Men's Dress Worn By Women
By Giuseppe Cardinal Siri
June 12, 1960
To all Teaching sisters,
To the beloved sons of Catholic Action,
To Educators intending truly to follow Christian Doctrine.1
The first signs of our late arriving spring indicate that there is this year a certain increase in the use of men's dress by girls and women, even family mothers. Up until 1959, in Genoa, such dress usually meant the person was a tourist, but now it seems to be a significant number of girls and women from Genoa itself who are choosing at least on pleasure trips to wear men's dress (men's trousers).
The extension of this behavior obliges us to take serious thought, and we ask those to whom this Notification is addressed to kindly lend to the problem all the attention it deserves from anyone aware of being in any way responsible before God.
We seek above all to give a balanced moral judgment upon the wearing of men's dress by women. In fact Our thoughts can only bear upon the moral question.2
Firstly, when it comes to covering of the female body, the wearing of men's trousers by women cannot be said to constitute AS SUCH A GRAVE OFFENSE AGAINST MODESTY, because trousers certainly cover more of woman's body than do modern women's skirts.
Secondly, however, clothes to be modest need not only to cover the body but also not to cling too closely to the body.3 Now it is true that much feminine clothing today clings closer than do some trousers, but trousers can be made to cling closer, in fact generally they do, so the tight fit of such clothing gives us not less grounds for concern than does exposure of the body. So the immodesty of men's trousers on women is an aspect of the problem which is not to be left out of an over-all judgment upon them, even if it is not to be artificially exaggerated either.
However, it is a different aspect of women's wearing of men's trousers which seems to us the gravest.4
To be continued..................
- At the end of the Cardinal's Notification, he explains that it is not addressed by him directly to the public at large, but only indirectly, through the Catholic leaders here listed. However, that was in 1960, when the Church still had a framework of leaders. In 1997, those capable by their Faith of responding to the Cardinal's instruction are scattered amongst the public at large, to whom therefore his instruction is fittingly diffused.
- The Cardinal heads off many objections at the outset when he reminds us by what right he tackles such a subject at all: as a teacher of Faith and morals. Who can reasonably deny that clothing (especially, but not only, women's) involves morals and so the salvation of souls?
- Jeans are now virtually universal. How many women's jeans are not tight-fitting?
- Trousers on women are worse than mini-skirts, said Bishop de Castro Mayer, because while mini-skirts attack the senses, women's trousers attack man's highest spiritual faculty, the mind. Cardinal Siri explains why, in depth.