From What Does the Bible Say About Your Appearance? by Ray and Elaine Powell
General Guidelines for Determining Modest Clothing
This section lists general guidelines to help you evaluate many items of clothing in your home. We recommend that you stand in front of a full-length mirror while you try on each item of clothing and go through the following checklists. It may be helpful to have a spouse or parent assist you.
Does My Clothing Cover My Body?
Does your clothing do what clothing was designed to do, cover your body? Modest clothing will cover the body in such a way as to cover its shape and skin rather than to expose or accent various parts.
Is your clothing LONG ENOUGH? Does it have enough material in it to adequately cover your body?
- Are your legs revealed or concealed?
- Is your dress long enough to conceal your legs, yet does it have a slit which reveals your legs or undergarments when you walk or sit in certain positions?
- Is your blouse or top long enough to completely cover your midriff when reaching or moving into different positions, or do your undergarments or skin occasionally peek out?
- Have you grown taller, so that what was once modest and concealing has now become too short and revealing?
- Are you aware that the length of your skirt while standing will be shortened quite a bit when you sit down or bend over? Is your skirt long enough that you will remain well covered at all times?
Is your clothing LOOSE ENOUGH? Does the fit emphasize or conceal your body’s shape? Even though your clothing may not physically reveal your skin, it can still reveal your body!
- Is your clothing form-fitting? Does it accent (reveal) your figure? Does it have features which are designed to conform the garment more closely to your figure?
- Does the material of your clothing fall so close to your body that it clearly marks out your figure, making it visible to spectators? You can be covered with fabric, yet if the curves of your body show, what you are wearing is not modest.
- Have you checked your front, side and back profiles in the mirror? Is the fabric so tight or clinging that it reveals your undergarments? Do you have to wear special undergarments to prevent outlines from showing?
- Is your clothing wide enough? Is the profile of your body readily distinguishable? Gathers and pleats may help add fullness to hide the contours of your body.
- Have you changed sizes so that now your clothing is tighter (more revealing) than it once was?
- Does your dress or skirt direct attention to your hips? Chest? Waist? Drop-waisted dresses or skirts can emphasize the waist and hips. Check yourself in a mirror or have your husband or father watch you walk. Skirts that are fitted in the yoke sometimes have a (suggestive?) “V” toward the crotch. These are very figure-flattering, but are they modest?
Is your neckline HIGH ENOUGH?
- Does your clothing have a neckline that conceals or reveals? What about when you bend over? Is the neckline high enough that while standing it is acceptable, but when you bend over, something is revealed?
- Is your neck opening small enough? Large or wide openings (such as pull-overs and boat necks) may appear to be modest at first. However, after a period of normal activity, the neckline will often shift to the side, allowing your shoulders or the straps of your undergarments to be revealed. Also, try bending down in front of a mirror. Does the material of your dress fall away from your body, opening up a view to your bosom or undergarments?
Is your clothing THICK ENOUGH, or is it made of “material” which uncovers your body?
- Is the material sheer (see-through) or porous, thus giving a “look-see” to those around you? (Sheer, lacy or fishnet-type materials are seductive, teasing the eyes and the imagination.)
- Does the material cling to your chest, thus revealing your shape, such as with knit or silky fabrics? T-shirts often offend on this point. Even a loose T-shirt will lie naturally against your bosom, marking out the size, and settling into your cleavage area, resulting in a most immodest display of your breasts.
- Does the material cling to and reveal your hip size or shape? Is the material stiff enough so that when it lies over the contours of your body, it covers (hides) your body’s shape rather than accenting it?
Is My Clothing Modest in All Positions?
Does your clothing maintain its modest appearance in different positions such as standing, sitting, bending, squatting, getting in or out of a car, from the front, back, side, and neck? Is your clothing LONG ENOUGH AND FULL ENOUGH to allow you to be modest when you sit down or bend over?
- Does your dress cover your legs when standing, but when you sit down does it creep up your legs and reveal more than it should?
- Are you constantly pulling your skirt down while sitting?
- If you customarily sit with your legs crossed, please be aware that this position may hike your dress up enough to completely uncover your knees and even thighs! Check yourself in the mirror.
- If you were to bend over in your dress or skirt and pick up something off the floor or squat down to talk to a child, would your clothing do any of the following:
- Creep up your legs and reveal them?
- Tighten around and accent your hips?
- Reveal the outline of your undergarments?
- Provide a tempting view down your neckline?
What does your NECKLINE reveal?
- What kind of view do others have when you are seated and they are standing?
- What kind of view does someone who is taller than you have when glancing down at your neckline?
- It is not only low necklines which are guilty of “revealing,” but also large or loose ones. You may stand erect in front of your mirror wearing a large or loose neckline, and think it is perfectly modest. However, bend over a little so that the material of your blouse or dress falls away from your body, and suddenly your private parts or undergarments are on display to anyone who happens to be close by.
When you RAISE YOUR ARMS, does your dress, sleeveless top, or short-sleeved top reveal your undergarments or more than it should? Move into several different positions and check for “glimpses” of what should not be revealed. Again, you may find that it is safer to avoid sleeveless clothing as well as certain styles of baggy or large sleeves.
Does your skirt feature a SLIT up the back or side? Does the slit allow a “peek” at your legs, thigh, slip, or undergarments? Sometimes a skirt contains a slit because it is too tight to comfortably walk or sit in without one. Beware! Tight skirts will hug and reveal your body’s curves. Sometimes a skirt is slit to make it more provocative. In either case, why not avoid clothing that is either tight or provocative?
Is My Clothing Modest at All Times and in All Places?
Does the LIGHT SHINE THROUGH your clothing to reveal the silhouette of your body when you are standing in front of a doorway or by a picture window? Consider wearing a slip that is as long as your dress. In some situations, it may be best to wear two slips if they are thin.
Can you modestly ascend and descend a stairway? Stand at the top of a flight of stairs. Let another woman stand at the foot of the stairs to see if you need a longer skirt.
On a windy day, are you able to modestly secure your clothing? Does your wrap-around skirt unwrap to reveal your undergarments or flesh? Does your thin, circular skirt fly up?
No Perfect Uniform
We have purposely avoided suggesting that one ideal modest uniform exists. Each item of clothing must be evaluated. It may be modest or it may be immodest. If it is modest, it will be so because of the fit, length, neckline, material, and other factors. Also, keep in mind that each woman will have her own unique challenges to dressing modestly. For example, a woman with a large bustline may never be able to wear the same style that another woman with a small bustline may modestly wear. If women were carbon copies of one another with exactly the same height, weight, and bone structure, then perhaps we might be able to prescribe modest uniforms which everyone could wear. However, since God has created women in different sizes and shapes, what may be modest on one might be extremely revealing on another. Please use wisdom and discernment as you seek to become a modest woman. Wear a style because it is modest on you, not just on someone else.
Sometimes a woman will find a certain style which is especially modest for her, and she will begin to wear only that one style. That is fine! You may find, as many women do, freedom in maintaining your wardrobe around the style or styles which undeniably hide your body’s nakedness and form.
Copyright 2010, W.R.P. Publishing, all rights reserved. Used by permission. Copies may be reprinted for non-profit personal or educational use only.