What does modesty mean to me?



adjective \ˈmä-dəst\

Definition of MODEST

a : placing a moderate estimate on one's abilities or worth
b : neither bold nor self-assertive : tending toward diffidence
: arising from or characteristic of a modest nature
: observing the proprieties of dress and behavior : decent
a : limited in size, amount, or scope <a family of modestmeans>
b : unpretentious <a modest home>
via M-W.com
Around the Catholic blogosphere, there has been a lot of discussion regarding modesty. It seems as though each individual has their own rules regarding what is viewed as "modest".  In my opinion, modesty is defined by the amount of "skin" that is showing and whether your attire causes you to receive inappropriate attention. 

Tops - Generally, tops should have sleeves. If they do not have sleeves, they should have thick enough straps that your bra straps are not showing. When you lean forward, you should not be revealing cleavage. Also, when bending, your shirt should not pull away from your pants or skirt to reveal skin. I do not particularly subscribe to the two finger rule. "A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat..."

Bottoms - I am not an exclusively "skirt wearing" woman. However, I love my long skirts because they are comfortable, lady-like, and modest. It is the easiest way to get dressed, look nice, and feel good. I wear sweats, jeans, and dress pants however, I make sure that they are not too tight. By too tight, I mean they do not show underwear lines. Bottoms of any variety should not show any part of your buttocks. I also do not wear pants that have any kind of words across the backside. I make sure my pants have a high enough rise that nothing is exposed when sitting or bending.

Dresses - I tend to wear dresses on special occasions - Christmas, a fancy dinner, a special concert or other event, or even Sunday Mass.  I enjoy getting dressed up and wearing accompanying jewelry such as pearl earrings or a necklace.   The dresses I choose to wear generally do not have a low neckline.   I don't feel comfortable wearing that type of clothing.   Also, I don't wear short dresses, such as a mini-skirt.  My rules regarding underwear lines and appropriate fit also apply to dresses.  

I'd love it if you shared your thoughts on modesty in the comments section below! 


  1. I know you probably know this (I hope that's not weird to say) but I have a lot of trouble with cleavage as a woman who has larger breasts. All of my scoop necks, which are not extreme scoops, show something if I bend over. It's very frustrating because I don't want to be stuck in high necklines my whole life. I generally try to wear a tank top underneath so that's what you see if I bed over. But anyway, I follow similar guidelines as you do.I do think that varying body types can depend on if an article of clothing is modest or not. Something that may appear modest on me, may not be on another body type and vice versa.

  2. For the most part, I agree! I'm certainly not opposed to tops without sleeves though. Bra straps hanging out is always something to be avoided.

    Without trying to bend any lines here, I think a lot of modesty with regard to clothing actually mirrors how modest we are with our hearts. If we are careless with our hearts and share them without letting the Lord guard them, then we will be far more likely to share our bodies (or at least expose them). Modesty comes from the inside and how we respect ourselves, and our ability to guard our hearts (and let God guard them) is revealed by the clothes we wear.

  3. Thanks for "finding" me!

    I tend to think of modesty as relative to context. Wasn't it JPII who talked about how one thing is modest on the beach, but not at Church? I think it is great that you know what works for you.