Friday, June 3, 2011
This will be an essay in which I intend to invest a great deal of thought, and as I am swamped with school paperwork, it will come in phases. There are things I need to re-read, visuals I must contemplate, and perhaps surveys to conduct. In any case, I need to think about it.

The idea came as I prepared for work this morning. I had stopped for a moment after dressing to survey what I was wearing. I generally perform the standard 'head, shoulders, knees, and toes' test when purchasing a garment and then never give it another thought, but I had bought this white, tiered skirt in a rather dim shop, and I was having second thoughts in the light of day.

As with all things white, there was the problem of transparency. The layers under the skirt were sufficient, but they did not reach all the way to the hemline, and though they were long enough for a skirt I would wear all on its own, it made me wonder whether there were something teasing or immodest about the first ten diaphanous inches.

'Jansenist, Puritan, Extremist, Manichean, Pharisee, Shiite, etc.' and other such epithets reverberated in the memory of my ears, as I recalled the words of men and women, friends and foes, whom I know and have known. I may have winced, but even though the rebukes of majority are
arresting, they do not have much impact on a monarchist.

I began trying to disect the matter rationally, when logic gave up the task and ceded to intuition. 'Oh, puh-lease!' (my intuition normally adopts the voice of my sister, Maggie) 'There are girls out there with their hemlines ending a few inches below their hips. What makes you so special as to attact attention with what you're wearing?' Now that reasoning I could not combat, and I actually trotted out the door giggling at myself and the problem I had posed.

Two particular troubles came to revisit me later though. The first was the fact that I knew too few people (and most of them via books) that took a middle position on the issue of modest. The second, that I was and am not sure that I even occupy the middle.

Unlike the subjects of my other ruminations, this issue is actually a lot of bother to revisit, and I don't savour the idea of writing about something I should have in hand after twenty-seven years on this Earth. Yet, as I consider how separated I have been from others, due in part to the way I dress, or how fervently I have sought to please those whom I respected over those whom I wished to befriend, I am interested to know if I have made the right decision, or if I have made myself a bit ridiculous for
ideals that priests and philosophers would have quickly forgone if they had been practical women or had known the social price.

I was engaged in a debate on the subject of dignity in dress recently--by those who claim belief in modesty, too. It is rather typical that my side was taken by no other party, but this time I had hoped the case would be different and that at least this one other soul would take my part. Well, suffice it to say that this did not happen, and as a woman, I was
disappointed. As a rational animal, I was also dissatisfied with the emotional arguments employed against my position. After all, if emotions had the last say, why would mine be any less infallible?

To those that are interested, I promise the following chapters will not be so sticky with personal references as this
post, and I will exercise more discipline. Still, a personal preface seemed necessary this once, especially as I hope no one takes the forthcoming argument personally.


Kindred Spirit said...

I am very much looking forward to what you have to say on this subject. I often contemplate the dictum that "clothes maketh the man"(or woman, as the case may be), and I believe that there is much more here than meets the eye, no pun intended. True men reverence women, and true women dress accordingly.

Catriona said...

I'm interested as well. You are right about the dilemma repeating every time we go shopping. I have definitely used the same rationale, "How can someone notice this when most women wear practically nothing?" It's usually a conflict between whether I'm being scrupulous or I should take it off bc "If I notice, I know someone else will." I've had a few things sit in my closet until I got rid of them VERY lightly worn, just because I wasn't satisfied with the hemline or neckline etc. to ever wear them out, even after buying them without any such qualms. I think it must have something to do with euphoric rather than sensible shopping on my part. ;)

Jacobitess said...

Thank you for the encouragement, dear ladies!

Catriona, I know just how you feel. I cannot count the times I bought something that seemed all right, while I was looking in the shop mirror and standing still, only to find that when doing various activities, the garment would 'forget itself' so to speak. Oi, we need designers that understand dignity and the fact that in the real world people actually move :)

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Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
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