There are many contrasting opinions on what qualifies to be considered modest clothing. That is mainly because some religions have rules and guidelines on it that are far more strict than others. Furthermore, it varies between different sects of each religion, and between congregations as well. Modest clothing styles also tend to vary between individuals that don’t necessarily have religious affiliations. In their cases, it has more to do with culture and personal preferences.
In general, modest clothing refers to clothing that obviously covers the most private parts of the body, and is also relatively loose-fitting and doesn’t cling to the contours of the body. For most people who choose to dress conservatively, they opt for the types of colors that are more natural and earthy- the blues, greens, blacks, whites, and browns. When it comes to brighter colors such as the vivid pinks, oranges, and yellows- it varies between the wearer. There are many ultra Orthodox women who refrain from wearing bright colors and/or patterns, for modesty purposes.
There are also the matter of dimensions of each garment. In many religions, women are not permitted to wear short shorts. There are some in which women aren’t permitted to wear fitted pants at all, and are advised to wear modest skirts. But how long is a modest skirt expected to be? Well, in some cases it is expected to reach the knee. In others, it is expected to go below the knee. Then there are those that require skirts to reach the ankles. Women are generally also told to avoid see-through clothing, skirts/dresses with long slits, revealing bathing suits, and in many sects even tops with revealing necklines.
Rules of modesty aren’t limited to clothes. There are also restrictions on the wearing of makeup and jewelry. In some faiths, women aren’t allowed to cut their hair. Although it may appear a bit much to some, there are also strict rules of modesty that apply to men as well. The guiding principle behind the rules of modesty and modest clothing is to project humility and not spark sinful thoughts and actions on oneself or others.
Getting ready to step out? Awesome! Before you actually head out, be sure to go over this quick modesty checklist. Your outfit might appear modest at first glance, but there are 5 things we suggest you double-check, to ensure you’re ready to step out.
Bend over forwards in front of a mirror, to ensure your blouse isn’t hanging too low. You may find that you might need to make adjustments, such as wearing a layering piece over or underneath.
Cross your legs, to ensure that your dress or skirt doesn’t crawl up too high.
Raise your hands, to ensure your shirt doesn’t come up towards the bottom. If it does, you may need to slip on a shirt extension.
Check all the buttons. Make sure there isn’t a large open gap between the buttons that reveal what’s underneath. If there is, you can close it up with safety pins, or wear a layering piece underneath.
See-Through Test. Can people see through your outfit in bright lights? If so, consider wearing a slip underneath, and next time, be more mindful of purchasing items of a different material or thickness.
Any other tips you would suggest? Let us know!
Ladies and gentlemen- modesty goes both ways. It is not just for the ladies. We’ve previously written about universal rules of modesty for women. That got us thinking- what about men? Are there general, universal rules to modesty (in terms of appearance) for men? The answer is YES!
Granted, it’s all relative. Interpretations of what is considered to be modest varies between different cultures, religions, and of course individuals. As we did our reading, we came across lots of parallels between different religious sects in terms of how men are expected to upkeep their appearance. And of course, we decided to share them with you!
The rules of modesty for men narrow down to two categories: physical appearance, and clothing/behavior. Yes, clothing is paired with behavior, because as we’ve previously written, there is a direct correlation between the two.
Men are generally expected to keep their hair short. Although the accepted length varies between religions and cultures, they’re generally expected to keep the hair on their head shorter than women. The modern trends of men shaving themselves smooth for the sake of vanity is generally frowned upon. In most instances, it’s a different story if it’s solely for hygienic reasons around particular parts of the body. It’s generally acceptable for men to maintain a smooth face, or keep facial hair- but the bottom line is whichever route they choose, they have to keep themselves nicely groomed.
Men are also expected to look after their health and fitness across the board. But how much is too much? Well, it’s okay for a man to exercise to be fit and gain some muscle. However, reactions get mixed when a man goes after obtaining an excessively muscular appearance- because again- that taps into vanity.
Things get interesting when it comes to jewelry and other accessories. There are mixed opinions on men wearing earrings and/or excessive jewelry such as gold chains. In most cases, it’s okay for a married man to wear a wedding band, and there are also cases where it would only be okay if the material isn’t made out of gold, because gold is considered too flashy. It is unanimously accepted for men to wear watches, but only if it isn’t heavily adorned. The same applies with religious symbols- he can wear it, just as long as the piece itself is very subtle.
Clothing and Behavior
Because men, in most cultures, play a more authoritative role in society, it is generally expected that they dress modestly to be taken seriously. You just wouldn’t expect an authoritative person to approach their role in clothing that is tight, revealing, or flashy. Elder men are expected to inspire and set an example of modesty for younger men, as well as women and children. This assists in encouragement of modest behavior as well.
Men are expected to speak and act in ways that clearly demonstrate righteousness. Yes, popular culture does make that difficult for younger men of today, which makes it that much more important for those that are close to them to motivate them to get on, and stay on the modest track.
Are their some other general rules of modesty for men that you know of? Let us know in the comments below!
What do you think of when you think of orthodox fashion? Instinctively, most people would think of loose, long, and frumpy pieces that are a far cry from being trendy. This is especially the case for women who are expected to cover their collarbones, knees, and elbows for modesty. While the perception of unflattering clothes worn by orthodox women may have been true for a long time in most places- times are changing. Little by little, orthodox fashion is becoming high fashion. That is mainly because many clothing brands, both large and small, are designing apparel that is (finally) modern and trendy.
The current trend, which is likely here to stay, didn’t just come out of nowhere. Religious girls and women worldwide kept facing difficulties in finding modest clothes that met their needs. For example, the long denim skirt would have been perfect if it weren’t for the slit in the back. The long white tunic would have been perfect if the fabric could have been thicker to not make it see-through. And the dress would have been perfect if it weren’t for the cut-outs, peep-holes, and low neck/back. These women had to settle for whatever they could find, and make adjustments by layering up when possible. However, that often led to them sticking out like a sore thumb, especially in areas with warmer climates.
Little by little, major retailers started offering a few modest pieces. Orthodox women flocked over by the masses to purchase the goods, which were finally the perfect mix of modest and stylish. They were beginning to wear outfits that actually gave them joy, confidence, and helped make them stand out. The fashion world began to take notice.
Slowly but surely, trendy modest dresses for women began to emerge to much fanfare from orthodox and nonorthodox women alike. There were ensembles popping up that featured unique color blocks and patterns that made the wearers look and feel more majestic. Neutral colored dresses started coming out with long and flowing designs, making the wearer feel like a goddess. Asymmetrical dresses came out, making the wearer feel like the world was her catwalk. Then there were the dresses with romantic themes, bohemian themes, and more. Women began to rediscover themselves through these dresses, and they are continuing to love every second of it.
We’re currently living in great times in terms of fashion. For most women, it is no longer particularly difficult to find a modest dress that is trendy and made with breathable fabrics. When they step out in their modest gear, they can now do so with full confidence, knowing they look absolutely amazing and in style.
Are you thinking about going on a cruise this summer, but worried about staying modest? Have no fear! We’ll give you some pointers you can keep in mind as you start planning.
For starters, you have to think about the luggage. Most cruise lines don’t have luggage limitation, but then again, most of the cruise cabins have limited closet space. Also, if you’re going to fly to the cruise port, you will have to pack based on the limitations that are imposed by the airlines. Although you will likely bring more than one bag of luggage with you, we highly recommend you pack some essential change-of-clothes with you in your carry-on, just in case your larger bags get misplaced. It happens.
When it comes to deciding what to pack- think about the destinations, and the season/temperature there. If you need additional assistance, cruise travel agents can offer good tips. Common sense plays a big role here. If you’re going on an Alaskan getaway, don’t pack for tropical weather.
Here are some basic things we recommend you pack:
- Modest skirts of varying thickness. Extra points if some of them have deep pockets to secure your phone and wallet.
- Comfortables walking shoes, formal shoes, sandals, and slippers. Please make sure the shoes are already “broken-in” to ensure maximum comfort.
- Sports skirts
- Loose, breezy modest tops
- Modest undergarments
- Casual accessories (sunglasses, hats, shawls, etc)
- Modest dresses for visiting holy sites, or prayer gatherings. You can read more about dressing for tourist destinations in this blog post.
- Elaborate skirt/dress for formal nights on the cruise
- Layering pieces
- Exercise clothes
- Rain gear
Frequent travelers know to pack interchangeable pieces of clothing that can be used for multiple outfits, to save time and luggage space. That will allow more room for souvenirs and other purchases from the trip.
Things will get challenging if you’re looking to completely avoid scantily-clad women during your trip. The best that can be done on that front, is to opt for an Alaskan Cruise (to lessen the numbers of scantily-clad women) and look into Kosher Cruising companies. Bear in mind, Kosher cruises are actually arrangements where the organizers take over a percentage of larger cruises. They reserve rooms and a dining hall for the Kosher program, but the rest of the facilities will be shared with everyone else. It will cost a pretty penny extra, but will be worth it for those looking to take part in prayer services, lectures, and gourmet Kosher dining. Most cruises offer Kosher food anyway, but it would moreso be along the lines of airplane food, which isn’t bad- but not great either.
Do you have some other recommendations worth mentioning? We for sure didn’t cover all there is to be said- so sound off in the comments below!