Why I Don’t Wear Skirts all the Time

I read an article today over at the Aquila Report by a woman on why she wears skirts all the time. Caroline Allen, author of the Modest Mom blog and owner of the Modest Mom line of clothing, gives three main reasons for why she prefers skirts over pants: because they are feminine and easily portray the fact that she is a woman, because they are easy to be modest in, and because they are comfortable.

While I appreciate her concern for modesty, and I commend her dedication, I have to disagree with her basic premise. Skirts are not inherently more modest than pants. Modesty is much more an issue of the heart than simply what a woman wears. A skirt can easily be provocative, and it’s not hard to be modest in pants, or shorts, or even a swimsuit. And, there is a real danger for many women to become self-righteous over their choice of clothing. I’m not saying this is the case with Mrs. Allen. From all I can see, she appears to be a lovely woman.

In order to keep this post lighthearted, I thought I’d use pictures to illustrate my point.

First, are skirts always more feminine than pants? [As to whether wearing pants confuses people about my gender, I’m fairly certain no one has ever mistaken me for a man. And I find it slightly disturbing that Mrs. Allen reports her children saying she looks like their father when she has worn pants.] Which outfit below is more feminine to you?

This one?
Or this one?

Second, are skirts always more comfortable? I admit, I enjoy comfortable skirts myself. I find them very pleasant to wear, but not always convenient to my daily life as SAHM mom to small children. Which outfit looks more comfortable?

Or this?

And lastly, are skirts inherently more modest than pants?

Is this modest?
Or is this?

I’m all for women wearing skirts if they want to, and I am certainly for dressing modestly. I just think we should use wisdom and not seek hard and fast rules to enforce.

Just for the fun of it. Which outfit below would have been considered more modest by Victorian era ladies? Bonus points if you know why.

Outfit 1:

Outfit 2:

26 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Wear Skirts all the Time

  1. Rebecca Miller says:

    Muslim women wear burqas and hijabs as a sign of their modesty and holiness. Nuns wear habits as a sign of their modesty and devotion to God. I think you are right when you point out the self righteous ditch you can fall into.

  2. James Hakim says:

    Looks like you need to get (maybe sew?) yourself some better skirts (on both the comfort and the modesty side). Or maybe you totally missed both the spirit and the thought process of the article.

    In that case, I hope that all your readers actually click through and read the original article linked by Aquila.

    It’s a model of irenic self-reflection that is the outworking of a heart of modesty and not at all the “modesty equals following this rule” idea that you have implied by your article.

    In fact, even the comment stream is edifying and irenic. That’s not something that you get to say much about blog articles on touchy subjects.

    Your article makes for interesting humor and sarcasm, but the point you’re making doesn’t at all connect with the article that you seem to be trying to engage. I hope that this comment will help others get past your response and read the original.

    I appreciate much of what you write and link to. Keep up the good work!

  3. Rachel Miller says:

    Hi James,

    I don’t think I did miss Mrs. Allen’s point in her post. I appreciate her concern for modesty, and I’ve addressed the issue of modesty in a serious post (that I linked in my post today). But her main point, that skirts are more modest, just doesn’t hold true. Her skirts are modest because she wears them modestly and chooses modestly. Clothing is a tool that can be used modestly or immodestly.

    My post today was merely a lighthearted way to illustrate my point which is that modesty is more than skirts versus pants.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting here.

  4. Rachel Miller says:

    Sarah~ yes, you are correct! Ankles were scandalous, but cleavage in an evening gown wasn’t. I’ve heard tell that my great-grandfather used to hang out with his buddies (when they were kids) at the railroad station to catch a glimpse of ankles as the women climbed on board the trains.

  5. Frank Aderholdt says:

    Men, beware! Engage in this discussion at any level at your own peril. “That’s interesting” may be the safest response to every comment.

  6. Wendy says:

    I agree with your points about modesty and the heart issue, and avoiding legalism. I’m a staunchly Reformed woman who has always worn a mixture of clothing, different types of pants and skirts. I think women can be feminine and modest in both. That said, I think some women take this freedom too far. My husband and I have always attended PCA or ARP churches. Several times, we have seen women so scantily clad it is embarrassing. Once, we were doing nursery duty and a woman came in from the next room. She was wearing a completely strapless dress that looked like it belonged at the beach. Recently we sat behind a young lady with a low cut shirt displaying lots of skin, including her completely uncovered bra straps (which now seems to be an acceptable fashion trend.) In Sunday School recently we were treated to another eyeful of a tight, low cut, strapless dress (“cute little sundress.”)

    I mean, come on. These ladies need to use a bit more common sense. For goodness sake, at least throw a cute little shrug over your cute skimpy sundress at church. I don’t feel like it’s being legalistic to have a bit of expectations for ladies to be somewhat decently covered — lots of skin is unnecessarily provocative. I don’t want to send anyone back to Little House on the Prairie dresses or get out a tape measure to check skirt length, or any of that nonsense. But I think your post gets to the point — it is a heart attitude and in my opinion, a lick of sense might help too.

    It’s all about balance — avoiding legalism by imposing extra-biblical rules, yet at the same time Christian women examining their hearts and using their heads about what they wear.

    • Kay says:

      This post was just what I needed. I’ve been thinking about this issue quite a bit. For some reason, Christian women have sought to identify themselves by their outer garment which is clearly against 1 Peter 3:3-4″ Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not
      corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

      No where in the Bible is the pants vs skirts debate brought up. We can clearly see that Deut. 22:5, not wearing that which pertains to a man, is clearly talking about garments of war and possibly other things that distinctively defined a man because clothes certainly did not, especially when women and men wore similar articles of clothing.

      I loved the illustration, because skirts that can blow in the wind, show parts of your legs and the outline of your bottom no matter how long they are, aren’t necessarily modest. Modest as used in the verse in 1 Timothy 2:9 is aidous which means to be “hidden” or “shamed”. It doesn’t mean pretty, feminine or graceful. God defines those things in a gentle and quiet spirit, as 1 Peter says.

      I won’t let anyone tell me that my loose leg-hiding pants are immodest because Scripture doesn’t point it out as so.

      I’d tell you, having a gentle and quiet spirit is more difficult than finding a modest skirt at the store.

      • Megan says:

        Hi Kay!

        Thank you for your comment. I appreciate the way you used scripture to back up what you said! And I agree with you especially that it really is more difficult to have a meek and quiet spirit than find modest skirts/dresses.

        Also, I agree with others that too much focus is on the outward appearance when the Bible clearly says that God looks at the heart. So, shouldn’t we as fellow believers be doing the same??

        Thank you and God bless

  7. Sefra Schwab says:

    I so enjoyed this post! We recently moved, and in looking for a new home church, we visited several different churches – as one does – and after Sunday School during one visit, I was told that my high heels were too high. Even though they are only 2 and half inch heels. I was covered up elsewhere – short sleeves, no cleavage, although I did show my ankles (maybe that was the problem?). It really bothered me that on a Sunday morning, a fellow sister in Christ could find nothing else to say to me – a visitor – than “You’re heels are too high, you really shouldn’t wear them.” and then walk away without another word. I have often been called immodest for wearing short hair as well. I have recently taken to sporting a pixie cut, and found great opposition within more “conservative” circles of the church.

    Anyway, getting back to my original purpose in commenting: Good on ya! I do believe that you have cleverly and correctly identified a big problem in many areas of the church. You have christians judging – truly judging, without any basis of fact in much of their judgements – other christians based purely on how they are dressed.

    Right on!

  8. Godith says:

    In Uganda it is considered quite immodest for ladies to wear slacks. Long skirts are best. So part of it depends on culture.

  9. Friend for Life says:

    I really appreciate these thoughts on modesty and women’s clothing. As a woman who seeks to please the Lord in all I do, it is easy to get caught up in the externals and neglect the internal beauty I want to cultivate for His glory. Also, I think that if one is seeking to please the Lord, she’ll also become more modest in the outward things.

  10. Rachael says:

    I also had a hard time with this. I wore jeans, pants, and capris most of my life. I only wore skirts and dresses to church or church related things. Now I am part of a different church and most of the ladies only wear skirts or dresses. I can not do that. Sure I wear dresses and skirts to church but that is because I have always done that. I wear pj pants at home or at bed time. I wear skirts in public now but I get a lot more attention and I, personally, don’t like attention. I don’t ever want to push a personal conviction on someone and right now my conviction is to wear skirts in public. I know that slowly I am being told it is okay to wear pants as long as I wear them modestly. Not trying to show off my body in any way. I also know that skirts or dresses can be immodest. Thanks ladies for all the insight.🙂

  11. Sue Botchie says:

    i liked the picture of the lady in the long blue dress and am grateful to live in an age where i have the choice to either put on a pair of faded jeans or a long full skirt. with so much evil right here in the (still) free west, methinks Christians have better ways to redeem the time than to be telling other Christians what they should and should not wear. i’m grateful to have found a church (and only a mile down the road) where the pastor and congregation are more concerned about spreading the Gospel, and far less concerned about what so-n-so is wearing.

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