this to say about the Church as matchmaker. It is partly a response to the incomparable Simcha Fischer, mother of nine, who recently asked Single readers what it is that you want the Church to do for you.
But what really got my interest was the first comment on Kat's post, which was from a Single woman noting that more men seem to go to Traditional Latin Masses but that she did not want to wear a jumper. I'm assuming this woman is Canadian or American because in the UK a jumper is not a utilitarian frock but a sweater/pullover. And at the risk of being one of those Catholic bloggers who fixates on women's clothing, I'm going to fixate on women's clothing. (As a stunning innovation, I'll mention men's, too.)
Now, I have nothing against jumpers, per se. I had a very nice charcoal grey jumper (utilitarian frock) when I was four years old. There is a time and place for jumpers, like your elementary school photographs. For girls under twelve, I recommend the trusty old jumper, perhaps with a fetching ladybug pin.
I do not recommend the jumper for girls and women over twelve, and I am staggered that anyone would mention the TLM and jumper in the same breath. I suppose girls and women don these things as a sort of modesty uniform, a sartorial placard reading "I am a chaste and modest woman who would not have shoddy, unthinkable affairs with local tradesmen while you are at work." But I assure you that such modesty uniforms are completely unnecessary. Modesty is a good and noble thing, but it is all the sweeter when it is subtle. The virgin who reminds people constantly that she is a virgin is not as modest as the virgin who keep her mouth shut on such a personal subject.
And as a husband-attracting device, modesty is highly over-rated and always has been. Back in Jane Austen's day, elegantly dressed young ladies made their Empire-waist frocks stick to their bodies by spraying them with water. Desperate matchmaking mothers prompted their scandalized daughters to smile more, to flirt more, to give more encouragement, for heaven's sake, Laetitia. Modesty should of course be on the list of your womanly attributes, but it is down around #5. It is not #1, except in places like rural Afghanistan.
Now I go to a TLM myself, and being a reasonably observant woman, I note who else is there and what they are wearing, and who looks good, and who needs to have a little talk with me. And one thing I can tell you about my TLM community is that there are a lot of men in it. A goodish percentage of these men are bachelors under 40, and with the exception of the rebel in the rugby shirt, these young bachelors are sartorial romantics. They are dressed according to their personal, and yet shared, vision of what men dressed like in 1948.
They wear jackets, naturally. These jackets are usually tweed and very often bought secondhand, either from the internet or from a vintage shop. Occasionally a sharp piece of non-tweed tailoring--either made-to-measure or pret-a-porter--makes an appearance. Then there are the woolly pullovers (aka UK jumpers), for Britain is cold and there wasn't much by way of central heating in 1948. Less attention is paid to trousers, but they tend to be corduroy and sometimes bright red. (N.B. Bright red corduroy trousers are best left to broad-shouldered men, mes vieux.)
There are, of course, ties--including school ties, even if that school was a comprehensive, and university ties. Sometimes there are a bow-ties and a keen flutter of interest amongst the bow-tie fans when an new initiate takes the plunge. Then there are the socks and the shoes, the pocket squares and the handkerchiefs, and, I am told (for of course I never see these things), the braces, the sleeve bands and the sock garters.
And this all makes complete sense. If a man wants back all the beauty, romance and fittingness of the Mass before 1963, he might very well want back all the beauty, romance and fittingness of men's fashion before 1963. And if he is that interested in men's fashion before 1963, imagine how he thinks women should dress. The Well Dressed Woman of 1948 was not wearing what Americans call a jumper, people. You should not be thinking Laura Ingalls Wilder; you should be thinking Veronica Lake.
Now I know somebody is itching to write in and tell me that women don't dress for men, we dress for ourselves, and blah blah blah blah. This has to be complete garbage because I cannot think why any woman would wear a stupid "jumper" unless she were worried about her audience. I certainly dress for an audience, and it is for the sake of politeness as much as for anything else, like not wearing jeans to a Goth bar because it would ruin the ambiance for the Goths. And as too often I am the only woman at TLM soirees, I owe it to everybody to look as well as possible.
Besides, there is the singular thrill of giving men whiplash. You gorgeous young things are probably too, too used to this sort of thing, but it was a revelation for your belle-laide Auntie when she wore a dashing new hat and (she was told) every Young Fogey in the congregation craned his head to get a better look. Elderly widowers danced attendance; it was a very pleasant morning.
And that thought brings me back to the question of what the Church can do for Singles. As feminists say, when they are not calling the Church a "male monolith", WE are the Church--which is to say, helpful older married ladies like me. And I am telling you not to wear dumb, shapeless, what-Americans-call-jumpers to Mass, particularly not the TLM Mass. I am telling you to have a look at the best sartorial zeitgeist of your parish and then look wonderful.