I can't Bare It ! Why Can't We Dress Modestly Anymore?

  1. Love him or loathe him, Bernard Manning was the undisputed master of the calculated insult.

    He greeted female journalists who came to call in his vest and underpants and then sat with his legs apart throughout the interviews. He understood that this was extremely rude behaviour, unsettling and embarrassing for those on the receiving end. It was a deliberate gesture of contempt. I was reminded of the late Bernard Manning the other day at a church service in a neighbouring village: the middle-aged man passing the collection plate was dressed in shorts and sandals, exposing a thick pelt of springy red hair from thigh to toe.


    In the bench in front, a slim, elegant woman in her 50s displayed her thong through the fabric of a tightfitting white linen shift dress: and in the opposite pew, a young mother revealed a bare back plus acres of ample cleavage in a plunging halterneck top.
    It seemed I couldn't rest my gaze without it landing on somebody's almost-exposed bosom or bum. Unlike those of Bernard Manning's generation, people now seem to have no idea that dressing immodestly is rude in that it makes other people uncomfortable and disregards their feelings.

    The indecent exposure at the village church wasn't an isolated incident.
    In the supermarket the other day with my seven-year-old son, I was confronted by an elderly man wearing what appeared to be a pair of swimming trunks made of tight red Lycra, a purse belt slung around his hips. I would class this as the kind of anti-social behaviour that recently earned a pensioner in Eastbourne an ASBO for parading in public in a skimpy ladies' thong. It isn't just a country thing either. I went to a branch of a fashionable clothes store in Oxford in search of a tunic top I'd seen in a magazine.

    Britney Spears is renowned for her revealing fashion sense

    They had sold out but called over an assistant who was wearing one so that I could see it and, if I liked it, place an order. In the magazine, the top, which was slashed to the navel, had been worn over a vest.

    The shop assistant, aged about 17, had dispensed with all underwear save a lilac lace half-cup bra which pushed up and thrust together her breasts and revealed, nestling between them, a huge, rather angry-looking spot.
    This immodesty is not confined to a particular social class.
    A friend who is a doctor remarked that he's noticed increasingly that a lot of female junior doctors — flush with their first decent pay cheques — will report for duty in inappropriate clothing: designer outfits with plunging necklines and short skirts.

    He even had an example of a young woman, on her first night-shift as a senior house officer, who turned up in an Audrey Hepburn-style little black dress and heels.
    As her immediate superior, he knew that her first job that night was to catheterise a clinically obese man on the renal ward.
    Because what she was wearing was so inappropriate he almost didn't ask her to do the job — then decided that perhaps she might learn an important lesson.
    The patient was in a chair so she had to get down on her hands and knees in her cocktail dress to fit the device. I have even overheard in the lifts at the BBC scantily clad young people bewailing the fact that 'no one seems to take me seriously'.
    And they have no idea why? Of course, it is the social setting that turns a pair of high heels, a diving neckline or a pair of shorts from the acceptable to the immodest. Bernard Manning's vest and underpants were just fine in the privacy of his bedroom in the company of Vera, his wife.
    But what is good for a hot date, or a party where everyone is similarly clad, is all wrong in the office or in the supermarket or, worst of all, in the formal surroundings of a church.

    So when did we stop understanding when to dress modestly?
    The answer is very recently, according to Professor Aileen Ribeiro, an expert on the history of dress at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, who says that in the past the rules on appropriate dress were widely understood. She says that plunging necklines for women and tight trousers for men have been recognised as sexually provocative since the Middle Ages.
    But in previous generations, church and society dictated what was allowed. 'Many people no longer know what is appropriate unless it is written down,' she says. 'Hence our anxiety over what to wear on a formal occasion when instructions are not given. 'And when it comes to your village church service, the churches are often so desperate for churchgoers that they don't say what they think the rules should be. If they did there would be complaints

    What does it say about the spirit of the age?

    Professor Ribeiro sees the willingness to expose too much flesh in all the wrong settings as a sign of indifference, a lack of sensitivity.
    And I agree that to go to church in shorts or with your knickers on show is symptomatic of an 'If it's fine with me, then to hell with you' approach to life. It's the kind of attitude that leads so many people to bawl down their mobile phones on the train or to turn up their iPods so that everyone has to endure the infuriating sizzle of leaking sound.

    It seems to be more pronounced in Britain than anywhere else in Europe. Wander towards the entrance of St Peter's Basilica in Rome with bare arms and the security men will tell you in no uncertain terms to cover them.
    In the final chapter of her book Dress And Morality, Professor Ribeiro adds an interesting thought — that many people do believe that a display of too much flesh is immodest, even though they may not say it for fear of being thought old-fashioned.

    So perhaps I should take a leaf from Bernard Manning's book and start being a little more up front in my opinions. Next time I am confronted by shorts or a thong in church, I may lean across and say — as he might have done — 'Do us a favour, love. Put it away.'

    By WINIFRED ROBINSON: The femail
  2. I agree. Trashy dressing is all over the place. When celebs forget their underwear and have those pictures posted all over the place, people think its okay to have their underwear hanging out and its not so bad.
  3. I don't think revealing skin is what's trashy but being a slob, wearing unflattering, loud, and illfitting skimpy clothes. That's what's wrong. Girls back in history wore REALLY low empire waisted gowns or microminis but yet they all still managed to look stylish and classy.
  4. I remember when it was considered inappropriate to wear sleeveless tops to work. I'm no prude, but I think a lot of people dress appallingly these days. Plus, don't they get COLD? I see people out in skimpy camisole tops in 50-degree weather and have to wonder.
  5. I agree, though it is often a matter of degrees. When you think about it, those empire gowns were floor-length, and microminis in the Twiggy era were often part of a long-sleeved turtle-neck dress.

    Too many people don't think about what suits their body type anymore, and just wear what trends dictate. Contrary to what we've all seen on the street, the recent skinny-jean trend is not for everyone, and despite calls of ageism most women over thirty-five can't pull off microminis and short shorts. Not to mention the men who wander around shirtless in the summer time. "Put it away" indeed.
  6. i am, personally, a big fan of cleavage. i think it's beautiful, and in a flattering outfit, i don't think anyone should see anything wrong with it, and if they do, they're too sensative. the curves of a woman's body are beautiful, and when dressed appropriately, there's no reason they shouldn't be celebrated. in fact, they've been celebrated as a part of regular, daily dress for centuries.

    that being said, there's a huge difference between flattering your body shape and wearing a top that's neon, too tight and cut down to your navel to a business meeting. if you can't wear a proper undergarment under it, and your girls don't sit up like they once did, you shouldn't wear it. if you have fear of falling out of it, don't wear it. if you sit down and you can feel your bare flesh against your chair, it's too short. if it rides up, it's too tight and trying to escape off of your body.

    sometimes, the desire to be seen as sexy and young overrides our common sense. if we could all just stand back and look in the mirror with a little bit of objectivity before we leave the house, i think we could have both cleavage AND decorum.
  7. this is a REALLY important point. i was at a bar talking to a male friend a couple of weeks ago, and a very slightly chubby girl walked by wearing a tight tube top, a jean skirt so short that the pockets were hanging out the bottom (a la britney spears) and really tall stiletto heals. in a moment of slightly intoxicated clarity, i said to him "you know, you can either wear the low cut shirt, the really short skirt, or the really high heels. you cannot choose all three. that's when regular girls start to look like hookers."

    and he was amazed. fashion suddenly made sense to him. so this is the rule that i think everyone should go by. in any given outfit, you can pick one slightly sexual aspect and still not expect men to offer to pay for it.
  8. This is very interesting. I also think that the way one dresses has to do with upbringing/culturural expectations that shape one's individual views. To me, if you want to show cleavage, then do it, but be tasteful about it, and show it in the appropriate situations! Even though I'm 25, the idea of showing lots of skin is an uncomfortable one to me, because I grew up in a family where doing so was looked down upon (I have shown cleavage on rare occasions out with my boyfriend, but felt really self-conscious about it, so I realized it's not really "me)." I'm just a more modest dresser. :smile: That being said, I think that if you want to show leg/cleavage/ etc. then pick ONE focus point, as others have mentioned. It's the same concept in makeup (discounting runway makeup haha, which is exaggerated). If you do a sexy, smoky eye, that should be your focus, so pairing it with red lips, and heavy blush IMO isn't a good idea. I think it's really unflattering, and trashy when some women (and worse, young girls) feel the need to expose themselves and wear clothing that is so skimpy/miniscule that they might as well be walking around naked. Above all, if you exude confidence and classiness, then whatever you are wearing will look good.
  9. Quote you know, you can either wear the low cut shirt, the really short skirt, or the really high heels. you cannot choose all three. that's when regular girls start to look like hookers." Quote
    Amanda I live by this rule. But the short skits for my thighs are no more. My co worker who may be a smaller size than me is shorter and top heavy. SHe will always gravitate to short shorts and micro minis. and guess what when she wears them it is always unflattering or she saves them when she can fit into them. I have tried suggesting cute outfits but to her they are "frumpy"Another perosn who definately wears what the trend dictates not what suits them.
  10. Excellent point. It's all about moderation and what fits your body type.
  11. I hate how they clump out entire generation in there. I never wear any T&A-revealing clothing, and even though I love my chicken arms I rarely wear anything sleeveless.

    Sexy is being confident and comfortable with your sexuality. It doesn't entail having your boobs, behind and belly hanging out. To me, that's actually someone who's insecure about themselves their sexuality, someone who needs male attention to feel better about themselves.

    </feminist rant>
  12. When I look at Britney Spears (or anyone else who dresses like her and is built like her) I always have to wonder, "Do they own a mirror?"

    I wonder why it is OK to wear things that are so skimpy and unflattering. I am 34, not in perfect shape and I would never wear in my bedroom what BS wears in public!!!

    As for skimpy clothing in church or at the office, Dear lord, what are people thinking? Iguess they are not thinking? What ever happened to casual career wear? And it's not abercrombie! (I see a lot of this on the younger set in my office... it's so innappropriate!)

    Someone else said that folks seem to have lost a sense of what looks good on their bodies and just dress to trends, no matter how bad it looks on them. I think that person is right... which would explain BS. Sad, sad, sad,

    Put that away, indeed!
  13. "you know, you can either wear the low cut shirt, the really short skirt, or the really high heels. you cannot choose all three. that's when regular girls start to look like hookers."

    I agree with this 100%........some people just don't know any better, they think all at once is hot, yet it always ends up looking really cheap and hoochy.
  14. There's a thin line between sexy and trashy. Seems to me that many have crossed that line.
  15. Ahhhh... I have to completely agree. As the years go by ever since 2000 the everything gets pulled up shorter and cut lower. Now I'm all for being sexy and showing some skin.. but what most people don't realize is that more skin doesn't equal more sexy.

    An example: Take a simple black leather mini skirt. If you pair it with a fitted black turtleneck sweater then it comes off as chic & urban. Pair it with a top made out of 4 inches of shiny material and some tape and it becomes $20 dollar hooker.