When my husband and I first got married, I owned this cute little black skirt that showed off my personal best asset — my legs. I had bought it on sale at a store where I didn’t usually have the money to shop, and I loved the way I looked in that skirt.
My hubby asked me to get rid of it. What?! Are you kidding?! He said that it was too short, and he didn’t like other guys seeing that much of me. Hmmm.
Frankly, I’d always thought of myself as being relatively modest. I never wore a bikini; always a one-piece. I didn’t wear low-cut blouses, even if I didn’t have the cleavage to spill out anyway. I didn’t squeeze myself into clothing two sizes too small or wear dresses with cut-outs on the sides. But I had to take his word for it — his male perspective on what draws a man’s attention in an inappropriate way.
When I look around now, I sometimes can’t believe the eye candy that we dangle in front of men’s eyes and then expect them to pay attention to our inner goodness. I was at a church luncheon once (I repeat, church luncheon, for heaven’s sake!) and saw a woman lean over to get her food, drawing up her blouse and giving a peek at the black thong coming out of her skirt. She probably had no idea.
And that’s the point. We ladies are not always great at gauging what is appropriate to wear publicly. The newest fashions come out, everyone’s wearing them, they make us look good, and we buy. We are often not even aware that the micro-mini reveals too much when we sit across from a male co-worker or that a loose blouse is giving a glimpse of our lacy bra to the waiter at our table. We don’t even think like that.
So we have to start thinking like that. We have to pause and ask whether what we are wearing is going to encourage temptation to lust for men around us. Yes, I know men lust anyway. My father swore that young men can find a way to lust after women wearing potato sacks, but we should make it easier for guys to focus on what is most important.
Some things modesty is not:
Modesty is not backward. Modesty is not dressing like you are from past century in a fruitless attempt to turn back time and keep things on the up-and-up.
Modesty is not frumpy. Wearing sweat pants and crew neck t-shirts all the time will cover everything, but that is not a look that presents the best you.
Modesty is not old. A 30 year old need not dress like her grandmother to maintain a modicum of modesty.
Modesty is not gender-neutral. Straight clothes that hide that you are, hello!, a woman is not modesty.
What modesty is:
Modesty is covering up skin best reserved for your spouse. If you aren’t sure whether it’s appropriate, ask him. Do not ask, “Do you like me in this dress?” He might say, “I love you in that dress (and out of it).” Ask where the dress makes him look. Does the dress draw attention to areas best left for his eyes only? Ask if he is comfortable with how much of you will be revealed to others.
Modesty is dressing like the beautiful woman you are. You are a woman with a womanly shape; it is okay to wear something that demonstrates that you have a figure. But fitted and tight-fitting are quite different. Don’t get hung up on the numbered size of a garment (sizes vary so much by manufacturer); find what fits you right.
Modesty is fashionable. Yes, you can find styles that are fashionable and modest. Teenagers in particular may have to treat clothes shopping like hunting an endangered species, but it is possible.
Modesty is keeping your underclothes under your clothes. For some reason, I feel the overwhelming compulsion to state this. I don’t think it’s backward to presume that bras, panties, etc. should not be as visible to the public as your brand-new haircut.
If you struggle with what makes you look beautiful and fashionable without falling into inappropriate styles, I recommend going online and looking for tips on dressing your body type. Frankly, in the few episodes I’ve seen of What Not to Wear, the experts did an excellent job of dressing women in clothes that highlighted their best parts and kept everything tucked in as it should be. (Mind you, I cannot speak to the series as a whole since I don’t get that channel!)
Pause and think about what you’re wearing. Think about whether it’s honoring your husband. Think about whether it’s helping another woman’s husband keep his eyes on his own wife. And then go out there and be the fashionista that you are!