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Wearing Any Kind Type of Trousers,
even under Skirts, Is Objectionable

Dear Dr. Marian T. Horvat,

A friend of mine runs an apostolate on social media promoting Marylike modesty and femininity.

She maintains that wearing any form of trousers at all, even underneath a modest skirt or dress, is not advisable. This includes leggings, even if worn for extra modesty. She argues that, due to the special circumstances of our times, women should altogether refuse to wear any trousers, even underneath a skirt, so as to show no approval whatsoever for trousers on women. She says that we can wear an extra skirt underneath the skirt or dress for modesty, but Our Lady and Our Lord do not want women to wear trousers of any kind, period. If we absolutely must wear leggings underneath, for some reason, she advises to make sure the leggings are not visible underneath the skirt.

anarkali suit

The modest and elegant Anrkali suit that includes loose trousers underneath the full skirt

She gave this advice in relation to athletic or swim skirts that have attached leggings. She says women should give up going to the gym and swimming so that they cannot offend Our Lord by wearing trousers, even under their skirts. I agree that women should avoid going to the gym and swimming, so long as they are in public. But I am not so sure about the offensiveness of wearing leggings under athletic or swim skirts, considering that they provide extra coverage in case a movement causes a skirt to rise at all.

She insists that women should even refuse to wear the trousers that come with traditional Indian attire, such as the Anarkali style, and instead should wear an extra skirt underneath.

I am not sure about her absolute ban on all forms of trousers.

If wearing leggings underneath a modest-length skirt is done to ensure modesty (in case the skirt flies up for some reason), I don’t see how this could be objectionable. I also wonder — didn’t women in the past wear various forms of “trousers” or shorts as undergarments beneath the skirt? I believe women used to at least wear opaque tights underneath their skirts and dresses. Tights are rather similar to leggings in my opinion, which is something to consider.

As far as traditional attire for women of various cultures, I do not see how trousers in those particular cases are as objectionable as trousers in the modern, everyday context.

Any comments or insights would be of great help.

     Thank you,



Dr. Horvat responds:

Dear I.C.,

Thank you for your consideration in addressing me with your interesting question.

I believe your friend has taken an exaggerated position in her approach to modesty. Whereas her rejection of the trouser is commendable, her ideas conflict with the customs of ladies of the past and the missionary spirit of the Church.

Pantaloons & modern day counterparts


Pantaloons offer a protection to the legs and modesty in countryside play

You are correct in believing that women used to wear a form of trouser as undergarments under their skirts to ensure modesty and also, in colder climates, to provide warmth. From at least the 19th century as far as I know, women wore several layers under their full skirts including a type of trouser – also known as pantaloons, drawer, long knickers and, later, long underwear.

The tights, invented in the 1950s as a revolutionary replacement to accommodate the constantly narrowing and shortening of skirts, eventually replaced these modest and always unseen undergarments.

In the Cultural Revolution, as we know, women lamentably went on to embrace the blue jeans, and pants came to replace skirts as women strove to be like men in their dress, speech, etc.

By the 1970s leggings – not worn under a skirt but as a replacement for trousers – had become the fad, thanks to high-end fashion houses and stars like Olivia Newton John and Madonna.

We can see here how the Revolution progresses using the principle of Gradualism, with women "modestly" wearing tights with their shorter-and-shorter shirts and ending in leggings alone that immodestly reveal every curve in their body.

Wearing trousers under the skirt to be modest

So, how can this be applied to modern times? Considering the fact that materials today are much thinner and cheaper, and the skirts certainly much less full, to wear tights, leggings or a form of trouser undergarment (not jeans or pants) underneath a lady’s skirt adds security and covering and, when applicable, warmth. This also actually counters the modern and revolutionary trend of going bare-legged.

When hiking, doing farm work or something that requires more physical exertion, wearing a form of trousers underneath a woman's dress is a means to ensure modesty – so that her legs are never exposed. Additionally, as mentioned, to wear thick leggings or long underwear in the winter will keep her warmer, for we no longer have access to the thick, heavy clothing and knitted long wool stockings of the past.

Following this good principle of never exposing women's bare legs, a slip or underskirt as well as stockings or hosiery should be worn along with trouser-type undergarments, which should not be visible under the skirt. On this point I agree with your friend.

A point of interest: From the time of the Middle Ages, neither noble nor peasant woman would show her bare legs in public. There are some Renaissance Books of Hours that portray peasant women and men barefoot in the fields, but this is a romantic stylization. If you study the historical Books of Fashion, women wore stockings or foot coverings for both modesty and practical reasons.

Wearing trousers under the skirt to be modern

This being said, it is true that if a woman were to wear trousers (such as jeans) or leggings underneath a thin short skirt, just so that she can claim to be wearing a skirt and to be modest, this would be revolutionary.

This is the unfortunate case of many traditional Catholic women who still want to fit in with the modern world. It is also what the Amish and similar sects do – they wear dresses merely out of habit, though it means little and certainly inspires neither beauty, femininity nor real modesty.


The bicycle provided an excuse for women to wear trousers

Regarding your friend’s point when she says that a lady should not wear leggings under her skirt if she is going to the gym or swimming pool: It is true that a woman who does these things has her heart partly in the modern world and is not yet willing to give up the popular trends.

In these cases, however, I would suggest patience and charity, as persons have showed to me. Very early after I met the Counter-Revolution I realized in a flash that I should give up swimming, even though I liked it very much. It is not this quick or easy for others. For some women, this proscription becomes an obstacle, and the half-way measure – wearing a "modest suit" or pants under a skirt – becomes a means to justify the pleasure. It is best to wait for Our Lady to give ladies and girls of good will the grace to make the full rejection.

In the meantime, the best course of action is not tiring lectures, but good example.

When a counter-revolutionary lady makes no concessions in this matter, she stands as an example for others. Without saying a word, her actions show the willingness to follow the principles to their final consequences. That counter-revolutionary stance – taken without arrogance or sermon-giving – can inspire others of good will to follow her example and make the full commitment to modesty.

This is what happened to me with the exercise class I attended for many years at the YMCA. I wanted to justify the action and found excuses: "It's a class of women," “I always go in and out of the gym in my skirts and dresses," "I need the exercise," etc.. It was the good example of three young women at the TIA office, who would not appear in a gym because of the need to wear culottes or skirts with pants underneath, that induced me to rethink my position, and become uncomfortable in my comfortable position.


The capris donned by Audrey Hepburn fed the trend for exercise & dance clothing

I re-examined my excuses and found them hollow. In the end, I had to ask myself, "Who do I want to please more – myself or Our Lady?" I made the decision to follow their good example, and do my exercises in the home by means of housework, gardening and taking more walks.

It was difficult to admit I was making concessions to immodesty, but Our Lady gave a grace for me to see the reality. To please her and to strive with my whole heart for a different world – the Reign of Mary – I determined to give up what I enjoyed and thought I needed. This happened without moralizing sermons or lectures on modesty.

I believe Our Lady wants to give many such special graces today. She is inspiring many young women to take coherent and radical stands in relation to modesty of dress and lifestyle. They are trying to counter the Feminist Revolution by their dress and demeanor: wearing fuller and longer skirts, rejecting the narrow body-hugging skirts with slits – often accepted by their mothers, wearing their hair long and attractively arranged, and being more feminine and demure in their way of being and acting.

These are decisions each woman must make, and the more coherent she is in her position, the more she becomes a model ideal for others. We each have a part to play in the Counter-Revolution, and clothing is an extremely important battle field for women.

Traditional folk dress with trouser

Finally, with regard to the traditional clothing of women in pagan countries such as China and Japan, your friend is off the good Catholic track, I believe. According to the correct missionary practices in Holy Mother Church before Vatican II, the zealous missionary would teach the Gospel without compromise and reform the bad customs and morals of a people.

However, he would adapt the form of this instruction as much as possible to the psychology of the people being catechized. Rather than impose the Western way of being and dressing on peoples with developed and in many ways refined cultures, like those of China and Japan, he would accept and adapt to what was not against Catholic Morals or teaching.

china traditional dress

The traditional women's dress of the Qing Dyn dynasty had modest and elegant elements the Church can accept

The Catholic Church knew how to respect and even admire a certain natural uprightness that existed in pagan cultures. The extremely charming, delicate, feminine and modest dress of traditional women's dress in many parts of Japan and China did not need to be rejected because the women wore a type of trousers underneath their skirts. These costumes were very regional, very singular, very dignified and proper. The same is true for the traditional regional dress of men in various countries.

Later, as the people become more Catholic in their mentality, they naturally tend toward refining their dress, e.g., closing the slits that expose bare flesh or trousered legs, etc. without completely changing the good traditions of their past.

Of course, among the North and South American Indians where the women or men were naked or semi-naked, one of the first steps of the missionaries was to introduce modest clothing.


In short, I would advise that the way to counter the feminist tendencies of our times is to do our best to dress, speak, walk and act like the Catholic women of the past, that is, to be feminine, graceful, and modest in our dress and way of being.

Indeed, a woman can reject all forms of trousers and still be feminist, or at least not feminine, simply by following the modern fashions or adopting an aggressive manly spirit. If a woman or girl truly intends to reject the modern spirit, she will quickly realize that she will have to set aside human respect – the concern about what others think – and follow what is pleasing to Our Lady.

I hope this responds to your inquiry and is of some help to you.


      Marian T. Horvat


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Posted November 24, 2020



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