7 Steps to Dressing Modestly

7 Steps to Dressing Modestly

How much thought do you put into your clothes?  Are you concerned with being modest?  Do you try to look stylish?

Personally, I have always cared about looking nice.  Even on days when I am staying home and only my husband and kids will see me….I get kinda dressed up.  I’ve never been a “sweats and t-shirt” kind of gal.  My girls do the same thing.

Seventeen years ago James and I were challenged about our way of dress and we did some deep thinking.  As our society has gone more and more off the deep end of immodesty we, as Christians, must stand firm in God’s standards.  It has been our desire to glorify God in every part of our lives, including our clothes.  How we present ourselves to the world matters.

So I went through God’s Word to seek out ways to be more God honoring in my attire.  It is clear that we are to be….


A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”  Deut 22:5


Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” 1 Tim 2:9


Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

and careful not to lead men into lustful thinking.

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

But it’s not always clear as to HOW we should do these things.  In order to make it easy to find clothes in the stores and get dressed every morning, I have these few guidelines.  These are for us and our family. I do not project them onto you and am not making judgments.  I tell you this not to get you to do it my way, but to encourage you to make guidelines of your own.

1.  My number one tip is to search your heart.  If you have a sense that you shouldn’t wear it, don’t.  If you know you are trying to be alluring or worldly, let it go.

2.  Dresses and skirts only.  I was convicted all those years ago that when I wear pants I draw attention to private areas of my body.  So I keep covered.  We also wear our skirts at least to the knee (which means they are long enough to stay below the knee when we sit).

3.  Loose fitting clothing.  This doesn’t mean baggy and dull.  It just means that we don’t wear shape fitting clothes.  We don’t want to cause any men to stumble.

4.  No sleeveless tops.  Without sleeves the eye is drawn to the chest area.  We will slip a little t-shirt under a tank or wear a lightweight jacket or shrug to cover our armpits.

5.  No cleavage.

6.  Light make-up.

7.  Simple jewelry.  Not plain necessarily, but not seductive.

This doesn’t mean we just wear denim jumpers and frumpy dresses.  I love to keep up with the latest styles and as long as they fit into our guidelines, we are free to wear what’s current.

Today, for example, we are cleaning house.  There’s nothing in particular going on…we are just hanging out together.  The girls are dressed way down for cleaning, but they still look nice:

Grace and Faith….both in hand-me-down skirts and old shirts.  Grace always wears a bandana when she cleans.

Hope and Patience….we do have a lot of denim skirts because they are pretty easy to find.

Me….heading into town.  Nothing special.

I can’t count the number of times I get stopped by strangers and I get the opportunity to talk with them about my love for Christ.  Just recently a man stopped me and said, “It is obvious that you are a devoted Christian,” and he went on to ask me questions.  How cool!  It happens weekly, someone starts to ask me questions and I get to tell them about the Lord.  I have to believe that is partly because of the way I am dressed.  People can tell we’re different.

Do you have any guidelines that are different than mine?  I’d love to hear them.  We can all grow and learn from each other.

Update: We have had so much interest in this that we are doing a series on modesty.  As the girls have grown up they have updated their look and we have plenty of examples of what we wear in the series.


  1. Great post about modesty! I have only one teenage daughter and three sons but modesty has been taught since she was little. Our dress guidelines are similar to yours but we do wear pants, capris and shorts to the knees. No low rider jeans or anything that looks like it was painted on. We do a lot of layering to keep stylish and modest with todays fashions. I personally love to wear dresses and skirts in the summer because it is so hot in AZ.

    I recently bought a couple of blouses for myself online…the material was too lightweight when I put them on so off to Old Navy to buy $2 clearance long tee tops that can be worn under the blouses. With the t-top underneath, I can wear the blouse open like a jacket or buttoned up part way with the t-top covering the chest area. Lightweight for the temperatures but still modest.

    My daughter and I were at Costco shopping one day and a woman walked up to my daughter and complimented her on her modest summer fashion. That day she had worn a pair of knee-length peach plaid bermuda shorts with a white long (in length) tee shirt and over the t-shirt she wore a dressy(embellished with lace and buttons) peach tank top. The woman told her that most girls would wear short shorts and just the tank top….she was happy to see my daughter made herself fashionable but modests by wearing long shorts and a tee under the embellished top. My daughter wore a big smile after that…and I am happy that by early training and example she has developed her own sense of modest fashion and we have no conflicts about what she purchases or wears.

    I enjoy your blog and reading your point of views. You have a darling home and wonderful family!
    .-= Sandra´s last blog ..Butterfly Flutters =-.

  2. What an excellent topic this is. Having spend my entire life in the fasion industry in one way of another, this is one that is always with me. I knew when I was 8 years old that I would be a stylist, I can tell you where I was sitting and who was with me. I have watched Gods hand move me through and to this career ( I briefly wanted to do something else and he brought me back) I loved caring for and loving on each of my many clients before kids, after kids I am down to just a few that still like what I do enough to work around my schedule. I feel like God has placed each of these ladies in my life for a reason. I say all of this just for the background of how much I like hair makeup and clothing, I have studied them and continue to. I am picky about what I wear and even though my guidelines are different for yours I think they come from the same type of heart. I do wear pants and even shorts but pants can not be tight and shorts have to come to the edge of my finger tips and I have monkey arms so that is longer than most peoples would be with the same rule. I do not wear skirt that don’t touch the top of my knee and even though I wear tank tops I always layer them so they are two wide and so more cleavage is covered. I am very picky about undergarments also they have to be nude and I were layers so I never show the outline of my bra. Underwear lines are another thing I am very aware of even in a loose skirt a wide band on underwear can show up, so I wear boy shorts or Soma has a seamless brand that really is seamless. Now on to makeup, DO I wear it Yes Yes and Yes. I love makeup and love playing with it, but tend to only do a natural look, sometimes a bit more for a night out with hubby. Hair hmmmmmmmmmmmm, Yes it is colored and highlighted all to get the color I had before it went grey. But I colored before I was grey also but even still I do colors that occur naturally even if they didn’t occur naturally on me. Here is the hard part for me I love big bold jewerly, bright and colorful. I dream up new designs and how to mix colors in new ways, so I might wear to much, I’ll have to pray on that one. I started by saying I love this and I will end the same way, even though we do it different we have both prayed over it and given it to God and are willing to change where he tells us and that is what I think is important. I know when I have stepped to far the wrong direction with this He has convicted me and I have prayed and asked for forgiveness and moved on wiser and that is what I will continue to do even if it one day means He asks me to get rid of it all I will. I love that you are bold enough to talk about this topic and BTW I think you and your girls are beautiful and would not change a thing about you, even if you were a paying client.
    Cha Cha
    .-= Cha Cha´s last blog ..Tomato Pie =-.

  3. Boy such long comments…I LOVE it! Sandra, what a lovely testimony. That is exactly what I mean…people notice!

    Cha Cha, you are a doll. Of course, I see what you wear because you are so great about putting yourself out there on “What I Wore Wednesday”. You are adorable and you are so right, we each need to pray and be willing to listen to God. It should never affect our friendship just because we dress differently! I have a lot to learn and I could certainly use a pro like you! Lisa~

  4. first, let me say…i loved seeing the picture of you! you look beautiful. of course, your girls do as well, but i loved seeing YOU!

    i grew up in a skirt/dress only house. or shorts below the knee. i understand & respect your views, totally! i still love skirts. i feel more confident in them, then in any other outfit or clothing, i own. but, i decided that skirt/dress “ONLY” wasn’t for me, once i was on my own. i do wear sleeveless, but not too often. usually just working in the yard or when i’m digging in the dirt. 😉 and i do love jeans any time of year, but i hate tight jeans, and boy oh boy do i EVER hate those low waisted jeans on anyone.
    all of that said…i couldn’t agree with you more on how clothing will draw attention to you, whether good or bad. it is amazing how clothing will do this. like cha cha i worked in the fashion world for almost 15+ years. so i love clothes. i love accessories & make-up but i love it when it is tastefully done.
    i think you are a brave person to tackled this topic. because not many would. i also love that you are open & willing to hear everyone else’s opinion.
    that’s why i love you. i love that you are willing & would allow for comments whether they agree or disagree. this alone is a very rare thing!

    take care, sweet friend!
    .-= this blessed nest´s last blog ..a Fall Festival =-.

  5. Jamie Wooddell :

    I thought you would get a kick out of knowing that the Blue Coat K9 web protection blocked this post for “pornography”. Now that’s some great protection! Just because you mentioned immodesty and lust.

    Anyway, we have recently been convicted of skirts and dresses. We are still in the process of switching over our wardrobes, but I have already been through some skirts that were ok with me when I bought them but later was convinced they were too short. They came to the knee, but when sitting I was very aware of needing to be more modest for my son’s sake. But my daughters went from not wanting to wear skirts everyday to not wanting to wear anything else. All without prompting! I love the way God works.

    Love you blog, by the way!

  6. OK, I can’t tell you how hard I am laughing this morning. Imagine…little old ME being tagged as pornography! ROFL!!! Thanks Jamie for letting me know. I don’t know what on earth to do about it. Do you all think I should take those words out? Or should I just stay controversial. (giggling again)

    Thanks for the Blessed Nest for saying you liked seeing ME. I really do hate putting my picture on here, but I’m trying to be real with you all and the real truth is…that is what I look like. Oh well. 🙂 Lisa~

  7. Well, I’ll say that I follow your rules #1, #5, #6 & #7 but not # 2, 3 or 4. Part of adapting to my culture here in Brazil, so that I do not automatically scream “(rich) American” with my clothing, is to dress like the natives. Here, the difference would be “you must be American, thus you must (ha!) be wealthy, thus, what a great target you’d make for pick-pocketing!”

    Well, re: loose clothing, I don’t wear anything too tight to move comfortably, but nor do I wear something that is so loose it looks as though I bought the wrong size, does that make sense? So, maybe I do follow that one, judging from the photos you’ve posted. I wear fitted, but not tight, aside from a shirt or two that are for my hubby’s eyes only : )

    As for sleeveless, the tropical sun practically requires it ; ) The armpit stains would be too great otherwise. I do make careful selections though, so that the shirts are still tasteful and non cleavage revealing. In the summer time, though, you will not catch me with sleeves on as I’ve yet to find a deodarant/anti perspirant that can tackle the sweat sufficiently. Luckily, there is a great trend here of shirts that are tank tops but sort of baby doll style, so they flow out away from the body. Someone once said “does not show both sides of any curve” – these shirts would fit that. Love, love, love that style. Scoop necks, high up, and flow away from the body – nice, cool, not form fitting, no cleavage, but, no sleeves to catch every drop of sweat that pours down — perfect!

    I do enjoy skirts/dresses, though I don’t wear them as often as I’d like. I need to shop for some that are both casual and modest and Brazilian. That’s a lot for one skirt/dress, but it can be done! However, running around after the boys, and the dog, and, well, long skirts that would be modest enough to be that active are just not around. I could wear them at home, but outside the house they’d stand out too much — I would draw more attention by being so vastly different, ya know? Same with (gasp in horror now….) bathing suits. I very quickly switched from my skirted tankini to a typical bikini + a cover-up. Same amount of me is covered, or more!, with this combo, yet it is culturally the norm to wear a bikini + cover-up, so I fit in rather than draw attention by wearing a more modest suit, with no cover-up. crazy.

    When in the US I do adapt my dress appropriately; I’ve learned that modesty really is based not only in the heart but also in the culture. So, I dress in a culturally appropriate way, while keeping your rule #1 as the prime consideration.
    .-= The Reader´s last blog ..You Wont Believe it – Paperwork Snafu =-.

  8. Forgot to say — LOVED the pics of you and the girls. You are all beautiful, and yes, I too loved seeing YOU.

  9. Reader, I LOVE hearing about how you manage in Brazil. Other cultures are definitely a consideration. When we first changed the way we dressed, I was slow about it. Until we left our church I felt it would not be modest to just become different all of a sudden. I did not want to send the message, “Look at me! I’ve decided to wear dresses now so I’m more Godly than you.” Because I never thought it was more godly or better…it was just something God was doing in my heart. I did not want to draw attention to that.

    I love the baby doll style shirt idea. It sounds like a good alternative. I didn’t even mention bathing suits in this post. That is a whole other can of worms. LOL!

  10. Hello Lisa,
    I stopped over to see your bedroom…(you know what I mean) 🙂 It is lovely…yes I sense a “peaceful atmosphere” thanks for the tour!
    I was so blessed by this post here!
    Thanks foe your blog, I will stop again!
    P.S. My younger sisters name is “Lisa”… & yes, she “moves her furniture…as well! 🙂

  11. We’re pretty much the same except that I don’t like shirts too loose. I have only very recently been okay with not wearing my tank tops. Not sure why I took so long to let that go.
    .-= Autumn Beck´s last blog ..When you have little or nothing to say =-.

  12. On Sunday I wore a lovely, very full, pink floral skirt with a pink peter pan blouse that I then fastened a vintage sweater clip to. My husband was most appreciative. He loves that his wife dresses as a modest woman. I have to say that I am disheartened most of the time when I see what the women in our church are wearing. Yes, I know it’s 110 degrees. But you can still be cute, covered and cool. I often hear the comments “Well God doesn’t care what we wear, just as long as we show up.” That may be true, I don’t know. But I do know that you should care. It is about respect.

    Ok, I am off of my soapbox now. 🙂
    .-= Laura Ingalls Gunn´s last blog ..A Step Back In Time =-.

  13. Hopped over here from WIWW on Pleated Poppy and of course started nosing around! I never knew that’s why skirts were favored. it makes sense, but i just never heard that. I live in small town Texas too, born and raised here in the Lone Star =)

  14. Love and agree with your rules. I was convicted to wear skirts only (out of the home) a few years ago. At the same time, my then 3yo daughter told me one day as I was dressing her in pants, “girls wear dresses, I do not want to wear pants”, and she has never had them on since.
    I do wear capris and a few shorts at home, more from a perspective of not wanting to throw out perfectly good clothing. After the switch, I found I got so much more respect out in public, from men and women. Even the cashiers at the stores seemed to treat me better. My teens noticed the difference too.
    One thing that does drive me crazy, is when moms let their girls wear spaghetti straps, etc., that they will not allow when they are older. Before homeschool, my kids went to a Christian school for a few years. The dress code changed at 3rd grade. Insane–girls develop at all different ages. If a mom thinks it is inappropriate on a teen, it should also be deemed inappropriate on a toddler.

  15. Lisa, I know this is an older post, but I just found your blog and am really enjoying it! Could you give an example of how you turn a comment from a stranger into sharing with them about Christ? Thanks!

  16. thanks for this post! in a society where the gender lines are blurred, it is so refreshing to see a sister in Christ taking a stand for Biblical femininity!


  17. I’ve known a number of families who have a similar approach as you, but I think you’ve done a very good job of outlining why you do what you do. While most of the time, I don’t think I dress inappropriately, you’ve definitely made me think a little more about some of my clothes. I will look at them with a different perspective. Thank you for sharing.

    btw – you really need to stop distracting me with all these blog posts. I’m supposed to be working on school plans. JK!! 🙂

  18. beautiful post. you and your girls are visions of loveliness.

    we have a slightly different take on modesty…but it is also important to us.

    thanks for calling all of us to rise up to a higher standard.

  19. Donna Broughton :

    Hi, I am 49 year old mother of 2 and grandmother of 5. I have been seriously considering wearing dresses and have been for sometime. I live on a small farm where I cut wood, feed horses, mow 5 acres of grass and it has been a difficult transition for me. Not to mention I am somewhere between a size 20/22 and I am short. So trying to find dresses that look good on my short but large frame has been difficult. I want to look modest and yet I don’t want to look frumpy. I am trying to get the hang of this, but I am getting very discouraged. Pantyhose especially drive me crazy. And shoes that I can work in but don’t look ridiculous. lol…..I was looking at your pictures and you look wonderful. I can’t tell if you are short or not, but you look lovely in your pictures. If you could give me some ideas, I would be so grateful. I am feeling so conflicted. I don’t know if this is what God is calling me to or if this is something I am putting myself through. I know that as children of God we should not only be different but look different. God looks on the inside, but the world judges our outside. I have read all the scriptures on modesty and truly want to honor God with my dress. Thank you for any suggestions you could give me.

  20. I’m a 24 year old SAHM to an 8 month old girl. I did not grow up in a modest home… in fact my parents were both okay with very immodest dress. I will admit I had my teen years where I dressed provocatively, although the blame is some of my own, I did not know better. Over the years I have began to dress more modestly, trying to wear looser fitting jeans etc. but over the last several months I have opened up my closet looked at my “modest by society standard” clothing and thought “I do not feel Godly wearing this!” I’m now going to start making the change to at least mostly dresses and skirts that knee length. Do you have any tips on how to dress a little one when they do not know how to modest (I’m envisioning my daughter “flashing” people while she is young). I was also wondering where your family purchases your skirts and dresses? Tops seem easier to come by, but modest dresses and skirts seem a lot harder. I was also wondering what your family does for swim wear and sleep attire?

    • I’m obviously not the original poster 🙂 My just now 3 year old daughter loves to wear dresses and while I don’t personally adhere to all of the convictions listed above (sleeveless especially, I am so hot natured, and I live in GA!!) I absolutely worry about her modesty as well as my own. For her I always have a pair of bike shorts or tight capris under any dress she might wear in public. Quite honestly, I do the same thing for myself! If I have a cute summer dress I would like to wear, I always have them underneath.

    • Like Monique we have always put a pair of “biker shorts” under clothing for my daughter. She comes from a long line of curves and I have never allowed her to wear a bikini or short dress, even as a toddler. While we are a pants wearing family and don’t adhere to a dress/skirt policy, being modest and honoring God with our bodies and style is very important.

  21. I’m a little late to the game here, but I wanted to thank you for defining what you consider modest dress and how you backed your clothing choices with scripture. I became a Christian at 23 and I’ve noticed as I have become more and more edified as a follower of Jesus, I have become more sensitive to what I wear and the feeling I get (especially with girls) wearing promiscuous clothing. I have moved more in the direction of modest dress by layering and especially being careful of not showing my shoulders at church. I am not at the level of modesty that you and your girls are at this point, but you all look darling and that is encouraging me to continue to move in that direction! We do need to set ourselves apart from the rest of society. This is all very thought provoking, certainly as my daughter is now eight with a soon to be developing figure. I want to honor God in everything that I do. Thank you again, I am really enjoying your blog as I discovered you a couple of weeks ago during the home tour.

  22. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have three boys and one girl, and I really never gave much thought to the whole “modesty issue” until very recently (when my daughter started to have an opinion about what she wears, rather than just wearing whatever I gave her to wear.)

    She’s pretty good about covering what should stay covered (we’re LDS, so she hears about modesty from her leaders at church AND from Mum.) But there aren’t very many “modesty role models” out there, so it’s nice to be able to show her girls who dress cutely without being immodest.

    I have one question, though: Do you adhere to the bit about “…no…braided hair”? I always wonder about that, because I think hair in a plait (or two plaits, but never more than two) can look really cute without compromising one’s modesty.

  23. One word of advice – if you ever fly, you will get extra security screenings at the airport if you are wearing a skirt. They will choose you for the body scanner (hardly modest when you consider that a man might be looking at the screen in another location & the cameras do reveal enough to make one blush). Or you may receive a pat-down, which may reveal the shape of your figure and could possibly be done in the presence of males. What do you guys do about flying and modesty?

  24. I asked my question about airplane travel because I’ve read stories online about how they make you lift up your skirt in public or take it off in a private room. The official tsa website at one point even advised women to not wear skirts or loose clothing. It makes me a little angry. There is no respect for modesty anymore! I think you sometimes fly and I was curious to your experience.

    I don’t dress as modestly as you guys but I really love they way you guys do it. So fashionable, so cute and your heart is in the right place. I’m even looking at clothing pictures now and seeing immodest outfits that I previously didn’t think were immodest!

    • Thanks K! Yes, I do fly pretty often and I get patted down every time and they always tell me it’s because I am wearing a skirt. I don’t like it, but it’s always been respectfully done and always by a woman. I don’t worry about being seen doing it (of course I would if they lifted up my skirt!) because it’s always busy and no one really notices. I just do the best I can and don’t worry about it.

      I am so glad you mentioned it though. I never would have thought to bring that up as an issue, but it definitely is! Lisa~

  25. Thank you for the info. It just makes me a little mad that they have official guidelines on how to handle women wearing burqas but nothing pertaining to Christians or other religions that dress modestly. It’s good to know that they are respectful and you’ve had good experiences. 🙂 what do your daughters do?

    There really is no respect for modesty these days. I didn’t use to care that much other than avoid dresses shorter than a hand width above the knee (guideline at a conservative Christian college in LA, Becky went there, I think), don’t show cleavage or wear spaghetti straps. But I now see things more and love the way you guys dress. 🙂 I’m afraid someday, things will have gotten so bad that everyone is naked on the streets and we have to take off our clothes to fly. No one seems to care that you have to go through a “strip search” machine in order to fly . I’m glad there is a more modest option.

    Thank you for answering the question! I love love love your blog! A new fan!

  26. Crystle Monahan :

    While I do not share all of your feelings about modesty, (for example, I dress like a guy most of the time. I’ve never been comfortable wearing feminine clothing) I must say you all do look nice and very happy 🙂

  27. Hi,
    Great topic and one that is the conversation of many. I think the hardest part about dressing modestly, is finding fashionable modest clothes. It is hard to find modest shirts/top that can be worn with pants. Check out http://www.JustLongShirts.com
    They have longer length tops that cover up to your knees and can be worn with jeans and dress pants. Their tops are modest, fashionable and good quality. I’ve had many of their tops of years now.
    Hope this helps! Keep the conversation going 🙂