by Leane VanderPutten
Today I’d like to talk a little bit about some of the practical aspects of living a modest lifestyle. You may also like to watch this video of my own thoughts on Modesty and also my Modesty Journey…
And here is my daughter, Rosie’s post on Modesty.
Before I get into the Practical Tips of Modesty, I just want to say a word about sewing…
You may not be a sew-er. A couple of my girls are, the rest…not really. But we have a sewing machine and the girls at home can sit down and sew a seam if they want to.
Thrift shops are our friend but oftentimes we need to let down a hem or add lace to a sleeve.
Sewing is not as complicated as learning how to use a cell phone, so it is something that is worthwhile learning. Even just the basics. In your modesty journey, a sewing machine is very helpful.
I have watched my oldest daughter, Virginia, take some curtains that she found at our favorite thrift store and turn it into a lovely skirt. When we need 3 or 4 inches added to a skirt, she always has material around to help in that area.
She gets sheets to line her aprons, lace and lovely vintage buttons to embellish her creations, and so much more! This makes it fun and exciting!
Sewing also helps if you have a more uncommon shape as a girl/woman.
OK, onto some practical tips…
Six things to ponder…
1. You know the saying…I wear my heart on my sleeve? Well, we wear our hearts on the clothes we wear. We really do. So, What do the clothes I wear say about where my heart is??
2. When I go to choose an outfit for the day, am I choosing an outfit to attract attention in the wrong way to those around me? Am I seeking to impress Our Lord with the clothing I wear today….always with dignity and a touch of class.
3. Is what I wear consistent with Our Lady’s values of modesty, self-control and respectable apparel, or does my dress reveal an inordinate identification and fascination with sinful cultural values?
4. Who am I trying to identify with through my dress? Is the Church, the Fathers, Tradition and Our Lady my standard or is it the latest fashion?
5. Have I sought out other godly persons to help me decide an outfit if I am struggling whether it is modest enough?
6. The clothing I wear….could someone look at me and know that I am a woman of morals, of faith, of integrity. Or does my clothing contradict this profession of faith?
“How does a woman discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts in the intent of the heart.
A woman should examine her motives and goals for the way she dresses. Is her intent to show the grace and beauty of womanhood? Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshiping God? Or is it to call attention to herself and flaunt her beauty? Or worse, to attempt to lure men sexually?
A woman who focuses on worshiping God will consider carefully how she is dressed, because her heart will dictate her wardrobe and appearance.” John MacArthur
Blouses and Tops:
CAMISOLES OR TANK TOPS
Camisoles are wonderful. We make much use out of them to put under our tops. They can help make a see-through top modest, and a top that is too low-cut suddenly is just fine. They can also help to keep the material on top of the camisole, your outer garment, too clingy.
You do have to be careful, though. You don’t want to get the spaghetti strap camisole and then have a see through top as the straps look like underwear anyway and expose too much of the back. But if see-through is not the issue, then a spaghetti strap camisole is fine IF it is high enough. If it isn’t then pin those straps to your bra.
Personally I like to wear what I call a shell or tank top. They are sleeveless but not spaghetti straps. They cover more and usually come up more in the front. If you find the shell is too low, we have also worn with the back in the front. The back always come up higher. And since a lot of these shells don’t have tags on the back, just a bit of writing on the inside, this can work fine, too.
Sometimes you can just use mock clip on camisoles if it is just the neckline you are trying to make more modest.My girls have done this. You can get them on Amazon or Ebay
Your underlay….the camisoles or shells may be a bit low. Do pin them so they don’t ride down during the day. If the girls forget to do this I am constantly reminding them to pull up their undershirt. What good is it if it is always riding down?
LIGHT, SEE THROUGH COMPLETE OVERLAYS:
We have a favorite Thrift Shop…it’s called God’s Storehouse…very fitting. There we have purchased several light, flowy, feminine, tops that are so light they go right over a t-shirt and don’t add a lot of bulk. Some of My girls love this look and with the t-shirt underneath it is perfectly modest. And the overlays can be quite pretty. Because they are more of a flowy cut one does not have to worry about clingy or tight.
I realize that you may think this is too hot for the summertime and I understand. One thing I have found, though, is that you can get quite used to a little more bulk. I never thought this was possible myself. We live in Kansas and it, too, is hot. I have found through the years that I can put up with a light layer and it doesn’t bug me like it used to. I am from Canada and the heat really gets to me!
Also, just a lovely, short sleeve cotton blouse that is not see through is a good choice for the summer. I don’t button my top button but if the next button is a bit too low (remember the two-finger rule under the collar bone) I use a safety pin…always! Remember…safety pins are your friends!
Here’s a little tutorial on how to change a longer sleeve blouse into a short one….
Remember, though, that a blouse that is too tight is just that…too tight. Scrap it. How do we tell?
A shirt that shows tension folds at the bust area is too tight. Also, if the material pulls in right under the bust area…not good. There should be a natural flow between that area and your tummy area.
Sleeves need to be longer than just a cap sleeve. You don’t want to be showing off your armpits…either with too short of a sleeve…or too flouncy.
In the winter time, layering is fun and very useful. You can wear those long sleeve t-shirts (and there are a multitude of colors available) with a vest over top, a nice lacy layer (light lace or a heavier knit), your complete flowy blouse overlay, etc. Scarves are wonderful for smoothing things out and covering up. I wouldn’t use a scarf, necessarily, for covering a low neck unless it was pinned in place. Scarves move around and aren’t always a good choice for that.
AVOID T-SHIRTS BECAUSE THEY TEND TO CLING TO ALL THE WRONG PLACES.
But…If I have a knit shirt that isn’t necessarily too tight but I may feel is drawing too much attention to the chest part, a scarf cuts that up pretty good and distracts from that area.
Once again, though, too tight is just too tight and needs to go…
Also, Don’t wear t-shirts with writing on them. It is like a billboard that your eyes are drawn to.
OVERLAYS WITH BROOCH OR SHAWL PINS
I like to use brooches to pin my overlays together in the front. And we have just discovered shawl pins that allows a little bit of room so you don’t have to pull that overlay together completely. They also are very pretty and work better than an actual brooch, in my opinion.
NOT CLINGY OR TIGHT
Once again, knits can be clingy…but not all knits. So do try on those dresses before you buy them. You don’t want them tight.
The girls will often ask me when they come downstairs dressed to watch them walk so they know whether that skirt/dress clings too much. If it does, the skirt or dress goes out or they wear a longer overlay to compensate.
Dresses and skirts are too short if they don’t cover your knees when you sit down. I remember a good nun who was teaching class to her all-girl students…when the girl’s legs were up or her dress was too short, she would scold them saying she could see her “kingdom come”. We got the point.
My thought is….at least 4 inches past the knee. Really, it is much more elegant to wear a longer dress or skirt. That’s the way I see it…even on a natural level.
with a little help from Modesty Matters by Pam Hardy
Let’s talk about swimsuits. Basically a swimsuit these days cover the same area of the body that your undergarments do. Let me ask you this? Would you go around wearing your underwear. I don’t think so. Yet, women (and men) do all the time when they are swimming.
Here’s a bit of a tidbit….
In 1922, if you wore what today would be considered a very modest one-piece swimsuit you would have been arrested for indecent exposure (Jeff Pollard, Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America). That is how much the standard has been lowered in our society, in the last 80 years.
I know many good girls who would say this, “You know when you get really honest, there is no such thing as a modest swimsuit.” I have to agree.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t go swimming. But it may not be quite as easy as the girl who just dons her one-piece or two piece bathing suit. That’s OK. It’s worth it.
Today there are many things to choose from online that are becoming more and more trendy for the girl who want to cover more than the average swimmer.
For us, we have had our bathing suits made. I don’t have any pictures….at least I couldn’t find any…so here is kind of what they look like. We make our skirts longer.
You can also do research online to find some good examples. Then if you are handy with the sewing machine you can make yourself one…or hire someone else to do it. It will be an investment well worth the money you spend on it.
Let’s make the effort to be modest when we swim. Will you look different than others? You bet! And that’s a good thing. Hold your head high…not in haughtiness…but in knowing you are making an effort to please God. And that is enough.
DRESSING MODESTLY IS COMFORTABLE…
Let’s face it. Being modest can work for us as far as covering up those things we are self-conscious about….and we look like beautiful feminine women…by covering up! More comfortable in that way..yes!
Also, looser fitting clothing is definitely more comfortable than tight-fitting clothing. Back in the day, I had friends who would get their jeans out of the dryer and literally have to lie on the bed to do the zippers up. They would shrink a bit during the laundering process and since they were skin tight, they were hard to get on! Sounds like a straight jacket to me…not too comfy!
Things that constrict movement are not very comfortable!
Wrapping it up…
When it comes to modesty, women have a responsibility (Men do, too, but this is not a men’s article):
- Women must dress modestly and not be afraid to spread that good news with humility and charity.
- Mothers need to teach their daughters to dress modestly at a very young age. You cannot allow immodesty and all of a sudden expect them to be modest at a magical age. Talk to your daughters about modesty, not in an unpleasant, condemning way…but in a bright and positive light. Make it pleasurable for them to dress modestly by allowing them to sew, or just shop for nice clothes.
When you dress modestly, what are the results? God and Our Lady are very pleased and you are a good example, an inspiration and an encouragement to others. You will have a clear conscience because you will not be a stumbling block to the men around you.
Remember our ultimate goal is to please God. In turn He will give us a peace and happiness…
For a list of Stores That Sell Modest Clothing see this post on Beauty So Ancient.
PLACES TO SHOP
WHAT TO LOOK FOR ONLINE:
Sunsuits for girls
Surfsuits Rashguard – covers the top
Micosuza Women’s Skirted Swim Capris
Look for Jewish or Israeli modest swimwear
Micosuza swimsuit for women
Freestyle Swim Skirt Surf Tops
Alice von Hildebrand – “St. Francis de Sales tells us that pious women should be well-dressed, but this doesn’t mean they must become slaves of fashion. There’s a way of dressing which is attractive, even elegant, but at the same time modest and simple. More importantly, attractiveness shouldn’t be reserved for guests and those you meet outside the home, while you ‘let yourself go’ when you’re at home. The moment a couple marries, they should begin to try always to be at their best for each other, physically (and above all) spiritually.”
Here is a simple outline to ensure we are carrying out our daily duties as best we can on this road we travel as Catholic women. This is my own list of what I deem the basics of a successful day. It is an ideal I strive for. You may have your own plan, and I hope you do. If this can help in any way, then I have accomplished my goal with this video…
This journal is for the single lady who is in the interim before finding her vocation in life. At this very important crossroad in life, this journal can help with discipline, inspiration and encouragement.
All of the quotes deal with a young lady’s time in life….whether it is courtship, religious vocations, modesty and just a better spiritual life in general. A form of Morning and Night Prayers that I have used personally through the years is included at the beginning of the Journal.
This 30~day journal is a tool that will help the young woman to be disciplined in the next 30 days to write down positive, thankful thoughts. It will help her focus on the true and lovely by thinking about good memories, special moments, things and people she is grateful for, etc., as she awaits the time her vocation is made manifest to her.
NOW is the time to improve our lives!
This booklet contains practical advice on the subjects of dating and choosing a spouse from the Catholic theological viewpoint. Father Lovasik points out clearly what one’s moral obligations are in this area, providing an invaluable aid to youthful readers. Additionally, he demonstrates that Catholic marriage is different from secular marriage and why it is important to choose a partner who is of the Catholic Faith if one would insure his or her personal happiness in marriage. With the rampant dangers to impurity today, with the lax moral standards of a large segment of our society, with divorce at epidemic levels, Clean Love in Courtship will be a welcome source of light and guidance to Catholics serious about their faith.
A Frank, Yet Reverent Instruction on the Intimate Matters of Personal Life for Young Men. To our dear and noble Catholic youths who have preserved, or want to recover, their purity of heart, and are minded to retain it throughout life. For various reasons many good fathers of themselves are not able to give their sons this enlightenment on the mysteries of life properly and sufficiently. They may find this book helpful in the discharge of their parental responsibilities in so delicate a matter.
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Thank you for a most excellent article!! As a late comer to learning these things, I am behind the eight ball in teaching or having taught my daughters so it’s been a process!! I appreciate the website suggestions to find modest clothing and swimwear. Thank you so much!
You’re most welcome, Kristen!
Bless you for this post. I am older and a plus size woman. Your posts give me hope and direction. It’s never too late to begin.
No it isn’t! God bless you, Beth!
I grew up and my children grew up wearing garage sale, thrift shop, home made and hand-me-down clothing. In this day and age, when slave-labor is used to create many of the clothes in stores, I’d much rather have clothing that is home-made, garage sale and thrift store, as I do not like to give money to places that promote such evils. I do look at catalogs for ideas for sewing, or what I can pull together from thrift stores to look like something that might look as though it were from the store. Feminine clothing is out there, but, it is often not modest in stores today.
It is valuable to know how to sew, even if it is only hand-sewing to repair or alter. It is a gift, even to your sons, to teach them simple stitching to make repairs of rips of seams that came undone.
Thank you so much for this post! God bless you.
Thank You for this lovely post.