The other day I put on my favorite dress. I haven’t been able to wear it for awhile, due to the fact that I was pregnant and then had a baby. And you must remember, most dresses are not conducive to nursing babies.
So I finally shook the dust off of it and slipped it over my head. It fit! Miracle. Wow, I felt almost glamorous. My husband gave me a double-take. This was going to be a good day.
As the day wore on, however, I found myself thinking of…myself. Yes, considering my dress, how neat it looked, how neat I looked. Every time I passed a mirror, I checked myself out. Still looking good.
Later on my husband and I loaded up all 7 children and drove to church for Stations of the Cross. My husband and two of the boys were serving, so I was in the pew with the remaining 5 children. Do I need to say, that I didn’t expect to enter deeply into this devotion?
After about the second or third station, I had to take the baby out into the narthex, where I put her on the floor, knelt down, and attempted to pray from the St. Alphonsus Liguori booklet. Then I was bombarded with thoughts of…my lovely dress.
This was obsessive. This was not good. All day my thoughts were of my dress and how I looked. What was going on?
Then a thought whispered to my soul, “Do you love this dress more than Me?”
Whoa. My heart pounded. What?
“Do you love this dress more than Me?”
I was holding that booklet and staring at a picture of Mary, holding Jesus. He was completely emaciated, and I realized how stupid and foolish I had been. How blind! Do I love this dress more than you, Jesus? No, of course not. Forgive me, Jesus. Forgive me. What shall I do?
But I knew what I had to do, even before I finished the thought. This dress must go. It will be a sacrifice in atonement for my pride and vanity.
And so that evening, I took my favorite dress off for the last time. It will be given away.
Since I brought up the topic of clothing and closets in the last post, I thought I’d examine it a bit further.
When I was younger, I got away with wearing just about anything. Tight jeans? No problem. Bare midriffs? Big deal. Tube tops? How cute! Bikinis? Of course.
My parents were too busy to notice, and I took advantage of the situation. But let me be clear, I knew what I was doing. I wanted attention from men, and I got it.
I’m older now, and I’ve thought about these things. Truly, it was really damaging for me to dress that way, for I believed the lie that I wasn’t good enough, but that I had to, in a sense, sell my body for attention and love.
About 15 years ago, when I came back into the Catholic Church, I began to look seriously at how I dressed. These things matter after all, and I found that I was sending the wrong message. No, it wasn’t ok for me to dress in such a way as to make men’s heads turn.
The body is to be hidden, veiled if you will, because it is holy and beautiful. And no, this does not mean that one must wear only denim jumpers and turtlenecks, far from it. Rather, we are called to wear clothing that is simple, but dignified and beautiful, if possible.
In our culture, this is hard. It takes an extra effort to search out those stores that even make suitable clothing. But this is a battle worth fighting for, and I’m thankful that my husband takes the lead on this one. He sees that our culture is losing this battle, and he wants our children to begin wearing appropriate clothing now, as little children, so as to grow in the habit. These things matter.
For example, when leggings became all the rage a few years ago, our family made a conscious decision to never wear them alone. This goes for me and even the two-year-old. If we want to wear leggings, we must wear a skirt or dress over them–just a shirt doesn’t cut it. My husband and I want to be sure that our girls know that they are beautiful and have great dignity, and that there are other things to wear besides just leggings.
Most people “get it” that husbands and dads don’t care to stare at women out in public wearing skin-tight clothing, but from a woman’s point of view, I find it hard too. I don’t like to see other women wearing revealing clothing because sometimes it makes me feel poorly about myself. I think, “Wow, she looks great. I certainly don’t have that kind of body. Maybe I should workout more…” And then, if I don’t stop it, those thoughts continue to speed downhill. This will always be a struggle for me.
I mention all of this today because I want to encourage those of you who do attempt to dress in a modestly beautiful way, and I want to challenge those of you who may need to take a closer look at your wardrobes.
Just how should one dress as a daughter of the King?
I know I have some work to do, as I am in constant need of conversion. How about you?
Some of you could care less about what’s in my closet. Really, I sympathize. You may just want to skip this post.
For the rest of you, here we go.
My Closet: An Introduction
Now I’ve been pregnant or nursing for about 13 straight years. Just think about that a minute. Then consider that I likely have another 10 more years of fertility.
Take a minute, do the math, process it. Think some more.
So clearly my body has been up and down a lot and will be up and down some more. There’s my normal, pre-pregnancy weight. Then, there’s my pregnancy weight. I always gain about 50 pounds. Then, there’s the post-pregnancy period, wherein it takes about a year for my body to return to its initial weight. And then about that time, I’m pregnant again.
Why do I mention all this?
Because as any of you mothers out there know, this requires a variety of clothing sizes, unless you have the privilege (or burden?) of being able to buy new clothes every “Body” Season.
And then consider the fact that I live in a region that promises a temperature swing from a frigid -40 degrees Fahrenheit to a blasting 110 degrees.
It’d be a lot easier to live somewhere tropical year round. I imagine you could live in a sundress and call it good.
How does all this relate to my closet?
In short, I’ve got three wardrobes: Normal, Pregnant, and Post-Pregnant. Of course there’s some overlap with clothing. For example, my two nursing tank tops have simply become my pjs for all Body Seasons. (Romantic, no?) And fortunately (or unfortunately?) I can wear my one pair of sweat pants also during all three phases.
But for my sanity, I do have clothing for each specific Body Season, and I’ll mortify myself a little by writing about it. Maybe it’ll give you a few ideas. I’m hoping it’ll spur me on to get rid of more.
So what is in my closet?
No skeletons, I hope.
Here’s a shot of my clothes as one walks in the closet:
Let me break it down for you. As it happens, right now I’m experiencing a Normal Body Season, so my blue tub of maternity clothes is sitting on the floor.
The pink box on the upper shelf is my wedding dress, and the brown box is my sole box of childhood memorabilia.
My Post-Pregnancy clothes are discreetly hanging in the corner, behind a few tank tops, which you may be able to see, if you look closely.
My dress-up clothes are hanging on the right, with my 3 dancing dresses in plastic. (My husband and I enjoy dancing; it’s a hobby.) So, the clothes on the left are what I wear every day.
Here are the remainder of the shelves, which contain bottoms for all four seasons – jeans, skirts, skorts, and capris. (I don’t have any shorts. I hate them.)
Here are the exact numbers of my regular clothes:
Long-sleeved shirts: 12
Short-sleeved shirts: 6
Tank tops: 7
Dresses (including for dance): 8
I realize that for many of you, I’ve got a ridiculous amount of clothing. But I’m working on it. I was greatly inspired by Darci Isabella’s video on what she’s got in her closet. Wow. Like 5 tops and 2 skirts. Just wow. She does qualify it, however, with that she’s done having children.
My current rule is that if something comes in, something goes out. I keep the same number of hangers. And I also “rotate” my clothing, so that way I can see what is being worn, and what is not. For example, do you see that blue long-sleeved shirt on the end? I haven’t worn it in a long time, because it’s on the end. Everything that’s been worn, gets put on the other side. That shirt may have to go.
Confusing? Make sense?
It’s my crazy way of knowing what I need to get rid of.
And how about my husband?
Here’s his entire wardrobe.
He does have some running clothes too, and so do I. They’re just in the dresser, in the room, with underwear and socks.
I gave up on shoes a long time ago. Less is way better, and in my case, a lot more comfortable. Here is a picture of every single pair of shoes I own.