Monday, February 11, 2013

Are You Modest?

Yesterday, I read this post over at Motley Mama about modesty. Here's the photo responsible for sparking the conversation:
I usually fall between "flirty" and "proper" when wearing a skirt or dress. Partially because I'm perpetually cold and more clothing = more warmth; partially because I feel more comfortable when I'm not worried about accidentally showing my underwear to everyone in the room.

But - I have worn shorts and skirts in the "slut" range - across campus and back late at night - without thinking twice. (Looking back, probably not the most prudent choice, but nobody was gonna convince my 18-year-old self that.) Did that clothing choice make me a slut? If I was raped while wearing that outfit, would that makes the offense less atrocious? And, unfortunately, this stereotype goes both ways.  Should a woman who chooses to wear high collar shirts and "matronly" length capris be looked down on as a prude? It's like Goldilocks - am I showing too much, too little, or the "just right" amount of skin (whatever that may be)?


After all that, I'm not sure exactly how I define modesty. I mean, dress for the occasion - don't wear a nightgown to a job interview - but should I be upset if someone wears a skimpy dress out to dinner?

Enter Evelyn Beatrice Hall:  "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Except, applied to clothing.  I really think people should be able to confidently wear any outfit (of their choosing!).

And slightly off topic, but do men ever think about this stuff? When I compare men and women, it seems showing skin is more appropriate for women (in every situation) than men. At my work - men are expected to wear pants daily, but when the weather is warm, it's acceptable for women to show some bare leg in capris, a skirt, or dress. At the beach - men in board shorts, women in bikinis. At a party - men in knee-length shorts, women in short shorts. Have you noticed this?

How about you? I'd love to hear where you fall on the "modesty" scale.


  1. One of my pet peeves is the different standards for "dressy" clothing between men and women. I mean, when a man "dresses up" it generally means he's wearing more clothing. He's wearing long pants, a long sleeved dress shirt (probably with a T-shirt underneath) maybe a vest, and definitely a long sleeved jacket. But when a woman dresses in "formal wear" she's generally wearing less clothing. I mean she's probably wearing a skirt (so her legs are either not covered underneath or scantily covered with stockings.) On top she's probably sleeveless or at the very least she's got some big open neckline. And the fabric... for men it's generally wool, while women get sheer fabrics like silk, satin or taffeta. Is it any wonder that women are always cold?

    I just think there's a big metaphor there about what traits we consider valuable and/or attractive in men vs. women. Formal wear for men takes the focus squarely off of their bodies - they are basically wearing a uniform. But formal wear for women means showing off her figure, showing skin, and highlighting her sexuality in general. It's not that I have a problem with women showing off their sexuality, it's just the double standard that bothers me.

    1. Yes, yes, yes. I completely agree! I'd never thought about the clothing materials - you're right!

  2. I've never been too 'slutty' in my dress, but given I studied with more than 90% of the class as men, I didn't want more attention that I could handle. That being said, in relationships, I have taken the preference of my partner on board and adopted what I am comfortable with - such as underwear preferences, stockings, heels, skirt or dress length, neckline etc. When I say this - I mean I've been a little more 'provocative' for them, than I would otherwise choose to be as a single lady. But I do have lines, some that have changed over time!!

    I've never really had any sexual harassment, and after watching far too much Law and Order:SVU, I feel uncommon not to have been raped! But then again, I'm am both confident, and to the point of brash, there's going to be an embarrassing calling out of anyone who does the wrong thing by me - let me assure you!! As in a colleague - the whole office would know. I think that's enough to detract most - or perhaps they are all just decent?

    1. I'm a pretty conservative dresser for the most part, and even more so at work. My husband likes when I dress a little more provocatively as well . . so I take that into consideration for his birthday or when we celebrate a promotion at work.

      Yay confidence! I think that's a good thing in so many situations. And I've heard confidence is a detractor when men are looking for someone to take advantage of - they are looking for an easy target.


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