What does it mean to dress modestly?
The term “modest dress” is personal for many people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it means the same thing to everyone. Here are some religions around the world and definitions of what “modest dress” means for them. While there are also modesty rules for men, today we’ll be focusing primarily on modesty standards for women (we are a sisterhood, after all.) To avoid showing preference to any particular religion (we strongly believe that each woman should choose whichever suits her best!) we’ve listed them in alphabetical order:
The Amish lifestyle has a heavy focus on humility, modesty, obedience, equality and simplicity, and it’s modesty laws heavily reflect this mentality. While there is a good deal of variety in the interpretation of this law and noticeable differences between Amish and Menonites, these are the general rules: Amish women wear solid-colored dresses, in modest fashion, usually with long sleeves and a full skirt. On top is a cape and an apron. They don’t cut their hair, instead wrapping it into a bun worn on the back of the head underneath a prayer covering. In many places, Amish women also do not wear jewelry or printed fabrics.
The Jewish standard of dress–or tznius–has variations depending on the sect of Judiasm as well as location. Ultra orthodox Jews define modest dress for women as the following: Tops should cover the elbows and collarbone and should not be midriff baring. Women should not wear pants and skirts and dresses should cover the knees. A married woman’s hair should be completely covered. Some cover their hair with a wig, others a full-coverage hat or snood.
Modern Orthodox adherents do not follow as strict a guide, with many women wearing pants and allowing shorter sleeves and lower necklines. In addition, married women do not completely cover their hair, opting instead for a hat, scarf or even a headband. Conservative Judaism calls for modest dress during religious ceremonies and Reform Judaism has no modest dress requirements.
Modesty and dress rules for the women that follow the United Pentacostal church have been generally outlined by the church and are adhered to closely by its members. In an effort to subdue the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, the guidelines affect the dress code but also the behaviors and activities between men and women. Garments like slack, low necklines, jewelry (aside from wedding rings), tight or thin clothing and uncut hair are parameters that help both the wearer and the onlooker to refrain from improper thoughts. All these efforts are in an attempt to dignify her womanhood without provoking the looks of other people.
Followers of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) don’t have a specific code to follow, but adherents do have an emphasis on modest dress for women and men. In general: Tops will not be low cut or midriff-baring, and the shoulders will be covered. Skirts and dresses will reach the knees. The clothing will be fashionable, but not too tight or suggestive. Also multiple piercings or tattoos are frowned upon.
Missionaries follow a stricter guideline. Women wear “professional suits, skirts, blouses, jackets, sweaters, and dresses.” Jeans and pants are generally frowned upon, except during exercise or activities that require them. Skirts and dresses cover the entire knee, both while sitting and standing, and the clothing styles should be nice but conservative. Hair and makeup follows this similar guide, going for a natural, professional look, with no colors or styles that would stick out.
Many are familiar with the word hijab (حجاب) which means cover, screen, or curtain. What they may not realize is that while it refers to both the specific form of veil worn by some Muslim women that many are familiar with, it also refers to modest Islamic dress in general. Religious Muslim women observe the hijab in front of any man they could theoretically marry, making it unobligatory in front of their father, brothers, grandfathers, uncles or young children. Hijab also does not need to be worn in front of other Muslim women. Modesty rules are open to a wide range of interpretations. Some Muslim women wear full-body garments that only expose the eyes, although there is no Quranic text requiring this extreme. Some cover every part of the body except their face and hands. Some believe only their hair or their cleavage is compulsory to hide, and others do not observe any special dress rules. Like with many religions that have followings around the world, each area will have its own local custom and adhere to specific rules.
There ya have it! Modest dress from various religions around the world. While this was researched extensively with love and respect, please reach out if we’ve made any mistakes or gotten anything wrong! We’re here to represent the beauty of each culture and wouldn’t want to misrepresent any denomination by accident. We’re proud to say that we offer modest dress options that fulfill many of the requirements above and invite you to enjoy your next vacation in modest, but gorgeous style, proudly designed by our sisterhood at HydoChic by women, for women.