Have you ever wondered if skirts are more comfortable than pants? Or if they’re cooler in the summer, or easier to work in?
I have. That’s why this summer I did a little experiment. I call it “the skirt project.” I set out on a mission to discover which garment is better for the homestead: Skirts/Dresses or Pants.
I once went for a week wearing hoop skirts and Civil War attire when I was seventeen years old at a historical reenactment camp (for lack of a better term) for girls called The Athanaeum Girls School in Columbia, Tennessee. There we pretended to be in 1861, leading up to the start of the Civil War, for a week. It was an incredible experience.
I’m bringing it up now because I have a distinct memory of the day we changed out of 1861 clothes and into modern jeans and tee shirts. Almost all of us immediately noticed a difference: we felt hot! Not in a va-va-voom way, but in a “someone please turn on the AC” kind of way.
Thinking about that memory several years down the road, I couldn’t help but wonder if the same would hold true now. Were skirts really cooler? Was it in our heads? Was it a combination of things, such as wearing hats and light but covering clothing that limited our sun exposure?
And so I wore skirts or dresses (minus the hoops) almost exclusively for about a month — including while doing messy homestead chores — and this is what I found:
Yes, skirts are cooler than pants. I think it’s something about the air flow. Pants are tight against the skin and don’t let any breezes come in contact with your legs, but skirts are open and airy. When the wind blows, the fabric billows and sways and lets air inside. Plus, you can shamelessly stand over a floor vent or lift your skirt for a van or the AC in a car. Hey, when it’s 90+ degrees outside, anything goes! Just don’t lift those skirts too high.
On the other hand, I have just one word for you: Chafing. Chafing is real, and it is unpleasant. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am completely unfamiliar with “thigh gaps.” (I think those were imagined for the soul purpose of making women feel bad about their legs.) When doing a lot of walking, it’s necessary to wear shorts underneath to prevent chafing…which only defeats the purpose of skirts a little bit, really. I never wear shorts in public anyway, so there ya go.
Something about skirts and dresses makes me feel so much more feminine. They’re so flowy (is that a word?) and soft. Frankly they’re more figure flattering, too. What thunder thighs? Can’t see ’em under these babies. They’re especially nice when dressing up as well. (I know from experience that it’s hard to wear a full hoop skirt ensemble and not feel at least a little pretty! Too bad dressing like a southern belle every day is just a little impractical.)
Plus, skirts and dresses don’t ride up or down like pants so often do. They’re stretchy and the fabric is more forgiving, which means no accidental plumber crack or constant tugging. I only wear skirts of knee length or longer, so there is never any risk of a Marilyn Monroe moment either. That’s more comfortable, and it makes me less self-conscious when I don’t have to adjust my clothes or worry about “gawking gophers.”
On the one hand, dresses are the most convenient clothes, like, ever. Just slip ’em on and boom, you’re out the door. Skirts aren’t bad either, only adding the step of throwing on a shirt. Pants have to be put on one leg at a time, but skirts can go on both legs at once! No zipping, buttoning, worrying about them unzipping, etc.
They have their inconveniences, too, though. The worst offense? No pockets. Somewhere along the line we started treating skirts as fashionable only and not practical, and some genius decided that skirts didn’t need pockets anymore. That’s not the best when gathering eggs, picking things from the garden, or simply carrying a cell phone or camera around. At least there are aprons!
This may seem silly, but in my opinion the biggest downside of skirts is the potential safety hazards.
Skirts generally impair agility. They can be a little trippy and tangly. They get snagged on branches and weeds. And they can be a little cumbersome going up and down steps. I’m a clumsy person to start with, so long skirts hanging around my feet is more than I can bear. If they’re longer than my ankles I have to tie them shorter or constantly hold them up to avoid tripping. It’s especially difficult to walk when hungry piglets are getting themselves tangled (literally!) in your skirts.
I also refuse to wear skirts — or any long, flowing, billowing clothes — when working with machinery or equipment of any kind. The last thing I want to happen is for my skirt to hung up in the tines of a tiller or the chain of a saw. For the same reasons that many farmers don’t wear wedding bands or long sleeves, I will not wear jewelry, dresses, or other clothes that can get caught up in equipment while I’m working. Augers, lawnmowers, tillers, chainsaws, etc — those are all skirt free zones.
Skirts deserve a second look — they’re not just for formal occasions. Most daily homestead chores can totally be accomplished in a skirt or dress. They’re pretty, feminine, and comfortable.
But…even though skirts and dresses are definitely making a greater appearance in my wardrobe than they used to, I will never give up pants completely. There are pros and cons to both, and appropriate times and places for both, too.