What do you consider a "modest" skirt hemline?

Meaning, the shortest a skirt can be without being seen, by you, as immodest.

I know we all have different ideas about this, and I’d like to hear some of them.

Do you think, for instance, mid-thigh length is appropriate? For mass, for school, for the park? What about with tights or leggings? Should skirts be at least knee length, or even below the knee? Do you think this will vary by season i.e. a shorter skirt is more appropriate in July than it is in December?

Many of the girls that I see wearings skirts at mass tend to wear them midtigh length, often with tights. I, honestly, do not know if that is culturally considered modest or not. I do know that it’s difficult to find skirts longer than that length, but I also know that the clothing industries of today do not cater to modesty.

I live in California. Last year, I decided to be Catholic around May. I had no clue to to be Catholic, though, and ended up wearing heavy, covering clothes all summer. A terrible idea. Nowadays, for some reason or another modesty is the area in which scrupulosity still affects me the most, and I struggle with how to dress for circumstances. In the summer, it is usually around 95-100 degrees. I’m rather sensitive to heat anyways, I usually find 50-60 degrees to be comfortable and then oh look it’s freaking 110 outside. So this summer I want to be much more rational about it. I don’t think I will wear shorts. But it would be a blessing to not be weighed down by mid-calf skirts all July and August.

If you are scrupulous, you may be making a rod for your own back by asking these questions on an internet forum. You will receive opinions from either extreme, and your scrupulousity may tend towards your accepting one extreme out of fear rather than strength of reason.

Do you have a trusted priest you can get some guidance from? Any respected adult females in your parish you could talk to?

I think from your post you already know a few important things - that different clothes are acceptable or not in different circumstances (work, school, church, beach, park, etc) and that climate may play a role in what is acceptable somewhere but frowned upon elsewhere. I’d be looking for women in your own parish to help you finetune from there.

Agree, well stated.:thumbsup:


Personally, I think it is fine to wear skirts/shorts that touch your fingertips when you are standing for the park, beach, shopping, etc. I think that skirts/dresses for Mass should be close to your knee or longer. When it comes to your job, usually there is some type of dress code. Most places want your hemline at your knee or longer.

You said something about leggings. I don’t think that you should be showing any lady bits, so tunics/shirts that cover your front AND back sides should be worn. I don’t think leggings are appropriate for Mass, but they are fine for shopping, going to the movies, and such. :slight_smile:

Do you mean by themselves (or with a dress)? I don’t like wearing pants to Mass, and it gets absolutely freezing in the winter to wear a skirt to Mass without leggings.

I don’t think they are appropriate with a tunic/long shirt for Mass. I think they are fine with dresses/skirts. I wear them with dresses/skirts all the time when it is chilly outside.

Oh, okay. Yeah, I felt I had to have misread you. Thanks! :slight_smile:

I would consider one that is modest one that covers the knees, even when sitting down, no matter what the season.

Modesty.definition…scroll down to where it says “fashion”:


I too live in a hot climate…

Part of the thing about modesty is individual. I know some girls who dress about the same, but one has much longer legs than the other, proportionately, so the same skirt which is modest on one looks less modest on the other.

Some standards which have been proposed by a lady interested in this issue are: skirts and shorts down to one’s fingertips, tops which do not show anything when the one wearing them leans forward, and some sleeves, which could be an open blouse worn over a sleeveless top.

Since the main point of this aspect of modesty is to help the men around us not be tempted into sin, loose is better than tight.

Another thing I found is that wearing those broomstick skirts can be very comfortable in the summer.

I live in Mexico, make sure my skirts at least cover my knees in any position.
If it’s summer, one can just use cool fabrics. In the cold weather, one can use warm ones.

I went to a Catholic High School in the 50s. The rules were : full skirts not above 3" above the ankle, blouses with at least short sleeves, not clevage, no bare shoulders, nothing form fitting tight. Our girls dressed the same in summer ( as far as I was aware, at least the girls I associated with did - of course swimming was a different matter but I didn’t do much of that). They all got married, so it had no poor results for the girls, and I must say they all looked fine to me, except the usual percentage whom God did not bless with physical beauty).

Modesty in dress is an inner demand of the moral law as written in the heart, it doesn’t change. One needs to always ask whom one is dressing for, God or man, God or self and girls and women always need to be conscious of the fact that men are naturally visual, God made them that way for a purpose. So the ladies must guard against inadvertantly causing men to fall into sins of thought or desire through their dress or comportment.

As far as the summer heat is concerned, they have heat in Southern climes as well and in Muslim countries as well - so that excuse won’t wash, just use Summer weight clothes.

And by the way, I’m ashamed to say that some Catholic women appearing on some Catholic talk shows do not set a good example. Sitting down talking to an audience or someone on the show demands skirts or dresses that should fall to not above mid calf when sittign - that is not rocket science, wake up gals ( I won’t mention any names but they are well known and popular and should know better!!!)

And by the way, the above the 38th parallel line ( to quote a friend of mine ), do you really expect us to believe you were built that way, accept what God has created, don’t go around looking like God didn’t know what He was doing.

And by the way both men and women have the same obligations to modesty. Men should dress like gentlemen and behave that way too.

Yes, I am an old fuddy duddy. But I would like to be an old fuddy duddy in Heaven, not in Hell.


In my own family the rule has always been (and still will be) skirts and dresses must go to at least the knee. We were rather shocked when a couple of girls at Christmas Eve Mass went up for Communion wearing “dresses” that barely covered their backside. Kind of sad how modesty and class have gone downhill. :frowning:

Many of us have grown up in the Church where we had hats and gloves and longer dresses or skirts on when we went to Mass. Over the years the casual dress adopted by some has come to even include shorts during the summer. It is difficult to give a one size fits all answer to your question as I am certain that those people who come in tank tops and shorts feel it is OK and could care less what I think. I do draw the line, no matter how stylish they may look, at outfits which reveal too much of anything, to short on the bottom and too low at the top on woman. I feel that this type of dress should remain a choice for some people for anywhere else but Church. Could you wear a skirt that came above the knee, perhaps if you can sit and get up and down modestly.

:smiley: I find the broom stick style of skirts or a long loose dress the coolest in summer, far cooler then capris. I don’t wear shorts. This time of year I wear leggings under a below the knee skirt. :winter: My apologies to those in the East who are suffering real cold weather.:imsorry:

I figure as long as a teenage girl is wearing leggings under a shirt/dress/ruffle that actually covers the “bootie” she is doing pretty well.

I always think what would I be comfortable with if I was honoured with a visit from Our Lady, with this in mind I dress accordingly, dresses/skirts a little longer than knee length because when you go to sit down up they go and your always pulling them down, so I now dress mid calf length for everything, summer, the material is light, in winter its heavier, like wool or a mix of materials but heavy. Trousers are trousers, that cover everything.

As I don’t live in the States I don’t know how you dress, but in Europe women can look like hookers, while the hookers look respectable. One can be smart, and very smart in dress, as I hope I am, but modest with it. With accessory Jewellery to match.
Still waiting for Our Lady to appear !!!

I’ll throw this out from a guy’s perspective - and father of a young girl. I agree with the skirt/ dress being no higher than the top of the knee. That is the rule for my daughter’s Catholic School for their uniform. Good enough for them, should be fine for the rest of the ladies going to Mass.

But from my perspective, anything shorter than that shows no class or reverence while attending Mass.


I’ll say covering the knees. Sitting and standing both need to be considered.


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I think knee-length is modest, meaning middle of the knee cap, especially for church. As for wearing dresses/skirts outside of church, I would say no shorter than 3/4 of the distance between where your leg meets your body and the middle of your knee cap. Leggings or tights don’t necessarily modest. If you can see more leg than skirt, it’s definitely not modest. Some people seem to think that wearing leggings with a long shirt/tunic is ok. I don’t - leggings are not pants. So, if the long shirt/tunic isn’t covering most of your legs down to your knees, forget it. I also don’t think it’s necessary to wear skirts down to your calves either.

i think that in american culture ( remember what the popes have said about the disciplines of differentiating cultural modesty ) the shortest a dress should be is four inches below the knees. you, should be modest enough in other places besides the mass to dressed; so, the person(s) gazing at You will not be ashamed when the individual looks you in the face or your eyes. :thumbsup:

this is what the church recommends in discipline "Standards of Modesty in Dress
Imprimatur dated Sept. 24, 1956
"A dress cannot be called decent … scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. "
The Cardinal Vicar of Pius XI

God bless

Yeah, mid-thigh length skirts are popular right now, but they’re boring. They have no grace, “swish” (drape) or interesting style to them. Plus, mostly they’re immodest. They really are not cooler (temperature-wise) than a skirt that is longer and looser. Ankle length skirts are in fashion the stores these days, too, but only the young should attempt that style. On older women, it is not a flattering daytime look.

Your best skirt length is somewhere between 2 inches above or below mid-knee. You need to look in the mirror to find the best point.

You live in a hot climate. Go LINEN! You just can’t go wrong with linen in hot weather (make sure there is no lining). Check out the resale shops and thrift shops to scoop up nice airy linen tops, blouses and dresses. Covering your arms in loose linen or cotton can sometimes keep you cooler than going sleeveless.

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