What is considered not modest??

I have been reading some threads about modesty and I was wondering if anyone could tell me what is considered not being modest in regards to clothing. I don’t think that the clothes I wear are not modest, but I may be wrong.

I never wear short shorts or skirts or show my stomach, but I do like to wear shirts that show my neck area. They are not really low cut and don’t show off cleavage or anything. Is it wrong to wear this kind of shirt?? And what about a shirt with a thin strap, that shows your arms and shoulders?? And jeans and pants that are more fitted??

I am 18 years old, and I do consider myself modest, but some of the posts make me feel like I’m not as modest as I should or could be. Any input or suggestions you have would be awesome!
Thanks :thumbsup:

Check out the link on the home page of Catholic Answers called Chastity. It even has a question and answer link to many of the questions an 18yr. would ask including this very inquiry. Sounds like you are asking appropriate questions as a young person. Keep praying on it.

In my CCD program, showing skin or underwear between your collar bone and your knees is out, sleeveless okay in summer but not spaghetti straps. strapless and bare midriff definitely out. clothing with offensive logos, messages or labels also out. If someone can detect the style and brand-name of your underwear (or absence of same) that is also out.

Standards of Modesty in Dress
Imprimatur dated Sept. 24, 1956
“A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper.”
The Cardinal Vicar of Pius XII
I also highly recommend the book “Dressing with Dignity” by Colleen Hammond…it is the first book that really opened my eyes to modesty.
p.s. About that quote - in the book it is noted that "short sleeves were also permitted as a temporary concession, with ecclesiastical approval, because of “impossible market conditions.”
p.p.s. I’m almost sure I read somewhere that the appropriate length was 2 inches below the knee, too

Does anyone have the context to this quote - I’d like to know more about it. I think modesty has to be related to the culture, time place & circumstances but it’s interesting to think about where to draw the line.


2521 Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.

2522 Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.

2523 There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.

2524 The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person.

2525 Christian purity requires a purification of the social climate. It requires of the communications media that their presentations show concern for respect and restraint. Purity of heart brings freedom from widespread eroticism and avoids entertainment inclined to voyeurism and illusion.

2526 So called moral permissiveness rests on an erroneous conception of human freedom; the necessary precondition for the development of true freedom is to let oneself be educated in the moral law. Those in charge of education can reasonably be expected to give young people instruction respectful of the truth, the qualities of the heart, and the moral and spiritual dignity of man.

2527 "The Good News of Christ continually renews the life and culture of fallen man; it combats and removes the error and evil which flow from the ever-present attraction of sin. It never ceases to purify and elevate the morality of peoples. It takes the spiritual qualities and endowments of every age and nation, and with supernatural riches it causes them to blossom, as it were, from within; it fortifies, completes, and restores them in Christ."316


You should notice that the book the quote was copied from, was printed in 1956. And those standards were great…in 1956. Take those standards back to 1856, and people would have been scandalized if you had that much skin showing.

It might interest you to know that Colleen Hammond (a classy lady!) is a member here at CAF and has commented on appropriate apparel here on this thread:forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=644491&page=7 POST 92

Note her modified opinion on pants/slacks (modest ones, of course) for women! I’m hoping she’ll revise her book to include that- her website shows that Vatican sign, too!

A quick internet search of images for SAINT Gianna Molla will show photographs of her wearing short sleeves and pants.

Spot on Susanne! Remember the Victorians used to cover their furniture and piano legs, so not to be immodest :wink: But think back to the Jane Austin times of empire-waisted dresses that showed way more cleavage than you see at the shopping mall today. Those dresses were considered modest because they covered the women’s legs…

It’s impossible to make a list of rules for all situations.

Go to Wal-Mart and count off the first ten girls who come through the door.

Which one do you notice the most?
She is probably the one who is closest to being immodest. The rest are ok.

The Philippine Hierarchy officially recognized the 1930 Special Instructions of the Sacred Council as prescribing the Roman Standards of Modesty in dress for women and girls all over the world. Acting upon this letter from the Sacred Council, the Philippine Bishops issued a joint pastoral on May 19, 1931, prescribing these Roman Standards for all their Dioceses. And on December 6, 1959, His Eminence Rufino Cardinal Santos, Archbishop of Manila, issued a lengthy and masterful Pastoral Letter to “confirm once more and declare in full vigor in our Archdiocese what the Holy Father and the Catholic Hierarchy have stated on different occasions.” The Cardinal then repeats the “Church’s stand concerning modesty in dress” by quoting the standards set by Pope Pius XI.

Pope Pius XII [says]:
There always exists an absolute norm to be preserved, no matter how broad and changeable the relative morals of styles may be … Style may never give a proximate occasion of sin, and clothing must be a shield against disordered sensuality.


Sharing my viewpoint some aspects of this are situationally bound. If I’m in certain areas of one country one could walk around naked and it seems no one notices or cares. In others a naked foot is enough to inspire lustful thoughts in others. In the environments I’m in most of the time there’s a fairly decent idea of what would grab a certain type of attention and what want (and there are those that will use that knowledge to their “Advantage” for attracting certain types of attention. So it tends to be easy for most to avoid.

Absolutely this.

Some styles that are labeled “immodest” are actually just in really bad taste - for example, wearing underwear-like clothing on the outside, or instead of normal clothes - there’s nothing “sexy” about that, but it’s in very poor taste.

Also, context is important. There are places you can be just about naked and it’s fine - Church or school (and usually, work) aren’t those places. :slight_smile:

Anyone notice this thread is seven years old?

Ummmm, no - thanks for pointing that out! :blush:

I just wanted to commend a young lady of your age for asking this question. In this desensitized society of ours most young ladies wouldn’t even think to have such a concern. Keep up the good work. It sounds to me that you know how to dress already. God bless you…teachccd :slight_smile:

Hopefully she’s long since married and raising kids of her own by this time. :slight_smile:

Haha :wink:

HAHAHA :blush: I didn’t notice the date of the original post. Oh well, kudos to those who follow in her footsteps. Too funny!!:rotfl:

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