How clothing makes—or unmakes—our humanity and our culture


VFR has had a quiet Sunday, but The Thinking Housewife has plenty of interest on the royal wedding, here, here, and here. The second linked entry begins with some miscellaneous thoughts by yours truly about the wedding, including criticisms of Kate Middleton’s dress and demeanor. The third features a beautiful photograph of Princess Grace at her wedding, about which Laura Wood writes:

GRACE KELLY’S wedding dress and the dresses of her attendants were modest, elegant and feminine, as opposed to the dresses of Kate Middleton and her maid of honor, as is discussed in the previous entry.

In 1954, Pope Pius XII spoke to the International Congress of Master Tailors and Designers. He said:

Instead of elevating and ennobling the human person, the modern fashions are tending to degrade and debase it. Even if you are not responsible for these deplorable manifestations, you cannot remain indifferent to them. Far from going along with the already too strong inclination toward immodesty, always be careful to respect the norms of decency and good taste, of a sanely understood and perfectly upright elegance. [emphasis added]

In brief, instead of following the materialist current which is leading so many people astray today, deliberately put yourselves at the service of spiritual ends. It is not possible to partition human life, to fix certain spheres of it in which morality has no word to say. Clothes express in too evident a fashion the tendencies and tastes of a person to escape from certain very clear rules that surpass and must govern the simple aesthetic point of view.

Can you imagine any leader in the West, religious or secular, saying such a thing today, or for the last 40 years? For decades past, not a single conservative figure of note has expressed any serious objections to the debased cultural and aesthetic environment in which we live. Conservatism has been reduced to a handful of abstract universalist slogans, while the only moral or “cultural” issue the Catholic Church seems to care about is abortion. So-called conservatives live in the decadent liberal culture as fish in the sea, not noticing or objecting to it, which renders their “conservatism” meaningless and impotent. To resist liberalism means to stand against, not just the ideas and policies of liberalism, but the all-embracing culture of liberalism.

There are further reflections on this subject in my 2003 pamphlet-essay, Erasing America: The Politics of the Borderless Nation, quoted here.

- end of initial entry -

LA to Laura Wood:

Where did you get that great quotation from Pius XII?

Laura Wood replies:

I got it from Tradition in Action.

This is a site run by serious Catholic traditionalists who call themselves “counter-revolutionaries.” One of their books is “We Resist you to the Face,” which lays out a whole rationale for resisting liberalism in the Church. They are staunchly opposed to the universalism of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

They write about manners and dress in Lawrence Auster style, constantly arguing that these are important moral issues.

May 2

Jane S. writes:

Today I was surprised to hear classical music coming from the office of a 29-year-old attorney at my firm. I stuck my head in his door to comment how surprised I was that someone his age listens to classical music. Turns it out was “hold” music coming from his phone. Oh, well. Should have known it was too good to be true.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 01, 2011 06:06 PM | Send

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