Manners, Customs, Clothing
Immodest or Improper Dresses
This subject has already been addressed by other authors, in books and articles. Here, I propose to contribute to this literature primarily by refuting fallacious arguments which purport that bad dresses are no cause for alarm. First, though, I should define my terms; then, for the benefit of first-timers, give four standard authoritative quotations against immodest dress.
Meaning of the terms
By immodest dress I mean clothing that leaves certain areas and percentages of the human body either bare or else accentuated, with the effect and/or the intention of “advertising one’s charms” for vanity and/or sexual allurement. Examples of said dress on women are: low-cut blouses, micro-skirts, mini-skirts, shorts, sleeveless blouses and dresses, tight garments, transparent or onion-skin-thin garments. Examples on men include: jersey-type shirts, shorts, tight garments, unbuttoned shirts.
By improper dress, I mean feminine garments or accessories, which are used by men, and vice-versa. Improper, as pertaining to place or activity is being omitted, although such topic is important also. Examples of this phenomenon on women are: pants, neckties, sport coats, and hair only a couple of inches long. Examples on men are: earrings, hair which extends (for instance) 12-18 inches, babushkas, and hair bundled into a pony tail.
The pony-tail is not appropriate for men
Scriptures and Revelations on fashions
The following four standard and authoritative quotations, by no means the only ones, should dispel any notion that the subject need not concern society. The first three pertain to immodest dresses, and the fourth to improper dresses.
- “In like manner women also in decent apparel: adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly attire” [1 Tim 2: 9].
- “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit : and the spirit against the flesh ; for these are contrary one to another : so that you do not the things that you would” [Gal 5:17].
- “Fashions will be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much” [Our Lady of Fatima in 1917].
Woman should not use man's apparel
Refuting the most common allegations
- “A woman shall not be clothed with man’s apparel, neither shall a man use woman’s apparel: for he that doeth these things is abominable before God.” [Deut 22: 5].
It’s time now for refuting the alluded-to fallacious arguments, which I answer below. These arguments, or a paraphrased form of them, or a suggestion of them, have actually been heard by myself.
1. Allegation: The others wear them; It’s the style; They are socially acceptable.
Answer: The “final examination”, that is, the Particular Judgment, shall be administered by the Divine Judge, Jesus Christ, and not by “the others” or by the fashion.
2. Allegation: God created my body, and God does not create dirty things. Hence, there cannot be anything wrong in exposing it.
Answer: I am glad you believe in the God-Creator, Who certainly does not create immoral items and dirty beings, so that indeed, before the original sin of Adam and Eve, there was nothing wrong with the exposure of the naked body. But after such sin, there was, and not only with Adam and Eve, but with their posterity. The lost pristine grace was not transmitted to descendents. Instead man became weak of will, with an inclination to sin, and with the concupiscence of the flesh. As a matter of fact, the omnipotent God Himself deemed it now necessary to clothe our first parents: “And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife, garments of skins, and clothed them” [Gen 3: 21].
The Blessed Virgin Mary does see something wrong - in fact, very offensive - with “certain fashions,” as already quoted above. Reminder: She came to Fatima, as a representative of God Himself. Thus, the matter of fashions is not at all one of immaterial personal opinions.
Dignified clothing fit with the feminine spirit
3. Allegation: You have to keep up with the times.
Answer: With some fast-changing technical fields such as computer science, yes; with immoralities of the world, no. The Apostle of the Gentiles writes: “Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today, and the same forever” [Heb 13: 8]. Reminder for the second time: This same Jesus, and not the fashions or the time, will determine our next abode when we die.
4. Allegation (from women): I feel comfortable with shorts, and am really not trying to seduce any men.
Answer: The discomforts of the fires of Hell and Purgatory are much more severe than the terrestrial ones you propose to avoid; moreover, those of Hell last forever.
Your half-nakedness, even if accompanied by no evil intentions, still constitutes an occasion of sin. If a weak-in-Faith man takes lustful enjoyment in the show you present, the man incurs the guilt of immorality, and you have contributed to such guilt. You should consider the words of Our Lord “Whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart” [Mat 5: 28].
In conclusion, I think that a girl or woman, dressed modestly from head to foot, with exterior loose, non-transparent clothing, looks feminine-logical-gracious-wholesome. This cannot be said for one dressed immodestly.
The pleasure TIA has to publish collaborations of our guest columnists
does not imply that it endorses all the opinions expressed in their articles.
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St. Isidore of Seville on Dignified Manners
Nobility and Accessibility: Keys to Catholic Charity
Questions and Answers on Fashion in Women's Clothing
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Language Is the Dress of Thought
The Role of Admiration and Affection in the Family
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Organic Society and Desire of Heaven
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