liked them so much and consider such a find so rare that I paid full price and bought two in different colors! (That is hugely rare for me.)

    Longing for more modest wear,
    Mrs. Meg Logan

  6. Actually, I kind of agree with MIn, they probably didn’t wear pantaloons, but chemises without the long sleeved shirt might have been the norm for a hot day homesteading with no neighbors near enough to drop by unexpectedly. The only thing is, depending on which time period we’re talking about, if they were highly proper, not even the heat would induce them to lower their standards by leaving a layer off! Interesting topic. I’ll have to look it up in my Pioneer Women book–a fascinating read btw, full of journal entries and letters from pioneer women.

    I love long skirts, to just above the ankle. I can’t see myself in a floor length one, but would love to see yours when you get it finished, Mrs. Meg!

    As for taking my husband shopping with me, he’s got a vague idea of modesty for women, no real hard stance on it. He has no frame of reference for it from his upbringing, only what I’ve brought into our marriage. One of those guys that would love me in a floursack…

  7. Mary,
    I love them floor length! ankle length drive me nuts! HAHAHA so funny how we are all different.

    I would love to hear if you find some other answer to the pioneer wardrobe question.


  8. Ok, so not pantaloons– shows my ignorance about the wild west. 🙂

    I’m sure there were some that were “dressed to the nines” all the time, but it just seems that if there were things that necessitated having slightly less that would have happened.

    Then again, I guess back then then men were men and didn’t have women do too much that would have had them out of a skirt. I don’t think they would have done much in barn raising or doing those kinds of things. So, perhaps it’s much more like what you’re describing– but there still (I would think) be something different in the “stay home all day and do canning” attire verses the “go into town” attire” verses the “Sunday go to church attire.”

    And then– they also probably didn’t bathe every day… I think I’ll leave that one there.

    Well, Mary, I’ve got one or two comments for your last statement…

    Either “My, you’ve got a good man” or “Well, that doesn’t seem very modest for you to be wearing a flour sack!”– take your pick. 🙂

  9. MIN,

    There most definitely was a difference in town clothes, church clothes and work clothes, but for the most part I think that what I stated in the opening comment was what they wore in the work clothes about the house. they would dress far more elaborately to go into town or to church (depending on their finances I guess though). I was speaking of the farm wife or the pioneer wife, not the city gals. Some may have had Sunday best, that they wore into the city, or to church. But all of it covered their body at LEAST as much as is mentioned in the opening comment. If they were to go to church the sleeves would be full length and there might be lace about the high collar. along wiht more proper underthings.


  10. And then there were the corsets, too …

    Actually, I think it wiser to leave my husband out of the whole shopping experience for the most part and let him approve things at home. And it’s lovely to have an almost 18 yo who comes home from the store and shows her dad her purchases, fully willing to return them if he notices something she didn’t.

    What isn’t so lovely: the way some moms role model for the young ladies. This past weekend was really hot here and a Christian group I am affiliated with was doing a project where the kids and the parents work together. The kids have a code of conduct which must be signed by them and a parent encouraging modest dress. Sadly, I could probably tell you whether or not each mom was wearing an appropriate “undergarment” and what color it was.

    I’m told that one of the mothers said something to one of the other mothers about her cleavage display. I don’t think the comment was even taken seriously. It should have been; the underdressed woman was in a position to be working very closely with the children, including the 18 yo son of the mother who spoke to her.

  11. We are visiting churches, trying to find a “home,” and yesterday, three rows in front of us, there were two families sitting side by side with teenaged daughters wearing *short* skirts and thin strapped tanks (with the bra strap clearly showing). I was so embarrassed! And for my husband to have to sit there through church with these young women…
    In this small church of 100 people, why was no one telling these young women (and mothers) to give a little more care to how they cover (or don’t cover) their bodies? It seems like a ridiculous reason not to go back, but I don’t understand the gap of conversation that would have to go on there to ignore such immodesty.

  12. My wife picked up on something one of girls in our church was wearing this week that I didn’t. The young lady was wearing what would have been a really short denim skirt, but that it had a white type of material down to below half calf. My wife thought that it was a rebellious outfit (I would be wearing a mini if I could) and I didn’t even get that from it. (And I can’t tell you for sure what the girl thought).

    I believe that we actually have two different threads running through today’s society. There’s the thread that wants to display as much as possible, and those that are ignorant of what they are doing because they think that they are simply being fashionable.

    For the prior– yes, they need a strict talking to.

    For the latter– they need someone to talk to them about what is appropriate and have some parental involvement.

    And then, there’s the whole conversation about what it appropriate to wear to church!

  13. bonnie (hi! it’s nice to see you here!) ~ Your comment makes me think that perhaps, as in most churches maybe, the relationships aren’t what they should be that nobody is telling this family they are dressed inappropriately. I assume the parents don’t know.

    MIn ~ I believe you may open a whole can of worms, if you go down the “what’s appropriate to wear to church” path. How quickly a conversation can turn from whether there should be a prescribed minimum skirt length on the platform to whether the men should have to tuck their shirts in. Two different issues!

  14. Why would I want to talk about what to wear when going to church? 🙂

    You’re right, though– there’s more issues going on then modesty when you talk about church clothing. You have both that, respect, and the challenge of balancing that with a God that is more interested in what’s going on inside than outside.

  15. With the prior and latter: Once upon a time I was a prior, then I became a latter. Boy was I shocked to realize that baring my midriff really wasn’t a Christlike way to dress. It’s obvious, but then it isn’t (to a very new believer).

    In the circles I run with and converse with (online!) modesty is a topic of discussion, so it surprises me that others aren’t talking about it and fighting the flow of our culture (on this issue).

    But I think you’re right, Rebecca, on the relationship idea. But the church hunt must go on!

  16. The thing is– it’s so amazing the difference between a beautiful woman and one that seeks attention in the mind of a man. One of them tempts you and the other does not. And it’s also hard to not question why someone would wear that and not seek attention– it’s taken me a while to actually believe that there are those out there that do not know!

    I don’t know how you can go about fighting it if you don’t start at home– and even then you’re bombarded with it in advertisements, entertainment, etc. It’s ubiquitous.

    And it’s such a fluid thing at times– trying to find hard and fast rules. If you look at the Modesty Survey of teen guys and what they had to say, there wasn’t total agreement with them what was modest and what wasn’t (strong trends, yes). And they were dealing with things in abstract. It’s a whole different thing when you talk about something on a person.

    And related to all this– have we sensitized Christian men too much? Have we messed with their mind? Because certainly one could go to the place where all they do want to see on a woman is a long robe and something covering her hair. Certainly, I don’t think we need to go there?

  17. I want to go there! LOL…. I hate feeling looked at by men.

    I wanted to mention too that what we would wear to church should be our requirement for other times too. If you are showing too much for church, you are showing too much PERIOD. (Obviously we have come to days when people don’t even dress nicely and modestly for church…. that is a whole other discussion.)

    We are having vacation Bible School at the church soon, and we get to wear clothing from the time of Christ. I am so excited. It looks so comfortable and modest! I even get a head covering that is long and flowing and feminine. WHOOHOO… I wish I could dress like that everyday and not call attention to myself. There has to be a balance between being modest and being so “modest” that you stand out and look like you are being self righteous…. I don’t know how that works…. perhaps it is a moot point.

    Mrs. Meg Logan

  18. I think we can’t go there … for the reason Meg brought up. It’s simply not modest to dress in a way that is so different that it calls attention to oneself.

    And Meg, you are so right about modesty not being for church only.

    But speaking of the modesty survey, I was almost surprised to see that the young men did differentiate based on where the clothing in question was being worn. For example, more people would think a spaghetti strap dress was okay to wear to prom than to church. And I guess I would agree, although I’m not certain I would wear spaghetti straps without something else under anyway.

  19. Hi, M, and thanks for a great post. I am both outraged and astounded by many of today’s fashions, and I feel pity for the many women and girls who really don’t realize that there is anything wrong with dressing that way.

    Talking about pioneer women makes me think of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. In it, she never mentions her mother as anything other than fully dressed except as night. I’m no expert at pioneer fashions, mind you. That’s just a thought.

    Thanks again.

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