Being Modest and Mass

Hey everyone I had a few questions about Modesty and Mass. I know I am going to get all sorts of different answers and I am interested in hearing everyone.

What are general rules in mass for modesty? I mean I understand no short skirts and no cleavage but what are exact rules? Like how thick must the straps of shirts be? What about pants what is considered too tight?

Another question I have is regarding tattoos. I recently have returned to the Catholic faith but I have a total of 6 tattoos including one on each upper arm, one on my shoulder, a large piece on my chest and small words on my wrists. My chest tattoo stops just below my collar bone. My question is should I make sure that all of my tattoos are covered for mass? The only ones that would be seen would be the top of my chest tattoo and my wrists. Before anyone asks they are not offensive is any way. My wrists are the words “love” and “God” with roses and my chest is a tribal design with roses as well.

Well, you said you know “no short skirts and no cleavage” and if that’s as far as you want to go, that will work. However, just remember you are in the presence of our Lord; why would you not dress well for Him? I am sure you have heard the term “Sunday best.” No, you don’t have to dress exquisitely each time you attend Mass, but just DO consider that you are in the presence of Jesus.

As for the tattoos, it sounds as if they are okay. The plainly visible ones are not offensive and it sounds as if they are not so distracting. In general, it would be fine if they are not covered, although there remains the possibility that they could be distracting to someone, but that’s not necessarily your fault. As for the top of your chest, if you’re wearing a “modest” shirt, then that should be fine too, although if I were you I would probably cover as much as possible. Bottom line is, since you can’t fix the tattoos, make a judgment on if they distract people. Aside from that, I think God knows you can’t do much about it. :slight_smile:

And welcome back home! :slight_smile: :thumbsup:

Thanks so much! I know you mentioned “Sunday Best” I try to look as nice as possible but I guess what I am asking is if I have a dress that is modest in length (past the knees) and doesn’t show any cleavage but is not fully sleeved the straps are about a hand thick, is that modest should I have my actual shoulders covered?

You don’t have to have your shoulders covered - I believe “hand thick” straps would be considered modest.

It’s great you are coming to Mass.

My wife and I both spent a good bit of time reevalutating our positions on what is and isn’t appropriate attire for Mass over the past few years. It’s a topic worth some thought, reflection and prayer. Two books which were very helpful to us were:

Dressing with Dignity by Colleen Hammond


Immodesty: Satan’s Virtue by Rita Davidson

I’d highly recommend them for anyone to read, man or woman.


Okay Thanks! I have a super cute dress I wanna wear to Mass tomorrow but I wanted to make sure that it was modest enough.

As far as I know (though I could be wrong), there’s no official dress code. Clothing should ideally be such that it is not distracting, both in the sexual sense and in the general sense…the Mass, after all, should be everyone’s focus, not the latest fashions. I like to apply the “Grandma test”…if it’s something you would wear to have a nice dinner with your grandmother, then it should be appropriate for Mass. Now, of course, not all grandmothers are the same when it comes to notions of decency, but I’m sure you get the idea.

As far as tattoos, the same theory applies. Yours sound like they’re all in good taste, so the only thing I’d do is just make sure that again, they’re not distracting.

Glad you’re back! :slight_smile:

I just dress as if I’m going to work in a fairly conservative business place, like a professional office or a bank. Just use some common sense, and you’ll probably be fine. As far as the sleeveless dress is concerned, just make sure the armholes are cut high enough so there’s no side view of anything. Usually, when I wear something sleeveless (in hot weather) I take along a lightweight jacket with me. My parish church is a big old stone church and catches the lake breeze, and it can sometimes be chilly even in the middle of the summer.

My personal definition of modesty as a woman when it comes to Mass apparel is:

*Dress or skirt that goes to my knees or below that is short or long sleeved. If its sleeveless, I wear a shawl or wrap to cover my shoulders & upper arms.

*If I wear pants/trousers or a skirt, that they are dressy & not tight fitting with a Top/Sweater/Shirt do not reveal cleavage, not spaghetti strapped, etc

*By personal choice, I do not wear jeans to Mass. I also do not wear shorts or similar summery apparel more suited for a beach/pool.

What would you wear if you were going to meet the president (well, perhaps not our president lol) or a queen or king of a country? You would wear you best outfit, without a doubt! Well, you’re going to see the King of Kings and you should be dressed in something you don’t have to question. Your “cute” outfit might not be something good to wear outside of your home, as it might drawn attention to you. People should be able to go to Mass and not be tempted. In my opinion, the least amount of flesh that you show, the better. I wear skirts or dresses that are well past my knees, closed toed flat shoes, a nice shirt that doesn’t expose my chest at all and a veil/scarf/mantilla (because of the angels). One might think I look like a sister or nun but I don’t! I am very stylish and keep a young but modest look.


I am hoping to transition from hat to sometimes a scarf too. I recently was given several beautiful ones by a couple different people and my soon to be husband would like that very much!

I dress the same whether for Mass or life: long skirts, tops with 3/4 length sleeves or longer, closed toe shoes, always a hat for Mass (I wear a hat outside of Church too, but not as a devotion, and I own a couple of pairs of blue jeans that I mostly wear in the woods or for cleaning and the like). Very little jewelry. A feminine, understated look. Modesty is important everywhere since we are witnesses in the world and have God-given dignity. Rather than considering modesty for Church, we should look at modesty for all aspects of our life.

How wonderful that you have come home! Welcome!

The thumbs up was for you, Agape11!

The welcome back was for you, Mrs.ATurner.
Although you deserve a thumbs up too!

Mmmm–Lake Isabel, CA must be in South California! It’s February 26, I live in western New York State between Lakes Erie and Ontario, it’s nineteen degrees with a thirty mile per hour sustained wind coming off the lakes. Fortunately, it’s not snowing. Yet. Anyways, it’s downright tropical for western NY (about five degrees above normal for this time of year up here in the tundra!)

I can’t imagine wearing anything to Mass tomorrow with sleeves shorter than just below my wrist bones, and a neckline cut lower than a turtleneck! And sorry, skirt folks, my heavy but properly fitted woolen slacks and thick soled boots. They’re going to be worn under a knee length coat anyways, so I can’t see whether there would be an issue even if I blundered into an EF Mass. Most of the time in the winter I wear a fur felt fedora or a cloche, and that’s going to stay on my head at Mass as well!

Hand thick straps? I’d die of pneumonia!:smiley:

There are some beautiful long woolen skirts that you can wear with tights, instead of pants that will keep you warm!!!

MrsATurner, what you described sounds fine. Dressing for Mass requires nothing more than common sense, sounds like you’ve got it.
Also, many Catholics have tattoos, there is no sin in them, so as long as they’re not offensive, don’t worry.
Welcome home!

Everyone had great responses!!!

I must add that as a guy, it’s frustrating when your at Mass and some cute chick sits infront of you with super tight jeans and tight shirt. It may cover her body, but the tightness is an issue.

Women, please be mindful that us men are super weak and it doesn’t take much to make us turn heads. We don’t want to be tempted to stair at Mass. Dress like Mary! :slight_smile:

God Bless,


Check with your parish. Occasionally in my parish bulletin there will be a list of dessing dos and don’ts for Mass and other services.

Other than that, use your common sense. If you wouldn’t show it or wear it to court, a job interview, or other serious situation, don’t wear it to church. :slight_smile:


if youre very bosomy, should you use tape to conceal your womanhood? wear thick clothing?


Probably the poster means taping one’s breasts, like some athletes do to reduce movement thereof.

No. I would find it inappropriate to require people to alter their appearance in such a manner in the house of the God who made them as they are.

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