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Getting back to Modest dresses

Updated on September 23, 2008

Choosing modest

Dressing Modestly - A Conflict of Freedoms

There's more and more talk about modest dresses on the web, in social circles, and within religious circles. Why is there a need for modest dresses at all?

Decades have passed since the shift toward the right to dress as you choose. Now with the upsurge and demand for more modest clothing, our society seems to be coming full circle. With the influx of "skin is in", many groups of people are having a harder time finding modest styles suitable to their beliefs and personal choices.

Mostly religious beliefs are dictating the need to dress more modestly. But, there are those who just aren't comfortable with skin-baring outfits. A great example of this is Ellen DeGeneres. Known for her pantsuits, and long sleeved sweaters, shirts, and blazers, Ellen has admitted her discomfort and reluctance to wear anything that's too revealing.

Is this modest?

Why Modest? Why Not?

This is a personal choice about how a person chooses to portray themselves. Wearing skin-tight and flesh-revealing clothing isn't just about religious choices. Many parents are concerned about the skimpy offerings for their children. Other parents feel that no one has the right to monitor or censure their children's, or their own clothing choices. What one wears is a large component for peer pressure and social acceptance among children and adults.

Boys want to wear pants that are so baggy that they might as well just walk around in their boxers and forget about the jeans. Girl's tops and shorts are so scant and meager, there's barely a need for clothing at all. Is this a problem?

It's hard to make a lateral moral directive about what people are permitted to wear or not. Enacting laws pertaining to clothing shouldn't be allowed to happen and it wouldn't work anyway. Personal choices and the autonomy of individual freedoms and religious freedoms are fundamental to Americans and its ideals.

The point here is where do we as a society, or a world, draw the line and do we need to? To address it from a purely practical and physical standpoint without all the religious dogmas injected into the hornet's nest, there would be two simple ways to look at the issue.

On one side of the coin, we could view clothing as nothing more than decoration and bodies are just bodies. Bodies are beautiful and there should be no shame associated with your body. You're born naked, right? It isn't inherent in our nature to clothe ourselves. It is a learned behavior. So, what's the big deal?

On the other side of the coin, we do have a need for clothing. We can't very well be running around in thirty-degree weather in our skivvies. Clothing keeps us warm and protected from the environment. And like everything else, our ill-equipped human bodies materially need - status, value, and tenets related to each need are given dictates.

It doesn't really matter if those dictates about clothing are issued for the mere attempt at controlling chaos, for dominance over a group of people, in relation to tenets advocating definitive values for believers, or just plain survival in the elements.

Like it or not, there are definite societal judgments about how you look. Success depends a lot on how you appear. You may be a brilliant mathematician but if your underpants are hanging out of your trousers or your breasts are about to burst out of their fabric, your brilliance is probably will get overlooked.

How modest clothes are depends a lot on the situation. A modest wedding dress can mean something very different than a modest prom dress. It's not as simple as just saying "these areas are covered" but often depends on the event.

Freedoms should always be protected, but those freedoms go both ways. Society measures you not only by your merits, but by how you appear. There are always exceptions, but unless you're Einstein, your appearance will affect the choices you'll have to make in your life.

Is it a conundrum? Our freedom to dress in clothes which are comfortable for our values conflict with societal expectations for our personal promotion. The bottom line is your choices; having the ability to choose and diverse resources to choose from.

Respect and arguments for Modesty

Poll on Modesty

What does modesty mean to you?

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Who needs modest clothing?

Outside of the philosophy of the matters of societal image, the movement for modest clothing, especially out of concern for our children, has been launched. Most modest dress codes come from various religious and cultural doctrines. But, even with religious dictates, there are discrepancies within each religion. Branches, sects, and belief levels adhere to different standards.

Religions that include Islamic, Christian Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, Mormon, Quaker, Mennonite, Amish, and certain cultures of Eastern traditions have detailed guidelines about their clothing choices. Covering arms, legs, hair, heads, feet, hands, eyes, and various other body parts, all take on a different meaning among the myriad creeds and dogmas.

To these faiths, modesty is a testament to their beliefs and reverence for their Creator or culture. Driven by current fashion and celebrities dressing according to their fashion designers, mainstream clothing has gotten skimpier, looser, more daring, and more casual.

Fewer choices for modest dressers caused a stir. Fewer choices and public examples for modest believing parents, stirred the pot a little hotter. The push for modest dressing has its merits, especially when it relates to the kids. The debate about children could go on and on, and probably will, but not here.

Children are the primary responsibility of their parents. Parents should have the right to teach their children the values that are important to them. They should look to themselves to instill their children with their approved beliefs. They should also have the right to resources that support their views and beliefs, no matter what that belief happens to be.

The media and its public consumption also have a responsibility to provide a variety of choices for their viewers, and they seem to try to do so. With hundreds of channel choices, and more being developed, the choices of what you or your family watches is entirely up to you.

Religious Dress

religious modesty
religious modesty

Is it just about clothing?

Clothing isn't the only issue on the modesty front. Proponents for a more modest world along with people who wonder where polite society has gone have apprehension about public behavior. Modesty isn't just about clothing. And this is a lesson that society needs to take another look at.

Another definition of modesty is humility. Humility is one of those global virtues that all cultures seem to value. Respect is another one. The swing toward complete behavioral autonomy caused a loss of polite society. Evidence of this loss can be read on news, blogs, and seen on videos all over the world.

Again, this is a part of the equation that could be dug into in limitless depths. It is also an element that can be tied right back into how you present yourself to society. Capitalism favors the confident, the go-getters, and the ruthless because it is based on competition. What is has forgotten about is good sportsmanship.

Humility, respect, and consideration of your fellow human beings are being a good sport. The command and use of those polite qualities create the foundation for everything else. Are these parts of the modesty equation that should be rallied for? Have they lost their luster? Or is it just clothes?

The power of modesty

What can the modest do?

For those who are exasperated about the seemingly slim pickings of clothing for you or your family, you do have a growing multitude of choices. More and more websites and manufacturers are creating outlets and shops that solely focus on modest clothing choices.

Many of these sites serve several faiths and cultures, which actually provides more choices for styles, fabrics, and availability. As the market grows, the variety and diversity of clothing also grows. A great majority seemed to be tailored for those looking for modest wedding gowns and modest choices for bridesmaids, or modest prom dresses and formal outfits, as well as modest garments for religious events, holidays, and occasions.

Many of these vendors are now providing choices for children and teenagers and that inventory is expanding as demands increase the need for a diverse supply. There are also growing numbers of modest clothing that adapts to the specifics of different religions while retaining a degree of casualness and comfort.

There are also arrays of sites designed for specific religions with clothing choices appropriate for their belief systems. Many other religious specific websites have links and ads to online retail outlets and stores that are limited to their doctrines.

For those who aren't affiliated to a particular belief, but still believe in dressing modestly, many of these sites cater to a broad variety of modesty levels. As the demand proliferates for modest clothing, so does the appeal of the multifariousness of style, cut, and fabric.

Modesty conflict resolved?

Though this article presents both sides of the coin, or perspectives from different sets of eyeglasses, the crux of the dilemma is about freedoms. Regardless of where you are on the plus or minus scale of modesty, every person should have the right to wear what they're comfortable in.

Given the expectations of societal impressions, every person also has the right to display their own outward personal impressions and they also have the right to the positive or negative consequences their appearance has on their lives. It is your responsibility to teach your children the values you believe in and explain the difference between your values and opposing ones.

On one last side note, about the notion or belief that women who dress in less and are perceived to be flaunting or advertising their sexuality: there is a recurring statement that is disturbing and completely idiotic. The argument states that these women deserve any ramifications of sexual or physical violence by men because they were "asking for it".

Men claim they can't help their behavior because their mind is plagued with lustful thoughts and their desires can't be helped or stopped. That is a load of hooey. It is an incredibly sad testament to the condition, control, respect, and brain functioning of the male population if they are so powerless they cannot constrain their bodies and thoughts.

That being said, your clothing preferences should be a personal choice based on what you feel is modest! Whether that is informed by religious oppinion or not doesn't matter as much as what makes you comfortable.

Finally, for the modest dressers, you have choices that are growing exponentially and should alleviate your concerns about clothing options. Just remember your beliefs and preferences don't apply to everyone. Clothing identifies who we are, how we are comfortable, and it should stay an individual choice.


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      thank you very much this is good keep it calling is to dreass people in modesty and this web page has helped me with some of my i hope to hear more of this.

    • mod2vint profile image


      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Believe it or not if your dressing to impress covering more will get you more. Leaving more to the imangination should be the choice for all ages, sizes, and sexes.

      For the guys nobody wants to see your boxers. Look for pants that fit your waist but have a longer croch, and you won't feel confined.

      Great article!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is the best article on modest dressing I've ever read (and I've read lots of them!). Thank you very much indeed for it.


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