How do I broach modesty


So my sister and I are quite different. She’s the fashion queen, and I’m the one who gets stopped at the door by my little brother going, “I’m not going to be seen with you wearing THAT!”

Lately her neck lines and waist lines have been inching lower and lower, and this past weekend she wore a dress that crossed the line. Actually crossed the line doesn’t even adequately express the dress. The v-neck halter was cut below where the bottom of your bra would normally sit, and the bare back was excessive, not elegant. She posted all these pictures of the event, and the other young women in the photos looked great and did not have their boobs hanging out.

Where can I start to talk to her about this? How do I gain some credibility in the fashion department so she’ll actually listen? I mainly don’t dress fashionably because I’m a cheapskate and refuse to spend the money to be both fashionable and modest.


I don’t know how old your sister is, but I have four other sisters, and thank God they all dress modesty for the most part. I only have one sister, who is the thinnest of us and she likes to show some of her boobs. She would say, “If you have it show it off.” I just talked with her. SHe is not Catholic, but a good Christian. I just reminded her of her body being the temple of the Holy Spirit and that she has to respect her own body before men could. I also reminded her that she could cause men to sin by the way she dressed. She never thought of it this way. Just talk to your sister and she may listen or she may not, but at least you had the talk with her. If she refuses to change, than pray for her.


I don’t know what you can do. Perhaps making a funny comment about the dress. Honestly, the best way for her to see that modest does not mean looking like a librarian would have the most impact. Perhaps you need to show her that modesty can also be hip and fashionable. Many stores have great sales and you probably would spend the same money if you went to Wal-mart to buy your clothes. I have to have clinical attire and I go to Ann Taylor and Banana Republic during their seasonal sales. I just went to one of their sales and got cashmere sweaters for $10 and great looking shirts for the same amount. Having great basics will last you a long time

I think you need to show her by example that she can still look great and turn heads but in a positive way rather than people saying “OMG, I can’t believe she was wearing that.”


I’m a week from 25 and she’s 20.

When I say cheapskate, I really mean cheapskate. I don’t like to pay more than $5 for tops or $7 for bottoms. Obviously I don’t buy new clothes very often since those deals are hard to come by. I’m wearing today the same jeans I wore to every social function my sophomore through senior years in high school- that’s almost 10 years ago! Had this shirt in high school, too, I think.


Here’s my only idea…

Have you ever watched the TV show “What not to wear” on TLC? Well, I really enjoy that show. The hosts have worked with several types of “bad dressers”… from frumpy to sleazy… and they always bring the guest up to date in style, while staying fairly modest (for cable television!) and totally within the propper age of dress for the guest. I really find all the outfits they choose to be very classy… I’ve learned a lot from that show… I only wish I could go on for the new $5000 wardrobe! LOL! (no such l luck yet… if you’re interested in nominating me, you can PM me! LOL! :wink: )

Maybe watching a program like that with your sister can spark some conversation!
I like using “conversation sparkers” like this… so that it doesn’t sound like you’re attacking her method of dress… just that you’re REACTING to what’s on TV… kwim?

Good luck!


Em, I know! We can start a circle of nominations on CAF and hopefully ONE of us can make it on the show…


Hey here is an idea. Why not nominate both you and your sister for the show. I love it!!! One is the “sluty” one and the other overly conservative and “frugal”. I think they would go for it.

Good luck!


I would ask her to honestly answer what she would think if she saw a woman wearing that outfit. If you don’t think she would see a problem there, ask her how she is trying to portray herself to others. Does she want men to look at her and think Wow - I would love to get her in bed". The reality is that if a man sees a woman in a sexual outfit he is going to see her in only a sexual way. There will be only one thing on his mind, and obviously this is NOT what God wants from us.

But be ready for the reply of “that’s fine, it makes me feel good to look good”. But then again evil usually feels good or we wouldn’t be tempted now would we?

Good Luck, and let us know how it goes!


Sounds like you two are on either extremes of a spectrum which can include reasonably priced, fashionable, flattering yet modest apparel. Instead of targeting her as the “one” with “a problem”, why don’t you include yourself and approach this as a challenge you can work on together to develop a more mature, polished appearance. You CAN accomplish this without breaking the bank or sacrificing your other values and still look like the young women (not frumps) you are.


Yes, I know I have a problem. I am a miser, I’ll admit it, and right now I’m a miser who is unemployed. Still, if someone finds it, I’ll buy it. Shoot, I’d spend a hundred bucks right now to get a new wardrobe, as long as I don’t have to spend it all on less than 10 items. Problem is, I’ve got large breasts and a small waist. It’s hard to find tops that fit at all.

If they’re long, they’ve got a low neck.

Nice neckline, they’re see though.

Not too thin, they’re too tight.

…and so on


Sometime the only answer to that problem is to learn to sew. Not to make all your clothes yourself, although that can be fun! But to do a little tailoring. Buy tops to fit across your chest properly, then make darts and tucks to make the waistline fit better so you don’t look baggy and frumpy.

It also helps to try on different labels to find one that makes clothes for your shape. Once you get some truly quality, classic pieces, you can wear them for 10 years and you won’t look frumpy. But if you are buying bargin basement stuff that doesn’t fit to begin with I can see why your brother won’t go out of the house with you! :wink:


Maybe you should let her find her own style. It could be she has chosen a more outre couture style on purpose and bringing up modesty might offend her, especially if she isn’t into religion.


No, she is very much interested in staying a faithful Catholic and protecting her femininity.


Maybe she doesn’t see her body the sexual way? Some innocent girls sometimes can’t really see what can be wrong with something and it sort of breaks one’s heart to start instilling the idea in them. It feels like corrupting a person. If only men could appreciate what they see without getting sexual about it. :frowning:


I just talked to her, and she said, “but it only goes down in between my boobs, not down to my belly button or something.”

I explained to her that, based on how DH reacts to that stuff on me, it might be a stumbling block to her boyfriend who doesn’t have the same Catholic sexuality background. She didn’t react violently, but changed the subject.

I can only hope it sinks in. She’s a good girl, just wants to be liked and look “good.” Maybe we can go shopping together and find a happy medium while she’s here at Easter.


Does your sister like the way you dress? Maybe you could let her do a makeover for you and give her guidelines in what you want. Maybe then she could see that you can be dressed well with out being tacky…:slight_smile:


My wife & daughter just attended a “girls & moms” retreat last (or two) weekends ago. From the download I got via my daughter a LOT of the subject matter was modesty in dress…

The rule about necklines was described as: 2 or 3 fingers width down from the “notch” of your throat, and skirt hemlines about the same distance up from the knee.

(From what I’ve heard from my wife this basically emulates the dress code of her employer (a large national Bank).Or what is considered as “Conservative Business Dress” for a professional woman.)

From a man’s perspective:
I’d much rather get to know a gal who’s a “stunner” when covered from neck to knee, than a gal that has to use skin to get the same reaction.


What you are describing here is cheap clothes. If you’re cheap, I bet you’ve let your hair go, too. If you are poorly groomed, you will most likely remain unemployed, or under employed.

I have let a few pieces from Wal Mart pinch hit, but they cannot be the basis of a wardrobe. They fall apart and look like heck very quickly. Now THAT’s a waste of money.

There are programs that give women business clothing so they can look for work. You could also try Macy’s sales, thrift stores and consignment stores. Build your wardrobe one WHOLE outfit at a time.

The best line in the Ya Ya Sisterhood book is where a mother of six claims she “can’t afford” to get her hair done. The wiser woman retorts, “you can’t afford NOT to.”

Girlfriend, what you CAN’T AFFORD is a look that makes you lose credibility, even with your own sister!

I went to Nordstrom’s one time and let them “wardrobe” me. Even though I am not a high end customer, they treated me like royalty. They even told me what kind of underwear I should be wearing! It was a fantastic experience and every low-maintenance woman should do it once. Yes, I bought the wardrobe on credit, and it was worth it. Four years later, most of the pieces are still like new.

The best advice in this thread so far is to watch “What Not to Wear” with your sister. Sluts and frumps are covered in every episode. Admit you are fashion challenged to your sister and she won’t be defensive. Let the show do the talking. Good luck and God bless.



Yes, yes, I understand it is important to look good, and no, I don’t generally have my hair cut and styled professionally. I realize that my wardrobe needs some updating, and that spending more on quality clothes pays off.

I think, though, that the impression of my overall apearance is rather exaggerated, probably because my comment about myself was exaggerated for comedic juxtaposition. When I go to interviews, my hair is fixed, my make-up is done, and I look very professional. My difficulty finding a job is not because I am a slob or a frump; it is because jobs in my field are less than plentiful in the Baltimore area. In fact, I have only been turned down by two companies once I got to the interview stage, and I’ve been through a LOT of interviews, just not here.

I agree that the best solution to both of our problems is finding a happy compromise we can both be confident to wear out of the house. I like the idea of having my sister give me a makeover. She is going to cut my hair when she comes for Easter. She already started modifying my wardrobe over Christmas by giving me a lot of her summer clothes she doesn’t wear anymore; it just hasn’t gotten warm enough to take advantage of them yet. I have given away bags and bags and bags of my old clothes in an effort to make way for newer styles.

In fact I was going through my clothes last night and discovered a bin full of newer styles that I put away in the fall. The “good” clothes tend to get set aside when I am working because my “professional” attire as an engineer is not what I would want to wear anywhere else. It gets dirty and stained in a heartbeat, and who wants to pay for clothes that last when the job description necessitates that they won’t?


since this person is most amenable to the argument from fashion and appearance, you could point out, privately, that the garments she has chosen are very unflattering and unattractive.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit