Modesty in fashion - what should we wear?

Written by Ellie Selwood

A great way to express yourself is through fashion and style. It is so much fun to create fantastic looks using your creativity. But with so much choice and the constant bombardment of what to wear from every magazine, blogger and Instagram post, how do we stay true to who we are when it comes to our outfits?

A Lost Art

The art of dressing modestly can have negative connotations. Defining exactly what modesty is can be confusing, and safe to say, it’s not the biggest buzzword in our generation. Modesty can be perceived as judgemental, boring and preventing women from taking pride in their bodies. But is that what modesty is? The oppression of creativity and being forced to dress unflatteringly? Definitely not. Modesty is about dressing to feel secure, empowered and honouring. It’s not judgemental, it doesn’t isolate and it’s certainly not boring, uncreative fashion. Modesty is about dressing in a way that owns who we are, where our identity lies, and representing what we believe through our style choices - it’s a form of art and worship.

So where does the concept of modesty stand in 2018 for us as modern women? Could a more modest style of dressing be entering mainstream fashion? Yes, according to an article by The Guardian. The newspaper interviewed editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, Justine Picardie, who said: “I’ve noticed a gradual change in silhouette over the five years I’ve been at Harper’s Bazaar. I see it on the catwalk, and I see it in the office. It’s very often a long-sleeved dress, and there’s a kind of gracefulness to it. This season, there are a lot of below-the-knee and full-length looks in the collections, and that’s filtered down to the high street.” Victoria Beckham has also said recently that a looser silhouette “puts power back into the hands of the wearer rather than the observer.”

This all proves that it is very possible to still be creative, feminine and individual while dressing modestly, and according to Victoria Beckham, an acclaimed fashion icon, modesty could even be considered a powerful way to dress. There is security, liberation and power to be found in taking control of our bodies and dressing for ourselves and for God, not for anyone else. It’s exciting that the mainstream fashion world is getting onboard with the idea of modest dressing. A number of brands now champion a range of modest styles: from elegant maxi shirt-dresses and edgy dungarees to shorts you can feel secure wearing because they actually cover your bum! There are so many ways to express yourself fashionably while feeling comfortable and confident.

Attention to Detail

So what is it that we want people to focus on when they look at us and what we’re wearing? The way we dress is such a brilliant form of self-expression and can highlight things that are important to us. For some, it could be a focus on ethical clothing and up-cycled items that you want people to notice. If you’re a champion for the environment then unique, sustainable clothing may be what catches the attention of a passer-by. It could be wearing your favourite colour palette that’s eye-catching, or maybe you’ve found an interesting way to play around with layering. There are so many ways in which modest dressing can still celebrate creativity, sustainability and beautiful story-telling style. Our outfits and accessories can be great conversation starters with strangers and these chats always have the potential to lead to deeper conversations, whether that be about the environment or Jesus or other passions.

We should also question why we dress the way we do. It’s very easy to start dressing for vanity’s sake and become fixated on how many Instagram likes our outfits can get - but this just isn’t healthy for our minds or hearts. According to a survey by The Royal Society for Public Health, Instagram is the worst social network for self-esteem. It’s so easy to see a perfectly styled Instagram model and begin to dress like them, emulating their seemingly dreamy life and outfits, even if it doesn’t feel quite right. So while there’s nothing wrong with some social media inspiration (@claritymaguk, ahem!…), it’s best to step back when we look in the mirror and make sure our outfits feel authentic - true to ourselves and God.

As Christians, our attention to detail should be honouring Jesus, so our outfits should reflect his attitude. As well as wearing clothes, we can choose to put on characteristics like the ones in Colossians 3:12: ‘clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ Ephesians 4:22-23 also says: ‘You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds.’

If we are being made new in the attitude of our minds, we should begin to take time considering what we’re representing when we walk out of the door. Modesty isn’t just a passing trend for us - we shouldn’t ever be afraid to be true to ourselves and God when it comes to fashion. When we clothe ourselves in what makes us feel good, comfortable and secure, true confidence will follow, no matter what brand you’re wearing.

Photo: Freepik