mod●es●tize (mod¢ә stiz¢), v. 1. the action of taking an item of clothing or an outfit and making it modest. 2. a choice to love another by covering all sensual areas of the body. 3. adorning one’s outsides with inner beauty. 4. daring to defy the expectations of the world in order to glorify God with our bodies.
As we stand in our closets and clothing stores everywhere, let us seek not just to modernize and accessorize, but to modestize. As Romans 12:1-2 exhorts:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Sometimes we may have to sacrifice a latest fashion for modesty, to present our bodies holy and acceptable to God. Is that a cost we’re willing to pay as part of our reasonable service to Him? As part of what is the least we can do for a mighty God who’s done so much for us? To prove the good and acceptable and perfect will of the God who sacrificed His Son so that every sin we ever committed, are now committing, or ever will commit can be forgiven when we place our faith exclusively in Jesus? The great thing is that those things that are a “cost” for God are always a jackpot for us. The sacrifices He desires are the very things that usher in the blessings and the freedom and the victory He desires for us, as well.
“As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion” (Proverbs 11:22). What a picture! So let’s get practical. Here are “Ten Modesty Makers” we can use to guide our style selections.
1. If in doubt, layer, or don’t wear it at all.
2. If a top gapes when you lean over or sit down, revealing its contents, layer with an undershirt. A good rule of thumb might be that an undershirt or top should cover the entire décolleté to above the start of cleavage (or the valley of skin and bone, in my case), and no fullness of the breast should be exposed by the neckline. If the straps of a top are too thin, layer a T-shirt underneath or a jacket, sweater, shrug, or other top over it.
3. If you’re not sure about a particular piece or outfit, ask your husband: “Would other men find this sexy?” If the answer is yes, modestize it or change. If you’re a single mom, ask your son or another conservative, godly, and respected man in your life.
4. For daughters, let dad have the final say. Ask the same question: “Would boys find this sexy?” If yes, modestize it or take it back. Again, if you’re a single mom, get the opinion of another man who can give you honest, biblical feedback.
5. Consider your figure. Different styles have a different effect on different shapes. A skirt or pair of shorts that are the perfect length for my 5’ 3” body may be sexy and inappropriate on a 5’ 7” long-legged lady. A top that is modest on my small-chested bod may not cover enough on someone a little more busty. This is especially important for our girls as they want to wear what everyone else is wearing. What is fine on another figure may not be appropriate for hers, so evaluate each item and each outfit individually.
6. Know the fine line between close-fitting and tight. There’s nothing wrong with more tailored styles, but if something is so tight that absolutely nothing is left to the imagination, consider something a little looser. Many times, buying a size or two bigger solves the problem.
7. When choosing an appropriate length for shorts and skirts, consider the shape and visual impact of the part of the leg that remains exposed. I’m not one to be legalistic, and what looks good on one of my girls will look way too appealing on another. The same lengths don’t apply to each one. Long, lean legs may have a totally different impact peeking out of a certain skirt than shorter, less shapely legs. Whether a skirt is below the knee, just above the knee, or a certain number of inches below the crotch, measure the sexy of it and go from there. Skirt or dress too short? Add leggings.
8. Establish standards early. If you don’t want your daughters wearing sexy bathing suits when they fill out, don’t let them get used to those styles as young girls. If you don’t want your daughters to wear plunging necklines, don’t wear them yourself. If you don’t want your daughters wearing mini-skirts and short shorts when they’re teenagers, set the standard early, and don’t let them wear them when they’re young. It’s easier to establish expectations early than to change them when they’re learning to challenge authority later. In all things, be sure to model modesty in everything you choose to wear.
9. If an item or style is normally worn by a boy, let that be its use. Same for clothes or styles intended for girls. Deuteronomy 22:5 clearly states, “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.” The Lord distinctly designed women and men to be markedly different in their looks, and according to His word, our clothes and styles should not blur the line. I am genuinely saddened when I’m at the mall walking behind a group of young people, and from that viewpoint, I can’t tell which are boys and which are girls. It should not be so.
10. Listen to the Holy Spirit. He will lead and guide you in all truth, even when it comes to fashion.
Overall, I want to challenge all of us to be radical in living for Jesus, including our dress and how we shop. When standing in the mirror or considering a purchase, ask: What does this outfit do for me? Why do I love it? What kind of response might it elicit from a male? At home, go through your clothes and ask: Which items are questionable and how can I work with them? What layering items can I add that will allow me to utilize the clothing I already have? Make a list and have it with you. Take the time to be strategic. It will save you time and money in the end. If fashion and style elude you, ask that friend, the one we all have, who can pull anything off and never pays full price for anything, and ask her to help. Ask her to come to your house to help you assess your closet and assemble your list. I guarantee she’ll love it!
A little side note on shopping, and I must warn you, this is a soapbox issue for me. Choose wisely the brands you support. If a clothier is using sex to sell clothes, consider shopping somewhere else. Matthew 7:20 tells us, “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” If the brands we showcase promote companies that aggressively oppose biblical values and principles, what is our fruit saying? Again, this is a personal soapbox, and I feel very strongly that we should not give our money to help finance activities that directly oppose the word of God. When we buy clothes, or any other product for that matter, we are funding that corporation’s activities, including its ability to promote what it wants to promote. When we buy anything, including clothes, shoes, and accessories, we are giving the companies the money they need to advertise. If they choose to advertise sex, we are giving them the money to do it. If a corporation is involving itself publically in promoting non-traditional marriage, or abortion, and we are shopping at their stores, we are giving them the money they need to invest in things that directly oppose the word of God.
Thankfully, most of the time, there’s a way to take fashion and make it modest. And there’s a store where we can shop with good conscience. When we can’t, let’s lay it on the altar, my friends, and find something or somewhere else.
By the overwhelming response I received to Thursday’s post, I know I’m not the only one talking about this hot topic. I’d love to hear from you. What have you heard or read that has helped you or your daughters dress modestly? What stores or brands have you found that carry fashionable, modest options? What tips or techniques have helped you modestize your wardrobe? What web sites or other resources have you found helpful? Please leave your comments for all to see. It takes a village, so let’s help one another. Just click below where it gives a number followed by “comments” and let us know what God has placed in your path to help you put His principles to practice.
Constantly under refinement as I become wholly His today,