Tuesday, June 6, 2017

It's a Slippery Slope When Women Stop Wearing Slips

Could anyone please explain to me how I'm supposed to know what all the new social rules are these days?  Hasn't anyone younger than me heard of Emily Post or Abigail Van Buren?  Are there any hard and fast etiquette rules anymore or is everything just made up as people go along?  Maybe I can share a few things that really bother me and I really don't understand.  I earned a minor in Sociology and these human-nature things have always intrigued me.  This will have to be the first in a series.

First, when did proper undergarments become optional for women and girls in our culture? Seriously, hasn't anyone younger than me heard of ladies wearing slips?  You can't even find them in the store anymore.  Case in point.  I have several slips of varying lengths, types, and colors.  I've had them for many years and the ones I wear the most are getting a little worn out.  While bra shopping with my daughter a month or so ago, I thought I'd get myself a new slip to wear with dresses, but there were no slips to be found in any store we looked at.  Sure, there were Spanx and other types of bodysuit-kind-of-girdle articles, but no slips.  I asked a few store clerks about where to find a slip.  I was always directed to something that looked like a sausage casing about 3 feet too short.  That's not a slip!  Some sales people even laughed at me, saying, "nobody wears those old-fashioned things anymore," and the young sales people didn't even know what a slip was.

For those of you who are slip lovers like myself, you know what a real lady's slip is like.  It's usually white, beige or black and has adjustable straps and a nice-looking bodice with pretty lace and a nice straight or A-line shape made out of pretty tricot or silk.  You feel like a woman when you put it on top of your bra and hose, lounging in it even as you do your hair and makeup and ready yourself for the day.  It makes your dresses and skirts look better because their fabric seems to "slip" over the undergarment nicely, avoiding the sticking and the riding up that happens when no slip is worn.

I could do a whole research project on why women wear/wore slips, where petticoats and dressing gowns originated from and why, but I think it's pretty simple to understand.  It comes down to modesty and cleanliness, both ladylike characteristics I think all of us women might want to have a little refresher course in.  One of the reasons women, especially those in earlier generations, wore petticoats was to keep their dresses clean.  They wore slips underneath the dress to keep it free of sweat and body oils and aprons on top of the dress to keep it clean of dirt and spills.  It wasn't easy or convenient to do laundry, so they protected and took care of their clothing.  Another reason was to enhance the look and shape of the dress. Poodle skirts required really big slips to help the skirt have a shape.  Study the history of fashion and you'll see just how important slips and petticoats really were.  Without a hoop slip, Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind was just wearing a droopy gown.  Then there was the modesty quotient.  Slips and petticoats prevented others from seeing through a gown's fabric, sheltering the shape of a lady's body from curious eyes.  

Why then, don't so many women and girls wear slips anymore?  I know that if they did, more stores would stock them.  Many stores don't sell them because people don't buy them and people don't buy them because they don't wear them.  I think it's a symptom of society's general lack of propriety.  Men don't wear jackets and ties like they used to and women hardly ever wear nice, pretty dresses.  If they don't wear pretty dresses in the first place, why the need for a slip?  So many women of today have become casual in their dress and have given up the notion of being feminine and classy.  When they do need to wear a dress or skirt, they throw on a piece of wash-and-wear knit that clings to their hips, thighs and buttocks in the most unbecoming way.  They add a pair of flip-flops and they're "dressed up."  Even if they wanted to wear the knit maxi skirts that are so entirely and hideously popular these days, they still need to wear a slip.  Why?  Because we can all see through their skirt.

Somewhere someone had a terrible idea of making floor-length, bottom-hugging, unattractive skirts out of T-shirt fabric with all manner of nauseating designs like Chevron stripes, horizontal stripes, vertical stripes, to name a few.  These skirts are so ugly, my daughter and I actually pinky-promised each other we would never, ever buy, wear, or consider wearing one of these "skirts."

Do you know what a real skirt is?  It's got a waistband, a zipper, a button or a hook and eye, and is lined.  The fabric is twill, wool, gabardine, corduroy, silk, tweed, or taffeta.  It has a shape that makes you look better, not worse.  It hides your flaws, instead of accentuating them.  It's a solid color like navy, gray, black, camel, or red.  It's timeless and of excellent quality.  It stands the test of time and can be worn with heels or flats.  It looks good with a blouse and jacket or a sweater.  It can last a lifetime if it's cared for properly.  It falls just above or below the knee.  It needs to be dry-cleaned and pressed.  It's a lady's skirt.  And it requires a slip and hose.

Now that I think about it, the slip isn't the only element that's missing.  It's all missing.  Women don't wear blouses anymore, or even jackets.  And most women don't wear pretty shoes and hose anymore either.  The popular choices range between flip-flops for the beach or locker room, all the way to 5-inch, cheap-looking stiletto heels.  Pretty Georgette blouses have been traded for body-hugging, immodestly tight t-shirts, again made out of knit.  If a jacket is worn at all, it's usually a denim jacket or even a hoodie and yes, I've seen my share of zipped hoodies with skirts.  Denim jackets are good, and I even own one, but it shouldn't be your only jacket.

Who or what is to blame for this shift in culture and lack of ladylike-ness?  We could blame the person who first sported the Chevron-striped yardage in screaming yellow and blue, but it's not really their fault.  The problem lies in all the droves of females that decided they too wanted to look like they were wearing butt-hugging flags.  Another reason is the "skirts" are so darn cheap that a person who likes such unsophisticated clothing can own 2,400 of them for the price of one really good and nice, womanly skirt.  Some might blame it on the desire to be "comfy all the time."  You don't want to hear what I have to say about that.  Being ladylike was never supposed to be about being comfortable.  As soon as we get too comfortable, we lose our manners, our dignity, and our femininity.

Now, it's not to say that comfort is a bad thing.  I don't believe in wearing clothes that are painful or shoes that cause blisters.  But I know the reason a lot of females don't wear slips, bras, and hose is because they say it's not comfortable.  The whole point is to not be comfortable.  When you wear feminine undergarments and you're a little uncomfortable, it's a reminder that you should cross your legs or ankles, walk in a graceful manner, and not roll around on the floor because you feel like it.  Dressing like a lady helps us to act like a lady.  I love things that are comfortable, but I also love things that are beautiful.  I believe we can have both.  There are also times that are appropriate for comfort over style.  I own a pair of Birkenstocks that are heaven on my feet and hips, but I don't wear them with a nice skirt and I certainly don't wear them to work or to church.

Maybe the problem is that as a culture we've become so comfortable with ourselves that we don't even care if it's offensive to others.  Part of the joy of dressing well is in showing respect to your fellow men and women while caring enough about the world we live in that we're trying to make it a little more beautiful ourselves.  Young people and even older ones have become comfortable in going to the market in PJs and slippers, dirty and un-showered, with filthy hair and a grimy face.  Other people do it, right?  Kids wear slippers and pajama bottoms to school and teachers teach in front of the classroom in sweat pants.   It's become so commonplace to dress so casually that when a person is dressed up like Cary Grant or Doris Day, they get stares and questions.  That used to be the expectation, do you realize that?  The expectation that a lady didn't leave the house without her hair and makeup done and a pretty skirt and sweater?  A gentleman didn't walk out the front door without a coat and tie, slacks and Oxfords, even a hat.  

It's now June 6, and summer is here.  I hate summer.  I really loathe it, mostly because it flares up my chronic health conditions, but also because I hate seeing everyone suddenly without clothing, in their full-on "comfortable" uniform of skin-tight, bottom-revealing shorts, tank tops with bra straps hanging out or better yet, no bra at all, and flip-flops.  Warmer temperatures don't require nakedness and impropriety.  You can still be cool and even comfortable in linen slacks, a cotton blouse, and pretty sandals.  

It's critical that we as women not become so complacent in our dress and grooming that we allow ourselves to also become lazy in our feminine values, traits, and virtues.  It is my opinion that when women begin dressing like men or wearing clothing that while comfortable is not respectable, we risk damaging the unique womanhood we are blessed with because we are daughters of God.  How would God want His daughters to adorn themselves?  I am sure He would want us to be modest, lovely, virtuous and praiseworthy, showing respect to our fellow men and women on the earth with the way we dress and carry ourselves.  He would want us to embrace our femininity and enhance the beauty He blessed us all with individually.  Our Heavenly Father would want us to honor Him by clothing our bodies reverently and decently.

I think it's time for a revolution, a revolution of ladylike-ness.  If you're a person who loves her Chevron knit skirt, then at least wear it with a slip, cute shoes, and a better shirt.  What if every girl and woman suddenly demanded slips in all sizes, lengths, and colors choices?  The stores would have to stock them.  If every girl started wearing slips with dresses, maybe the selection in dresses while shopping would improve.  If we had better choices and took them, maybe our manners would show an uptick.  Maybe we'd become a little more polite, courteous and forgiving.  Maybe if we wore pretty blouses instead of knit shirts, we'd actually like our bodies more.  If we wore beautiful dresses and heels, maybe we'd decide we love being women and we'd stop feeling oppressed.  Maybe even men would treat us better because we'd think we deserved better.  The list could actually get quite long here, so I'll stop, because you get the point.  

Something as seemingly small as wearing a slip has the power to create change.  At least it has the power to affect change in us individually.  Maybe we won't solve all the world's problems by wearing slips with smart suits and dresses, but we'd definitely feel better about who we are and maybe we'd treat ourselves better.  That might create a domino effect and give our children higher self-esteem.  It could cause some pretty big changes in society if enough women would accept the challenge.

My challenge to you is this:  If you have a slip, start wearing it and if you don't, find one somewhere and start wearing it.  It will change your clothing choices and while that doesn't have to be expensive, it could be very, very effective.  Embrace your womanhood and your femininity.  Decide that no one should see your silhouette through your skirt.  Save the flip-flops for the pool.  Invest in a nice skirt.  Buy some pantyhose.  It might even improve our economy along with our self-esteem.  I know that at the very least, it will give you greater confidence and you might decide to take on that project you've put aside or ask for that promotion at work or get your college degree.  It might even make you confident enough to go on that blind date or accept a new work assignment.  Maybe I'm crazy, but I think wearing a slip could change the world.  

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