Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What I wear

A few weeks ago in response to the picture of my dh and I, Jodie asked about the clothes I wear and the climate where I live. First, I live in Northern Virginia, which is hot and humid most of the summer and cool during the winter.

I usually wear pants, jeans or overalls, a T-shirt, an over-sized men's shirt and a scarf. This is my own style and not necessarily reflective of other Muslim women any more than one woman's clothing is the same as every other woman. I have friends who prefer long skirts with a blouse and other that dress in multiple layers. I'm not particularly fashionable but I know others that are very stylish. One thing we have in common is a requirement to wear loose, modest clothing, covering from head to toe except for the hands and face. Those that cover their hands, faces or both, do so more out of culture rather than a religious requirement.

When I'm in Iran, I wear a monto (light weight cotton or rayon long coat) with pants and a T-shirt underneath.

When I was asked this question, it got me thinking about our perceptions of seasonally acceptable attire now versus the not so distant past. You see, growing up I spent a lot of summers living with my grandmother in Florida. She was a real estate agent and every day she would "dress her best" and her best required multiple layers. First she put on the foundations pieces, followed by pantyhose, a full girdle, a full slip, a polyester dress, heels, a full complement of jewelery and full makeup including liquid foundation. As the owner of her own agency, she pretty much worked every day except Sunday and then she dressed for church. She would be out early in the morning until late in the evening, often times running all over town. She dressed like this year round until maybe the last decade of her life when she slowly started incorporating pantsuits and into her wardrobe. One of my aunts dressed pretty much the same way. Now, anyone who's lived in Florida knows what the weather in summer is like. Perpetually hot and sticky, with occasional thunderstorms that result in steaming streets. I can't ever remember her complaining about the heat and only remember her donning a swimsuit a handful of times to take us to the beach.

We seem to have developed a skewed sense of what is acceptable and expected of people, especially women. A man wears a three piece business suit to work and it's completely acceptable but a woman in pants and long sleeves is somehow odd. Next time you're out, count the number of guys wearing jeans versus the number of girls or pay attention to the difference in the average length of the respective gender's shorts.

And, in case you're wondering, loose fitting clothing is far more "breezy" that tight clothes that are short and leave you sticking to everything when the humidity is high.


Jodie said...

Thanks so much for this post Shelli, I was genuinely interested. You make a good point - when I used to go to work, I always worked in an office and wore the works - pattyhose etc, and I live in a place with hot humid summers and very mild winters. Jodie

Nina-Marie said...

Oh Shelli - I think a lot of things are skewed these days. I keep telling my daughter that what the world tells us is usually a lie. Look at the professional women on TV - totally dress inappropriately. 12 is NOT the new 18! Muslim women here tend to hear their head covered and loose fitting too - although a lot wear jeans and shirts. In our neighborhood we have a lot of fundemental Baptists ladies that only wear long skirts and loose shirts and never - never cut their hair. For our home I remind my daughter that she has only two people to impress in this world - God and Me!! (well okay her daddy too but we don't like him to know that - grin!) LOVE YOUR BLOG!