This past weekend I went to the mall and actually looked at clothes for the first time in a while. Not only was I in shock, I was also thoroughly disappointed.
I, for the most part, shop at second-hand stores or the clearance racks at department stores. I don’t like to spend more than $10 on one piece of clothing, with the exception of jeans and shoes.
I am a firm believer that modesty is more about how you wear clothes, rather than the clothes you wear. Modesty has a lot to do with your heart, and how you choose to present your body.
The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines modesty as, “the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention.”
Biblically, dressing modestly is about wearing “respectable apparel” and not wearing flashy things just to get the attention of the opposite-sex, or anyone really (1 Timothy 2:9-10, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 1 Peter 3:3-4, Proverbs 31:30). It goes beyond simply the way we dress, into to the way we act as well.
The older I get, the more I’ve learned that modesty is a serious heart issue. It is more about your intentions behind how you dress, and where you heart is. I feel that when your heart is in the right place, that truly does shine through your choice in clothing.
When we think of modesty, we often think of the picture to the right, most likely with extra layers and a less form-fitting dress:
While there is nothing wrong with dressing like this, there is also value in feeling good about yourself and having confidence when out and about. Again, this is majorly a heart issue! We have to be confident in who we are in Christ before we can exemplify that to others!
Why bother being modest? This is a question I have asked myself, and this is what I have come up with.
1) We’re simply called to it
As I mentioned above, the Bible is filled with a calling for women to dress and act modestly. As Christ-followers, we are called to follow the narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14), and I believe that modesty is something that comes with the territory of that path!
2) Leading by example
This is something easily overlooked when you aren’t in a position of leadership, but it is so important! There are and always will be younger ladies looking up to you to lead. Whether it be a sister, niece, cousin or a perfect stranger. Girls are always looking up to their superiors and how you dress can profoundly impact those girls. Also, we are biblically called to be an example, not just to those younger but to everyone around us (1 Timothy 4:12, Titus 2:6-7, Proverbs 22:6).
3) Attracting the right audience
I have had many experiences with men that are less than deserving of my attention. Not because I am better-than or perfect in any way, but because I am a sweet child of Christ and though I don’t deserve it, I desire to be treated with respect. Frankly, when dressing in what may be culturally acceptable, you attract disrespectful “men” that simply want you for what they think you’re offering. I’ll even pull scripture out for this as well, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, says that we are to treat our bodies as temples. If you want to attract the right kind of godly man, then you should be dressing in a way that will do just that!
These are three reasons that keep me dressing modestly, and refresh my thoughts to be Christ-centered.
Although, I feel that most clothes can be worn modestly, I was in shock while at the mall this weekend, mostly because I couldn’t find a way of wearing most of it modestly. There are not enough layers in the world to pull off a spaghetti strap tank top that barely covers your chest (unless you’re wearing a long, baggy hoodie over it!).
These are some of the clothes that I saw, that just sent me over the edge:
So how do you dress modestly in a culture that hardly sells modest clothes? It requires a lot of patience and searching. It requires a lot of layers and checking your motives. I often will not wear an outfit out of the house, unless I would be okay with walking into my church with it on.
These are some of the standards I hold myself to:
- Not wearing yoga pants/leggings, without my bottom covered, out of the house if at all possible
- Dresses being at least 2 inches past my fingertips when arms by my side, if not, then wearing either tights, leg gins or pants underneath
- Shorts being at least at my fingertips when arms by my side
- Wearing a camisole under any plunging, low-cut or see-through tops
You don’t have to be frumpy and out-of-style to be modest. With warmer weather on its way, I decided to showcase a few outfits that you might find me in during the spring and summer that are modest, and yet still in-style (excuse my messy hair!).
I often times wear tights or leggings under that dress. It is also really challenging to find longer shorts that don’t fit awkwardly, so sometimes settling on looser shorts can help if they are a little shorter, just make sure that your buns are tucked away! Camisoles are a miracle worker, and they can be found in all colors, styles and sizes. Also, cardigans can cover up a lot of unwanted showing skin. I have a plethora of them in my closet and you can almost always spot me wearing one.
So, now that I’ve had my rant and discussed why modesty is important to me, I challenge you to question your own motives. When you’re getting ready in the morning, ask yourself if you would walk into a sanctuary wearing what you are. Ask yourself if you’re leading by example, or simply following cultural norms. Check to see if you are honoring Christ with not only your clothes, but also your intentions.
I think that when we find clothes that not only fit properly, but that also honor God, we are worshipping Him in a way that most women don’t.
I’m most definitely not the perfect example of modesty. There are days that I don’t stop to check myself before leaving the house. There are times that I realize what I’m wearing and begin to feel really uncomfortable, wishing I had worn more layers or something entirely different.
Obviously, there are exceptions. When working out, I generally am wearing yoga pant and a tank top, because…well, I’m in my own home! When I am at home all day working on school, I’m not so concerned about what I’m wearing. I’m talking about modesty when leaving the house.
Have a blessed day!