Among all the changes in the lives of females over the last 50 years, I rate the improvement in clothing options as one of the best.  It may be my autism spectrum tendencies coming out, but to me the comfort factor in what I wear is of utmost importance.

Until my senior year in high school, girls were required to wear dresses or skirts to school.  Even after the hard-won change, jeans were still out of the question.  Because I have loathed wearing dresses since my earliest memories, this did nothing to make my school years more enjoyable, even though my mother, God bless her, did her best to make my dresses from comfortable material.

By the time our girls were of school age, the situation had improved dramatically.  Pants, and even shorts, were acceptible school attire—so much more practical, especially for active elementary school students living in Florida.

I do know families who insist, even today, that their girls wear dresses.  I would never do that to my children, but I'll admit that if such dresses as they generally wear had been an option in my day, perhaps I wouldn’t have minded so much.  In addition to accepting pants appropriate apparel for women, we seem to have become much more tolerant of a wide variety of dress styles and lengths.  When I was very young, dresses for little girls were stiff, scratchy and frilly—a nightmare for a touch-sensitive girl—and by my teen years skirts were uncomfortably short and getting shorter.  Practical dresses of a decent length and comfortable material might have won me over, but they were nowhere to be seen.

Even so, pants are the very best for climbing trees, and I never wanted to wear clothing that tied me to the ground.

I’m very thankful that today’s girls—and women—have more choices.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, November 8, 2010 at 5:28 am | Edit
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I don't know where you grew up, but growing up in Ottawa, Ontario, I have vivid and still uncomfortable memories of knitted seamed stockings. No matter how I sat, those seams were uncomfortable!

Margaret Atwood once said that the archetypal Canadian girl experience is (or rather was), "stuffing our dresses down our snowpants."

I'm a little sorry that this evocative phrase no longer applies.

We moved to Glasgow, Scotland in December of 1970, shortly after girls had "won" the right to wear dress pants to school. Boys could wear pressed jeans, we argued, why couldn't we wear pants? Especially when it was -35 degrees C?

After two years of school uniforms in Glasgow and Scotland, I returned to a world and a high school transformed. In two short years, all dress-codes had gone out the window and everyone wore whatever they wanted. To my unaccustomed eyes, it seemed the brighter and wilder the better!

I'm torn between celebrating and appreciating the gain of comfort and mourning the loss - so clearly witnessed in this small anecdote - of modesty and decorum in dress. (and hence I think of modesty and decorum in deportment.)

Posted by katie baker on Tuesday, November 09, 2010 at 3:50 pm

and I say this even though I wear pants almost every day...

Posted by katie baker on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 10:15 am

I'm thankful I missed seamed stockings!

You have a good point. I see people with underwear and worse showing, and wonder, "What have we done?"

Some public elementary schools here have started requiring uniforms, albeit with much more freedom of choice (including shorts for both sexes) than is traditional with uniforms. They say that students' deportment has improved in parallel with the neater dress.

Posted by SursumCorda on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 10:50 am
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