The Great Pants Debate

In response to a certain missive making the rounds in reference to ladies’ fashion — and, more specifically, why dresses and skirts should be the norm for Catholic women — Simcha Fisher has one word: pants.

A few selections from her Pantifesto:

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1.  I live in NH, where winter happens.  Pants.

4. Motherhood is a blue collar job.  I don’t care what style of dress or skirt you’re wearing, there is no way to be modest while dealing efficiently with the routine emergencies that normal children engender –  children who, as a normal mode of expression, flail their limbs around like some kind of oversized, malevolent eggbeater, right at your hemline.  Today, I had to lunge halfway across the room to rescue my toddler, who had launched herself from an armchair at a glass gerbil tank.  I was able to lunge without pausing to consider whether my movements were graceful and feminine; and I didn’t worry, while lunging, about flashing the men in the room.  Pants.

9.  If you are so concerned about how I think about myself, then why don’t you ask me what I actually think, instead of telling me what you know I will think if I only listen to you?  Not that you asked, but I’ll tell you how I think about myself:  I think that my life got a lot better when I started making reasonable decisions for myself, instead of always wondering if I’m going to disappoint some hypothetical man.  I care profoundly what my husband thinks about me, and naturally that affects how I feel about myself.  Pants.

You must read the entire hilarious thing.

Speaking as someone who loves a good skirt, that there even is such a thing as a serious “Say No to Lady Pants” argument makes me giggle. For those women who find skirts and dresses to be more flattering, more feminine, more comfortable, etc., I say great! Wear them with pride. (But only the pride becoming to a virtuous Catholic woman, of course.) Same goes for the pant-wearers. Surely we can happily coexist without disparaging one another’s reasonable choices.

Modesty is absolutely a moral issue, but as Simcha points out, pants are not. To say otherwise is to veer dangerously close to “You Must Have X Number of Children to Be Really Catholic” territory. Do what works for you, and let others do the same.


  • Margaret Cabaniss

    Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at

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