To Dress in Style
Should we not have the goal to dress in style, not to be stuck in fashions of bygone days, but at the same time not making the slightest compromise to wear anything immoral?
With the female branch, in addition to promoting the highest quality academic formation, it aimed to launch trends in society by attracting “ladies able to dress in style, not stuck in fashions of bygone days, but at the same time not making the slightest compromise to wear anything immoral.” To do this, he would hire famous couturiers and dressmakers from Paris, who would come to São Paulo and, under his guidance, design distinctive clothing for the members of the institution, in accordance with moral and aesthetic counter-revolutionary standards. By their influence in the social environment, they would end up launching a truly Catholic line of fashion.
Monsignor João Clá Dias, The Gift of Wisdom – volume III, chapter 2, page 134
In a single paragraph with one quote from Dr Plinio, our beloved Monsignor raises a problem as current and relevant as it was in the dawning days of Dr. Plinio’s militancy.
He did not content himself to fight the counter-revolutionary battle in the doctrinal and philosophical fields only, but on the contrary, Dr. Plinio took the fight to every sphere and in this case he wanted to establish a battlefield in an area that might seem unimaginable to us: women’s fashion!
Is this still an important issue our days? Can women’s fashion still serve as a counter-revolutionary weapon in society, as well as within our own like-minded social group? Or is it that this goal has already been achieved and there is already a strong presence of distinctively dressed Plinian ladies who are militant and trend-setting bastions within their social circles?
With their habits and uniforms, the II Order are already a visually effective counter-revolutionary force. However, what about the ladies of III Order …?
Does the Cooperator cloak do enough to fulfill this important tendential role?
If it was the only attire worn by them, we believe that in a way it would meet the requirement, however, we all know that the tertiary cloak is not meant for continuous use and therefore, this issue of women’s fashion for ladies of the III Order seems to maintain its importance.
On the other hand, there may be those who say or think that by being in the III Order a lady has also “died” to society and that therefore they should no longer live under the worldly yoke of norms and trends of fashion. Is this statement true?
It is not for us to clarify this, but I wonder: how will those ladies who think that way, think about this when they arrive to celestial society? Do they not also want to wear the glorious clothes that are prepared for us, or to enjoy the paradisiacal fashions? Will any old skirt suffice in the fashion of the society of the blessed? One thing is certain: “fashion will always be among us.” The challenge lies in knowing how to adopt a sanctifying style of fashion without being dull and mundane …
Since man is a social being, we will always live in society – whether here on earth or in Heaven. Our clothing will always be a means of elevating the social environment, or a means of vulgarizing it. And in the face of this obligation, modesty in dress is simply a beautiful first step to elevate us to other more apostolically counter-revolutionary aspects such as: nobility, dignity, refinement, grandness, composure, education, gentility, elegance.
In short, our whole appearance may reflect Christian Civilization, or simply reflect our own triviality and lack of seriousness. Is this a matter about which we can remain indifferent?
Finally, it seems to us that this topic of women’s fashion and its power to influence people toward the counter-revolutionary cause, still has a marked relevance in our days and for that reason, we decided to highlight it and make 3 comments on the initial paragraph quoted from Monsignor’s thesis.
To unite to Dr. Plinio’s Counter-Revolutionary fight, ladies must rise to another level:
1 – They must be well trained academically so that they know how to base and defend their faith, their mentality, their nonconformity with the revolution and their counter-revolutionary ideology. It is not enough for them to say they are chaste and traditional with responses like “because I have learned to be like this from my grandmother …” or “I am pure and traditional because I don’t want to go to hell …”
That’s not enough! It is necessary that they know how to convey to the world all the harmful social, historical and meta-physical consequences that immorality, sin and the revolution bring about as a consequence! And for this, it is necessary to have a continuous and in-depth intellectual, theological, moral and historical formation that is especially dedicated to the study of the spirit of our Founders. This is imperative!
2 – These Ladies should be enriched with a firmness of will and personality such that they BE ABLE to dress in style, not be stuck in fashions of bygone days, so that they will be able to launch trends in today’s society!
From my point of view, this is a very important point … really, being able to influence a society requires a complete martyrdom and dedication! And not everyone, can endure continual social prickles.
It is tremendously easier for me to take refuge in the kind of modesty that finds me in any old outfit, than to fight a counter-revolutionary battle that will force me to walk continuously on a “razor’s edge” trying to find the ideal – modesty without “frumpiness”; purity without Calvinism; tradition without dust; naturalness without banality; grandness and distinction within holy feminine modesty.
This is a difficult balance to ask of the ladies, however Our Father and Senhor wanted “ladies ABLE to dress in style, not stuck in fashions of bygone days, but at the same time not making the slightest compromise to wear anything immoral.”
3 – As a final point, we would like to comment on the desire that Dr. Plinio had to “hire famous couturiers and dressmakers from Paris, who would came to São Paulo and, under his guidance, design DISTINCTIVE clothing for the members of the institution, in accordance with moral and aesthetic counter-revolutionary standards.”
It took centuries for Christian civilization to create a distinctive standard in clothing, and sometimes we are tempted to forget that this special style was born from the open side of the Our Lord Jesus Christ. We may try to create a new distinctive style by ourselves, according to our own criteria … Could this bear good fruit …?
There may indeed be some good fruit from this, but since we are not great prophets like our Founders, it may be safer to strive for the ideals that have been past on to us over the centuries.
Looking at it this way, we have a long list of aspects to consider, such as:
- HARMONY OF COLOURS – All colours have been created by God, but they cannot be chosen randomly for women’s clothing, for although butterflies are beautiful with the shock of their colors, not all ladies will be appreciated in the same way if they imitate them in these contrasts.
- FABRIC QUALITY – Every aspect of something should be in harmony with the end for which it was made. So also, each fabric has to be very well chosen according to the purpose to which it is destined. If I make nightdress, I can use a fresh, light, simple fabric; if I am going make make a dress for work, perhaps it is the case to use a more resistant and practical fabric; if I am going to make a formal dress, I will likely have to find a thinner fabric, with more distinction – one that will express the state of mind that I want to transmit when wearing it.
- PERFECTION OF FIT – This is an area that will make absolutely all the difference in the refinement of a lady’s dress! A good fabric in the hands of a good seamstress will make ladies “censers” of dignity, even in their simpler day-to-day clothes. A well-executed fit ennobles any piece of clothing.
- CUSTOMIZED MODELS – Popular wisdom says that “anyone who does not think, does not know how to dress or know how to present themselves …” A simple and direct thought, but it conveys a profound reality: our outer appearance must be a reflection of our interior. When these two are not in harmony, we cause confusion and block people from clearly seeing our moral figure.
The globalization of clothing and the “ready-to-wear” system have given rise to equality in human personalities. Since everyone now dresses in the same fashion, the personalities and richness of each one’s soul are no longer presented in their personalized attire, leveling the human soul to an apparent equality.
On the contrary, the counter-revolutionary spirit desires that clothing be personalized to the wearer, according to their personality, age, marital status, social position, living situation, etc., etc., etc.
I think it is easy to understand that a recent widow will be out of context wearing the same colorful and cheerful clothes as a young lady preparing for marriage. A married woman is understood to follow the example of the “Holy City, the New Jerusalem, which came down from Heaven, from God, as a bride adorned for her husband.” A hostess will seem rather impolite to receive her visitors in domestic clothes, just as at a formal occasion, wedding, or gala dinner, the anticipated dress is not expected to be simply the day-to-day outfit.
In the end, each of these points could be commented on separately in other articles, however, we will leave this for the next occasion if Grace so inspire and the theme is to everyone’s liking.
We should take as our example our dearest Mother, Dona Lucilia, because in her we will be able to find all the balance, courage and distinction that Dr. Plinio expects from each and every one of his daughters of the III Order.
Ad maiorem Plinii gloriam!