What to Wear
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
"Yahweh God made clothes out of skins for the man and his wife, and they put them on.' This sacred text shows us that God covered the bodies that had stripped themselves, through sin, of the garments of grace. For this reason, we must all clothe ourselves decently, modestly and with dignity. Those who appear indecently dressed are an incentive to sin, and so are responsible not only for their own sins but also for those that others may commit because of them. Reflect that fashion, if it is indecent - and we see that the world unfortunately follows it as if it were a law - is a trick of the devil, a clever trap in which the devil catches souls, in the same way as hunters catch game in the woods and fields."
Sister Lucia de Jesus Rosa dos Santos of Fatima 1997
In the morning, when it is time for one to choose an outfit for the day, she is about to engage in a moral act. Whether this act be holy inspired, the choice is hers. It's easy to put on whatever is most comfortable and convenient, yet this is precisely one of the reasons that causes the habitual problem of choosing immodest clothing. Another reason that women dress in a lewd fashion is to attract the opposite sex. However, what type of attention would a female attract dressing immodestly? Is this attention truly going to satisfy her heart? Would not the female be degrading herself? Would not this be sinful for both herself and the other?
To begin with, it's important to recognize one's dignity, because without knowing that every soul is made in the image and likeness of God, she will fail to make choices that reflect this sacred truth. It's amazing that simply how one dresses, has such an impact; how one can display and encourage an image of modesty and holiness without words. Yet, how simple it is for one to display an image of lewdness and immodesty by failing to wear modest clothing, neglecting the dignity that is theirs.
Pope Pius XI addresses the standards of dress in "A Papal Decree concerning Modesty":
"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 Pope Pius XI).
1. Marylike is modest without compromise, “like Mary,” Christ’s mother.
2. Marylike dresses have sleeves extending at least to the elbows; and skirts reaching below the knees. [N.B. Because of impossible market conditions quarter-length sleeves are temporarily tolerated with Ecclesiastical Approval, until Christian womanhood again turns to Mary as the model of modesty in dress.]
3. Marylike dress requires full coverage for the bodice, chest, shoulders and back; except for a cut-out about the neck not exceeding two inches below the neckline in front and in back and a corresponding two inches on the shoulders.
4. Marylike dresses do not admit as modest coverage transparent fabrics — laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc. — unless sufficient backing is added. However, their moderate use as trimmings is acceptable.
5. Marylike dresses do not admit the use improper of flesh-colored fabrics.
6. Marylike dresses conceal rather than reveal the figure of the wearer; they do not unduly emphasize the parts of the body.
7. Marylike dresses provide full coverage — even after the jacket, the cape or the stole are removed.
8. Slacks or ‘jeans’ are not to be worn to church. Marylike fashions are designed to conceal as much of the body as possible rather than reveal it. This would automatically eliminate such fashions as tight fitting slacks or ‘jeans’, sweaters, shorts; shorts which do not reach down at least to the knees; sheer blouses and sleeveless dresses, etc.
These Marylike standards are a guide to instill a sense of modesty. Women and girls who follow these standards and who look to Mary as their ideal and model will have no problem of modesty in dress. She who follows these standards will not be the occasion of sin nor a source of embarrassment or shame to others."
This standard of dress to someone who is just beginning to dress more modestly, can take time to adjust. In my own experience, the Lord was tolerant and patient with me while gently convicting my heart overtime. When by the grace of God I began solely dressing for the Lord, a burden was lifted off of my shoulders. I no longer felt the burden of trying to impress others or attract men. This didn't mean that I no longer cared about how I dressed, because this would be an offense as we are to display ourselves as well-kept and elegant for the glory of God, but simply that my style of clothing changed with modesty at the heart of all of my choices.
When a soul knows that it it completely loved by God and was created by God to serve Him Alone and to love Him with all of their mind, all of their heart and all of their soul, this truly impacts every aspect of their lives. This knowing changes everything... for the good. If clothing can glorify the Lord, let us intentionally dress to reflect His holiness, His love, His peace.
St. Pope Pius XI, pray for us.