Five years ago when I shared my plans to begin a fashion blog for Christian women who aren’t adequately served by most fashion magazines, many friends and acquaintances immediately squealed, “Oooh! We need more modest fashion sites.”
I never planned to spend much time writing about modesty. Fashion is so much more. And modesty has many, many variables. I wore this Guy Laroche gown to the 2008 Ball for Life in NYC:
The fabric I chose was an opaque, steel-grey, silk jersey; I had the front edges closed. But I left the back as designed. It was perfect. Perfect for me at the time. Perfect for the occasion. I also wore it to a formal wedding with a semi-sheer evening sweater. After years of steroids and other medicines that add pounds, I wouldn’t wear this gown today. But when I’m back to a normal weight, I’ll happily wear it again on the right occasion.
Modesty is more than adequate coverage. It’s also wearing what is appropriate. It’s wearing clothing that attract appropriate attention: The bride should catch our eyes! Bright red is not appropriate for a funeral. A short skirt is often immodest but so is a long, translucent skirt that reveals a woman’s body whenever she’s in the light. Even a long, opaque skirt that trips the wearer as she is hiking is immodest because modesty demands that we recognize who we are and what we are doing.
True modesty demands humility in the sense of knowing ourselves, our bodies, our sensibilities, and the life God has given us to live. A truly modest woman wants to welcome and delight those she meets and she wants to be part of the activities of her life. So a truly modest woman who has offered to assist at a friend’s barbecue doesn’t show up wearing an outfit that leaves her host terrified her lamé top or lace skirt will be ruined. She wears clothing that are appropriate for the tasks and occasion.
Dressing appropriately is an act of charity. And that’s what modesty really is, being charitable to ourselves and all those God places in our lives.