St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life: Decency in Attire
(the article below is partly derived from another's article from over ten years ago)
Hence publicly defending and upholding proper modesty (and marriage laws) may quite rightly be regarded as a duty not only among individuals but also by the leaders of State (or any institution). The State that is shown to be lax in this duty is occasioning the downfall of the family and thus of the society it professes to serve and govern, by permitting the occasions of temptation to be multiplied.
Aristotle: "For legislators make the citizens good by forming habits in them, and this is the wish of every legislator, and those who do not effect it miss their mark, and it is in this that a good constitution differs from a bad one."
Modesty and the Natural Law
The standard of decency for women throughout the centuries was always to cover the legs and not outline nor display them at all. This practice changed with the 20th century's new novel ideas of “decency” for women. Although these ideas were proposed neither by the Church (which cannot redefine the natural law) nor by Catholic custom, many who professed to be Catholics none the less decided that since the Protestants were showing a new decency, they could do the same. If enough people do it, then it's right, was the motto of these putative Catholics, as if the norm dictated right and wrong, and not the natural law anymore. Saint Augustine once said, "wrong is wrong whether everyone is doing it and right is right whether no one is doing it." We as Catholics should know we do not base our morality on the status quo, but on God and the natural law (neither of which change.)
According to physiology, women are centrifugal (fleeing away from the center) in their perspective, seeing things from within themselves, outwardly. Men on the other hand are centripetal (seeking from the center) in their perspective, seeing things from without themselves, inwardly. In other words, the woman tends to show and the man tends look. This is the reason that women's bodies are more sensual than a man's. Their bodies are made to be appealing, so that they can attract a mate (who is designed to look from afar). That is why there is more of an area on a woman that is private than there is on a man. Women are, by nature, designed to be more sensual due to the centripetal-centrifugal relationship. Knowing this, it is understandable that exhibitionists tend to be women and voyeurs are usually men.
That's just the way things are. We can't change what is sensual on a person and what isn't. If it was deemed indecent for women to expose or outline above the knee in the first 20 centuries by society and by the Church, it is still indecent for women to expose or outline above the knee in the present. A man's sensual area is in the hip region, so the legs would not have to be completely covered up and pants would be suitable. The sensual area of a woman’s body, being from above the knee, to the elbow, and up to the neck, requires clothing that could effectively cover this large region. It's always been this way and you can't change what is sensual unless you can change human nature. As Catholics, we know it is impossible to change the natural law. That is the reason why dresses were for women and pants were for men in the first place. Now, men do not have to wear pants, but men are allowed to wear pants, according to the natural law. Men may also wear robes or whatever traditional masculine garb (kilts, for example) that has been allowed, condoned and practiced from the time of Christ onward throughout true Christendom.
Another reason that women never wore pants and only modest skirts is in respect to their femininity. According to physiology, the female form exhibits rounder and less extreme contours and more obtuse angles. A male body form is more sharp edged, angular, rugged and broken. This can be seen not only in the skeleton, and musculature, but also in each gender's face and movements. A man's face has sharp features, a woman’s more soft and round in appearance. A man’s motion is more thought out and jagged with "countless endings," while a woman’s movements are "endlessly continuous." Clothing is supposed to reflect these masculine and feminine traits. A man is to wear masculine clothing, and a woman is to only wear feminine clothing, so that a man's garb should express his masculinity by tending to be straight and narrow, while a woman’s attire should be round, soft, graceful and flowing.
So, it comes as no surprise that Catholic women throughout history only wore full length dresses, not only to be modest, but also because that clothing, being soft, wide, and flowing, is in accordance with their feminine nature. Men dressed according to their nature as well. Pants, being sharp and narrow, are harmonious with masculinity. Pants are anything but graceful. Unisex clothing is for unisex people. It would be abhorrent if a man were to wear the clothing of a woman, so why is it not abhorrent if women wear masculine clothing, such as pants?
During the 19th century, contrary to the wide-spread notion that women were modest, women were practically intimidated by the fashion industry going through extravagant measures into twisting and outlining their figure to keep up with the latest trend. As a reaction to this being "bottled-up" and confined by clothing, women in the 20th century catered to the flapper craze. This new rebellious fashion freed them from the restrictive hour-glass shape of the "gay (18)90s" to the opposite extreme by the clothing being straight, and narrow, making them look boyish. This idea of "breaking free" from the slavery of 19th century pseudo-modesty made women reveal rather than conceal a little more each decade, to the point in which we end up with the scandalous fashions of the modern woman today.
Although Catholic women since the Reformation were not as modest as those from the first 1300 years of the Church, they still none the less kept the same standard of decency according to the natural law.
During the Renaissance, men became immodest and indecent as well. In the 14th century some men wore skin-tight pants, and in opposition to the clergy of that time who branded this clothing not only indecent but effeminate. For a man to fall into the "vice of women" (to entice sensually), by outlining his body with clothing is very effeminate.
During the revolutionary 18th century the royal men displayed so much pomp and effeminacy in attire, that they could not properly act the fatherly role as head of state. This effeminacy was probably a factor in their weakness against their usurpation.
After the revolutions men regained their modesty for the most part, but by then it was too late. The devil knew from history that behind every man is a woman. If he could get the woman to fall first, he could then use her to break the man next. For every Adam there was an Eve, for every David there is a Bathsheba, and for every Henry VIII there is an Anne Boleyn.
Who pioneered the gross immodesty we now see in the world?
The wealthy tend to cater to a new trend before the poor do; rich and famous women (including the activists) made the "new decency" fashionable in the first place. The middle and poor class Catholic women wanting to be fashionable (envy and avarice played a part here) ended up following suit.
Who did start the "Fad" of women wearing pants instead of modest dresses and skirts? Was it a truly Catholic woman who was striving to be a Saint? Let's see what history tells us...
"A pair of baggy trousers gathered at the ankles and worn with a short belted tunic was sported by Amelia Jenks Bloomer of Homer, New York, in 1851. She had copied the pants costume from a friend, Elizabeth Smith Miller. But it was Mrs. Bloomer, an early feminist and staunch supporter of reformer Susan B. Anthony, who became so strongly associated with the masculine type of outfit that it acquired her name. Pants, then men’s wear, appealed to Amelia Bloomer. Amelia Bloomer refused to wear the popular fashion. Starting in 1851, she began to appear in public in baggy pants and a short tunic. And as more women joined the campaign for the right to vote, Mrs. Bloomer turned the trousers into a uniform of rebellion … challenging the long tradition of who in the family wore the pants." - Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, Charles Panati
So what can we gather from all this? That a feminist miscreant desired to wear the other sex's clothes to express a demand for "women's rights" (i.e. a demand that the role of women should be expanded contrary to that for which she was naturally endowed) and to spark a rebellion against the traditional mores in decency. Feminists challenged the tradition of the man being the head of the family by wearing his clothes.
Later on in the 1930's, the Communists would finalize this revolution in women's clothing. Using gnostic "theology", the Communists deemed women nothing more than imperfect men, who in order to be as perfect as men, had to express masculinity and repress their feminine attributes. They made it the ideal fashion, in their propaganda, that women, in order to express true equality with men in all things, would also have to wear the masculine clothing for men only, called pants.
So we can see that this custom of women wearing pants is nothing more than a feminist tradition. It certainly does not come from the long held decency code passed down from Catholic woman to Catholic woman throughout the 19 centuries of the Church's influence on society.
There is a reason that the custom of women wearing pants did not start with Catholic women in a Catholic Society. It was deemed unnatural and indecent since the time of Christ until this decadent age. The custom would be deemed unnatural because Catholic women in history thought (and rightly so) that pants are for men and dresses are for women. There was no question about it. It is indecent because as has been said above, women's bodies are more sensual, so women wore dresses to cover up more.
So Catholic women have to ask themselves who they are using as their model for modesty, the Blessed Virgin Mary or the feminist infidel, Amelia Bloomer?
The reason for covering the body in the first place is to conceal the shape of it. If people think wearing skin-tight clothing serves the purpose of covering, they are dead wrong. Skin-tight clothing does nothing but uncover the shape of the body. It is as if one were to wear nothing at all.
The first step of the feminist influence women wearing pants. It would follow next that there would soon be female lectors, nun’s wearing pants, altar girls, female "doctors" of the Church, and maybe priestesses with a popess! Such are the heretical ravings of many groups nowadays, all in the name of “women’s rights”, which again is nothing more than a usurpation of the offices for which men were designed by God. Rebellion has to start somewhere, and if you don't nip it in the bud, it will continue to grow, apostasy and sin, death and hell being the logical and unfortunate ends of such a disposition.
Before Adam fell, Eve sinned first, and it was through her that the father of mankind gave us original sin. Vatican II's evil, done by men, would never have happened so soon or at all, if the backbone (women) of the Church had not first fallen. Imitating Eve in falling first, Catholic women of the years preceding this anti-Church already were becoming lax in their modesty.
Men and husbands are not without their share of the inherited guilt, and by their own sins, they have often demerited so far as to be delivered over to their pleasures (Romans 1:26), only to fall deeper into sin, whereas persevering rightly in virtue would certainly have prevented sin (1st St. John 2:29). Perhaps such demerit was occasioned by a man devaluing his wife, not offering thanksgiving and sacrifice to God for her, deriding her, or worse, by treating her with contempt.
Lord, God Almighty, Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son, arise and raise up for us, in strength and virtue, the aid of modest women, true imitators of the Mother of God, that men and husbands, who otherwise may fall into lechery and be blinded by concupiscence, might persevere in virtue.