I have received numerous questions from women asking for more specifics on transitioning gracefully in to wearing dresses or skirts exclusively. Questions like,
"What if our church is just casual?"
"How do I explain to others why I've chosen to wear skirts exclusively?"
"How do I start a new wardrobe, specifically?"
I'll share with you what I have learned on these subjects. *smile* It's really simple once you've thought it through, and I would encourage you not to worry too much about the whole thing. But I did ask these very same questions myself just before we made a decision to wear dresses & skirts exclusively ourselves about 3 1/2 years ago. Hopefully I will be able to put your mind and heart at ease, and encourage you to just begin your new journey the Lord is calling you to with joy. *smile*
Question 1: "What if our church is casual?"
You can still fit in easily whether it's casual or dressy. *smile* Wearing dresses or skirts does not have to mean wearing rayon fabric, nylons, and pumps all of the time. I would personally freeze 10 months out of the year here in Washington. And I would be very uncomfortable trying to hold babies or toddlers so much while standing on high heals all morning on Sundays. You can dress modestly and still be comfortable, and feel like you fit in. There is a huge variety of skirts and dresses out there to really fit any style preference. The main thing is that the skirt is longer than your knees. The point of skirt wearing is to hide the crotch area (for more on this see my post Modest Dress: The Heart of the Issue Surrounding Clothing, Sexuality & Biblical Femininity, and the book, Dressing With Dignity, by Colleen Hammond).
One of the several considerations for skirt wearing is to make an effort to protect men's eyes and minds by not exposing them to sexual temptation in their thoughts. Men are prone to think and feel this way through what they see, so we should gracefully cover up the crotch area to make life easier for them. But it's a little more than that. When women wear short skirts, studies show that mens' eyes still tend to follow the natural lines in a woman's legs up to the ending point. Still drawing his mind towards lustful thoughts. So longer skirts are important. However the style you choose is not as important.
If your church is casual, then you could choose a casual style of dress or skirt to wear on Sundays. Denim if you desired. Blue denim, beige cotton in Old Navy, Gap, or Eddie Bauer (Outlet) style is what I personally like for a casual look. Or you could wear a tiered, ruffled style with a heavier or medium (non-rayon-type) fabric, which can still be pretty casual. Or a strait skirt if that's more "you". You can wear sweaters, tee shirts, button down shirts; more jewelry or less; more make up or less; dressier flats or heals...dress up or down your attire. There's a whole continuum out there from casual to very dressy for church-goers, and you can fit your wardrobe to any style of longer dresses and skirts that you would like. Many, if not most, women have a skirt or dress or two in their closet; you don't necessarily stick out just because you're wearing one one day. I bet no one would even really notice that you were wearing skirts exclusively until they started seeing you in your every-day, away-from-church clothes more frequently and discover that you're still in skirts, although casually, and they may ask you why.
But don't be afraid. *smile* Just have an answer prepared. If you understand yourself why you wear skirts exclusively, you should be able to give an answer.
Question 2: "How do I explain to others why I've chosen to dress differently?"
I encourage you to remember that your decisions to grow in faith and take steps towards that do not effect others life style or choices - unless they choose for it to effect them. Each person is responsible to the Lord for their own choices. Everyone walks their own "walk" of faith. God does not call everyone to the same things simultaneously. So you really don't need to be concerned with telling anyone else what they should be doing; you simply share what you are doing.
Ten years ago I wasn't even trying to understand why some people would wear dresses exclusively. Four years ago I was not considering wearing skirts exclusively myself - but I did wonder why so many wonderful Christian families we saw around made this choice, and for the life of me I couldn't figure it out by just observing people. Three years ago some close friends of ours made this transition in their choice of attire, and I finally had the opportunity to ask all my questions with someone I could speak frankly with and receive practical information from. She didn't feel threatened or defensive, she simply gave me answers, and with a smile.
First she recommended an awesome book called, Dressing With Dignity, by Colleen Hammond (written from a Catholic perspective, which we personally do not endorse, but there is nothing that I recall specific to Catholicism in this book outside of a couple quotes from the Pope). This book gives a very clear explanation as to why wearing skirts and dresses is so important. After reading it, Bob and I totally understood. And many other friends of ours have had the same conviction once understanding the scripture behind dressing modestly, the information about why society dresses the way it does today, how advertising uses that to it's advantage in the marketing world, how men are effected by modest and immodest dress, and what that means for our daughters.
So when someone asks you why you are wearing only dresses now, you could say something like,
"Because the Lord has been teaching me about dressing modestly."
That may be enough information for them, seeing where the conversation is going, and they may move on to another subject. *smile* Totally fine. If they ask for more information by saying something like,
"How is wearing dresses more modest than wearing jeans?"
Then you'd have an open door to explain a little more. You may say something like,
"I wondered the same thing! So I asked the Lord to teach me, and He did. *smile* I was introduced to this great book called Dressing With Dignity which explains how being able to see the crotch area of a woman's body effects men, causing them to struggle with lustful thoughts."
If they ask for more information, by all means share it! You never know when someone is really searching for this information - just like I was. I would just encourage you to keep your own communication in the first person. Speak in "I messages". Such as, "This is what the Lord is teaching me..." Or, "This is what I've been learning." Not to say, "This is what scripture means to me...", because scripture does not have multiple meanings for different people. Truth, scripture, is meant for all people, in all places, at all times in history or present. It has one intended meaning. But the person you're speaking to may not be ready to make the same decisions that you are. The Lord will prompt people toward what He desires for them in His perfect timing. We do not need to judge anyone else's decisions, or judge where they are in life - we are only called to be a good witness, and to share with them God's Word on the subject. That's all. The rest is between them and the Lord.
Question 3: "How do I start a new wardrobe, specifically?"
First, I would encourage you to pray about it. Ask the Lord, who loves you and understands you, to show you how to find the style of clothes He desires for you. I've been pleasantly surprised so many times when the Lord brings things in to my life that are just what I like; just my style. *smile* That skirt that just makes me say, "Oh! I love that! It's so 'me'!" Or that shirt, or coat, or shoes, or warm under clothes, or hair styles to match...Items that are pretty, attractive to your eye, and within the budget. The Lord delights in blessing you! And He desires to honor your decision to honor Him. *smile*
Then I encourage you to shop used clothing stores so as to not break the bank building your new look - and to avoid striking fear in to the heart of your husband when you tell him that you're seeking a new look. *laugh* I've recently written a detailed post on Becoming a Master Used-Clothing Shopper, where I explain how I shop, when I shop, what I look for, how someone could find their new style, gradually accumulating a very full wardrobe, and how to do it very inexpensively. I hope you find that information encouraging and empowering.
Some basic starting points. First look for some staple items for your wardrobe. Such as a denim skirt or two, and/or a beige skirt. These will initially probably go with many of the shirts or sweaters you already have, so you'll have some outfits right off. Later you can look for more fun or unique items if you like.
Also look for some casual shoes that look nice with a skirt to wear that are probably more dainty and feminine than you've worn with jeans up until now. I wouldn't wear my running shoes with skirts for an every day look, but I love to wear a Merry Jane style of tennis shoe. This has less bulk to it, a lower toe line, and either a strap across the top of one's foot or a short section of laces. It looks not necessarily dressier, but like it would better compliment a dress or skirt. More feminine & petite than some shoes. Here are some of my fall/spring/summer Merry Jane style shoes. *smile*
You don't have to have "my look" of course, I'm just giving you an example of what can go with skirts. And there are all colors and styles of Merry Jane style shoes out there. You can find leather, canvas, black or white or pink, tiger striped, polka dots, or plain. Or you may prefer a sandal, or some flats. But I would start with your "every day" look first, as that is what you wear primarily, and then shop for a dressier look for church (if that's what you desire).
If you desire more information on all kinds of aspects of "skirt wearing", such as how to wear your hair, or how to be sure you're warm enough, or what types of things even go together with skirts and dresses, here are some posts I've collected from a couple of blogs I like and have linked to to help you. *smile* One post is called, "She Wears Skirts" - More on the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of Dressing Modestly; or there is the, "31 Days of Femininity Series".
It did take me about a year to acquire a new basic wardrobe for dresses and skirts, shopping at used clothing stores. Of course this did also include pregnancy time for me, which meant shopping for maternity clothes, too, which is very doable as well. And then probably another year before I had a nice, full wardrobe that I was really happy with, for all seasons of the year here in Washington. But it was very affordable by shopping used. And, by shopping used I was exposed to a whole wide variety of styles that would have taken me forever to see by going to all kinds of stores personally! It does take patience shopping used clothing stores, but my husband is so thrilled with my wardrobe and with the amount of money I spent to acquire it ($6-$12 at a time on average), and so are our daughters enjoying wearing skirts exclusively.
I hope you've been encouraged to see the simplicity, and non-scary truth about making a transition like wearing skirts or dresses exclusively. It's really a matter of catching a vision; gaining understanding and ideas yourself, so that you can explain to others if or when it's appropriate, and so that you can be comfortable in your new wardrobe. I am so very comfortable in dresses and skirts now I can't imagine ever going back to pants.
May the Lord honor your decision to dress modestly,
You may also be interested in reading my posts:
- The Heart of the Issue Surrounding Clothing, Sexuality & Biblical Femininity
- "She Wears Skirts" - More on the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of Dressing Modestly
- "31 Days of Femininity Series"
- Short Hair and Femininity - What Does Scripture Say About This?
Dressing With Dignity, by Colleen Hammond (written from a Catholic perspective, which we do not endorse, but there is nothing that I recall specific to Catholicism in this book outside of a couple quotes from the Pope).