Why I Wore Skirts for 10 Years

why i wore skirts for 10 years

I often stop and evaluate why I do what I do. But today, I travel a few years back to consider why I did what I did.

Why I brought the “skirts – no pants” life to an end and stepped forward with a new perspective on clothing and modesty.

You’ve read a million modesty articles. But maybe this one will be different.

In my story, I chose to wear skirts instead of pants. And ten years later, I changed my decision.

In those ten years, I was greeted with more silent questions than spoken ones. Perhaps you knew me then and wondered why.

Well, I’ve decided it’s time my story was told. Because I want you to know the truth. And because the work God did in me is worth telling.

Here’s my story.

My sixteen-year-old self was a stubborn one. Whether or not I bucked authority on the outside, I made an embarrassing habit of bucking it on the inside. I like to think I lived with conviction. Really, I was just opinionated and dared not surrender to anyone more knowledgeable than myself.

A popular teaching in my conservative, homeschooled upbringing was that of modesty. Most radical of the guidelines? Skirts instead of pants.

And let me tell you, I fought it tooth and nail.

In my everyday world, separated from the perceived perfection of homeschool conventions, every girl I knew wore pants. Even to church, believe it or not. What was so inappropriate about pants? Why all the fuss?

But some important and invaluable people in my life told me it was wrong. These well-meaning people told me that, to be modest and feminine, I should choose something other than pants {which they deemed “men’s clothing”}. These people said I simply needed to surrender this area of my life to God.

And on that point, they were absolutely right. I did need to surrender everything to God.

Misguided though it may have been, my conscience was sincerely and greatly troubled. I wrestled with the issue again and again, and finally recognized the need to simply surrender. This strange resignation to “skirts – no pants” was, for me, a crucial act of obedience to God-given authority and a yielding to what I believed was God’s desire for my life.

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

I committed, in that moment, to dress modestly and femininely. People told me it meant choosing skirts instead of pants. So that’s what I did. For ten years.

To be clear, these people were a gift of God to me. People placed in my life for my good. They cared deeply for my soul and had the most sincere motives and the purest intentions. They continue to be some of the godliest people I know. I highly respect them, and, in many ways, pray to be like them.

But on this matter, I believe these people were wrong.

Why did I end up wearing skirts for ten years? Please understand, it was my choice, and I wore them joyfully and with conviction. But I wore them because people convinced me it was the right thing to do.

Why did I put on a pair of pants after all that time? Because, unbeknownst to me, my heart began to tell me that Someone else’s Word came above that of my dearest mentors.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

I changed my decision because I read the Bible. And I discovered that much of what those people had said was nowhere to be found.

The Bible addressed modesty, yes, but it never said a thing about pants. As a matter of fact, “pants” didn’t exactly exist. To be fair, if we were going to apply the Scriptures consistently in this way, we would all be dressed in long robes, and men would be obligated to marry their widowed sister-in-laws.

I decided it was time to carefully discern the Bible’s definition and intention of “modesty.” I wasn’t backing down by any stretch. I was more than willing to live radically. To be the “only one” going against the flow – I’d done that most of my life, and in more respects than one. But now, my first concern was to live biblically.

And so I put on a pair of modest pants {“frumpy,” by many standards} and noticed a few things.

One, I could honestly say my conscience was clear. {Yes, my conscience, not my peer-pressure meter. Trust me, I wasn’t looking for an out. I quite enjoyed my “skirts – no pants” life.}

Two, I was living in true freedom, gloriously bound as a slave to Christ. {Freedom of any other kind is not true freedom.}

Third, and perhaps most surprisingly, the gawks and questions faded.

See, people told me that, by not wearing pants, I would draw others’ attention to Jesus. {Oh, I was getting attention alright, though I’m not sure Jesus was any part of it.}

But when I finally formed my personal modesty standards based on the Bible, I no longer became known as “the girl who doesn’t wear pants.”

By God’s grace, I began to stand out like a sore thumb for another reason – the simple portrayal of a radical, biblical modesty you don’t often see in the 21st century. For to “raise the standard” is not to start with God’s Word and go beyond it, but to display to the world around you that your standard is God’s.

Lifestyles such as these usually, and rightly, go unnoticed.

May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

 [hymn text by Kate B. Wilkinson; image credit: unsplash.com]


42 thoughts on “Why I Wore Skirts for 10 Years

  1. I’ve recently been working through 1 Timothy and feel a quiet conviction to wear more obviously modest, feminine clothing in my church setting. Yesterday I wore jeans with a longer top to cover my backside {because I’m thinking, that can’t be modest, can it? Which I’m fighting, because I love it – vainly – when my backside looks good in jeans}. I don’t think anyone else should follow my conviction, and I am certainly not shouting it aloud. It’s between me and the Lord. But I do genuinely feel this is a path I need to take. If I follow the Word so seriously on other issues, I need to take modesty seriously too. Not that pants can’t be modest, but most pants aren’t. And the pants that are just make me feel frumpy, and Paul wants us to “adorn” ourselves, so obviously we’re supposed to be attractive. So, skirts it is for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lydia, once again, you write so graciously on a difficult subject. As Kelly said, this was beautifully written, and I love the way that you incorporated Kate Wilkinson’s hymn into your writing. I think that the question that we need to reflect on as Christian women and followers of Jesus Christ is whether or not in every area of our lives, we are drawing attention to ourselves or to Jesus Christ–and our clothing is just one area to consider. As an “outsider” to the skirt-wearing movement, but coming from a very Conservative background, I have always felt uncomfortable with the movement as a whole (but not regarding individual’s convictions before the Lord) simply for the reason that it seems to draw attention to the “skirt-wearing” itself, rather than to the Lord Jesus. That is my perception as an outsider. And obviously, the Lord knows each individual heart and He is the Judge of the motives and intents of the heart, not me. For me, I’d rather not focus on skirts or no skirts, but rather pursue the Lord Jesus in my everyday actions and trust that He will lead me to dress in a way that reflects Him. There is such freedom in that . . .

    Blessings to you, Lydia; I really, really enjoyed your perspective on this subject; your love and desire for the Lord shines through your writing; I was blessed by it.

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  3. Love this!!! I have been in your shoes, and I even raised my daughter in that for 10+ years. Basically, anything beautiful was out, and all things frumpy were in—especially those shapeless denim jumpers, you know, the kind that completely obscure the fact that you are a woman. We looked “freakish,” and that is what people’s eyes were drawn to—not Jesus.

    Add to that, we were judgmental towards women who didn’t dress as we did. We deemed ourselves more “spiritual” than them.

    After searching the Scriptures myself, and finding, as you did, no mention of pants, I also sought my husband’s opinion. He told me he hated the shapeless denim jumper, that he didn’t find me attractive in that. It embarrassed him that I dressed like that.

    So, I jumped off the “skirts only” bandwagon and began to wear pants and jeans, as well as dresses and skirts. I even wear knee-length shorts these days. I’m adequately covered every day, my husband isn’t embarrassed by my appearance, and, most importantly, Jesus can be the focus of my conversations with people rather than why I am dressed in shapeless denim jumpers.

    Blessings,
    Patti @ Embracing Home

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  4. What an awesome post, and good for you! I’ve learned that discerning what I’m reading in the bible is important, not what people ‘tell’ me is printed there. Thank you for sharing your encouragement! (Stopping by from the Wake-Up Wednesday Blog Hop)

    ~Taylor-Made Homestead~
    Texas

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Lydia,
    Visiting from Coffee for your Heart and your blog post title hooked me! Growing up I didn’t wear pants either but I actually try to hide and forget that fact since it made me feel so ridiculous and different that I just couldn’t believe it served any purpose! I loved reading your perspective and how you reversed your decision and how rules for the sake of rules sometimes do the opposite of what well-meaning Christians intend. Enjoyed reading your words here today!

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  6. Oh my goodness, I love this! As someone who has recently gone through that exact same journey {with my husband}, I was a little hesitant to click on your link, yet I felt compelled to at the same time. How sweet to find someone that has experienced the same sweet freedom of being free in Jesus. I totally get what you mean when you talk about the differences of standing out because of how you dress and standing out because of Jesus living inside! Anyway, thanks so much for sharing! It refreshed my heart.

    P.S. thanks for sharing this at the #Shine blog hop- I wouldn’t have found this otherwise!

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  7. A couple of thoughts come to mind:
    God’s will for our lives is not stagnant. Your ten years in skirts did something in your heart that was needful, and you have become the person you are today by God’s grace
    These “gray areas” really test our love for God and others — and our tendency to judge. I’m always intrigued by the passage about head coverings for women, and altho’ I don’t come from a tradition that practices this, I wonder what Paul was thinking about when he said it was “because of the angels.”

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    1. Thanks for your sweet encouragement. That “because of the angels” phrase is so interesting. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about angels lately. So many fascinating passages about them. I’ll have to give that one some more thought. Thanks for bringing it up!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Michele and Lydia,
      I came from a church where the women wore head coverings. We were taught that “because of the angels” had to do with the fact that the angels were looking on and learning such things as the gospel and the mystery of the church, and God’s order in the church, i.e. God the Father is not superior to the Son, but Jesus obeyed the Father in His incarnation and time on earth. This parallels the husband not being superior to the wife, but she is to honor and submit to him. The head covering is a symbol of that order that the angels can see as the church worships together.
      I go to a different kind of church now and don’t wear a head covering there much for the same reason that you (Lydia) stopped wearing only skirts. It would just draw attention to me and be a distraction to the other worshipers.

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      1. Wow and thank you. This is beautiful and gospel-oriented truth, and I’m on my second reading of it because I want to get it right. Thanks for taking time to enter the conversation, and I’m touched especially by that last paragraph’s wisdom. Again, thank you.

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  8. This was so interesting to read! For years and years I only wore skirts, but for me it was a way of rebelling against being sensible, and grown up, and wearing trousers when it was cold or whatever. Eventually I realised that what I wore wasn’t really as important to how people saw me as what I did and said, and so it didn’t seem such a big deal to me.

    Thanks so much for sharing over at #FridayFrivolity 🙂

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  9. While many at my church wear pants to church, I choose on Sundays to wear a dress. When I teach at our prayer group on Wednesday, I wear pants. There was a time in my life, I only wore skirts and dresses, because my doctor told me I was wearing jeans too tight and I should switch to skirts and to cotton underwear for my health. The pants I wear now, are usually a set, and are not tight, so I am comfortable. There is a place for a woman to wear pants my mother would say, as she donned a pair of jeans and worked in her garden. Skirts do not make you holy, it is your heart where you touch God and His holiness. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This was a wonderful post about modesty and the pants issue. I’ve never been told to wear skirts, but I have been through the issue myself personally. I came to the same conclusion as you. But, I love and respect both types of women who dress in skirts or pants 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your post at Together on Tuesdays 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is an interesting perspective. I am a skirts-only lady for my own set of reasons, but your post will have me planning more carefully how I should present my thoughts to my daughters, and pondering more about our future household rules on modesty…

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  12. This is such a great post, and that is coming from me, a 31 year old who had lived in jeans her whole life, maybe owning no more than 10 dresses and skirts since middle school (and I’m counting my wedding dress in that total lol) Only to recently be convicted (entirely on my own) to wear skirts MORE, but not always, just to include them in my wardrobe and wear them more often than I do my jeans.

    My newly found convictions came by way of, like you, re-examining why I do what I do/did. And admittedly came by way of wondering if, as a woman, it is in fact sinful to wear pants… So I dug myself into a study and opened my heart to be teachable while searching out the truth, using always HIS Word as my authority but listening to teachings on both ends to see what lines up, and what does not. I also searched out history to see the significance of clothing from era to era.

    My findings were surprising, and it led me to my new convictions but God also protected me from legalism and not falling for words that dictate what He has not said.

    Historically speaking, there were times when skirts on men, or long tunics, kilts and so forth were an appropriate attire for a man and not considered feminine on them (as I they were NOT being effeminate)

    I also began to see that to apply this no pants BC pants are worn by men rule, to the rest of my attire… I would also not be allowed to wear shirts, socks, and sneakers because those are also men’s attire… So this would actually only leave me with dresses as an option and nylons and heels… Not too many “skirt only” believers apply that to their whole attire do they?

    What I walked away from my study with is the conviction of femininity. If my jeans look “girly” then I feel comfortable calling it ladies apparel. If I saw a man wearing the outfit I have on and can clearly say he was cross dressing than Im obviously wearing feminine clothing.

    I want to be a lady in all I do and don’t want to wear clothing not designed for my gender but everything from polka dot socks to jeans with cute buttons and t shirts with flowers and pink Nike sneakers all scream “Female” Even basic black pants purchased in the woman’s department will scream ladies wear in comparison to black slacks for men.

    So I decided just to make sure I’m enjoying ladies clothing, and that now includes getting skirts and dresses in on rotation.

    Food for thought… getting so legalistic about “not wearing men’s apparel” would mean if your gentlemen hubby saw you freezing he couldn’t wrap his coat around your shoulders for warmth…he’d have to stare at you wondering why you didn’t bring a Shaw 😉

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  13. Lydia, balance is a difficult thing to achieve! I’ve known women who’ve never worn pants, and I don’t judge them, but to me the very definition of modesty includes not calling attention to oneself, which makes me think of the girl in high school who wore culottes in gym class, calling all sorts of attention to herself both because of her appearance and because of the fact that the baggy-legged culottes were far more revealing than the regular gym shorts. But each to her own! (PS I came over from the Friendship Friday Blog Party.)

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