Women should Wear Dresses and Skirts, Not Pants – Part 2

Catholic Candle note: The article below is part 2 of an article the first part of which is found here: https://catholiccandle.org/2024/02/19/women-should-wear-dresses-and-skirts-not-pants/

This article is a companion article to our article about Mary-like Neckline Modesty, which can be found here: https://catholiccandle.org/2023/05/21/marylike-neckline-modesty/

Both of these articles apply to girls as well as women and assist them in fulfilling the role and great work for which God created women.  Read more about this role and great work here: https://catholiccandle.org/2019/12/02/the-role-and-work-that-god-gave-to-woman/

Part 2

Recap of part 1

In part one of this article, we saw five reasons why men (as well as women) need to understand the Catholic standards of modesty for women (and men).

The article then lists four reasons why women should not wear pants:

1.    It is objectively a sin against the revealed Divine Law for a woman to wear pants;

2.    It is objectively a sin of lewdness[1] under the Natural Law for a woman to wear pants, even apart from the issue of pants being more revealing of a woman’s body;

3.    A woman who wears pants objectively commits a sin of feminist usurpation of man’s role and “nature” and denial of her own “nature” and role in God’s plan; and

4.    A woman wearing pants objectively sins because pants are immodest for her due to their revealing too much of her figure.

Then the article looks at the first of those reasons.  Below, is the remaining three reasons why women should wear dresses and skirts and not pants.

2.     It is a Sin against the Natural Law for
Women to Wear Pants.

A person could suppose that it might have been permissible for women to wear pants and other men’s clothes (or for men to wear women’s clothes) if God had not forbidden this in the revealed Law in Sacred Scripture.  But that supposition is false because such cross-dressing is forbidden by the Natural Law, too.[2]

This prohibition under the Natural Law is especially because wearing the clothes of the other sex causes lewdness.  Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas, greatest Doctor of the Catholic Church, teaches this truth:

It is in itself sinful for a woman to wear man’s clothes, or vice versa, especially since this can cause lewdness.[3]

Pants are men’s clothes and it is a sin for women to wear pants just as it is a sin for a man to wear a dress because dresses are a woman’s clothes.  This particular reason why it is sinful for women to wear the clothes of the opposite sex does not depend on how much such clothes reveal a woman’s body.  For example, even if she should wear a complete men’s suit with a dress shirt buttoned up to her neck,  nevertheless, it is inherently sinful to do so.

It would also be a sin of cross-dressing for a man to wear a dress even if it were a “very modest” dress, precisely because it is woman’s attire.  The same example (a man wearing a dress) is all-the-more cringe-worthy if the dress is pink calico with lots of lace and frills as well as accompanied by broaches, pearl necklaces, and 4-inch-high spike heels.  But those conditions and accessories are not necessary circumstances for the man to have committed the sin of cross-dressing (although such feminine accessories might increase the sin).

This is because, as St. Thomas explains, such cross-dressing is a cause of lewdness and sensuality.  This lewdness arises because it is lewd for a man to insert his body into women’s clothes (i.e., for him to commingle his body with women’s clothes).  Similarly, it is lewd for a woman to insert her body into a man’s clothes or commingle her body with man’s clothes.

Again, this reason we are discussing now (why it is a sin for men and women to cross-dress) does not pertain to whether a woman’s figure is more revealed in pants (which it is) but pertains to the fact that pants are men’s clothes.  In other words, it is a sin for a woman to wear men’s clothes regardless of whether such clothes would immodestly reveal her body.

This is the second reason it is a sin for women to wear pants.


[1]           Lewdness (noun): indecency or obscenity; vulgar sexual character or behavior.  https://www.dictionary.com/browse/lewdness

[2]           The Natural Law is what we know is right (or wrong) by the light of the natural reason God gave us.  One example of the Natural Law is that we must never tell a lie.  We naturally know this because we know that the purpose of speech is to convey the truth and so we naturally know that telling a lie is abusing the purpose of speech. 

Here is how St. Thomas explains what the Natural Law is:

[L]aw, being a rule and measure, can be in a person in two ways: in one way, as in him that rules and measures; in another way, as in that which is ruled and measured, since a thing is ruled and measured, in so far as it partakes of the rule or measure.  Wherefore, since all things subject to Divine providence are ruled and measured by the eternal law, as was stated above [in Summa, Ia IIae, Q.91, a.1]; it is evident that all things partake somewhat of the eternal law, in so far as, namely, from its being imprinted on them, they derive their respective inclinations to their proper acts and ends.  Now among all others, the rational creature is subject to Divine providence in the most excellent way, in so far as it partakes of a share of providence, by being provident both for itself and for others.  Wherefore it has a share of the Eternal Reason, whereby it has a natural inclination to its proper act and end: and this participation of the eternal law in the rational creature is called the natural law.  Hence the Psalmist after saying (Psalm 4:6): "Offer up the sacrifice of justice," as though someone asked what the works of justice are, adds: "Many say, Who showeth us good things?" in answer to which question he says: "The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us": thus implying that the light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil, which is the function of the natural law, is nothing else than an imprint on us of the Divine light. It is therefore evident that the natural law is nothing else than the rational creature’s participation of the eternal law.

Summa, Ia IIae, Q.91, a.2, respondeo.

[3]           Summa, IIa IIae, Q.169, a.2, ad 3.