Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Feminine Appearance

Woodland Meadow, 1876

Is this a woman or a man, picking flowers in a field?
What would an artist be inspired to paint a picture of a woman in the mannish clothing they wear today?

Painting by Basile Lemeunier, French, 1852-1922

Describe the women's clothing in this painting, and contrast it to the men's clothing in the same painting. Would we be able to distinguish the men from the women so easily on a street today?

Victorian Street Scene, circa 1859
Try clicking on the picture to get a larger view.

What is the difference between the men and women in this 19th century street photograph?  Are the men or women wearing hats in this scene?

On the Riviera
by Sir John Lavery, Irish, 1856-1941

What is the main difference between the woman's clothing and the man's clothing in this painting?

Mariposa Family in Arizona, late 1800's or early 1900's.

Even in this native American photograph, the women are dressed very differently from the man.

Does this look like a rich family, or a poor one?  In poverty, the women were STILL dressed better than women today, and it looks like, even in the desert lands, they had more sense about clothing.

Manhattan Family, 1899

In this art work, why is the man's clothing such a contrast to the women's?  Do the women look feminine or masculine? Is the man dressed like a woman or a man? What is the difference in their hair styles? What are the figures in the sketch admiring?

1800's University Singers of New Orleans

Can you tell the men and women apart in this Victorian-era photograph?

Employees at a publishing house in Tennessee in the late 1800's.

Where are the men, in this photograph?  What is one way of identifying the men in this picture?

Beach Scene in 1899

Do you think it is hard to tell the difference between the men and the women in this painting?

A Liberian Family in 1906

This family was probably not rich, but look how well they are dressed. We grew up poor also, but our clothing still looked nice. Clothing has little to do with poverty or wealth: the standards are based upon your personal beliefs and values.

While the past is often stereotyped as being ignorant and unprogressive, even the poorest of women had pretty, well-fitting clothing, and the men looked different than the women. Can you point out major differences in clothing of the male and female, in this old photograph.

There are several ways to emphasise the differences between male and female. These may include things like: voice inflection, gestures and manners, the walk or gait, the expressions, the way one speaks to or treats the opposite sex, or choices of life activities.  All of these take some time to develop, and will be eventually addressed here on this blog, but for now, I will discuss one way to emphasise femininity that is the most easy to change: the manner of dress.

The first photograph is from a clipping collection from magazines.  I thought the picture presented a truth in light of all the rumours concerning the Victorians: moderns sometimes insist that women were oppressed by the patriarchy and not allowed outside the home without an escort, and forced to wear hats or be disgraced. In this picture we see that most of the women are bare-headed, although carrying umbrellas for shade.  If you look carefully, you can see several women apparently going about their business in the stores, without male accompaniment.

The photographs of the publishing house staff debunks another feminist myth: that women were not allowed to earn money. Obviously, the photographs and company records tell the truth that women had plenty of an opportunity to earn money. Most, however, sought to marry and get out of that workforce so they could tend to their homes. It took the 20th century to convince women they were not necessary at home.(See the sermon by Peter Marshall under Theme Articles on the sidebar).

I thought the 1800's University photograph dispelled the myth that women could not attend college in the Victorian era.  Too many photographs and recorded data shows that this simply was not true.  However, I posted these photographs for a study of feminine clothing. The women's clothing was in stark contrast to the mens in shape and in style. Today, the contrast is less, and that is why you sometimes cannot tell the difference between a man and a woman from a distance, or when you walk behind them. 

 While watching the film "The Electric Edwardians" from Netflix, I observed several interesting things. Firstly, the men and women, even the unmarried ones, mingled freely, and with out any apparent hesitation. The social restrictions of the times may have actually made them more trusting and more comfortable in each others presence. Several clips in this film showed fathers holding the hands of their little girls, while walking around London parks on Sunday afternoons.

  Secondly, the women, rich and poor alike, were fully covered, with long skirts and full-style blouses. The only immodesty in the film was the footage of the circus performers. They seemed to accept it in circuses but apparently did not imitate that mode of dress in public or at home.  Today, we see a singer or a "star" with strange clothing that looks like torn underwear, performing on stage, , and the next thing you know, people are wearing the same style in public.  The Victorians had a better sense of propriety than we do: some clothing was perfectly acceptable for circus performers, but it was not acceptable for ordinary wear. Do you think the people in the street scene would be grieved if they could see the way their descendents dress today?  What do you think they would be most sorrowful about?

To be more feminine, the main thing to remember is to be completely opposite in appearance from men. Men, real men, don't wear dresses.  Women can distinguish themselves by wearing women's clothing: dresses, skirts, and soft, feminine clothing in colours that men do not generally wear.  Observe also the prints and colors of men's clothing, and strive to find the opposite. Look at the shape of men's collars and pockets, cuffs and sleeves, shoes, etc. and wear yours more rounded or puffed or gathered; anything opposite or different than menswear.

 In the painting by Sir John Lavery, the woman's dress looks softer and thinner than the man's suit. While some people claim that the 18th and 19th century paintings presented and "idealized" version of the era, the photographs, which show the same styles, are of real people. I posted some of the autochromes, in a previous article, showing the similarities of the photographs to the paintings. Film footage of the time was certainly not "staged" in any way, showing normal people milling around on streets in towns. The women looked MUCH different than the men. I do not believe it was "idealized." I believe it was real. Just check out the photographs in your own family history.

Men generally wear solid colors in heavier fabrics. Women have an opportunity to be more feminine in their appearance by using prints with flowers, bright colors and pastels, and soft fabrics, liberally, and wear clothing that is shaped differently than men's. Camp shirts, golf shirts, t-shirts, cargo pants, jeans and sweatpants, racing suits and track pants are not feminine in appearance. Leave them to the men, and give them something to distinguish themselves with. Stop taking over their territory: their clothing, their jobs, their roles in life, have all been homogenized by the designers, the programmers and the planners, that think they know how this world should be organized. You can change the culture, just by changing the way you dress.
The cultures of the world that have kept their history and still wear their national dress bear testimony to us: that the women did not wear clothing that looked like men's clothing.  some of these countries still maintain a semblence of this respect for the differences between men and women. It is our enlightened western civilization that has blurred the differences in appearance between male and female. However, you can still find photographs of the past and see the civilization that kept to the distinguishing of male and female appearance, manners and family values; a civilization that once was.  No matter how cold, or how hot it was, how hard the work or how vigorous the activity, women still dressed femininely. Ask yourself why this was so important to them.

There is a chapter in the book, "The Benevolence of Manners" which shows the historical reasons that women dressed the way they did in the past. While this book has its flaws, it helps you understand some things about the clothing of the women.  They dressed the way they did because they did not want to offend anyone. Though not everyone was a Christian, most people were familiar with the Bible and with the principles of modesty.

The society in general did not think it was right to show too much of their flesh in public. They believed that if you gave someone an inch, they would take a mile, becoming more permissive. They believed in personal restraint and privacy. We live in a let-it-all-hang-out era that is most depressing. However, that can all change with just one of you.

Great changes have been made without a group backing it up. Look at the homeschool movement of the 1980's that began with a few concerned mothers. They had no talk-show personalities to boost their confidence, no fancy curriculums to lean on, and certainly no church families to support their efforts. They did it because they knew it was the right thing to do, and that it would be wrong to neglect their children. Covering your body more femininely and beautifully does not have to have group-approval. You just need you and God, and that is a majority. Everyone knows that. There is a scripture in the book of James that says, "Therefore, to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him, it is sin." This is certainly a verse to ponder, when trying to make a righteous decision.

 It can be a little daunting if you feel you are the only one doing it, but what you do when you wear womens clothes in public instead of what one writer called "The communist uniform for women (jeans)" is give others the courage to dress femininely also. In doing so, you are letting your light shine and you are making your country beautiful. When someone sees you dressed like a female instead of a male, she secretly wishes she could dress that way, and somehow it makes her think on it more and one day she might decide to quit dressing like a man, too. It is not a matter of wealth or of poverty. It takes some sense and the development of your eyes to be on the lookout for good clothing that is modest and beautiful and feminine; different from men.

This series about clothing and sewing and painting-inspired dressing is coming to a close at the end of December, but there will be plenty of other topics coming up after that.


Anonymous said...

You have given your readers so much to think about here. There is incredible pressure placed on women to dress in a way that is not flattering to them in any way.

I think that if women were to adopt the standard of dress you advocate, they would have far fewer problems with body image. The styles these days are not made for women's bodies and it is nearly impossible to make the straight lines and skimpy fabrics look good on an average woman's shape. One look around the grocery store confirms this. I am not at all heavy, but I have had a couple of children, and dresses look far better on my bottom than any jeans ever did. Women of any age and life stage can look nice in the styles you recommend. My little girl is thin and a full dress looks much better on her than jeans that she has to keep hiking up. Likewise, my middle age shape looks far better in a long skirt than in low-rise jeans.

Anonymous said...

Don't buy for one minute the feminist lie of the 20th century that the victorian era repressed women! The Girton school in the UK opened its doors to women in 1874 where they could, among other things, study to become an M.D.; yes; lady doctors were well and truly on the scene long before the commencement of the 20th century. Even before this, Caroline Herschell, (1750-1848) was accepted into the Royal Society as an astronomer in her own right in around 1805; though suffering from poor health and surviving a difficult childhood, she and her brother worked in the field of astronomy all their lives. When her brother married, Caroline was welcomed into their family and continued both to assist her brother and practice astronomy in her own right throughout her life. Tilly Aston was the first blind lady to undertake university education in Melbourne, Australia, in 1897. Unfortunately (as is still often the case today if there is a poor disability support system on campus) she needed to give it away because material was not available in Braille, fast enough, (yes, there were Braille libraries in Australia long before the commencement of the 20th century, so with the aid of friends, she hand transcribed her own material with slate and stylus, Brailling out her texts dot by dot as her friends read aloud to her. She went on to found services for, and advocate for blind persons in her state and to this day the Victorian state electorate of Aston bears her name in memory.

There are millions of photographs and paintings depicting Victorian women going about their business frely, just look at the history series by Simon Scharma, 'A hisstory of Britain', wherein an incredible amount of archival material of this nature is used (though take with a grain of salt his interpretation of the 19th century and women)...

The first appearance of pants for women crashed onto the stage in Paris, 1911, on the fashion catwalks; though even these were worn with a blouse and garment that reached from above the bust to below the knee. Notwithstanding, women rejected these as suitable daywear until the revolutionary carryon of the 1960's, and even then, lady's slacks as Lydia has mentioned, had their fastenings on the side or at the back, and were still worn with a feminine blouse and smart court shoes. and perhaps a scarf elegantly draped. A far cry from the slop dished up by the clothing industry these days... Reclaim femininity for all occasions, reclaim the beauty of womanhood, be counter-revolutionary, set a new trend and wear a dress or skirt; like me, you won't be disappointed, and will be most satisfied.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another wonderful post on this subject.

I've found that since adopting ladies clothing for all occasions, I actually feel more fully dressed and experience more freedom of movement than in the pants days. The one exception is that I cannot sit with my legs wide apart but now don't feel that I want to anyway.

I really want to make a Victorian walking skirt but have been unable to find any wool suiting at JoAnn's. I guess I'll have to settle for some other fabric. I love the look of the lady picking flowers in the walking skirt and white blouse. That seems to be the style I'm gravitating toward.

I wish I could find a cute hat like that. Also, I would like to learn how to wear my hair up. It's finally what I would call long at about half way down my back. Does anyone know of any good books or computer tutorials that teach this?

I'm putting out my plea again. Awhile back someone mentioned wearing silk tights under wool tights and a resource for finding these things. I'm sooooo cold and really would like to try this idea. Can anyone help?

Anonymous said...

One thing that is a distinguishing factor in all of the photos is that the men all have shortly cropped hair and the women have hair that is long enough to arrange on their heads. I suppose it struck me because of something that recently happened in my home. My youngest daughter recently had her long straight hair cut into a shorter, more contemporary style. Being quite petite, she felt very much as if she looked like a young boy and she was mortified. She was crying before she got home and wished she hadn't cut it. Thankfully, hair grows and this problem will be remedied soon. It would be nice to see some pretty feminine hairstyles come back into fashion instead of this shorter choppy stuff that takes lots of time and expensive products to manage.

Bethany Lynn said...

"When someone sees you dressed like a female instead of a male, she secretly wishes she could dress that way, and somehow it makes her think on it more and one day she might decide to quit dressing ike a man, too."

This part of your article really resonates with me, Lydia, because this is exactly what happened to me. I saw just one beautifully dressed woman in the grocery store at a young age and after a while came across your articles and started dressing differently over time. Later a dear friend followed suit and then my own older sister. I go to science and math classes (since I am still in high school) and more and more girls in my class are dressing more femininely. I have even noticed that my teachers wear skirts more because there own students do! We just have to be willing to stand in the gap in the time when we are alone. Later on we will reap fruit but we must sow the seeds first!


Bethany Lynn said...

"When someone sees you dressed like a female instead of a male, she secretly wishes she could dress that way, and somehow it makes her think on it more and one day she might decide to quit dressing ike a man, too."

This part of your article really resonates with me, Lydia, because this is exactly what happened to me. I saw just one beautifully dressed woman in the grocery store at a young age and after a while came across your articles and started dressing differently over time. Later a dear friend followed suit and then my own older sister. I go to science and math classes (since I am still in high school) and more and more girls in my class are dressing more femininely. I have even noticed that my teachers wear skirts more because there own students do! We just have to be willing to stand in the gap in the time when we are alone. Later on we will reap fruit but we must sow the seeds first!


Diane Shiffer said...

Wow! What a "meat-y" article... loved all of the pictures you used as documentation. They were marvelous. And I agree ever so much that we don't need a movement or the support of anyone really to begin to right our own habits of dress. I began the switch over to wearing dresses only several years ago... no one in my circle of friends, no other women in my church at that time were dresses only. But now.. slowly... gradually.. there are a few more here and there. It's a wonderful thing to see. Over the last year I have become convicted to cover my head- once again I am the only one of my acquaintance who does this. But recently I have seen several other of my "online" friends who begin to practice this as well. Our choices, our behavior and dress do affect others. We can effect change just by own own small actions in our own small lives.

Wonderful post!

Lydia said...

To the first comment: I have arranged for this blog to show 50 posts on the page, so that you can easily scroll down and look at the paintings from the past. If you will notice who painted them, and what the era was, you will see that they used for their subjects the women and men of the times. The photographs and the autochromes paralell the times, showing it to be accurate. When you get to the end of the page, please click on "older posts" to view more of these paintings, and then see if you can find any that look "Amish." I believe the paintings show something else: the curve of the fabrics and the fullness of the skirts and blouses, along with the exquisite color and the fresh look of the cloth. I posted a series of paintings of peasants,and even their poor clothing was beautiful! (and not "Amish"). Men have been conditioned by this world to believe that women should dress like the current designers dictate;like the things in the stores on the rack that they see every day. Men need to be re-educated,too, to look for elements of women's clothing such as length, and color and neckline, sleeves, an such. In their hearts, they really know what is beautiful and feminine. What your husband probably means is that he does not want you to be careless in the way you dress, and appear too plain or unpolished or lacking in style. I posted the paintings over the years, here, to give women a sense of clothing style and taste that they could adopt into today's dressing. Even if you included a bright scarf with a plain skirt and blouse, it would distinguish you from the plainness your husband does not like.

Anonymous said...

To the lady looking for wool material suitable for a walking skirt, cotton drill is perfect; I have an ankle length walking skirt in chocolate brown that I purchased at a 'country/oldie worldie' type retailer at an agricultural show This material was available in navy, black and pale yet solid, heavy pink. it has a tiny bit of stretch in it but this is only due to the weave of the fabric though it is by no means clingy.

Cotton drill has a slightly textured, warm feeling, though it is not flannel or cord. its warmth and softness increases as the garment is laundered over time.

I think it may just do the job.

Anonymous said...

Your comments on the power of one are sooo true! I now dress femininely, because I love being a woman and I love being feminine and I love projecting that image when I'm in public. Sadly, I spent all of my youth and the next three decades in jeans, I even wore jeans to church for 12 years (I'm now ashamed to admit)...but, over the years, my eye was always "caught" by women who wore beautiful, feminine clothing and shoes and hairstyles in public, and I can't help but think that they gave me courage to follow in their example when my heart was convicted to dress as the beautiful woman that I am. I say "Thank You" to those unknown women who had the courage to dress according to conviction instead of the common culture.
Recently, while visiting the care center where my mother resides, I saw an elderly woman, also a visitor, who was dressed femininely and had her bright white hair styled in the most gorgeous up-do I have ever seen---I couldn't help but approach her and compliment her and tell her I want to look exactly like her when I'm that age!!

To the reader who is cold:
I don't know a source of actual silk or woolen tights, meaning feet and all (though I would love to!) but, being cold natured myself, I am very comfortable this winter wearing several different things on my legs. I have some polypropolyene long underwear, very lightweight, that I bought at an outdoor store, google Bass Pro Shops, they have a catalog service, or you can find them at any reputable outdoor adventure supply store. They have silks, too.
Another set I love are called Cuddl' Duds, they have a website too, they are great for wearing under dresses as they are very slick and don't cling to your clothing, they have some cotton so I don't have trouble with static electricity. Also the necklines are made to not show under dresses.
My third set is a very thick pair of polypropolyene long johns that are army surplus--my husband found them while hiking one day, we washed them right up and they fit me great--they are wonderful for wearing under my long skirts when I'm outside doing animal chores in sub-freezing temperatures!!
Thin Polypro or silk socks can be layered under woolen ones, and worn with boots to keep your toes toasty, and with long skirts, no one sees what keeps you warm underneath!

Jenny Chancey has some tutorials on vintage hair styling, although I don't know the web address right off. I've run across a couple other sites that give directions as well, you might google "victorian hairstyles" or some such and see what comes up!

Blessings to all my feminine sisters out there!!

Anonymous said...

Contrary to popular myth, the women of the past were not "head-coverers" (a relatively new term), but wore hats as part of their outfit. The paintings and photographs, excepting the one on the beach, and another one, show women without hats. Look at the university photograph and the publishing house photograph: no hats, but beautiful up-dos with their hair. Hats were not, in those days, any kind of indication of religious belief, but were worn as a kind of fashion as well as respect. The paintings and photographs included in this article do not show women's heads covered, for the most part.

Lydia said...

To the lady that mentioned body image: that is such a good point. The clothing covered the body enough that a woman did not have to expose figure flaws, stretch marks, uneven tans, bulky upper arms, long or short legs, wrinkled knees, or matters of shortness and tallness. The styles complimented a woman's face.

Anonymous said...

Soft Surroundings might have clothes that are modern yet feminine. I am not sure about modesty. Generally, if they are sretchy and tee shirt type of fabric, I do not consider them modest. Clothes like that cling to the body and show extra weight. However you might try other catalogs as well.

Lydia said...

You should wear long skirts and dresses, all the same color or small print, and not anything that has a waistband or ties at the waist. Pants and tee shirts actually make women, even skinny ones, look fatter. We discussed that on a series of posts earlier on, which may be on the Modesty Issues section.

Lydia said...

Later, I will post from Soft Surroundings clothing section of their catalog, and include it on the post I did where I showed the dress I made that was so similar. I made mine of loose-weave cotton and it was so comfortable. It was on the page where I posted the Ocean as Lace painting by Susan Rios. The dress I made was somewhat inspired by this dress at Soft Surroundings, along with a painting that I showed on that former post.

Anonymous said...

You can order a free Soft surroundings catalog and get a lot of good ideas for feminine clothing. Even if you cannot wear that type of clothing---it is in fact, quite thin and clingy and some might say it is immodest, --you can still get the concept of being different than a man. The clothing in that catalog can hardly be mistaken for men's wear. I get other catalogs that, though I would not wear the clothing, give me IDEAS for line or color combos in my sewing or selection of clothing. The fun thing to do is find something you like in a catalog and then go hunting for a similar look in a cheaper place.

Lydia said...

The lady that is concerned about looking too big in a dress, should not wear anything short. Short skirts cut the figure in half visually and make you look fatter. Opt for ankle-length, a-line, not gathered, skirts and dresses, such as the one from the link to Soft Surroundings, and opt for a deeper color rather than a pastel; small prints rather than huge flowers, etc.

Elizabeth said...

You're right, Lady Lydia. I am trying to change my appearance. I still wear jeans some because it is a slow process finding a suitable replacement at the thrift store. I am limited to what they have for sale (hubby lost job). I feel much better when I dress femininely.

I'm limited, too, by what shoes I can wear because of feet problems

Anonymous said...

I would just like to make a suggestion for the mother whose daughter cut her hair. I have to wear shorter hair due to autoimmune disease making mine too thin to look good long so I've learned a few tricks. Shorter hair can be made to look more feminine by using hair accessories, especially headbands and small barettes. You can find headbands in every imaginable style (often at the dollar store) and the small barettes sold at drugstores range from plain tortise shell to rhinestone. Just clip one in at the front, maybe holding the bangs back. Setting the hair with hot rollers adds a lot of body and a feminine curl if that is naturally lacking. If your daughter's ears are pierced, she should be sure to wear a nice pair of earrings as well. These small touches can go a long way in making shorter hair look more feminine. I used to have one of the short razor-cut styles Lady Lydia refers to, but this blog convinced me to try to do better despite my hair's limitations. I was able to grow it out into a one length bob style, which is more flattering to fine hair and looks more feminine, especially curled. I recall Lady Lydia suggesting hair ought to at least be long enough to curl under, and that is good advice any type of hair can follow.

Lydia said...

Of course there are many other traits of a feminine woman, and no matter how feminine your clothing, it will spoil the effect if you are loud and bossy, obnoxious or critical, or lack grace in your movements. That is the sort of thing that takes time, so I posted the article about clothing, because it only takes a few minutes to change your clothes. The other things take some more practice. As for things like head coverings, I was always amazed in the 1960s when the mini skirt became popular, how particular the women were about covering their heads for church, while their legs were exposed. It seemed to be inconsistent.

Anonymous said...

An easy up-do that I use is to pull my hair back into a ponytail level with the tips of my ears. Then I braid the ponytail, secure it with a band, curl the edge of the ponytail for easier pinning, and start coiling it around the base of the ponytail while pinning it along the way.

Body image - I have no qualms about body image since I started wearing long skirts and dresses and a full girdle, as well. I am not overweight, but like a previous poster, since my baby there's a bit more flesh on me that doesn't remember where it belonged and that just doesn't look good in anything remotely clingy. I feel protected from the harsh stares of others -- men and women alike.

The Amish look -- Skirts with pearl button twinsets and nice maryjanes do not look Amish. They are feminine, modest, and classic attire. They aren't faddish but they don't go out of style. If your husband fears the Amish look, just avoid Cape dresses and maybe the long denim skirt with drab t-shirt and tennis shoes.

To the overweight lady -- I feel for you and I'm sorry you feel that you can't dress yourself in a feminine way. Maybe try a long A-line skirt in black or navy and pair it with tailored dress shirt in a feminine color. A nice up-do and some dainty earrings would look lovely and slimming. As for the rubbing together of skin, try a pair of pettipants.

Anonymous said...

Great article. This reminds me of a girl I once knew. For most of the school year I thought she was a guy because she had very short hair and guy's jeans and shirts. It wasn't until I found out her real name that I realized my mistake. It's pretty sad when you can't look at some people and automatically know if they are male or female. I the Victorian fashions but if women could just wear a dress/skirt or even feminine looking pants I will be satisfied.

Anonymous said...

Great article. This reminds me of a girl I once knew. For most of the school year I thought she was a guy because she had very short hair and guy's jeans and shirts. It wasn't until I found out her real name that I realized my mistake. It's pretty sad when you can't look at some people and automatically know if they are male or female. I the Victorian fashions but if women could just wear a dress/skirt or even feminine looking pants I will be satisfied.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your article. Since I started reading your series, I have collected enough lovely skirts for a whole week, and will be sending most of my capri pants to the bin! Luckily this summer in Australia, dresses and skirts seem to be "in" and I have found quite a few flattering ones. I am a large lady and find multi gored skirts in light fabrics work well with both my size and the hot climate.I find roll on deodorant in the spots that chafe stop that problem on the hot days.
For Elizabeth with foot problems, I broke my right ankle 3 times in the last 20 years and can't wear heels. I find some pretty Mary Janes work best with the mid calf skirts I favour.
My husband and I watched a little of a movie called Quadrophenia last night,out of curiosity. I DON'T recommend anyone watch even with the volume off as the language is appalling and the plot undefinable. It is a bad film in many many aspects. However what struck me was it was set in 1964, around the beginning of the major shift we have suffered in the last 50 years. It was about the violence between "mods" and "rockers". Even while engaging in acts of violence, drinking hard and partying and even rioting in the streets, compared to today, they, both men and women, were remarkably well dressed. The men in suits and the women wore skirts, pumps, sweaters and scarves even while rioting. Not masculine and feminine behaviour certainly, but the contrast to todays dress standards was strong enough to catch my attention, during the brief look we had at the film.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the focus should be on the face of a woman and not the tightest spot on her body. The face is the source of our communications, but if the clothing is revealing private areas or is not covering fat areas, it is a distraction. Focusing on the face means put a lace collar at the neckline, or a nice piece of jewelry, and use some makeup and pay special attention to hair. At the the same time, though, do cover the thighs and wear a drapey skirt and a nice scarf or exotic looking shawl to give a longer and leaner look. Shawls and scarves are great to cover a bulging bustline, stomach or hips, if it is long enough. Length is so important. Skirts should be to the ankle, NOT mid-calf. The calf is the fattest part of your leg and a hem at mid-calf just makes the leg look fat. Bring the hem down to the skinniest part of the leg--which is usually the ankles. I dont see why it would be a problem to wear long dresses, because, after all, jeans are ankle length also. People do not go around saying, "Why do you always wear long pants?" do they? Yet they are apt to ask why you wear long dresses. They are so blinded they don't know what they are seeing.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this article very much. I always feel as though I could take on the world after reading your blog, Lady Lydia. I was curious about the photograph of the employees at the publishing house. I never dreamed that many women would worked at a single business. Do you think they were unmarried??

Bethany Lynn said...

For the lady that asked about styles for long hair, this is a GREAT resource!


Anonymous said...

I second the comment re pettipants; they're a godsent for 'ladies of substance' in hot climates like that of Australia, where we're roasting at 40-42 degrees C (over 100F) with hot winds in sydney today!!!!!!!

Pettipants are so wonderfully comfortable; wear with a slip under your skirt or dress and modesty is guaranteed.

Pettipants can be purchased from who, for those who cannot sew, make lovely dresses and skirts; they're willing to work with the customer to achieve a look that one will feel comfortable in. their fabric selection is beautiful (but their yellows, which I love) do not set well; fade, so wash in salt solution on first laundering, or launder thusly before wearing; this will set the dye. are absolutely gorgeous, but I've never bought from them so can't vouch for them personally, though their styles are fantastic and their accessories to die for!

these might give some ideas to those who can sew, and with the AU$ trading so well, its an ideal time to restock.

Anonymous said...

Hello dear anonymous poster,

I'm so glad you like the idea of wool tights & silk tights, as I had no idea anyone would be interested. I found them at Land's End. Unfortunately, it seems that Land's End no longer offers them-- they've been replaced by a polyester product called "Thermaskin."

They still offer silk & nylon sock liners, which can be worn under socks and provide wicking and warmth:

I'm sorry they're no longer offered. I'll keep an eye out and post something if I find any other wool or silk tights.

On a side note, I found some very warm fair-trade wool jackets at One World Is Enough (

Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to comment about the androgenous uniforms at restaurants and stores. It's funny to me that women have so willingly adopted this look without a thought. The management decides a polo shirt and khaki pants are the uniform, and women buy into it without a thought. So many feminists have seemingly fought so women can have their own freedom and identity. Instead, we are required to adopt the business casual attire of men. How is that anything akin to progress or freedom?

For the mom of the budding Christian rockstar, check out Deut. 22:5:

"A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this."

Anonymous said...

I totally agree about the working uniforms for women. It is puzzling that some women feel it is superior to work in a company that requires a uniform; that they are successful and have made great choices, when a woman who makes her home a career, gets to choose to dress in the most beautiful and feminine of clothing, and she will look completely individual. She will not look like anyone else.

Lydia said...

To the lady whose girl got a bad haircut: I ditched the hairdressers YEARS agon until I found one that liked working with ordinary hair, without always wanting to push a modern style on me. Just find someone who will agree to a set and a styling. I also learned how to cut my own hair using a book called "How to cut your own, or anyone else's hair." That gave me more control over my style and I now NEVER cry after a hair trim or style. My daughter and I cut each other's hair now. You can also go online and find out an illustrated way to cut your own bangs or your daughter's bangs.

Anonymous said...

What an encouraging post regarding clothes! I never wear trousers however I do find myself not dressing as feminine as I could and I want to do better. I am also looking forward to the other aspects you mentioned such as the way you move, talk etc.... I definitely need to work on those things!

Some rambling thoughts regarding hair.....

A few months back I cut my hair into a bob. It does look nice and yes it still looks feminine.

However it takes quite a bit of work to get my hair to look right because I have thick, wavy/curly hair. To fix my hair I must wash, apply lots of product, then blow it dry and then flat iron it. I am basically making my hair do what it wasn't naturally meant to do.

I must say that I really miss the days when hair could just look like hair. I was looking through some old Victoria magazines (early 90's) and I noticed that hair just looked like normal hair in the pictures. Now we have to put tons of product all over it, iron it out and then put in highlights to be in 'style'.

I wonder why society in general dislikes curly hair so much. I actually read something that said that you are not taken as seriously or considered as attractive when you have curly hair.

I guess the key is to quit caring about what is considered 'in style' and just do what you like. I also think you'd need to avoid most modern TV and magazines as well.

It just gets discouraging sometimes.

Anonymous said...

to the annonymous with curly hair... don't get too discouraged? how many celebs have extensions and perms to have thick curls? haha! we win! i think it's best to take what God gave us and enjoy it... isn't a woman's hair her glory? ;-) (my man loves my out-of-control locks! in fact, that's how i caught his attention apparently... isn't that refreshing? 'my that girl has pretty hair'... kind of innocent *giggle*)i'd say ditch the straightener (but make sure you use a good conditioner)

Gail Kellogg Hope said...

As always, I love your articles on feminine dress.

If we (women) dress as women, rather than as men, there is a self-awareness and personal growth that comes with that mode of dressing.
We bring joy to others and ourselves as they look at us, just walking down the street... No matter our size or shape or how we see our own faces in the mirror. Feeling pretty makes us pretty, and that is a quality that should not be under-rated.
We are creations, very specific & intentional creations. If we down-play those aspects that make us unique & special we do a disservice to the one who made us.
Every woman should be able to look in the mirror and see herself as beautiful. As beautiful as God sees her.

In order to do this we can't dress as men. Men look good in men's clothes. Women look good in women's clothes. Those styles may vary culture to culture, but there are very distinct differences no matter what ethnic eye you are looking through.

Happy Holidays to you & yours!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:30 a.m.,

Thank you for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

I so appreciate your comment that when women dress like women, other women see and want to be more feminine. That has been my own experience. Two years ago, we took our daughter to DisneyWorld as a graduation present. I saw a lovely woman dressed in a simple skirt with her beautiful long hair put up in a simple twist. She was so lovely in a quiet, dignified way and I wanted to be like her. I found myself looking for her in the crowd and I saw her many times over the four days we were there. She carried herself elegantly and always looked like a lady. I began to think about my appearance and about my role as a woman both at home and in society. It seems such a small thing to do--dressing like women--but it truly can change society. The wonderful blogs I read can have the same effect. It seems like such a private thing to do, tapping away on the computer at home. But these blogs from lovely Christian women about keeping the home have changed my life and I'm sure they're changing other's lives too.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 8:40...

you are quite welcome! i think it is very important to embrace something that i believe our current culture has forgotten... people, especially women, look DIFFERENT from one another. God made us all look a certain way, made us so very distinguishable from one another, especially between the genders. But somehow, we choose to hide that, to cover it up, to strive to all look alike, no matter how awful it may look. I am happy with how my Creator made me. (Ok, I TRY to be, i fail sometimes in this, as I fail in all things) I take care of myself, dress modestly and in a pretty, feminine manner. I may not get all the male attention that the girl in the low-cut top and mini skirt get, but i don't get the negative attention. And I don't need the attention. I needed to get the attention of ONE fine young man, and that was it. ;-) Why would i want the rest of them looking at me? I want to dress and look in such a way that people think 'she must be a nice young lady' and that doesn't embarrass anyone around me. End of story.

(PS Lady Lydia... i am in the process of having a beautiful Victorian dress made up to match my Victorian home... thank you for some of the resources you provided that helped me on that!)

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lady, Thankyou for you wonderful post!!! As always you are such an inspiration!!!! Also to the other women who want to learn hairstyles go on you tube and type in pentecostal hair. I am not of their religion (the women never cut thier hair). I am catholic and have very long hair. I learned some wonderful updo's. you can type retro hair or victorian hair. It is amazing what you can do with your hair. I had a women stop me one day saying my hair was so beautiful and it literally took me maybe 5 to 10 min. Once again Lydia you are my favorite blog and I thank God for you!!!! Amy brandon,Fl

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous 9:49 am, it's Anonymous 8:40 pm again. I agree with your comment but I wanted to say something about this part.

You said:

I may not get all the male attention that the girl in the low-cut top and mini skirt get, but i don't get the negative attention. And I don't need the attention. I needed to get the attention of ONE fine young man, and that was it. ;-) Why would i want the rest of them looking at me?

I agree with you. You know what though, I don't think the majority of conservative Christian women are dressing to get male attention. Some may be, but most aren't.

I think women choose a lot of things and styles to impress other women. Women tend to be very competitive with each other. When I cut my long, wavy hair, tons of women told me how much better I looked with it cut. I was told how much younger and thinner I looked with it shorter and straighter.

It made me wonder.....did I look that bad before? Or perhaps is it that misery loves company.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

To the commenter who received the feedback she did re cutting her hair, I think women of the post-modern, short hair etc etc mindset, Christian or otherwise, are subconsciously relieved in a perverse way when we give in and conform to the pack for their own consciences settle down. What they're really saying is, 'we're relieved you're now just like us, running with the pack, 'conforming', so we don't have to consider the beautiful, feminine alternatives we've rejected whenever we see somebody standing up for what is traditional'. from a different vantagepoint, if you were to wear your long hair in a different style, accessorize it differently etc, they might compliment you then, but I think its highly unlikely. Daring to be feminine and lovely, no matter our size, shape, age, or cultural background shakes the lie so many have been duped into believing. thank heavens hair can grow long again, and for those ladies who have shorter hair for a variety of reasons (can't grow, thinning, medical reasons, and a variety of others) thank heavens there are feminine and beautiful alternatives to feathered, buz-cut manicured lawns or boy cuts.

Women only started chopping it off in the 1920's, when hems also rose and sleeves disappeared. The 1930's, 40's and 50's brought back a bit of sanity, and the mid 80's to mid 90's similarly... on the doorstep of 2010, let's be all that we can be, proud of our femininity, whatever background, denomination, culture or nation we're from.

it's interesting that even in a culture like that of the indigenous Australian population, women and men do not blur the lines of their distinctiveness; their own lore and culture has complex and strict protocols for both genders ranging from permissable body art, through to who can play what instrument (it is unconscionable for a woman to play a didgeridoo, for instance), even down to distinct differences re faith/spirituality and tradition. I wouldn't be surprised if this holds true for indigenous cultures in the US and Canada also. it seems the post modern west is the only mob to lose the plot (other cultures and nations simply following their shirt- tails).

We can, woman by woman, family by family, quietly change and inspire others.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:57 PM,

I think you are quite right! I especially liked the first part of your comment:

To the commenter who received the feedback she did re cutting her hair, I think women of the post-modern, short hair etc etc mindset, Christian or otherwise, are subconsciously relieved in a perverse way when we give in and conform to the pack for their own consciences settle down. What they're really saying is, 'we're relieved you're now just like us, running with the pack, 'conforming', so we don't have to consider the beautiful, feminine alternatives we've rejected whenever we see somebody standing up for what is traditional'.

I think you've hit the proverbial nail on the head. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, they were a blessing to read. :o)

Anonymous said...

I agree that women try to impress women far more than they concern themselves with attracting men. The thing is many women really do look pretty with shorter or layered hair. I have grown my hair long, including my bangs, and I look older and "witchier" with long straight hair (I have a hook nose that's quite large and looks "witchy") than I did with shorter, layered hair with bangs. My reason for growing it out had more to do with being tired of having to get cuts and dealing with an unruly cowlick at my hairline than conviction over having long hair. I'd love to be able to mimic bangs without cutting them in again, but I'm close to caving in again.

Anonymous said...

These are great articles, Lydia. Such an encouragement. I am presently growing out my hair and loving it. I will try to find the link to nice hairstyles for longer hair. I wish I'd never cut my long hair when I was younger. It is hard to grow it again.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of uniforms for waiters and waitresses in restaurants, yes, they are unisex and it is disturbing.

My husband and I once went to eat in a Perkins restaurant and were seated by a person whom we could not tell if it was a man or a woman. The person was short and thin and small-boned, had short hair and some facial piercings. They wore the stock white shirt and black slacks with black shoes.

For our whole time in the restaurant, we watched that person and could not for the life of us tell if it was a man or a woman. When the person ushered us out of the restaurant, politely, at the end of our meal, we still couldn't tell.

It was so disturbing to us that we have not been back to the restaurant.

Anonymous said...

Instead of cutting your hair off, consider doing a month long put your hair up challenge. This is what many long haired ladies do when they are trying to grow their hair out longer and yet are frustrated at where there hair is at right now. During this time you might use a special shampoo, or perhaps use an oil to fully condition and rehabilitate the hair. Also, this is the best time to teach yourself how to do new updo's and to play with different hair tools like sticks, and clips and forks. There are many ideas at the

Anonymous said...

I am a 26 year old man. I have read the invectives leveled against you and your wonderful website, by women who consider themselves fashionable and professional. Suffice to say that it won't be harpies like them who we'll turn to when we want to marry. And we do. We are tired self-obsessed, consumerist gossips. We want real women. Thank you.

Lydia said...

Thank you sir. You can comment here anytime ;-) I aim to keep on the positive side and believe that the critics will suffer in their own unhappiness, while those who speak the truth will eventually have peace. One thing for certain, women in the workplace did not produce a highly intellectual type, but in many cases it produced the tendency to micro-manage the men and also a lot of shallow non-intelligent type of chatter all day long. Raising children is an intelligent thing to do, for you grow in maturity as you train them to be adults. A woman at home embracing her own role is actually more powerful than an intellectual. The web is full of the homemaker types of women who share their success with others and help other women have good marriages and a good home life. The feminist seems to want to keep conflict going.