Thursday, May 26, 2016

Summer and Modesty

I'm not a big clothes guy, other than for the fact I wear big clothes.

I don't care for clothes. I like to see people who are nicely attired, like I like to see yummy desserts and beautiful sunsets. But I'm not paying for any of them.

I hardly notice what women wear.

I did, however, notice what one woman was wearing today. I was in Ottawa and, in a business area, I noticed a woman wearing something like this:

That's not exactly right, but close enough to make my point. What is my point? This dress summarizes my views on beauty and modesty. How so?

1. Most men don't care what women wear. Yes, you can make an impression with alluring clothes, but these do not last and always have a negative side too. Men don't notice. They remember that you 'looked good' at a certain time, but they would not be able to say what you were wearing to make that so. If the good look included immodesty, that feeling the man has obviously has a blatant sexual component and will, thus, have something to do with how sexual a man happens to be feeling at any given moment. In other words, his view of your immodest clothing will depend on whether he is feeling lusty or not. If he is not, he will look down on your immodesty as in some way out of place. He will abstract desire out of the equation and draw more heavily on his more elevated moral sensibility, the one that tells him that there is a time and a place for sex and this is not it. So, your immodest dress which 'benefited' you at one point is at another time a liability. You can't depend on men's feelings to gauge effectiveness, in other words. I have a feeling women don't generally understand this.

2. Women care what women wear, and it's not how some think. Women are competition for women, just like men are for men. We don't like when a man with bigger muscles than us wears a tank top. We don't hate him for it, but we don't like it either. So there are two possibilities for a woman: either she looks better than her friend and her friend doesn't like her for it, or she does not and her friend feels comfortable with her. If she is being blatantly immodest her 'competitors' will be especially off-put by this, since it will be that much more obvious to them that they are in competition (and probably losing - or so they think!).

3. Because (1) and (2) are facts, dressing immodestly is not advantageous for a woman in any sense of the word. I am not talking about spirituality here. I don't need to.

4. So why then do they do it? Men don't generally dress immodestly, if for no other reason than that women don't want to see it. Basically ever. Women do it because they think it benefits them. As I have proven above, it does not. Would a woman who had characteristically dressed immodestly and yet who came to recognize that what I have said here is true change her ways? I don't know. I think her personal history would have more to say about it than my unassailable logic.


I have the conceit that I have the market on perfect fashion, which is funny since I put so little stock in it in my own life. Perfection is the middle ground that I think is represented by the picture above. (And yes, it is culturally relative and all that.) It resides halfway between frump and skank, pardon my French. Based upon my 40-plus years, the fact that I have always been most drawn to women in this middle ground, I am able to assert this apodictically.

And I will now further my point while taking a parting shot at what I would say is a dress that all men hate and yet that so many women feel the need to wear upon occasion. No men like this - none, although they will definitely say they do to you, because you bought it for the summer and want to wear it when you go to the cottage or wherever and are so excited and for some reason really want to think you are a Polynesian girl for a period of time.

Yes, I know that all my women friends have them and that they will never forgive me for this. And, yes, they will ask their husbands if they agree with me and those cowards will snort, "No, Colin's wrong. Your dress looks great, honey!" But we all know that your husbands are lying. Ladies, you don't look good in drapes.

Now, since all the ladies featured in this post are thin, here is a 'curvier' girl who looks sweet in this outfit, that is a totally winning ensemble,though not very summery:

Now I can go another few years without talking about clothes again.


  1. Oh my, the Polynesian girl remark had me laughing a lot. I think your modesty argument (especially men not liking immodesty in the wrong situations) was great. Thank you. I am lost, though, on your real feelings about the curvy girl's outfit.

  2. Men generally do not dress immodestly because they have an inherent sense of the dignity and propriety of their bodies. Women do not, in general, have this. Rather, women (in general) have a bit of an exhibitionist streak. Women's clothes, even so-called modest clothes, are very revealing of the shape of the body as well as simply exposing more square inches of skin than men's clothes. And women actually like it this way--they are generally quite OK with being a bit of an exhibitionist. For that matter, when push comes to shove, men like this too; note your use of the word "frumpy" above. What is "frumpy" other than "a woman who chooses not to exhibit her body in shape or in square inches of skin"? One never calls a man "frumpy"! Because, again when push comes to shove, both men and women agree that woman *have* to look sexy. Not toooo sexy; that would be immodest. But certainly slightly sexy. Because otherwise, with no exhibitionist sex-appeal at all, the woman is "frumpy." Women are never "dignified." Only men can be "dignified."

  3. Agreed...mostly. I know *many* women are competitive, but not all. I think that's too sweeping of a statement. When I'm out and about and notice an extraordinary amount of skin showing in the grocery store, I immediately feel sorry for the gal. Inevitably she is not looking her best as usually the tight, revealing clothing reveals every single lump, bump and bulge. This isn't attractive...for anyone. I feel sorry that someone in that gal's life told them wearing this was attractive and I wish I could tell them that there are so many other styles, colours and cuts that wouuld help them look fantastic.

    And as for the Polynesian outfit...sometimes a girl dresses for her guy, and sometimes she dresses for herself. At the cottage/beach/relaxation time, she's dressing for herself. Sorry dudes.

  4. And I disagree with "Anonymous" and think men can and do have an exhibitionist streak just as any woman does. Immodesty for men, I will concede, perhaps manifests itself a little differently, but in my mind it can include wearing clothing like tight pants or shirts with the intention of looking "sexy" (very often seen in urban centres), wearing clothing with advertising/labels on the outside (this is immodest because the body is more than a billboard), and then for men often immodesty is evidenced by their conceit, their braggardly ways and their incessant need to show all around them what they own/who they've married/etc. Sure men may not show off every square inch of their bodies to the world (and many women do not do this while still looking anything but frumpy) but many men showcase everything else in themselves to the world. I'm not sure what's worse.

  5. Bees don't need to look good, but flowers do. Does that help any?

  6. A lot of professional athletes - men! - with their hair are obviously into primping and preening in front of mirrors. But athletes are naturally more exhibitionist, I would hazard.

    Further to point 2: A strikingly beautiful woman is automatically competition for other women, regardless of what she wears (burqa excepted?). So by unassailable logic, being naturally beautiful is not advantageous either (and burqas make good sense - other than the fact that we (men and women) enjoy gazing upon naked beauty).


  7. To your second point, women who are in competition, yes, might be intimidated by a naturally beautiful woman, but would not consciously 'blame' her for it, as they would if she were being immodest. And men would not be morally insulted by a woman's natural beauty in their moments of clinical objectivity, to borrow a concept from Nabokov, as they would by a low top or a short skirt.