Monday, July 25, 2011

Wearing Skirts?

I wear skirts and dresses every day and have done for almost 2 years. I don't look down on women wearing pants, I actually only let go of my remaining pants and jeans last month, after finally being convinced that, if I hadn't needed them for over a year, I won't need them again. Funny that, how I felt I 'needed' this item of clothing. So I understand it's a personal decision and certainly not a salvation issue. Nonetheless, I thought I would share some of my experience on the matter as I see a growing number of women wishing to do the same, and some inspiration as to why.

Yesterday, while ice-skating at a local rink (yes, in a skirt) , a girl around 12 years old came up to me and complemented me on my outfit. Now, my outfit was whatever I could find as I was rushing out the door with a baby that hadn't co-operated all morning. Not the prettiest thing I've ever worn. But it was the skirt that stood out to her, and her friends who I caught watching me later in the afternoon. I now regret not taking those extra 5 minutes to put on something nicer. I made an impression on these girls, an impression of femininity. In my 3 years of skating at this rink I have never once seen another woman in a skirt at or below knee level (there have been girls in short skirts and tights, slightly different). We make an impression on people wherever we go, whatever we are doing people are watching just as we are forming an impression of the people we meet, the lady behind the checkout, the woman sitting at the table next to us, we always make an impression on someone. What impression do you want to make? Clothes play a big part in this impression.

Now the practicalities. I have done a lot of things in skirts, and modestly. I have
Ice skated
Ridden a horse
Ridden on rides at a theme park with those stupid between the leg harneses
Camped by the creek
Done heavy work in families yards
Bike riding

With a bit of luck I will soon be adding rock-climbing to this list. Many of these are traditionally 'pants' activities, but why? All of these can be done safely, comfortably and modestly in a skirt WITH THE RIGHT CARE TAKEN. I emphasis this point because in some of these cases, it's not a matter of modesty or practicality, it's a simple matter of safety. If you don't think about the type of skirt you're wearing, it can be downright dangerous to do some of this in it.

So below are the major objections to skirts in various activities, and my best tips for them!

Lets deal with this one up front, if you go bike riding in a loose skirt it will get caught and you will crash. If you go skating in a tight skirt, you will not be able to separate your legs far enough and you will fall. Think about the situation. I had a dangerous situation when I went swimming in the surf in a skirt for the first time. I didn't have a modest swimsuit, they are much harder to find in Australia and were too expensive for me at the time. So I wore a slightly below the knees, light and quick-drying pleated skirt over a maternity one-piece. I got in the surf, and my skirt clung and begun to get tangled. It also did not give me anywhere near as wide a leg span as I had expected. Thank God I was a local who knew how to be safe in the surf, knew about rips and whether the tide was coming in or out, etc. If I had been a tourist who had never been in surf before, I could very easily have been pulled out and unable to get back in what turned out to be a very constricting skirt. Modesty or not, I will not wear a longer than thigh length skirt in the surf until I can be sure the same won't happen again (hoping the swimdress I am ordering shortly will be suitable for surf!) So please think about the safest type of skirt for the activity you are doing, and then build the rest from that.

 The first thing I would like to say on this topic is, pants are not immodest, pants are unfeminine. There is a difference. checkered material is generally considered less feminine than floral prints, does that mean florals are more modest than checks? Absolutely not, and in the same way, pants are less feminine than skirts, but not necessarily less modest, and a skirt can be very immodest also in certain styles. And that leads me onto my next point, being, layers are your best friend in situations like these. When I went on the rides at the theme park I knew the harness would come between my legs, so I wore a pair of pants specifically set aside for layering underneath. It didn't matter if I looked feminine while on the ride, it DID matter that the people lining up couldn't see my underwear! With a bit of maneuvering I did manage to get my skirt covering my thighs most of the time, but for the occasional spot where they were visible, pants covered my modesty and, frankly, at those times no one noticed whether I looked feminine or not! Upon getting off the ride I smoothed my skirt down and looked feminine once again. Keep a couple of pairs of tights or plain pants for this purpose. Maybe if you're wearing something victorian in nature you'd even like to try out a pair of bloomers! In other instances your legs may be showing more than you'd like, but not all the way up. In this case, I LOVE thigh high socks, which reach a couple inches above the knee. I think they look great in the right outfit personally.

In winter I have people say 'it's too cold for a skirt!', In summer 'it's too hot for a skirt!'. The preferred dress is jeans or shorts in these instances. So when is it ok to wear a skirt then? I can't speak for very cold temps, I have never even seen snow, so I give no advice to those living in those climates, maybe you really have to wear something other than a skirt?. But I can speak for the Australian winter, which feels pretty cold to me! and the Australian summer, which can be sweltering, especially in a country where air conditioning is not considered a necessity.

To keep warm there are thigh highs and pants, layers are great. But I rarely ever use them, because I consider the material and style of my skirts. Some of the skirts in my wardrobe are paper thin, others are denim or material that's very thick. Some of my skirts have underskirting with them, others do not. Some of the skirts allow air to blow through the material to a point, others block it out completely. And then we have A-line skirts and gathered skirts, skirts that come straight down and skirts that poof out with lots of material. I have skirts that I can wear stand-alone in any temperature my climate gives. Wear thin, straight skirts in the heat of summer, and thick, gathered skirts in the winter.

PRACTICALITY much less of an issue than people think. Really, unless you wear short skirts or tight skirts, kneeling down, climbing up, and moving about are not a problem most of the time. Our grandmothers used to only wear skirts, and many of them were much more active than we are today in out age of the internet.

I'm yet to find an activity I can't do in a skirt. With a little forethought and consideration, you can do anything in a skirt just as well as you would in pants.


  1. From a lady who primarily wears skirt/dresses as do her five daughters: Well said! You've intelligently defended and presented the case for dresses while not stating the untruth that pants are sinful. And I appreciate your giving practical ways to handle different situations. I would add, coming from cold northern Michigan in the U.S., layers, leggings, knee socks, etc. help with coldness in the winter. And we do wear snowpants when playing in the snow (with skirts tucked right in & making bottoms look big!).

  2. This is a great post. My girls and I wear mostly skirts/dresses and we get our fair share of stares when we go out in public. However, recently while entering a store, an elderly gentleman opened the door for us, tipped his hat, and smiled. :) What a pleasant surprise. :)
    I'm stopping by from the Raising Homemakers link up - and I'm your newest follower.
    Keep up the good work!

  3. Thanks for this. I've slowly started wearing skirts more and more since I feel so much better in them and just happier. I once heard that how you dress affects how you feel and that has proven true.

    I love in Northern New York, I guess I'll have to look for layers come winter. I do have a pair of snow pants that are just pants, not the overall type so I might be able to get away with a skirt that hangs over it depending on things and all.

    What about shoes? Any tips on that? I do hiking and walks and sometimes flip flops and dress shoes aren't very good for those situations.

  4. Thanks wannabegodly and Lisa!

    Andrea, If you're wearing a heavy skirt, denim skirt, brown skirt, or otherwise more 'hardy' looking skirt, joggers/sneakers don't look so out of place. Boots, depending on the style, can go with these and more (if they're those dressy boots they can go with most any skirt, I've seen some great floral skirts with velvety dress boots). I have also found some good quality casual shoes can be good for walking (think mary janes or other casuals you don't need to fight to keep on your feet, small or no heel). Skirts needn't restrict you to dress shoes, skirts can, in fact, be dressed down, especially denim and other heavy materials.

  5. Hi, new here. I am a dress/skirt and I once believed that wearing a skirt in winter would be too cold, but I was wrong. I am in fact often warmer, especially when I'm wearing tights (which I wear a lot as I live in the cold part of Australia). I still garden in trousers as I find it much easier, but I'm sure our ancestors managed quite well.

    My only difficultly is finding nice skirts in the shops. Where do you get yours from or do you sew?

  6. Jo - op shops! Vinnies, Salvos etc. I'm obsessed with them lol. In all seriousness though, I think the last time I bought a skirt in the shops was before I got married (though I did come across a nice dress last summer). Op shops stock old fashions, and there's always some long skirts in there, plus those tiered skirts which were 'in fashion' a couple of years ago are showing up a lot in the op shops lately. It depends on the area a little, one store I frequent only ever has a half dozen long skirts, another store has about 3 metres of rack dedicated to them.

    Outside of that, I've only just begun to sew my own, and sometimes garage sales are good. Really I find second hand clothes much nicer than new ones as a general rule, and they don't have to be out of style, I've found a lot of nice, in fashion clothes second hand through various sources.

    The range of different styles is huge at an op shop, the only problem is if you are an unusual size. They definitely have >8 and <16, but in a smaller variety than they do 10/12/14. Good luck!

  7. dresses only here for 10 yrs.
    i live where it snows and i wear long johns under mine. i tried a pair of jeans and i was much much warmer in the skirt!! the wind didn't blow thru the material.
    i have reshingled a roof in a skirt :)