Women who choose to dress modestly come from all kinds of backgrounds, and their reasons for dressing modestly vary. Moreover, a commitment to modesty can harmonize with a huge range of styles and personal tastes in fashion. So the question remains: what does it actually mean to dress modestly?
If there’s one “golden rule” that sums up dressing modestly, it’s this: your clothing choice should enhance your attractiveness as a total person, rather than attracting the eye to one particular part of your body.
Think about it – a hemline that’s just a little too short draws eyes downward toward your legs. Heels that are just a little too showy and high can do the same thing for your ankles, even if your knees and lower legs are modestly covered. And of course, an overly-revealing neckline will make your chest the star of the show.
While all of these fashion faux-pas are problematic in terms of the rules of modesty – however we define them – the greater problem is how this type of immodest dressing causes us to be seen as a collection of body parts, rather than a dignified, and attractive human soul.
There’s no question that our clothing choices affect the way the world sees us. That’s why modest dressing is so important – it creates a beautiful “frame” for showcasing the beauty we all hold inside.
“Attractive, Not Attracting” – A Strategy for Teens and Parents
Teaching the benefits of this fashion philosophy to our daughters can be difficult, especially when we don’t want to get into power struggles about modesty. So here’s another shorthand method for determining an outfit’s overall modesty quotient.
Ask your daughter to look into the mirror and answer the following question for herself: Is what I’m wearing “attractive” or “attracting”?
Even without getting into a discussion of specifics (or taking a disciplinary ruler to her shirtsleeve!), most girls recognize that subjective moment when clothing crosses over into impropriety. This little exercise will also help her form a firm foundation of self-respect, knowing that she understands and controls that fine line between wearing an outfit that enhances her beauty and expresses her spirit, and wearing one that advertises her “availability”.
We all have them. Those casual tops and bottoms that screamed “buy me” in the store, but – once purchased – never seem to make their way out of the closet. Dressing in layers is a great way to re-think your personal clothing inventory and make the most of what you have.
In addition to its value for rescuing under-used articles of clothing, layering is a great fashion strategy, allowing you to add interest, a dash of color, and create an entirely new look that is totally “you”.
Sleevies® 3/4 Sleeve Extensions
From the overly-generous scoop of a low-necked tee, to the skirt that rides up, to the clingy materials that highlight those love handles, there are lots of reasons that some clothes just can’t make it on their own. Rather than throwing out or donating, experiment with layered dressing strategies that accentuate each garment’s best, most attractive characteristic.
Let’s say you bought a shirt because the color goes perfectly with a hard-to-match skirt. If the shirt rides up, don’t give up! Save the situation by layering on a contrasting vest, or adding an underlayer. Many women swear by the “hippies” – a flexible layering solution that bridges the gap like a wide belt, providing coverage without adding bulk.
Layers can also come to the rescue when trying to accommodate our changing bodies. As the years go by, women who were once happy to step out in short sleeves may find that a little more coverage makes them feel more confident. Again, there’s no need for a new wardrobe. Layer your favorite tops over a sleek shell underlayer – or add “sleevie” extensions – to give your old garments a new lease on life. Along with underlayer shells (short-sleeved, long-sleeved and cropped), sleevies and hippies, other garments that can widen your layering options include:
- The cropped top or half tee– a midriff-exposing layer, meant to be worn under a longer shirt. Half tees can be found in a variety of decorative necklines that add interest to any outfit.
- Tee-necks – sometimes referred to as a “dickie”, these garments provide coverage under shirts that expose too much of the chest.
- The pencil skirt – adds length to a tunic dress or a too-short skirt. Available in almost every color, pencil skirts complement an outfit, without making too obvious a statement.
The Fashion Advantage
Layering is a great way to re-work what’s in your closet, but remember – layering is also a creative and fashionable way to dress! Choose a color scheme, and experiment with garments that you never wore together before. Shuffle up the shapes, so that each individual article of clothing can be seen. When layering, choose just one particularly interesting item to highlight – a cropped jacket, or a fabulous scarf – rather than having lots of loud layers competing for attention.
But most of all, have fun! Dressing in layers is an individual statement. So forget the rules, and enjoy building a do-it-yourself look of your very own.
Kosher Casual’s Modest Exercise Skirt
Working out while dressing modestly? It can be done! A sports skirt with attached black leggings, yoga pants and long-sleeve workout shirts are coming to the rescue!
Workout clothing is usually associated with lots of bare skin. But perhaps the idea of “modest workout clothes” conjures an image of running on a treadmill in a long, floral robe. Fret not—there is a happy medium! A wide range of stylish and oh-so-functional workout clothing is available for the modest dresser. If you haven’t tried an athletic skirt, you are missing out!
As modest clothing evolves, it has started to cover (ha!) all aspects of our lives. Modest clothing extends beyond longer skirts and shorter V’s. Women want to dress modestly not just for the office or a night out, but when they run, jog, climb and stretch.
Slight A-line Sports Skirt
Lots of great products are on the market now, solving the problem of how to exercise in something other than a tank top and biker shorts.
For example: the athletic skirt. This is generally a skirt/pants combo, giving you the comfort and flexibility of workout pants, while modestly covering you in a skirt of the same stretchy fabric. Athletic skirts that are slightly A-line give you room to move and—just as important—look super cute! And because the athletic skirt looks like a regular skirt, you can wear it to run an errand without drawing strange looks. Also a must-have: A crewneck workout shirt that extends to your elbows or wrists, made out that awesome keep-you-cool material.
Loose Fitting Yoga Pants
Yoga pants are another great option. Generally, yoga pants are slightly looser and not as form-fitting as regular black leggings, but still allow you to move and stretch. Yoga pants or leggings can also easily be worn under a comfortable knit skirt. Exercise easily, without compromising your high fashion standards.
I have found that these athletic skirts have actually changed my life. I no longer have to fashion my own uncomfortable skirt + pants combo, or sit out an activity because I can’t find a way to dress appropriately. These easy-fitting, stylish, covered-up options allow me to participate in any exercise activity—indoors or out—that my heart desires.
Sports skirts and modest sports shirts go beyond fulfilling my desire to dress modestly—they allow me to participate fully in all of life’s great adventures.
Shopping for modest clothing with a buddy isn’t just fun—it could save your wardrobe. You could be one layering shirt or modest accessory away from total fashion disaster, but not if your trusty shopping buddy is there with you.
Most of us know that it’s helpful to have a friend when we hit the mall. For example, I’m a hemming-and-hawing shopper, so I need my sister with me to give me the push to actually buy something. And a good SB (Shopping Buddy)—will always answer honestly when you ask, “Does this look good on me?”
But shopping for modest clothing is extra tricky. Often, we modest dressers are creating outfits of our own design. We see an amazing sleeveless dress, just perfect for [insert name of occasion, or just day of the week, here] and we decide to “modest-ize it” by pairing it with a layering shirt underneath. Or, hmmm….would it look better with a cute cardigan on top? SB to the rescue. And because that sleeveless dress was meant to be, well, sleeveless, we’re never quite sure if the colors coordinate, if we’re “pulling off” the look. But your SB—she’ll tell you if you’re rockin’ it…or not.
Long Tank Top
Then there’s the adorable V-neck sweater with a plunging neckline. Would the black tank top look better underneath? Or the white tank top? Your SB can help you decide.
There are more and more websites out there that cater to the modest dresser. You can buy an adorable sweater without a plunging neckline. Or an amazing dress with sleeves. But we don’t want to confine ourselves to only “modest clothing” stores, wonderful as they are. We want the freedom to buy clothing from any store in the world and turn it into something we can wear, modestly and confidently.
So we stock up on bolero jackets, tank tops, cardigans and layering shirts of all shapes and sizes, to create our own “modestly modern” wardrobe. A good SB helps you find those perfect layering pieces, or a hey-I-never-would-have-thought-of-that-but-it-looks-amazing outfit.
Saving your wardrobe, one tank top at a time.
What about you? Are you a go-it-alone shopper? Or do you believe, like I do, that two shopping heads are better than one?
I just wanted to give my readers the heads up about Kosher Casual’s Modernly Modest Contest that is ending November 30!
Kosher Casual makes modern and modest clothing that make you look and feel great! The line of super comfortable, quality women’s and girls’ modest clothes makes it so easy to buy stylish and affordable fashions!
Now is your chance to win a $100 gift certificate just in time for the holidays! Here is the link to enter:
No purchase is necessary in order to enter the sweepstakes and you can enter once per day! Good luck.
It’s been a few weeks now since the season finale of Project Runway, but the modest fashions that I saw throughout this season are still fresh in my mind. While it goes without saying that not every Project Runway designer chose to create modest fashions, there were some contestants that were able to keep their models creatively covered up…and I found this quite refreshing.
yellow and black coat
Here are some of my favorite highlights from this season’s Project Runway designers:
I suppose I should start with this season’s winning Project Runway designer, Seth Aaron Henderson. While he wasn’t my favorite throughout the season, I found this piece from his final collection absolutely fantastic, even though some critics thought that the print was too loud or dated. While we’re talking about Seth Aaron, I also thought that his modest black-and-white jacket was great, and I guess I’m right about this one, since the judges crowned him as the winner of that particular challenge. And, of course, his fabulous herringbone and polka-dot dress truly pushed the limits of fashion while remaining entirely modest, a feat which isn’t always achieved easily.
Runner-up Emilio Sosa was my favorite Project Runway designer, mostly because he always surprised me with his interesting (and entirely ‘wearable’) designs. One of his best modest fashions was a colorful turtleneck presented during the final runway show. The shirt was sleek, modest and would look great paired with a wide range of different skirts.
black and white jacket
I did not particularly love the black-and-white aesthetic that Project Runway designer Mila Hermanovski favored, though I did enjoy her submission to the mother-daughter challenge.
On the other hand, I did love Amy Sarabi’s uniquely-textured designs (even though the judges usually didn’t). One thing that really struck me was a green sweater, which would be entirely modest if worn with a layering top underneath.
Finally, I really think it’s worth mentioning Jay Nicholas Sario, who did present at NY Fashion Week, even though he wasn’t one of the top Project Runway designers. I enjoyed watching him all season, and while some of this outfits probably need to be adapted in order to be practical for the real world, they were quite stunning. One of the most modest (and charming) things that Jay showed at Fashion Week was this shirt, which, with a bit of modification can probably be worn for both day and evening events.
Do you have a favorite Project Runway designer? I’d love to hear about what designs and designers you specifically liked!