Thursday, 28 June 2007

I also want women to dress modestly - and the men, too

[...] So when did we stop understanding when to dress modestly?

The answer is very recently, according to Professor Aileen Ribeiro, an expert on the history of dress at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, who says that in the past the rules on appropriate dress were widely understood. She says that plunging necklines for women and tight trousers for men have been recognised as sexually provocative since the Middle Ages.

But in previous generations, church and society dictated what was allowed. 'Many people no longer know what is appropriate unless it is written down,' she says. 'Hence our anxiety over what to wear on a formal occasion when instructions are not given. 'And when it comes to your village church service, the churches are often so desperate for churchgoers that they don't say what they think the rules should be. If they did there would be complaints

What does it say about the spirit of the age?

Professor Ribeiro sees the willingness to expose too much flesh in all the wrong settings as a sign of indifference, a lack of sensitivity.

And I agree that to go to church in shorts or with your knickers on show is symptomatic of an 'If it's fine with me, then to hell with you' approach to life. It's the kind of attitude that leads so many people to bawl down their mobile phones on the train or to turn up their iPods so that everyone has to endure the infuriating sizzle of leaking sound. Read more

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