Should Christian Women Wear Pants?

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I’ve been simultaneously looking forward to this post while at the same time dreading it. For one, this topic as most know is highly controversial on both sides of the argument, and the fact of the matter is that this specific issue, even though debated constantly, is very subjective. I’ve taken a pretty neutral stance thus far, but for the purpose of this article and my own convictions I wanted to do the research and answer the questions that I’ve heard a lot of women ask when taking a look at whether pants on women is biblical or unbiblical.

Where in the Bible does it say women shouldn’t wear pants?

Well, it doesn’t, but here’s what it DOES say:

 

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

Deuteronomy 22:5 

 

This is the main defense in terms of women not wearing pants, via pants are a man’s garment.

But are pants actually a man’s garment?

Originally, yes. Up until the 20th Century pants were worn strictly by men. Legging-type clothes or pants were considered undergarments for women to be worn under skirts and dresses to keep warm during the cooler months.

“Until the 20th century, Western culture restricted the wearing of pants as an essential garment to men. Before the 20th century, women wore loose pantalettes or drawers under dresses for modesty and warmth. Though actual pants were sometimes seen on women in the late 1800s and in the early part of the 20th century, it was not until the 1970s that the wearing of trousers by women was accepted for business or dress occasions.”

A History of Trousers and Pants in Western Culture
Dolores Monet

 

Pants on women are actually very much a recent trend, which makes sense why the debate is more of a recent one as well. While pants on women is recent, pants have been worn by men for centuries, which is recorded in the Bible itself:

“Though pants seem to be a modern form of dress, pants were worn by ancient people and were mentioned in The Bible as well as in Ancient Greek mythology.

The King James version of The Bible mentions pants in Exodus 28:42: “and you shall make them linen trousers to cover their nakedness from the loins even to the thighs.” And in the Book of Daniel, 3:21: ‘Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, and their turbans…”

A History of Trousers and Pants in Western Culture
Dolores Monet

 

But what about pants made strictly for women?

This is where I feel the subjectivity begins on this matter. We can all hopefully agree that a woman wearing a man’s pants, and vise versa would be considered cross-dressing, and thus unbiblical, but what about pants made for women? Would that be considered acceptable?

I think when taking a look at this question, we need to understand that a lot of Christian women live by their convictions. Those convictions could be only wearing skirts and dresses, while for another it could be finding jeans and pants likewise acceptable. Both of which cover her nakedness (Exodus 28:42), which is probably the most important aspect of modesty in general, not to disregard other important aspects such as tightness or transparency.

So are pants on women considered modest?

Short answer, yes. Pants do the job in terms of covering what needs to be covered. However, certain pants are more ideal and more appropriate than others. Obviously anything excessively tight or transparent wouldn’t be a wise choice. But if we look on the biblical side of the coin, pants that are tailored to a women would be acceptable within reason.

 

Sources:

A History of Trousers and Pants In Western Culture; Dolores Monet; Bellatory; 2012

Sources of Dolores Monet:

What People Wore When: A Complete Illustrated History of Costumes From Ancient Times to the 19th Century; Edited by Melissa Leventon; St. Martin’s Press; New York; 2008

Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet; Tim Gunn with Ada Calhoun; Gallery Books; New York; 2012

The Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion; Edited by Valerie Steele; Scribner Library of Daily Life; Charles Scribner’s Sons’; New York; 2005

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2 thoughts on “Should Christian Women Wear Pants?

  1. If women shouldn’t wear pants because they were mens’ first – then let’s use this principle across the entire wardrobe. T-shirts: mens’ or womens’? Jackets: mens’ or womens’? Socks: mens’ or womens’? Shoes: mens’ or womens’? On that basis alone – you’d have to invent a whole new kind of wardrobe for women or just learn to be okay that that there are mens’ styles and womens’ styles – and as such, women can wear pants.

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