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:

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 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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