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        Christian Clothing                                                                    (PDF version here)


Scripture Standards for Dress and Conduct


Endnotes for section 6

[1]  Since the acceptance of liberal Christianity in the West there has been a colossal and continual rise in the rates of murder, adultery, theft, drunkenness, drug abuse, perversion, assault on women, and crime perpetrated by women: “Increasing crime appears to be a feature of all modern industrialized societies, and no developments in either law or penology can be shown to have had a significant impact on the problem . . . Crime is least likely to be a serious problem in a society that is economically undeveloped and subject to restrictive religious or similar restraints on behaviour. For modern urbanized society, in which economic growth and personal success are dominant values, there is little reason to suppose that crime rates will not continue to increase” (Britannica). [Note that prosperity is only linked with depravity when men “make haste to be rich” (Prov. 28:20), and curse God in their hearts and say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Rev. 3:17). Capitalist economies were developed among devout Protestant peoples; see ‘Shorter Catechism’, Q74, Westminster Confession of Faith, p307.]

“In most Western societies the incidence of recorded crime by women, and the number of women passing through the penal systems, is on the increase; in the United States, for instance, the number of women arrested for property crimes between 1960 and 1976 increased by 276 percent – a significantly higher rate of increase than that exhibited by other groups. A similar trend is shown in English prison statistics: the number of women in prison under sentence rose from 538 in 1974 to 941 in 1984, an increase of 75 percent in 10 years. A number of explanations have been offered for this trend. One suggestion is that it reflects a real trend in the commission of crimes by women – that the changing social role of women, with more women leaving the home and taking employment, expecting and achieving financial independence, leads to greater opportunity for crime and to greater temptation. An alternative explanation is that the change in the apparent rate of female criminality merely reflects a change in the operation of the criminal justice system – that crimes committed by women are less likely than was previously the case to be ignored by law enforcement agencies out of a sense of chivalry. Even though female criminality appears to be increasing faster than male criminality, it will be many years before women reach the same level of crime as men” (Britannica).

It is easy to mark the steps taken in Victoria, and Australia as a whole, toward the eradication of biblical morals – including male headship – since the late nineteenth century. For example, in 1880 the University of Melbourne became the first Australian university to admit women to lectures and examinations; by 1901 women became eligible to vote in federal elections; and in 1908 women in the state of Victoria were given the vote, being granted the right to sit in State Parliament by 1923. These seemingly innocent manoeuvres only came about through the triumph of humanistic dogma over Scriptural truths; they coincided with a host of other unbiblical innovations in society, and God’s judgement followed. Note that the First World War interposed between the emancipation of Victoria ’s women in 1908 and their being granted the right to stand for election to State parliament in 1923. Further, in 1933, about six years before the outbreak of the Second World War, the ‘Racial Hygiene Association’ began the first Australian birth control clinic, and in 1966 – two decades after the war’s end – married women were accepted as permanent employees of the Public Service in Australia, and in banks the following year. 1967 was the year in which Victorian women were first permitted to serve on juries. A Victorian judge ruled in 1969 that abortion to save the life or health of the mother was permissible, despite the fact that abortion had been proclaimed illegal in 1958 by the Victorian crimes act. In 1971 the Bank of New South Wales became the first bank in Australia to grant loans to women without a male guarantor; and in 1975 the “Family Law Act” was introduced into Australia. This Act abolished the rights of the father as legal head of the family (taking sole custodianship of children from him), removed the husband’s responsibility for his wife’s maintenance, and introduced ‘no-fault’ divorce. Also in 1975, Victorian women lost the right to exemption from jury service on the basis of their sex. 1980 was the year of decriminalisation for sodomite (homosexual) practices in Victoria; and capital punishment (cf. Gen. 9:6) was officially abolished by the Federal Government in 1985. 

Compare with the following extract from Senior Legal Studies: “In the last [19th] century it was considered immoral for ladies to use face-powder or to ‘paint their faces’. If skirts allowed a glimpse of leg, this was immoral . . . Obviously, we now laugh at nineteenth-century ideas of immorality as mere prudishness . . . At one time a strict censorship existed in Australia on books and films. Works of literature, not at all pornographic but considered to be indecent or obscene because of certain words or situations in them, were readily available overseas but not in Australia. In recent years this censorship has relaxed to such an extent as to be almost non-existent. Standards have changed radically as to what is permissible on stage, film and television. Words that once would have led to prosecution for indecency are now almost commonplace in the media. Moral standards change with the passing of time, and can change rapidly, leaving once-relevant laws lagging behind social attitudes. This leads such laws into a position of being ridiculed or ignored, which is detrimental to law as a whole” (Daphne Anzarut, Senior Legal Studies, The Macmillan Company of Australia, 1984, pp257, 258).  

[2]  Australia’s rising divorce rate is example of this disorder: “While divorces were rare in the past, their occurrence has become more widespread and accepted(Marantelli, S. E., et al, Legal Studies for year 12, p373). But child murder – in the form of “abortion” – is one of the most horrific examples of the chaos in modern families. South Australia was the first state to legalise abortion: “Abortion in South Australia has shown a three fold increase during the last 30 years. In 1999 there were 18 abortions for every 1000 women between 15 and 44 years, compared to 6 abortions for the same age group of women in 1970. Abortions have been legal in South Australia for the past 30 years [i.e., since 1970] . . . The committee appointed to examine and report on abortions notified in South Australia, recently reported that there were 5660 abortions in 1999. These statistics are only for surgical abortions . . . A substantial majority (98%) of S.A. abortions in 1999 was based on the mental health of women, with only 2% of abortions claimed to be for fetal abnormality. For those abortions for fetal abnormality, about half were because of chromosomal abnormalities, with the rest for other reasons such as drug use . . . Significantly half of the aborting women have never been married, about one quarter are presently married and the remaining quarter are divorced, separated or in a defacto relationship. Evidence about abortions indicates that relationships rarely hold together after an abortion so that the prospects of happiness for these 5660 women would appear to be remote . . . What this report highlights is that not only is the abortion rate increasing in Australia but that we have one of the highest abortion rates in the world. The social implications of an increasing number of women involved in an abortion, at ages commencing at 14 and repeated throughout their reproductive years can only be guessed at. But as the South Australian report indicates, we as a community can expect an increasing number of women (and men) who are badly affected by abortion and can expect an increasing number of cases of breast cancer, broken families and traumatised women who find it hard to have normal relations with men” (David Perrin, ‘Family Update,’ The Australian Family Association, March-April 2001, p7).  

[3]  “In Europe, many people feared that morality had crumbled completely. Before World War I (1914-1918), women had worn long hair, ankle-length dresses, and long, cotton stockings. But in the 1920's, many wore short, tight dresses and rolled their silk stockings down to their knees. European women abandoned their corsets and some even wore trousers. On both continents, women cut their hair in a boyish style called the bob and wore flashy lipstick and other cosmetics. Couples danced cheek-to-cheek to blaring jazz music. The United States and the United Kingdom experienced the age of the flapper (young women who flaunted new styles of dress and unconventional life-styles). A serious French periodical blamed that country's economic problems on France's dance craze. It argued that the nation's postwar reconstruction lagged because the French were dancing instead of working. In France and Italy, young women went out by themselves, and some got engaged to marry without seeking their parents' permission. In popular literature, sex became a common topic. Talk of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theories spread from Austria to other countries” (World Book, 1999).

The following extracts are from A People and a Nation - A History of the United States (Norton, M. B., et al, Houghton Miffin Company, 1986):

“By 1900 mass-produced clothing had also enabled a large segment of the population to become concerned with style . . . Long sleeves and skirt hemlines receded . . . At the turn of the century, long hair tied at the back of the neck was the most popular style. But by the First World War, when many women worked in hospitals and factories, shorter, more manageable styles had become acceptable” (p542).

“Whether they worked or not, all types of women were exposed to alternative images of femininity. Short skirts and bobbed hair, regarded as signs of sexual freedom, became common among office workers and store clerks as well as among middle-class college coeds. Several studies claimed that sexual experimentation, including premarital sex, increased among young women during the decade [1920s]. The most popular models of female behavior were not chaste, sentimental heroines but movie vamps . . . And though not everyone was a flapper, as the young independent-minded woman was called, many women were clearly asserting their equality with men” (p694).  

[4]  The following account details some of the reversions to primitive culture, and the brazen advances in sin, committed in the name of fashion during the 20th century: “Hemlines remained at the ankle, but so-called hobble skirts, which were very narrow at the bottom, briefly became the fashion shortly before World War I (1914-1918) . . . Other designers also created hobble skirts, but Poiret [a Parisian fashion designer] made some that were so tight they had to be slit from the hem to the knee. These slit skirts were criticized as being immodest because they showed women's legs. Young women were becoming less shy about defying conventions, however. Poiret also created extravagant costumes influenced by the East, including harem pants (baggy pants gathered at the ankle). Most women wore these trousers only at home. Still, it was the beginning of the end for rules that prevented women from wearing masculine clothes . . . After World War I young women increasingly adopted radical new fashions, including short skirts, short hair, and makeup. Hemlines had begun to rise noticeably in 1915 but then stabilized at mid-calf. Slowly creeping upward, skirts reached the knees only for a brief period, from about 1924 to 1928. Stockings went from black or white wool or cotton to flesh-colored silk or rayon—all very noticeable as skirts grew shorter. By 1929 hemlines had begun to fall. But the exposure of the female legs was one of the most revolutionary developments in 20th-century fashion. In the United States and Canada the 1920s was the era of the flapper, a young woman who embraced the radical new clothing fashions. Flappers wore short dresses that were straight up and down . . . Many women cut their hair short in a chin-length, straight hairstyle known as a bob. Over their bobbed hair, they wore a close-fitting, helmet-shaped hat called a cloche. A frequently heard complaint was that women looked like boys. But the facial makeup that flappers adopted with enthusiasm contradicted this view . . . Pants had long been acceptable for women as sportswear or informal party wear, but only in the late 1960s and especially the 1970s did women adopt them for daily wear in the business world. The acceptance of the pantsuit by the business world reflected women's increasing social and economic power. In the 1970s Halston, Calvin Klein, and other North American designers made trousers an integral part of the working woman's wardrobe. In France Saint Laurent also emphasized tailored pantsuits for daywear” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2004).  

[5]   Puritan men were often distinguished as “Roundheads” because of their short hair: “. . . like the men of late years, since long hair has been so much worn in this nation, about fifty years ago, the Christians that walked by the rule of God's Word, and wore their hair agreeable thereto, were by the rude rabble mocked and called Roundheads, and hunted after by pursuivants; so that on a Lord's Day, where they saw men with short hair go into a house, then they like the Sodomites, old and young from every quarter compassed the house to take them and abuse them; some they imprisoned, some were banished, and some afore in Queen Elizabeth's days they hanged, namely Mr. Henry Borrow, Mr. Greenwood, Mr. Penry; so that he that departed from this evil, long hair, of later years, for this cause made themselves a prey” (Thomas Wall, To Defend the Head from the Superfluity of Naughtiness, London, 1688).  

[6]   The following is a selection of costume descriptions from around the world:


Arab lands (Middle East and North Africa): “Women's garments usually consist of a floor-length dress and a headscarf or hood. In areas where Islam is a strong force, women may wear a veil in public. Many women wear Western-style dresses or slacks. They rarely wear short or sleeveless dresses or let their hair hang free. Traditional men's clothing might consist of a full-length robe, or a cloak over some combination of shirt, vest, skirt, and loincloth. Some farmers wear baggy trousers. Many men also wear a turban, skullcap, or kaffiyeh – a loose, folded headscarf, often held in place by a decorative cord called an agal, also spelled iqal. Today, many men wear Western-style clothing, especially in the cities. Some men combine elements of Western and traditional dress” (World Book, 1999).  


Egypt (Ancient): “Egyptian clothes were generally made of linen and were very light. Men habitually wore short kilts, which were practical both for the climate and for hard work, their skins having adapted to the sun. Women wore clothes that covered most of their bodies. These included long close-fitting dresses and tunics, which became increasingly ornate with time” (Encarta, 2002).


Sub-Saharan Africa: “In western Africa and regions near the Sahara, many men wear a long flowing robe or baggy trousers and a loose shirt or tunic. A small cap or turban is also customary. Many African women take a length of cloth and wrap it around themselves into a dress. They may also wrap a cloth around the head in the style of a turban or scarf” (World Book, 1999).  

America (North and South) –

Inca Empire (based in Peru, c. 1438-1532): “Inca men wore loincloths and tunics, plus cloaks in cold weather. Women wore long dresses and draped square shawls called mantas over their shoulders” (World Book, 1999).

“The actual garments were simple: a basic loincloth for both sexes and, over this, a short tunic for men and an ankle-length dress for women” (Britannica).  

“Although the quality of clothing varied, poor and rich and even the emperor dressed in the same basic fashion. Men wore breechcloths, sleeveless knee-length tunics, and cloaks or ponchos. Women wore long dresses and capes fastened with a pin of copper, silver, or gold” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2005).

North and South American Indians: “In Mesoamerica and Peru, men wore a breechcloth and a cloak knotted over one shoulder, and women wore a skirt and a loose blouse; these garments were woven of cotton or, in Peru, sometimes of fine vicuña wool. North American hunting peoples made garments of well-tanned deer, elk, or caribou skin; a common style was a tunic, longer for women than for men, with detachable sleeves and leggings” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2002).

North American Plains Indians: “On the Northern Plains, men wore a shirt, leggings reaching to the hips, moccasins, and a buffalo robe . . . Women's clothing consisted of a long dress, leggings to the knee, and moccasins” (Britannica).

North American Plateau Indians (parts of western USA and Canada): “Plateau Indian men often wore robes, and women wore dresses” (World Book, 1999). 


Afghanistan: “Baggy cotton trousers are a standard part of the Afghan villager’s costume. The men wear long cotton shirts, which hang over their trousers, and wide sashes around their waists. They also wear a skullcap, and over that, a turban, which they take off when working in the fields. The women wear a long loose shirt or a high-bodice dress with a swirling skirt over their trousers; they drape a wide shawl around their heads. Many women wear jewelry, which is collected as a form of family wealth” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2005).

Bhutan: “Traditional clothing is worn throughout Bhutan. Women wear the kira, an ankle-length dress made of a rectangular piece of cloth held at the shoulders with a clip and closed with a woven belt at the waist; underneath they wear a long-sleeved blouse. Social status is indicated by the colors of the kira, the amount of decorative details, and the quality of the cloth. Men wear the gho, a wraparound, coatlike, knee-length garment with a narrow belt” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2005).  

Cambodia: “Women usually dress modestly in cotton shirts and ankle-length skirts” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2005).

Ancient China: “Rich and poor people in China wore very different clothes. Poor men would wear baggy hemp trousers, with a loose shirt over the top and a fur-lined coat in winter. The women wore simple dresses made from wool in winter and cotton in summer . . . Rich men and women wore robes of silk tied at the waist with a large sash . . . Small babies were carried on their mother’s back in a fold of her dress until they were old enough to walk” (Robert Nicholson and Claire Watts, Ancient China, Franklin Watts, 1991, p24).  

Hmong peoples (southern China, northern Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Vietnam): “Today the women of each subgroup wear distinctive traditional clothing. White Hmong women wear plain, white skirts. The skirts of Blue or Green Hmong women are highly decorated with needlework. Striped Hmong women wear shirts with blue and black stripes encircling their long sleeves. Differences in men’s clothing are less notable. The traditional Hmong men’s costume consists of a black tunic and black wide-legged trousers” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2005).  

India: “Clothing styles were well established in India by 3000 bc . . . The classic Indian clothing styles include the sari for women and the dhoti for men. The sari, a long piece of fabric, is made of cotton or silk, often elaborately decorated with dyed, woven, or embroidered patterns. It is wrapped around the body and worn with a short, fitted bodice” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2004).

Many men wear a dhoti (a simple white garment wrapped around the legs). The dhoti forms a sort of loose trousers. Some men wrap the garment around themselves like a skirt. In northern India, some men wear long, tight coats with trousers. The trousers are wide at the top and fit tightly from knee to ankle. Many Indian men wear turbans of various shapes. Most Indian women wear a sari (a straight piece of cloth draped around the body as a long dress). They place its loose end over the head or shoulder . . . Many of the women of northern India wear pyjamas (full trousers) with a long blouse and a veil.(World Book, 1999).


Ancient Japan: “The earliest Japanese clothing styles are preserved in haniwa, earthenware funerary statuettes from as early as the 3rd century AD, which have flared jackets for both sexes, with wide trousers (hakama) for men and pleated skirts for women. The nobility adopted Chinese-style court dress during the Nara period (710-794), principally the long robe. In Japanese hands this became the kimono, which perpetuates particularly the women's styles of Tang dynasty China. Dress for the nobility evolved during the Heian period (794-1185) into elaborate multilayered costumes, with hip-length wide jackets and baggy trousers for men and long trailing robes for women which entirely hid the body” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2002).  


Korea (North & South): “Traditional clothing for women consists of a long, full skirt and a tight-fitting jacket. For men, traditional clothing consists of loose-fitting trousers, shirts, and jackets” (World Book, 2005).


Turkmenistan: “Traditional dress for men includes a white shirt, dark trousers, and a red robe. Some men also wear a shaggy sheepskin hat. Women typically wear a long, loose dress trimmed with embroidery” (World Book, 1999).


Uzbekistan: “Throughout Uzbekistan, people wear both traditional and Western-style clothing. Traditional dress for men includes long robes and black boots. Women sometimes wear bright cotton or silk dresses and silk scarves” (World Book, 1999).  


Britain (Ancient): “About 2000 B.C. [the Bronze Age] a new race invaded England . . . they wore a woollen cap, a loose tunic, and a cloak, while the women wore long dresses . . . But about 500 B.C. came a new race of invaders, the Britons . . . The men wore a loose tunic and trousers, and brightly coloured plaids were common” (I. Tenen M.A., History of England from the Earliest Times to 1932, Macmillan and Co., 1935, pp4, 6).  

Greece (Ancient): “Ancient Greek clothing consisted of unsewn lengths of linen or wool fabric, generally rectangular and secured with a fibula (ornamented clasp or pin) and a sash. Typical of such garments were the peplos, a loose robe worn by women; the chlamys, a cloak worn by men; and the chiton, a tunic worn by both men and women. Men’s chitons hung to the knees, whereas women’s chitons fell to their ankles. The basic outer garment during winter was the himation, a larger cloak worn over the peplos or chlamys. Women dressed modestly in ancient Greece, and in many areas they wore a veil whenever they left the house” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2002).   

Portugal: “Most Portuguese in both cities and rural areas wear clothing similar to that worn in other countries of Western Europe. But some rural people dress in styles similar to those of their ancestors. Berets, stocking caps, and baggy shirts and trousers are common among men. Many women wear long dresses and shawls” (World Book, 1999).

Rome (Ancient): “The Romans wore clothing based chiefly on that of the Greeks. The Greek chiton and himation became the Roman tunic and pallium for men and the stola and palla for women. The tunic varied in length but was short for soldiers. The stola hung to the floor. It was worn over a long tunic called the tunica talaris, a short shirtlike garment called the camisia, and a tight, corsetlike band of cloth called the strophium. The pallium and palla were outdoor garments that the Romans could use as blankets if necessary” (World Book, 1999).  

A large piece of material wrapped around the masculine body as a cloak, the toga served a similar function as the Greek himation . . . The basic masculine garment was like the chiton; it was called a tunica . . . Longer tunicas were worn for important occasions . . . Feminine dress was very like the Greek, with the Roman woman's version of the chiton called a stola” (Britannica).   

Scandinavia (Ancient): “Most Viking men wore two basic garments – trousers that reached to the knee or ankle, and a long-sleeved pullover shirt that reached below the waist. Viking women wore loose-fitting dresses that were made of linen or wool and hung almost to the ankles” (World Book, 1999).

Scottish Highlands: “For at least eight centuries Highlanders, both mainland and in the islands, wore the tartan plaid as their primary article of clothing. It was a great piece of cloth, some six yards by two, and reminiscent of nothing so much as the Roman toga. The Highlander wore it over an undershirt – a long light garment, knee-length – and he donned the plaid, am breacan feilidh, in rather complicated style . . . Trews [a form of trousers] were favoured for wear at sea or while riding a horse . . . women wore their version of the plaid, a graceful thing called the arisaid, usually white, fastened by a high leather belt. A married woman always wore a simple head-covering” (John Macleod, Highlanders – A History of the Gaels, Hodder and Stoughton, 1996, pp103, 104).

“By this ancestry each was a duine-uasal, a gentleman of the blood of Angus Og . . . They wore tartan trews and plaid, instead of the simple kilted plaid of the common people . . . A gentlewoman, a bean-uasal, wore a linen kerchief on her head, her hair plaited in a single lock . . . her arisaid, the white plaid of Highland women, was belted with leather and silver. The arisaid reached from her throat to her feet, said Martin Martin [17th century Skyeman]” (John Prebble, Glencoe, Penguin Books, 1968, p36).


Middle East


Iraq: “Most labourers prefer traditional clothes. For men, these garments include long cotton gowns and jackets. Traditional dress for women consists of a long, concealing gown and a scarf that covers much of the head” (World Book, 1999).  


Kurdistan (comprising parts of Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey): “Kurdish men wear shirts and baggy trousers with sashes. Kurdish women wear trousers but cover them with a dress” (World Book, 1999).  


Lebanon: “Most Lebanese wear the same styles of clothing as do people in Western nations. But some rural people still wear traditional Lebanese clothes. Some peasant women, for example, wear colourful long dresses with ankle-length trousers underneath. Some elderly Druse religious men wear woven multicoloured jackets and white headdresses” (World Book, 1999).  


Ottoman Empire (based in Turkey, c. 1300-1922): “Traditional men's dress comprised a shirt, trousers, jacket, and boots. The trousers were of the very full, baggy type (similar to the Middle Eastern chalvar), fitting tightly only on the lower leg. A deep waist sash, the kusak, bound the body over the junction between trouser and shirt. The jacket was a short one, worn open, and was decoratively embroidered. In cold weather a caftan would be worn on top of these garments . . . The traditional Turkish cap, the tarboosh, resembles an inverted flower pot and is made of cloth or felt . . . The dress for women in the Ottoman Empire was very similar to that worn by Muslim women in the Middle East . It consisted of a knee-length, white, sleeved chemise (gömlek) . . . The usual full trousers (chalvar) were accompanied, as in men's dress, by a decorative waist sash (kusak). Over these garments a waistcoat (yelek) and long gown (anteri) were worn . . . Outdoors the enveloping cloak (tcharchaf) and veil (yashmak) were obligatory, and decorative pattens (kub-kobs) kept the elegant slippers out of the mud of the streets” (Britannica).


Yemen: “Some Yemenis, especially those in the cities, wear Western-style clothing. Many others wear more traditional Arab clothing. The men's garments include cotton breeches or a striped futa (kilt). Many men wear skullcaps, turbans, or tall, round hats called tarbooshes. Many of the women wear long robes, black shawls, and veils” (World Book, 1999).      

[7]   “In mainland China the communist revolution of 1949 brought strict directives on dress. Styles were to be the same for everyone, whether man or woman, intellectual or manual labourer. This drab uniform was a blend of peasant and military design. It consisted of a military-style high-collared jacket and long trousers. Men's hair was short and covered by a peaked cap. Women's hair was longer but uncurled. Shoes had flat heels. No cosmetics or jewelry was permitted. Traditional Chinese cotton was used to make the garments; colour designated the type of worker. After about 1960 a slow Westernization set in, permitting a variation in colour and fabric. Dresses were introduced for women" (Britannica).  

[8]   “It was only with the rise of Christianity, and 600 years later Islam, that modest covering of the female form became compulsory. St. Paul wrote to Timothy that women should not display, ‘that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion.’ . . . Once Theodosius I made Christianity compulsory in the Roman Empire in 381, Christian views on modesty dominated women's appearance, with the exception of the imperial court . . . Meanwhile, western Rome suffered barbarian invasions and centuries of disorder, until it broke up into separate kingdoms. Once these new courts had established themselves, it was only a matter of time before they, too, started trying to outdress and outshine one another. The Anglo-Saxons, for example, wore loose clothes, but after the Norman Conquest a change followed. By the 1090s members of the Norman court had started wearing tighter-fitting clothes . . . Although abbots and bishops objected vehemently, the new fashion for displaying the physique continued unabashed . . . by 1588 Elizabeth I of England had adopted the open-fronted Medici ruff, and the exposure of the woman's throat returned as a permanent feature of court style. (Puritan ladies of course concealed the neck completely, but they tried to avoid fashion styles and trends)(Britannica).  

The laws and customs of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire were strongly influenced by biblical principles – Christianity was officially sanctioned and immorality largely abjured:

“From the Romans the Byzantines inherited their basic clothing forms, the tunic and toga for men, and the stola, a type of long dress, as well as their shoes and their hairstyles . . . By the end of the Roman Empire the toga, which had once been required wear for Romans, was worn only on ceremonial occasions. The Byzantines, who tended to prefer simple flowing clothes to the winding and draping of the toga, did away with the toga altogether. They chose as their most basic of garments the dalmatica, a long, flowing men’s tunic or shirt with wide sleeves and hem, and the stola for women. Unlike the Romans, the Byzantines tended to be very modest about any display of flesh. Their garments were worn close about the neck, sleeves extended all the way to the wrist, and the hemline, or bottom edge, of their outer garments extended all the way to the ground. They layered their clothing, with men wearing a tunic and trousers under the dalmatica, and women wearing a long undergarment beneath their stola and an outer garment called a paludamentum, or long cloak” (p261).

“Byzantine women, in keeping with their culture’s modesty, never appeared in public with bare arms” (p266).

“Men tended to wear their hair short . . . Women wore their hair quite long . . .” (p267).

[Sarah Pendergast and Tom Pendergast, Project Editor Sarah Hermsen, Fashion, Costume and Culture, vol. 2, Thomson Gale, 2004].

[9]   The transforming effect of the Gospel on the dress of new converts was especially notable in Africa, Australia and the Pacific islands in the 19th century. In Hawaii, for example, where Calvinistic preaching resulted in many conversions, women adopted modest long-sleeved and loose-fitting dresses, men began to wear trousers and loose, untucked shirts, and the Hawaiian king and his government passed laws prohibiting adultery and enforcing Sabbath observance. According to Britannica,The women [originally] wore short skirts (pa'us) and the men tapa loincloths (malos). In 1820 New England missionaries compelled the native women to replace their hula skirts with long dresses (holokus).” To this day, in Australian Aboriginal communities once touched by mission work, older children even when swimming tend to wear normal clothes, which “appear to be no hindrance to them in the water. Boys usually wear shorts and the girls cotton dresses or skirts and tops” (John and Sue Erbacher, Aborigines of the Rainforest, Cambridge University Press, 1991, p29).

      Although in the early 1900's European and American women “rarely wore trousers, and their skirts almost always covered their ankles”, in those places it was no later than the 1920’s that “standards of feminine modesty had changed to the point that women began to wear both trousers and shorter skirts” (World Book, 2005). Australia followed suit, and the current situation in non-Western countries is often preferable to that in the West:

“People almost everywhere [in Papua New Guinea] wear shorts of European design. Some women retain traditional skirts, but most of them wear simple dresses” (World Book, 1999).

“Most Samoan men wear a shirt and a lava-lava, a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist like a skirt. Most of the women wear a long lava-lava and an upper garment called a puletasi” (World Book, 2005).  

“Western-style dress is common in Apia, but more traditional clothing prevails in rural areas [of Samoa]. This includes the lava lava (wraparound skirt) for men and the puletasi (long dress) for women. Religion dominates much of Samoan life. Almost everyone wears white clothing on Sundays in observance of the Christian day of rest” (Encarta Encyclopaedia, 2005).

“The men [of Fiji] wear skirts called sulus, and the women wear cotton dresses. On ceremonial occasions, the women may wear grass skirts. Most native Fijians are Christians” (World Book, 2005).

“Most Indian women wear a sari . . . draped around the body as a long dress. Its loose end is flung over a shoulder or used to cover the head. A sari is usually worn with a blouse. Unmarried women and young girls, especially in northern India, commonly wear long flowing trousers called a shalwar and a long blouse known as a kameez. Tribal women wear long skirts. Many Christian women in the south wear Western-style skirts and blouses. Some young women in cities, especially wealthier women, wear jeans” (World Book, 2005).

“Many Guineans, especially those living in cities and towns, wear clothing similar to that worn by North Americans and Europeans. However, most people still wear traditional clothes. For men, the traditional garment is a loose robe called a boubou. Women wear a blouse with a skirt made from a piece of colored cloth tied around the waist” (World Book, 2005).

“Zambians disagree about whether women should wear contemporary dress or the traditional long skirts adapted from the garb of 19th-century European Christian missionaries. In cities western clothing is widely accepted, but in rural areas most women wear the chitenge, a piece of fabric wrapped around the body to form a long skirt. Such traditions remain strong, even as Zambian women exert greater influence in business, education, and the marketplace” (Microsoft Encarta World Atlas, 1998).

[10] Many non-English-speaking peoples are now also capitulating to Western immorality, despite the misery and social destruction wrought by such selfishness. But observe Greece in the 1960s:

“Life in the large towns is changing rapidly and becoming more and more like that in western Europe and North America. But family life throughout Greece is still very close, and few young men or women leave home until they marry. The husband is still very much master in the family home, and it is still unusual, even in Athens, for a woman or girl to go out to the cinema or to a café by herself, or even with a girl friend. Throughout Greece marriages are still often arranged by the parents. The young couple do not go out together, and until they are married they meet only in their parents’ company. This may seem very old fashioned, but families are at least as happy and stable as elsewhere in the world” (Francis Noel Baker, Looking at Greece, Adam and Charles Black, 1967, p16).  

[11] “In the 1900's, women began to wear looser, lighterweight clothing. The changing styles – especially in leisure and sports clothes – gradually uncovered different parts of women's bodies. Legs were bared in the 1920's, abdomens in the 1940's, and thighs in the 1960's. Today, women wear less clothing than in any other period since ancient times. For a few years around 1910, women wore hobble skirts. These skirts were so tight at the bottom that a woman could hardly walk. Clothing became simpler and less formal during World War I (1914-1918). In the 1920's, women adopted the ‘boyish’ look. Dresses were straight and unfitted, and they ended at, or a little above, the knee. In the 1930's, some women began wearing slacks (trousers).”

“During the late 1800's and early 1900's, men [tennis] players wore long-sleeved shirts and trousers, and women wore ankle-length dresses. Such bulky clothing limited a player's movements. Today, men wear short-sleeved shirts and shorts. Women wear minidresses or blouses and short skirts.” (World Book, 1999).

“The most important moment in the modernization of female dress was when women cut off their skirts for good. That was just before World War I, about a decade before the second most important moment, when they cut off their hair for good. These two radical acts made irreversible transformations in female appearance . . . No matter how low or high women's hemlines become or how much their hair length varies, the point of all such changes – including those in store for us next fall [i.e., autumn] – is to show that women have the choice to lift their skirts and crop their hair. Before the 20th century, they didn't. Long skirts, like long hair, had been required for women by religious law and general custom since time immemorial. During the 600 years when fashion developed its own history, both skirts and hair were considered immutable, even when fashion went to extremes. There were moments of deviation – the bloomer costume, for example, with full trousers showing below short skirts – but they never lasted long. The arrival of women's legs in the first quarter of this century was a genuine shock” (Anne Hollander, fashion columnist for Slate (an American magazine), June 1998).