Strangest/Sweetest Reaction to Dress I’ve Ever Received

It was too precious not to tell.

My oldest daughter and I went for a grocery outing/Hobby Lobby stop yesterday. It’s always so fun for the two of us to get out and chat together.

As we were headed across the parking lot, a gentleman was walking in our direction. (I feel that his race is important to note–he was black–because of the warm, jovial, southern tone in which he spoke that a typical white man doesn’t normally use…it was simply endearing.) He literally stopped in his tracks, looked at us and said,

“Well, praise the Lord, look how nice you look! Are you sisters? (Yessssss!)”

“No, we’re mother and daughter.”

“Look at those smiles! You look so nice…it’s so wonderful! It’s just wonderful!  God bless y’all!”

It really made me think more about my dress and how much our outward appearance speaks (or should?) about us.  We can’t get it backward though–“white washed exteriors with dead men’s bones within”.  But don’t we “speak” with our outward appearance?

Was it the refreshment of simple feminity displayed? (I’m not pretending to be “all femininity”; I don’t always wear skirts and dresses, but more often than not.)

I don’t know.  I do know that once there were clear and obvious distinctions, that women gloried in their femininity, and that even the most feminine-loving of us have grown up in a culture where it doesn’t seem to matter much and we struggle ourselves over appropriate dress.  Lines have definintely been blurred and the blurring defended so vehemently that even talking about dress gets people all bent out of shape.

Still, it was an interesting experience that made me think.

39 Responses to “Strangest/Sweetest Reaction to Dress I’ve Ever Received”

  1. Lori says:

    Kelly, I know you and your daughter looked lovely when you went out, but I think (and I say this so fondly) that the key to his comment might be this: “It’s always so fun for the two of us to get out and chat together.” You two enjoy each other company in a way that’s just too uncommon these days – you have a camraderie that’s uncommon, at least w/ a teen daughter (or so I hear, I don’t have one ;).

    Anyhow, I do agree that the way you dress speaks about you – but I think the primary witness was in the loving bond you so obviously share. If I do say so myself. 🙂

    • wordwarrior says:

      Lori,

      Wow, I haven’t even thought of that–you may be right. I totally take that for granted.

      • Kelly L says:

        I think Lori may be right. My daughter is only 10, but looks 15. (I know, it is not good the attention she already gets from teenage boys) And when we are walking together, sharing a good laugh or smiling about something, I do notice the attention we get. Also noticed are the warm smiles on people’s faces just seeing a mother and daughter enjoying each other.
        Although it may be only part of why he noticed you, dressing beautifully always gets attention from others.

        • Jennifer says:

          That’s a sweet thought 🙂 I really hope to be close to my teen daughter. My sisters and I were always close to my mom, even during rebellious/tough times.

  2. Narelle says:

    I can hear his voice as I read now – what a lovely moment in the day!

  3. Mrs. B says:

    My oldest daughter loves wearing skirts/dresses. But alas, she is now at the age where if we want an appropriate length, I have to make them (or do some very creative things with “store-bought” sundresses).

    A comment regarding the gentleman. I certainly can’t speak for all African-Americans (couldn’t you tell from my accent :-)), but in our community there are many conflicting messages regarding dress. I am glad that his reaction was positive, because there are plenty of opinions about modest dress on both sides of the fence.

  4. Renata says:

    Interesting topic Kelly & I do think it’s so important for females to look (& more importantly act) feminine! The lines between masculinity & femininity seem to be more & more blurred – I see it with the youth group kids (the majority do not come from Christian homes) that I help lead – some of the boys have haircuts that the old women used to wear a few years ago.
    I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your beautiful family
    God bless
    Renata:)

  5. Natasha says:

    I love it! I’ve had those kind of comments before when I went out wearing a dress. Men do appreciate a women dressed femininely.

    I go to a university once a week for a meeting, and I wore jeans the first couple weeks and not one man jumped up to hold open the door for me, in fact many cut right in front of me to get into the building first! So the past two weeks I wore a dress ( a very modest band beautiful purple corduroy dress that went down to my ankles) and all those young men just jumped up to hold open the door for me, and not one dared to cut in front of me. Interesting observation. I just don’t think they even noticed me when I was dressed in casual jeans and a jacket. I blended right into the atmosphere.

    God made us beautiful without all the makeup etc, but I do think he expects us to groom a little lol. I appreciate Men who dress nicely, with hats and a clean shave. I went to Chipotle one day and all the men who served me had this scraggly icky facial hair all over grown. I lost my appetite. I love to see a man who is clean shaven either completely, or with a nice trim goutee or beard. It says that you respect yourself enough to keep yourself nice.

  6. Lori H says:

    I definitely do get treated differently when I’m in a dress/skirt than when I’m in pants. I’m not skirts-only, though quite a few friends at school have expressed surprise at me occasionally in pants or jeans – “isn’t the skirt thing a religious thing?” Well, not really, but kind of, in a roundabout way. The “skirt thing” actually started with an unfortunate accident that left me with an external fixator on my leg. I could barely find any pants to fit over it, so skirts it was. It remained that way even after I got better.

    I’ve never had anybody say anything negative about my general tendency to wear skirts, but I have had some nice compliments and I do notice that the “gentleman” types are more gentlemanly when I’m dressed more femininely. This is especially true of older gentlemen. They really seem to appreciate the respect and feminity of a good old-fashioned skirt.

  7. Regardless of what it was that initially attracted his attention, the fact is that you were both radiating the Beauty of His Spirit in your spirits! He is Glorified through your reflection of Him even as you walk through a parking lot. Salt and light!!! 🙂

  8. Pam says:

    I agree that we are treated differently when dressing feminine. (Not discounting what others mentioned about your smiles and closeness with your daughter though. For sure that is a rare jewel these days.)

    I wore a covering and dresses for 6 years. Men opened doors, and offered help, women became thoughtful, children stared a lot! Sometimes the staring was hard. God taught me so much in that time. Sometimes I miss it.

    Now we don’t stand out by our dress, but hopefully by our countenances and kindness. Hopefully. The outward dress was sometimes was also a constant reminder to me on Who I belong to and Whom I represent. Like I said, sometimes I miss it. Thanks for the fellowship.

  9. Kim M says:

    After a really rough morning, it was so nice to come over here and read such a post. It made me smile. Thank you.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Good grief, I hope there’s not an effort to treat women differently. Men falling over themselves to compliment a woman who wears a dress, but being rude to a woman in jeans? Maybe they weren’t the same men, or maybe jeans do blend in more. Otherwise, if there was an effort to treat a woman differently, the message would be “women who wear dresses will be treated like ladies, while women in jeans won’t be allowed to get ahead”. Puh. I got compliments when I wore shorts in place of split skirts in middle school, and in high school when I wore jeans for the choir.

    • Dear Jennifer,
      It truly breaks my heart that this is your take on these comments. You have completely missed the message in this post. There is such beauty, peace and joy in coming to a fuller understanding of the Lord’s Design and the principles He set into place in our world. Every revelation of His Father Heart is intended to draw us closer to Him as our Abba.

      There is not a single hint of condemnation in any of these comments. There is only joy in a fuller understanding of blessings that He showers on us as we seek to glorify Him with every thought, word and action.

      The clothing mentioned in this discussion is secondary to the hearts described. The clothing merely enhances the beauty of already beautifully feminine women who enjoy honoring Him and by reflecting Him in their countenances.

      The Lord created specific differences between men and women. He is honored when we celebrate those differences as we seek to Glorify Him.

      • Jennifer says:

        I haven’t missed the message in this post, nor have I found or said I found any condemnation in any of these comments; good grief. My words had nothing to do with the hearts of any of the women here. I was talking about the impression I got from men who treat women differently based on whether they wear jeans or a dress, and what their reasoning might be.

        • Please forgive me if I misunderstood the meaning of your comment.

          • Jennifer says:

            No problem, I hope I did not seem to be expressing disdain for anyone here.

            • “I was talking about the impression I got from men who treat women differently based on whether they wear jeans or a dress, and what their reasoning might be.”

              I’ll venture a guess that men treat women according to the way women express they expect to be treated, for the most part. Femininity certainly can’t be defined merely by dress, but it’s a start. If I’m a man’s mirror, in dress and manner, why should he open a door for anyone other than himself? I’m his equal, on my own – God’s own – terms. That’s the feminine attribute of the Holy Spirit. Glorious, isn’t it? Expressing it outwardly is an opportunity, considering not everyone stops to interview me about my faith on a given day, to express the – wait for it – DIVERSITY of Christianity. And I do wear jeans, I just don’t expect to be treated other than one of the guys when I wear them. Not worse, but not different.

              • Jennifer says:

                “I’m his equal, on my own – God’s own – terms. That’s the feminine attribute of the Holy Spirit. Glorious, isn’t it?”

                Yup.

                “If I’m a man’s mirror, in dress and manner, why should he open a door for anyone other than himself?”

                Where I’m from, people do this out of good manners for anyone who’s behind them. Wearing jeans doesn’t make one manly; there’s a distinct difference between man jeans and woman jeans. Ever see “Boys don’t Cry”? I’ve seen Hillary Swank in pants no man would wear on a triple-dog-dare. But in that movie she plays a man, and her body language and appearance, wearing MEN’S pants and sitting down like a man, blew me away. Compare that to the skinny little Southern-ninny pants she wore in “The Gift”.

                • “Where I’m from, people do this out of good manners for anyone who’s behind them.” That’s good. But not the point.

                  “there’s a distinct difference between man jeans and woman jeans. ”

                  No, there isn’t. Certainly there are trousers made of denim for women, rather than men, but even as a teenage cowgirl I wore “real jeans” because otherwise, they’re not jeans.;)

                  I don’t know what movies you’re referring to, I can only speak to personal, applied experience…men who aren’t looking in the mirror are more inclined to good effort…I’m saying I don’t care to be a mirror.

                  • Jennifer says:

                    I get that. I don’t wish to be one either.

                  • Linda says:

                    Men’s jeans and women’s jeans are cut differently. There is no way my husband could walk into the women’s department and find a pair of jeans that fit him correctly. We know because for a while when he would see women’s jeans on sale and not mens, he would go and see if he could find a pair that fit right. I have done the same thing with men’s jeans, they don’t fit my womanly body correctly. Nobody is going to think I’m a man just because I’m wearing jeans that are made for a woman’s body.

                    My mother and father made good and sure that we grew up learning to treat EVERYONE like we would treat Christ. If my parents saw us treating someone different just because of the way they would dress, we would get chewed up one side and down the other. No matter how a person is dressed, they need to be treated with kindness and respect. If men are going around being nicer to women who wear long dresses, the problem lies, not with the women, but with the men who were raised to judge a person’s worth based soley on what they are wearing.

                    • Selma says:

                      This! Linda, thank you for writing this. All people are worthy of our respect and courtesy- all the time. Anyone- man or woman- who doesn’t recognize that- lacks manners. If I’m wearing a skirt and a man holds open a door for me, but lets it slam in the face of a woman wearing jeans- that man isn’t a gentleman- or a decent human being.

                      “I’ll venture a guess that men treat women according to the way women express they expect to be treated” – Cottage Child

                      What, exactly, in wearing jeans/pants/shorts or whatever communicates to men that the woman wearing them expresses a woman deserves/expects to be treated with disrespect? If I decide that only men wearing jeans and t-shirts are telling me they expect to be treated with respect- I guess all the guys I deal with in public wearing khakis and polos are out of luck, by your way of thinking, Cottage Child. And that’s ok- because it’s up to other people to decide what our clothes mean and don’t mean, and treat us according to their own interpretations. What a fantastic way of living.

                      It’s very simple- be kind to everyone. Hold open doors, for everyone. Men who open doors for certain kinds of women, but not all women (or other men) aren’t good guys and shouldn’t be applauded.

                    • Linda, my personal knowledge is different. How we arrived at your husband wearing women’s pants is beyond me. Jeans are jeans – they’re traditionally cut for men, those are jeans. Denim pants for the variety of womens fashion are pants made out of denim. Once upon a time – like thirty years ago – that wasn’t such a riddle. I’m not an idiot, I am a person who wears jeans in my work life. It’s nothing personal, why make it so? Good gravy, I was making a factual, historical, cultural distinction, not a political statement.

                    • @ Selma ( HI! – sorry, I couldn’t find how to reply to you directly)

                      You wrote: “All people are worthy of our respect and courtesy- all the time. Anyone- man or woman- who doesn’t recognize that- lacks manners. If I’m wearing a skirt and a man holds open a door for me, but lets it slam in the face of a woman wearing jeans- that man isn’t a gentleman- or a decent human being.”

                      You’re right, I never suggested otherwise.

                      “I’ll venture a guess that men treat women according to the way women express they expect to be treated” – Cottage Child

                      I stand by, reiterate, restate in the affirmative and otherwise avow that this is true.

                      “What, exactly, in wearing jeans/pants/shorts or whatever communicates to men that the woman wearing them expresses a woman deserves/expects to be treated with disrespect?”

                      Nothing. I didn’t assign value to what someone was (or wasn’t) wearing, you did. My point was entirely separate. If I was unclear, I am so sorry.

                      “It’s very simple- be kind to everyone. Hold open doors, for everyone. Men who open doors for certain kinds of women, but not all women (or other men) aren’t good guys and shouldn’t be applauded.”

                      Again, no one suggested otherwise.

  11. I think men do treat women differently based on how they dress. As a young teen my dad had the standard that we girls wear dresses/skirts. I went to a public school and rode the bus to get there. My sister and I had boys get up to give us their seats when they didn’t do that for other girls. (We were not overwhelmingly pretty or popular either). I think they just treat you a bit gentler but it could be more the meek demeanor of a Christian girl rather than her dress particularly. I do think women are treated more like ladies when they wear dresses. I wear both pants and skirts/dresses now and I think it may be the neatness of the dress/pants/shoes as well as our countenance of joy that makes other’s be more open to us.

  12. R. F. says:

    I wondered if it is a southern thing to complement women on their dress. Here in the midwest the only comments or reaction I have gotten for wearing dresses or skirts is whistles and cat calls. (The dresses were even long, not tight, and no plunging necklines.) It is so cold here most of the year that women rarely wear dresses (pants just seem more practicle in the snow) that when they do the boys notice and it’s not the kind of attention I like.
    Maybe I need to move.

  13. Katie Grace says:

    I’ve personaly never noticed a difference. I live in the deep south. Men do seem to compliment women more and are more cordial. It’s still taught in most families. Hold the door, ladies first, give up your seat – these are taught to boys.

    Just today, my husband held open the door for a lady at the store, took an empty cart to the cart bin for another lady, and moved our van to allow two older ladies to park near the door in a packed parking lot. My father always taught this behavior to my brother as we were growing up. It’s just a different attitude – a servant attitude that is one of the marks of being Southern. Women are taught to be gracious and accept the help that is offered with a smile and “thank you”.

    The biggest difference I notice is when I’m pregnant. Men go above and beyond to
    assist me if I’m alone, especially if I also have my two little ones with me.

  14. I have 2 young boys, and plan to teach them to treat EVERY woman in a gentleman manner, regardless if she wears pants of skirts.

    In Him.

  15. Mommy4 says:

    Great article. But you misspelled your Title “Every”, shouldn’t it be “Ever”?

  16. Natasha says:

    I don’t think men intentionally treat women differently because they wear skirts vs. jeans. I just think it sticks out more as a reminder that women are to be treated differently. When women ( myself included) wear hoodies and jeans with our hair pulled back we blend right in.

  17. Lena says:

    I came from Ukraine and since I was a little girl was raised to always wear a skirt, even living here in the US now, my dad always gets upset if anyone of his girls wears jeans, or pants. He says its not proper for a woman to wear “manly” apparel. This morning I was reading an interesting verse in the bible, I wonder what it really means. Lev 19:29 “Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute. A scary verse, I dont know if it means not to dress her as one, or simply to teach her to be modest.

  18. Sarah says:

    What a blessing!

  19. Pam says:

    Wow. This subject seems to bring out so much emotion! I have visited a few sites that speak on this particular subject of feminine dress, or headcovering, etc. What can be grieving is that a kind of strained discussion often ensues among us women; regardless of to which persuasion we lean.

    What if we were to simply and humbly honor what God calls us to do (knowing that God leads us through our authority)? This must be my longing for my own walk. (I tend to want support and encouragement in what I do. Yet, the fear of God must rule over fear of man.) In the verse “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Pr. 31:27.” The words ‘bread of idleness’ suggests ‘eyes looking everywhere’ in the Strong’s Concordance. Similarly, in Streams in the Desert, the author suggests that when Peter walked on the water and looked straight to Jesus he was fine. It was when he looked about him that he sank. She said something that helped me immensely. “When God calls you, look to Him always. It is not your business to look about you!” Imagine how clear it would all be. Imagine how content in Him we could be!

  20. Ann says:

    Once my family was in a Home Depot, and a black gentleman came up to me and said I was the only lady in the store. I’m going to assume he said that because I was the only woman in a dress:) It was a little uncomfortable, because it took a minute to understand what he said, as he had a Haitian accent. When it sunk in, I then smiled and wanted to thank him, but he was way down the aisle.

    Ann

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