Can my wife enforce a dress code?

My wife is enforcing a “one-piece only” swimsuit policy for all girls and women who enjoy our pool here in the summer. Tomorrow is my 9-year-old daughter’s birthday and it is a pool party and about twenty people are attending. When my wife told me to announce to the guests that women are not permitted to wear two-piece bikini-style suits. She says that the bikini bathing suits are immodest and is something to entice boys or men to sin. Please help.

How many boys or men are expected to attend a 9-year-old girl’s pool party? For that matter, how many women will attend? It sounds to me like your wife is being overly-scrupulous and may well spoil her daughter’s birthday party if one of your child’s favorite friends cannot attend because the only bathing suit she owns does not meet the dress code.

That said, your wife has a right to set a dress standard for a party she is hosting. But she should take responsibility for announcing it to the guests herself, rather than passing off the task to you—especially if you disagree with her judgment in this matter. You might remind your wife though that when dealing with children it is better to err on the side of kindness and hospitality.

As for modesty, St. John Paul II said:

When a person uses such a form of dress in accordance with its objective function we cannot claim to see anything immodest in it, even if it involves partial nudity. Whereas the use of such a costume outside its proper context is immodest, and is inevitably felt to be so. For example, there is nothing immodest about the use of a bathing costume at a bathing place, but to wear it in the street or while out for a walk is contrary to the dictates of modesty (Love and Responsibility, 191–192).

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