I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety…1 Timothy 2:8 Do not cause anyone to stumble…1 Corinthians 10:32
The definition of modesty that I hold for myself is this:
Feminine, elegance that leaves much to the imagination.
I do not claim to know what true modesty is. In reality the term and how modesty is demonstrated is all subjective. Usually modesty is defined by someone other than ourselves. I think a lot about modesty in relation to clothing. Unfortunately, I find myself looking at others and deciding that they aren’t dressed modestly. However, this evaluation helps me determine what is and is not acceptable for me.
As a pastor’s wife I have been told that whatever you do others how see your actions will go one step in the negative direction. For example, if I consistently watch PG-13 movies others will watch movies rated R. I try to keep my movies to PG, because of personal preference. I’m sensitive to lots of things. In short, as leadership, we have to keep the bar high. The truth is, all Christians should keep the bar high–give unbelievers something to look forward to. Anyway, so far the way I dress has not been an issue, but I don’t want it to ever be something that causes other people to stumble whether it is causing men to lust (they are responsible for their own lust, but as women we can do what we can to not tempt other men) or to cause women to comprimise their attire. Granted, a lot is in how you carry yourself, but it is still something that we need to be careful about. More than being responsible for my congregation I want my daughter to see the balance between being modest and being fashionable.
Disclaimer: I don’t think being fashionable = expensive and/or trendy clothing. Fashionable to me means wearing the clothes that you like, that fit how you want them to fit.
I have finally come to terms with the idea that the clothing I wear can be modest, flattering and stylish (whatever your style might be). You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. You don’t have to wear clothing out of your age range to be modest. But there is a fine line. I have since learned a few tricks by trial and error, from other women and from a few websites that have helped me know how to work my way around the questionable fashions that are being made these days. Here are are a few of those tips, plus a few basic pieces of fashion advice.
1. Try the clothes on. Not only could this save you some time and money later, but you know how the clothes fit before you bring them home. Once you get it home, you’ll make excuses as to how the color, fit whatever isn’t that bad and you won’t want to go back to the store with the hassel of returning the items.
2. I do the worship test by asking these questions
Can I lift my hands to praise the Lord in this shirt and not show my belly or back
If I kneel to pray will my shirt come untucked, will my crack show, will my underwear show
3. I sit down: Can I sit down in these jeans? can I breathe in these jeans? Do I have to jirate just to get them over my thighs? Denim doesn’t stretch, it gets worn.
4. When I press the fabric on my shirt in the chest area does it bounce back (if it does, your shirt might be too tight)
5. I’m selective about who I ask for feedback on my clothing choices.
6. I’ve found a couple of women who have basically the same taste as I do and I kind of use them as a model for what fashions are available cause unlike me, they actually buy the clothes they like. They both are also Christian women who are showing that you can be comfortable, stylish and modest all at the same time. Hi Hannah! (Tracy, too)
7. Buying clothing in a smaller size does not make you smaller. Wearing your actual size is going to do a lot more for your appearance than thinking about the fact that you are wearing a size smaller than you normally do. Clothes that fit make you look smaller than clothes that are smaller. Plus, clothing is all made differently because designers use a different standard, so again try it on.
8. If you can’t walk in heels, don’t wear them.
9. Layer. Wearing a close-fitting undershirt tucked in can help avoid plumber’s bottom. This site and this one offer some selections. I’ve tried them and like them. The shirts are not bulky at all. Layering also helps compensate for low cut shirts and dresses. OR wear a jacket, shawl or cardigan over a tight shirt.
Here are some other sites with stuff I like (you might too!). Most of the sites are for Muslim or Jewish women. There are plenty of other stores that sell modest clothing like JcPenney, ColdWater Creek, Chadwicks etc.
Land’s End: My favorite place for classic clothing that never goes out of style. Good quality stuff.
Shade Clothing: Her shirts are a little snug and spendy, but they are meant to be layering pieces. I have ordered from here.
Artizara : Muslim clothing. I like some of the skirts and most of the tops. It’s spendy, though.
Shukra: Muslim clothing. I love most of this stuff. I would not have a wardrobe full, but I really like the styles. I also like that they don’t show the models’ faces. 🙂
Zarmina: Beautiful. Lotsa moola. I think tunics must be my favorite type of shirt.
FunkyFrum: Great skirts! [relatively]Reasonable prices.
This site has a list of links to stores that sell modest clothing and other information.
And if you are interested in advocating modesty for your daughter, go here. I will have a short post about this later.
One last story:
I was once asked to share my testimony at a youth event for at risk teen girls. Several other women shared their testimony and there was a time for prayer ministry. But the part that had the greatest impact on me was the fashion show. They had several girls come out in outfits that were borderline and the modest alternative followed. The modest alternative was still trendy. After each model was on stage they went down the line and pointed out why each item was modest or immodest. Then they gave a checklist of ways to test your clothing before you purchase it. I learned a few things, too. The best part was they had a young guy, a little older than most of the young ladies though,he’s cute, the pastor’s son actually; he comes in and tells the girls what guys really say about girls who dress a certain way (he was blunt about what they call them and what they say) and what he really finds attractive. I wish I had something like that as a teenager.
“Reward” stores that sell modest clothing by shopping there on a regular basis. Send a letter or talk to a manager to tell them that they are doing a good job or that they are doing a bad job. There is an entire modest clothing movement out there now and I think stores and designers are listening (have you seen the “shorts” for Spring?)
The main thing is setting your standards and sticking to them. Don’t compromise your values for the sake of fashion.