Chapter 19 ~ A Conversation On Dress

by Shelley Noonan

If you have not started to have conversations with your daughter about modest dress, this will be a great starting point for her….and you! While this chapter is a snapshot of what life in the early to mid 20th century was like, the wholesome principles and wise insights into modesty are never really out of style.  After you and your daughter read the chapter and start working through the corresponding chapter in  The Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood, I want you to keep one thing in mind. Instead of being put off by this presentation of modesty, I encourage mothers to use the examples as a that was then and this in now and look long and hard at the timeless standards rather than focusing on the differences. One thing this chapter makes clear is that women have always had to struggle with the concept of what is modest.

This summer, I spoke at a conference and needed to have a high school girl assist my husband and I in our booth. Molly volunteered to be our worker. When I met her, I found a lovely, sweet spirited, competent girl of 14 who was dressed in skinny jeans, (she was so petite that the jeans were quite modest) a layered shirt and jacket.  One the first morning of the conference, she showed up to work and because it was slow, my husband told her that she was free to go, but could come back in an hour when things picked up. Two hours had passed and she didn’t come back. It took a bit of doing, but I finally tracked her down. She told me she felt that we didn’t want her in our booth because she wasn’t dressed modestly enough.  (Her clothing was within the conference dress code.) When asked where this feeling of being judged came from she related a story of how two sisters had come up to her the previous day and informed her that she was dressed inappropriately.  Furthermore, they proceeded to tell her that she was setting a bad example for the younger children. The helpful sisters then shunned her the rest of the day. As a result of their “correction” Molly felt that she could not nor did she want to measure up to their standard of modesty and wanted to hide. She also decided, as 14 year olds do, that homeschooling wasn’t for her…that she just didn’t fit in. Thankfully, Molly was coaxed back into our booth where we were able to work with her and have several conversations about modesty with her. Molly’s work in our booth was exemplary, her attitude was superb and she was a quality representative of our company at that show.  I am so thankful that the Modesty Patrol didn’t prevent us from getting to know and work with this precious young woman.

So, what are we to do when we or our daughters see a girl that desperately needs some modesty? First of all, modesty is an attitude of the heart but so is a judgmental spirit.  An attitude of  judgment, which is rooted in pride, takes root within and works its way out in  actions, behaviors and yes, even dress. True modesty is rooted in humility and is a quality that has to be nurtured in order for it to work its way out in our daughter’s actions, behaviors, and clothing choices. Frequently, girls don’t realize what they are wearing could cause another to stumble.  Be careful ladies with this one. Instead of being judgmental or even shunning our scantily clad sisters, let’s come alongside them to gently exhort and teach them what it means to be dressed modestly by example and conversation.  According to Galatians 6:1, the goal is always to restore, not condemn.

Purposing to love ‘em not shun ‘em,


  • Plan a time to discuss your family’s standards on modesty with your husband. Find out what he believes is modest attire for your daughter, and what he feels is not proper.
  • Have a joint discussion with your daughter about what your expectations are and explain why you are setting these standards up. This discussion time doesn’t have to be a big deal, but will most likely be better accepted if you have this discussion while you are shopping, doing laundry, or planning future clothing purchases or even for  special events.
  • After you and your husband have set the framework of expectations on modesty for your family, ask him to take your daughter window shopping for father/daughter time. The average American Mall can offer a plethora of topics to talk about concerning immodesty and modesty. Often times, a father’s beneficial influence is overlooked. Encourage your husband and daughter to have time together to discuss this important topic.
  • What would you say if your daughter presents the point that God doesn’t care about what you wear, He only looks at the heart? 1 Samuel 16: 7   *Hint*  Romans 14:13
  • So what is worse, to be immodestly dressed or prideful? Check out which one made God’s hate list! Prov. 6:16-19

Memory Verse:

Proverbs 11:22

As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.

Post and Ponder:

  • Must a young lady dress like her grandma in order to be modest? What resources have you discovered for modest dress for girls? Ladies, please share what you have found with the others doing this study!


Jen Clothing

Divine Modesty

Molly’s Clothing

Apricot Apparel

The Shabby Apple

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Steph Johnson January 25, 2016 at 3:06 pm

Great article, and I love that you contrasted it to pride. As a mother of three daughters and one son, we have had conversations about modesty. I have found for us it isn’t about the amount of skin showing (or not showing) or whether curves can be made out or not. We have focused on whether or choice in dress is pleasing to God, whether what we’re wearing (and even how we act wearing it) if this is showing off our bodies, or boasting of our LORD. I’m glad you had the opportunity to explain to Molly what modesty is, and I hope the others girls know where their pride is leading them. God bless you!


Shelley February 8, 2016 at 11:49 am

Hi Steph!
Thanks for your comment. It is encouraging to hear how you are using this with your girls!


Jan February 9, 2011 at 11:48 am

This is a popular topic at our house! Dad has definite ideas about what he considers to be modest, which is very different from the current trendy standards. Oldest daughter really wants to look cute and is learning, sometimes by trial and error, what our family’s standard for modesty is. We’ve discussed how sometimes trendy isn’t the best for modesty or our pocket books, but we can still look nice and up-to-date with modest clothes. We’ve also talked about those around, not in a judging way I hope, but along the lines of who we could emulate in the area of modest dress. We really appreciated your checklist in the study guide and the reminder that God does look at our heart, but in doing that, he wants to find humility, not pride in how we look. We have found that sticking with some of the more modest lines like Land’s End, Children’s Place, Hanna Andersson, and others, allows us to look nice but modest (thankfully we’ve found some at consignment, some gifts, some handed down). This is a topic where we have to have a standard but have grace for others as there is a very wide variety of what is considered modest, even among Christian circles.


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