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As God by creation made two of one,
so again by marriage He made one of two.


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the double standard of feminine dressssss

teacuppamela.pngI was listening to the radio as I was driving to pick up some of the children who were visiting friends and I heard a talk-show host comment (with surprised and almost disgusted amazement) that men are really going beyond the appropriate boundaries of dress when they will now buy and wear “mantyhose” – men’s pantyhose – and there was a bit of chuckle-chuckle over that one.

So, yeah… I did… I did come home and google the mantyhose and, yes, I did see they are, indeed, being marketed (don’t even ask why I didn’t link them here).  But you know what I was thinking?  You know what I’ve been thinking for a long time?  Well, I’ll tell you… why is it strange? why is it even appalling to hear of or consider that a man is wearing hosiery commonly accepted as ‘women’s clothing’ and why is it so peculiar to both men and women that men would wear stuff pertaining to the fairer gender?  For, consider this: women wear *men’s* clothing every day.  They wear men’s clothing everyday and it is perfectly n-o-r-m-a-l.  Strange how this is not obvious. Stranger, still, how this is not blatantly obvious to Christian women!  I mean, I can and do understand how women outside the Word would just go with the flow of the mainstream — but women who have the Scriptures and fail to see (and dress accordingly) God’s clear distinctive design and created difference between men and women — this, I truly cannot understand.  Truly, I cannot.

I’ve had people ask me over the years how I came to the decision to wear exclusively feminine clothing – and dresses/skirts in particular.  And, I suppose in addition to my preference for wearing dresses for most all of my adult life – bcz of many things – including how I felt in dresses and how I was treated when wearing dresses and how I loved sewing dresses and skirts for myself and then our daughters.

But then there came a time — sort of a collision of a couple of events many years ago.  One being that I read in the Word that men should not wear that which pertaineth to women… etc., etc., and I decided I would take this to heart and pray about it for my own life and settle it once and for all. Then, the other event, in that aforementioned collision, occurred while I was at a seminar and saw an attractive woman retrieving her belongings each time there was a break in the meetings — and time after time this woman would stoop down or bend over to gather her things and in full view was the inseam of her slacks (okay, so you get the picture).  And somehow, that day, the Scripture and the view of that whole should-be-private-area sort of confirmed to me the decision to, as a general rule, to never wear pants for outerwear again.  I determined that day that just as bizarre as it would be for Wes to reach across to my side of the closet and wear a feminine garment, so also it must be just as unseemly for me to reach over and wear a pair of jeans or a camouflage shirt or a manly jacket or whatever.

Now… I must say that I might wear some pants for some extreme reason – though that reason has not yet come up – but I might.  That’s why I say that as a general rule, I never wear pants – or pants with no complete covering.  I wear leggings under dresses for hiking – and leggings under dresses for snow-play and for working outside in winter.  But slacks or jeans or pants or… whatever: no.

Though wearing dresses much of the time prior to that, that decision was made well over fifteen years ago and so, I suppose, the likelihood of something coming up to change my mind is quite slim.   And so I continue this journey – it feels rather like a pilgrimage or even a crusade from time to time as I seek to demonstrate the need for women to abandon manly dress and embrace femininity.  I have occasional opportunities to teach on this matter — but even then, the opposition to distinctly feminine clothing is quite strong.  One thing we women are not short on is strong opinion — that is for sure, especially when defending our position on a matter. Or our children.  ;o)

I ache for the women who are slaves to fashion and wear clothing that both attracts attention and teases men — clothing that entices but won’t fulfill — clothing that speaks louder than their professed walk — clothing that says they don’t embrace the loving design of the Creator God.  I ache for daughters who unintentionally tease boys — worse when it’s an intentional decision.  I ache for the girls who are sensually used in the thoughts of others bcz of their ignorance or arrogance.

But… what’s probably the most difficult to accept is the willingness to continue rejecting the unique design of men and of women — and dressing to both signify and dignify it.  O, for the end of the double standard of dress for believers… that the Word of God would be believed.

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  • Amanda

    Hi Pamela,
    I really love your site and your insight :). I am 33, and I have come a long way as far as my dressing convinctions go. I am very “curvy” and have been since I was 15 (when my hubby of 14 years and I started dating!). I used to be unaware when I wore tight/button up/etc. shirts that I was creating a stir. I was naive and just really didn’t know. (My future mother-in-law was so gracious as to inform my teenage self though on one occasion regarding a red tank dress). So, now I am sort of on the other extreme of mostly frumpy matching sweat suits or bulky sweaters!

    My sweet, plus-slized, Southern grandma still wears bright dresses and always looks “like a lady,” much to the delight of my grandfather. I am re-evaluating all areas of my life, including how I dress, and that is actually how I found your site. There is so much to review, I am biting off chunks with each visit! I have experimented here lately with wearing dresses during the day (hubby loved it) and to church during the week (instead of my standard black pants and sweater). I pray that God helps reveal His will for me in this area and every other!
    Hugs,
    Amanda

  • Gayle

    Dear Pamela,

    I could have written your post. I, too, started this lifestyle about 15 years ago for much of the same reasons – including the lady bending over and being able to see the inseam – :-O!! And I have seen that scene many times since then. Because of the misconceptions that you mentioned that people have when the topic arises(dresses only are a command of God, etc.) I have learned to stop mentioning anything about a conviction when I am asked. People get so offended and defensive. Many years ago I read a quote by Tasha Tudor (who is by no means a believer) that said she wore dresses only (no pants) because she liked to look like a girl. Well said, IMO. When I am asked, I tell people 1) that my husband prefers it, (so do my 5 sons ages 13-24 – as do most males according to the Harris twins’ Modesty survey) and 2)I mention the Tasha Tudor quote. No one argues back or gets defensive. The most I get is a interested sounding or satisfied “Hm.” I must say that my reasons *have* moved around some since the beginning but when I say that my husband prefers it, that settles it for most people (I don’t run in “feminist circles”).
    Keep up the great work. You certainly have a great way with words that *I* certainly don’t. Bless you and yours.

  • Hello Pamela,
    Thank you for sharing such a straight forward and articulate message on ‘cross dressing’ – I put a link on my site and thanked Laura – she sent it to me! See? The Lord is using you! I began dressing for a clear conscience before the Lord and to set an example, etc and not stumble men – about 4.5 years ago. My life as a Christian has been more fruitful ever since. Thanks be to Jesus our Lord!

  • Allie — I do see what you mean and that’s sort of the danger of launching a topic such as this (modest dress that seems to read *dresses* –only– and no other attire is acceptable). I guess I also want to say –publicly– that pharisaism is something I desire to avoid like I desire to avoid any plague or evil. So, I got that one — and so I tread sorta lightly in print and verbal communication about the “mechanics” or the practical application of ‘dress’ for women — except to say: make it modest, make it feminine and make it agree with God that men and women are different — Christian men and Christian women are more so in that they are regenerated and redeemed and ought to *look* like they *believe* their heavenly Father and *obey* *Him* and serve *Him.* That’s going to look a little different woman to woman… but, truthfully, it’s not hard to see what’s modest and what’s not and it’s not hard to see what’s feminine and what’s not.

    I appreciate this discussion (it can get lonely being in a dialogue too long ;o) ) bcz iron sharpens iron and we, as Christian women, really must iron things out that we can stand with understanding and not be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.

    God bless you, Allie and God bless you all for your words, too. I appreciate your different letters and opinions. You help me understand my own or add to or refine mine own.

    love, pamela

  • Allie

    Darn, I just typed a comment and forgot to do the math question and it lost it! The gist was:

    1. I think it’s a Romans 14 issue
    2. I’m glad you didn’t mind my first comment 🙂
    3. It’s when people are in danger of becoming pharisaical about such things that it spooks me a bit – saying that something is God’s command to Christians (which now I see you weren’t doing) and becoming so obsessed with the thing/action itself that one forgets the reason behind it (in this case, modesty)

    Take care and God bless you!

  • Ju_Ju_Mommy

    Thank you for this post. It was very inspiring. I’ve been praying about the modesty issue a lot the last couple of years. Though I’d consider myself to have always been a modest person by today’s standards, I’ve realized (through prayer and time in the Word) that my standards should be that of God and not of those around me! I haven’t yet resorted to “dresses only” but feel that God is calling me to make a significant change in that direction.

    PS. I think the first commentor, I think, had a good point. But I think that this issue is more about God calling us to reflect our faith/walk in our daily lives and therefore modest dress and demeanor (sp?) are significant ways to accomplish this especially during this day and age.

  • Melodie

    pAMELA,U ARE RIGHT ON IN YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS. IT IS NOT WHAT WE THINK, IT IS ABOUT WHAT GOD SAYS IN HIS WORD. I FOR ONE APPRECIATE YOUR HONESTY. I CAN RELATE TO THE FIRST COMMENTER. SHE IS IN DENIAL. IT HAPPENED TO ME TOO, SO THAT IS HOW I KNOW.YOU KEEP HEARALDING THE WORD. GOD IS CHANGING PEOPLES LIVES AND HE IS USING YOU TO HELP WITH THE END-TIME HARVEST. YOU WERE ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO CHALLENGED ME TO THINK ABOUT THE WHOLE MODESTY ISSUE, AND I CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH. MY HUSBAND AND SON TREAT ME A LOT DIFFERENT NOW THAT MY DRESS IS MORE FEMININE. I LOVE YOU AND APPRECIATE YOU SISTER!! GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!!!KEEP PREACHING IT, PEOPLE ARE LISTENING. I KNOW THAT I AM.lOVE YA BUNCHES.
    MELODIE

  • vikki goedmakers

    Pamela,
    thank you for your post…I too have been thinking a great deal about this…My preference is for skirts and dresses…I feel as it is more feminine. My husband appreciates it a great deal too…I am not at the place yet where I never wear a loose split skirt on occasion but I am open to whatever the Lord shows me.
    Blessings,
    Vikki

  • Thank you for reading and for commenting. It’s often in viewing the comments that people are challenged to think.

    As I shared, I had come to a point (in the midst of wrestling with the matter of gender-distinctive dress) where I was reading Deuteronomy 22.5 and it was in the reading of that verse that my decision became clearer to me. I had been teaching Sunday School and the verses distinguishing God’s creation of male and female, male and female… it seemed to be ever before me, over and over: the distinction. In my Bible study at that time, I was studying in 1Timothy… those distinctions of a man and his wife or of women… it was something I was seeing as sort of a thread throughout the Word: God’s special design. That is why that verse (D. 22.5) was so clear to me—because—I was already continually seeing that distinction. You see, I hadn’t grown up with the clear biblical teaching of modesty, femininity and God’s precious design for women.

    O, and, yes… I totally get where you’re going with the other references – and so I’m not even going to get in a wrestling match over them – for, I didn’t say in my post that I saw that as a command from God but rather, it was one of those ‘light-bulb’ moments where things, I had already been thinking on, became very clear to me. I had come to the decision to demonstrate agreement with God on His unique design or His particular distinctive design – male and female — created by God distinctly different.

    And, the reason why I wrote that we, as Christians, should observe this is that we have His Word – His marvelous plan before us and so… as such, we should be and appear different from the world — the world’s trends and fashions shouldn’t define, distract or attract us – rather, we should choose according to appropriateness for occasions, modesty and distinction of male or female — instead of unisex or whatever.

    This, obviously, is open to interpretation, for, perhaps I would choose a garment that one would think is too this or that or not enough this or that. But in all, my attempt is to be distinctively feminine and modest — not attracting undue attention or enticement.

    I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about this or dwelling on it as it’s just a way of life with me. I just happened to be thinking about it last night bcz of the radio talkshow host’s angst over the mantyhose deal; I write slices of life… stuff I’m thinking about… that’s all.

    Thank you again for writing… it’s all good. love, pamela

  • Allie

    I think it’s a preference thing. The command about men not wearing women’s clothing and women not wearing men’s clothing is found in Deuteronomy 22:5. I don’t think one can simply take that one command out of all the surrounding commands and decide that we should, today, obey that one only. For example, do you ever wear clothes made of wool and linen woven together (verse 11)? Do you put 4 tassels on the corners of your cloaks (verse 12)? Do you have a parapet built around your roof (verse 8)?

    If you do all those things, I apologize, and good on you! If you don’t, I’m not sure why you picked that one command to obey. I have nothing against dresses and I think it’s lovely when we as women dress in a feminine way! I just don’t see that it’s commanded for us as Christians.

    Ideas? I’d love to hear the reasoning! God bless you!

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