We’ve seen that modesty is an expression of purity, consideration, and wisdom in a world created by God but fallen into sin, where the good gift of romantic attraction can go out of control and become sin that damages lives. We’ve looked at some principles and specifics that should affect our choice of clothing styles. Today, some closing thoughts.
This is unfair!
Girls, why I have I said more to you about specific styles than to the guys? Because physical attraction is generally much stronger for guys than for girls. It’s a bigger area of struggle and temptation for them than for you. In general, guys have to watch carefully what they see, while girls have to watch carefully what they wear and read. So have consideration for guys’ unique makeup and don’t make life more difficult for them. Don’t worry-when you dress in attractive but modest clothing, you won’t lose out. God will send the right kind of guy when you are ready to marry-considerate, respectful, honest and kind-if you send the right signals with the way you dress.
While we’re talking about getting married, please stay modest in weddings, yours and others’. Sudden surprises can be a source of problems for others. A popular dress style for bridesmaids is high in front and plunging to the waist in back. This is not considerate to male guests. You walk in and they see you from the front and all is well. They let down their guard and then you turn around and suddenly they are looking at the small of your back. Why do you think your Dad likes to put his hand around your Mom’s waist? So this type of style is not a good idea.
Likewise, when the day comes for you to get married, save the details of your beautiful figure for your husband. Don’t make everyone else aware of the exact shape of your prettiest parts on your wedding day with a tight, slinky or very low style.
Are you going to lose out?
Guys and girls, when you dress and act modestly but attractively, you will help yourselves and others enjoy some of God’s best gifts-the differences between the sexes and the attraction between the sexes-to the full. That’s because God is not a meanie. His laws do not deprive us of anything good. He only forbids what is harmful, wrong and destructive. You will experience the fullest delight in your relationships with the opposite sex, now and throughout your life, if you dress and act modestly.
Making it work
Dressing modestly may be more work than dressing immodestly. It may take you longer to shop. You may have to get on catalog mailing lists and deal with returns by mail. (Try buying the two most likely sizes, knowing one may have to go back.) There are lots of catalogs with more modest styles than you will find at the store. Modesty may mean you have fewer, more modest, more expensive clothing items instead of more items which are less modest and less expensive. That’s because you may have to buy some of your clothing at stores intended for adult shoppers instead of for teenagers.
If you find a modest style, you may want to buy it in several colors or sizes, so you can get more use out of that find. Getting involved in an active hand-me-down circle can be a big help, too. Learning to mix and match will serve you well if you need to stick with fewer total items, too.
Modesty may also mean learning some sewing skills, like the ability to install a kick pleat into a skirt slit, or the ability to do some simple alterations so you have more choices at a thrift store. (If you learn to put pleats into the waist of a too-large skirt so that you can wear it now, you will double or triple your skirt choices at the thrift store each time you go. You’ll be able to look at everything that’s your size, plus everything that’s a size, or a few sizes, bigger.) And if you learn to sew in a big way, you’ll have a really wide range of choices.
But I love colors and fabrics and beauty!
Modesty does not have to mean suppressing your God-given love of beauty and color. You can use those loves to help guide you into wise choices, or let those loves motivate you to master sewing, so you can choose from a wide range of beautiful fabrics. You can also put those loves to work in areas other than clothing. Learn to decorate, to paint, to knit or crochet or embroider or quilt, or to do mosaics. Enrich someone else’s life or home with your knowledge of color and pattern. Decorating yourself isn’t the only avenue for these skills and abilities.
We’ve looked primarily at clothing in our discussion of modesty, but as a final word, I will mention scents. There are more and more scented products: bodywashes and more. And of course, there is aftershave, cologne, and perfume. As with clothing, you should avoid anything that tempts someone else. Pine and lemon don’t generally tempt, for example, but rich, musky, exotic scents can. Does it say “daytime” or “nighttime”? Stick with scents that say “daytime.” And in general, the scents you wear should be something you smell, but others do not. Just as with clothing, you don’t want to turn heads or do anything that causes others to let down their guard. “I want to get closer and closer to you because of how you smell” is not an effect you want to cause. Be careful and be considerate. Save the romantic and alluring scents, save the clothing that says “come closer,” for private times with the husband or wife God will give you someday. You don’t need those things now. They will be the better for having been saved till then. Till then, dress in ways that say that beauty is good, but my body belongs to the one I will one day marry. That’s what modesty is all about-preserving the joy that God intends for marriage.
By Katharine Birkett
Author, The Great Latin Adventure
Vintage “Waiting and Hoping” image courtesy of Karen’s Whimsy