Modesty Hypocrisy – What IS suitable!?

Modesty isn’t just what we wear,

This very true line rings across nearly all “Modesty/Purity/Chastity” articles all over the Catholic cyberworld. That isn’t a problem.

But we should not forget too that, Modesty also IS about what we wear! 

And (for women at least), no matter how much we downplay it or ignore it, we do need details. Why? Well tell me this, what Catholic women hasn’t asked this question;

  • How short is too short? For Mass?
  • How tight is too tight?
  • How low is too low?
  • Where does it stop being “Christian” and start screaming “bad character” ?

These are all very warranted questions. After all, when going for a job interview one knows they must dress for the occasion! Certain jobs have literal dress codes on what is and isn’t proper at the workplace.

The Catholic Church should and does have guidelines on what is proper for attending Holy Mass – Calvary itself! The unbloody Sacrifice of God!

Most Catholic’s all agree that beachwear isn’t suitable for the Sacrifice of the Mass. Great articles are available on how to dress for Mass, for men and for women!

(Although the big “question” for female Mass wear always comes down to the “chapel veil“, which is a good question but it is not the sole answer to, “How Should Catholic Women Dress For Mass”?. It may not be a sin to avoid head covering, but it is certainly more of an insult to God if one dresses unsuitably for Mass!)



But what is suitable for daily wear? Back to that question list:

  • How short is too short? For Mass?
  • How tight is too tight?
  • How low is too low?
  • Where does it stop being “Christian” and start screaming “bad character” ?

Do we not have the right to ask these questions? Both men and women? If we are constantly called to “dress modestly” “dress decently” “wear appropriate attire”, don’t we also deserve to know exactly what “modest, decent and appropriate” mean?

 Here is where the problem is:

Those Catholics who do give examples of what is modest and decent and appropriate, either:

  • Don’t follow it themselves
  • Give rules/regulations that don’t add up.

Now none of us are perfect, we are all human beings stained with Original sin. But when it comes to answering the question,What is appropriate attire?”, it shouldn’t be this difficult to answer clearly, plainly, and without confusing or differing interpretation.

It is as if the answer was a Bible and each Catholic was a different Protestant denomination, interpreting it in their own way. How is that an answer?

 Saint Paul calls us to, “be of one mind, having the same charity, being of one accord, agreeing in sentiment.” (Philippians 2:2), surely we Catholic’s can find a way to do this concerning what is appropriate attire?

 Catholic Chastity speakers are doing an awesome job, promoting Purity and Chastity and occasionally, Modesty. For example, the Bikini is one article of clothing than is officially “called out” by Chastity speakers as a no-no.

(Jason Evert) (Lifeteen’s Jackie Francois) (Jessica Rey) (Leah Darrow “Bikini’s emphasize nakedness while one pieces emphasize shape.”)

Image result for jessica rey swimsuits
Rey Swimwear

It is mentioned after to look for a more modest approach to swimwear that conforms to the dignity we have as God’s creations. After giving an excellent talk on the Bikini and the evolution of the Bathing Suit, Jessica Rey then offers her Bathing Suit Line as an alternative to Bikinis, as the “Modest Approach“. Leah Darrow also offers the Tankini as an alternative in this Q&A on EWTN, “Bathing suits: A one piece or tankini are great alternatives to the bikini. Bikini’s emphasize nakedness while one pieces emphasize shape.”Together, Leah and Jessica have a book now out on Modesty, promoting Jessica’s swimsuits, the book is titled, “Decent Exposure“. Which has tons of quotes on loving yourself and finding beauty in yourself, complete with quotes from Bruno Mars… (?)


tankini from Jessica Rey’s  Bathing suit clothing line is pictured below.

modestify me.jpg


This doesn’t add up. And I will give you a few reasons why it doesn’t.

1. Jessica Rey speaks of the bikini as comparative to walking around in your underwear for everyone to see. How then, are her bathing suits that much different, when they cover the stomach and nothing more, in comparison to the bikini? Aside from the BRA, the bottoms of her two piece, and one piece bathing suits are exactly the same as underwear. It doesn’t cover anything – it leave nothing to the imagination, especially when wet – these things give you wedgies, I should know. How embarrassing!

2. Leah Darrow gave the Tankini (pictured above) as a modest approach to Bathing Suits, because they emphasize shape rather than nakedness. But in her “Modesty” guidelines that she gives in this Q&A on EWTN, she mentions, “Dresses: When trying on dresses, be sure to sit down in the dressing room to see how far the dress comes up on your leg. Some dresses look fine while you are standing but as you go to sit, you realize that you’re showing more leg than a CanCan dancer.” Like these bathing suits?? “Skinny Jeans/Leggings: These can be worn modestly as long as you have the right top that covers your backside and upper thigh.” Your backside and upper thigh, which are exposed in these bathing suits!?

She also gives this Christian website that talk about modesty and give their own guidelines as “more detailed on Modesty”. They cite, “Pants, Can be form-fitting but not too tight, especially in the seat or thigh area.”

(Wait… Unless you are wearing bathing suit bottoms; which are tight, especially when wet, and reveal all leg!? Right? )

They continue, for skirts, “Skirts are four slender fingers above the top of the kneecap.
Be attentive to see if a slip is necessary.

Below, left, is what they define as a “modest” length of skirt, verses two bathing suits from Jessica Rey’s Bathing Suit Line: the same that they advocate as modest wear:


Pure Fashion continues for Dresses, “Dresses need sleeves or two-inch wide straps.

Below is a “two-inch-strap top” versus the straps on the Jessica Rey swimsuits:


Then Pure Fashion continues to give Modesty guidelines for pants,

  • “Can be form-fitting but not too tight, especially in the seat or thigh area.
  • One should be able to pull pants away from the leg—and not just because the material is spandex (that doesn’t count).
  • When the arms are straight down at the side, the bottom of the shorts is below the longest finger.
  • Panty lines are not visible. If necessary, pantyhose or a “thigh shaper” can create a smooth appearance in the clothing.”

Ok… now this is really confusing! Below, is the “modest” skirt according to Pure Fashion, Along with the “modest” length of shorts, and the “modest” Tankini.


How can they all be “modest“? How do you define something as “modest” according to certain inches, but when it comes to bathing suits, tightness around the butt, showing thighs, inches above the knee, spaghetti straps, low-cut tops.. are acceptable?

Then, we have the whole “leggings” issue! Chastity speakers agree that just wearing them as pants is not considered modest, because it is skin-tight, and is like a second skin! Yet, it’s fine to wear them “as long as you have the right top that covers your backside and upper thigh.” (Leah DarrowHow, then, is considered modest to wear tankinis where your bottom is uncovered, the clothing is very tight, and your thighs are being shown?

And how are wearing skinny jeans any different from leggings?

Untitled design (7)
Top left: Skinny Jeans Top right: Leggings

And how, then, is wearing leggings different from not wearing anything, since it is like “second skin.” ?

Untitled design (8).png

And then after all this, Leah Darrow, Lifeteen and show stock photos that have girls dressed not unlike what may be called, “unacceptable” ? Certainly KUDOS to these people for what they do; that is not what is on the table here. What is on the table, is that the answer to “What is Modesty attire for Catholics” is not in any way clear. And it needs to be, because of its vital importance.

One website even took to polling men on what tempted them the most! And so, some Catholic women base their wardrobe on this. But here is the issue: it is not solely for men that we dress decently, it is for God, and coincides with our Dignity as Temples of the Holy Spirit and Children of God. Also, each man has a different temptation that is greater, whereas this chart may have been under the best intention, but it makes little sense.

If we based our garments solely on how others were tempted by them, we would look very different! Some men are NOT tempted by mini skirts, some men are tempted by wrists! Can you see my point?

 So what do we do?

Well, aside from learning our Faith and living it as well as we can: learning to treat others with respect with our eyes, our speech, our actions and our dress is a great place to start.

And then we can move onto the next part:

The Catholic Church gave these guidelines on fashion to aid women in answering these exact questions, especially when assisting Holy Mass.

Simplified the guidelines are:

  • Knees & Shoulders covered
  • Nothing see through (all undergarments hidden from view)
  • Nothing clingy (undergarments hidden from view, not see every single bump and curve)
  • Nothing too low cut (two fingers breadth below the throat)

And men are certainly not called to avoid these either!

Now these are guidelines remember! Wearing sleeveless dresses and skirts that do not fully cover the knees will probably not send anyone to hell. Keep in mind that these are guidelines – a base that aides us in finding decent attire. Anyone who decides to cover more, for their own reasons have the right to do so without condemnation.

We are not called to be fashion/modesty police on others either! And we are certainly not bound under-pain-of-sin to follow the Marylike Crusade Dress Standards. That is for those who have joined the Modesty Crusade and want to make the extra sacrifice for souls! 

Prudence and prayer can help one when choosing their attire, using this as a great base on decent attire.

Remember, a great difference between Protestantism and Catholicism is that Protestant-though goes very much with how each person interprets scripture. Whereas Catholic’s are given hows, whys and reasons, and then are able to make their own decisions based on this information. We are very blessed, and very much informed on a wide array of issues; appropriate attire being one of them.

Creating “dress codes” based on how one feels, or how one “interprets” situations, and such, is likened to Protestantism. It may not be the persons fault of course!

It is so much easier and more freeing to be able to have a solid, Catholic guideline concerning decent attire!



We are on Pinterest if anyone would like to see some great ideas concerning decent attire!




Thanks to Gabriela Marie for her awesome article, “Modesty Paradoxes”which led to the creation of the post!

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