Fashion was never my thing when I was growing up. I was one of those awkward kids in thick glasses, high water pants, and shirts that just didn’t fit well. Through high school and college, I tried out different styles, played with the idea of discovering “my” colors, and traded clothes with friends from time to time, but always had a hard time putting together contemporary fashion with a value that was important to me — modesty.
The idea of modesty is one of those good-but-vague concepts, like being moral or honest, that is generally agreed upon to be good (really, does anyone brag about being immoral?), but when you try to pin down what it means in terms of fashion and skirt lengths, that is where the disagreements come in. Many of the recent discussions about modesty in our culture have focused on what not to wear, which has only contributed to some of the negative connotations of modesty being associated with being frumpy or dowdy or uptight with your body image or overly concerned about what men are thinking.
As a woman of faith, as a wife, and as a mom, the whole idea of modesty has always been important to me (for a lot of reasons I shared on my blog), and even more so as my daughter leaves the toddler sizes behind. But along with dressing and behaving modestly (because truly, modesty is so much more than just the clothes we wear), I also care about looking attractive and feminine – not to the point that I am overly concerned with my looks, but I want to set a good example for my daughter, to not put people off because I don’t seem to care about my appearance, to embrace the fact that God made me a woman, and to be attractive to my husband, too.
My personal preference, to dress in a way that is both modest and feminine, is to primarily wear skirts or dresses. It’s not that I never wear pants or shorts, but I am most comfortable in something flowy and feminine. Finding outfits that are attractive and modest without straining our budget, though – that has been a challenge, and where I have found them is what I want to share with you. First, what I am working with:
What I Need
I have a toddler son and an elementary school daughter who I homeschool, so my wardrobe needs to be durable enough for floor-sitting and part play dates, machine washable, and comfortable. Pockets are a plus! And, as I explained, fashionable and feminine, please.
What I Avoid
Again, this is my standard. Basically, I don’t want to wear things that are too revealing. So I stay away from hemlines that are too high, necklines that are too low, armholes that are too wide on sleeveless shirts, fabrics that are too sheer, and styles that are too tight or clingy. What does that leave for me?
Options That Work For Me
Maxi skirts! I am so thankful this style is in fashion and available everywhere! I wear midi-length skirts, too, but maxi lengths are my favorite because I can be more active without worrying about my skirt flying up. 🙂
Layers! I layer tanks and shrugs, tanks and shirts (which also gets more mileage out of shirts in my closet that I wouldn’t otherwise wear), and skirts and leggings, especially when cooler temperatures hit. I discovered fleece leggings and fleece tights last winter, and was honestly warmer in those than I ever am in slacks!
Accessories! Scarves, jewelry, and hair accessories help dress up any outfit!
Where I Shop
Kohls – I love their styles and their prices, especially when things are on clearance for 70-90% off.
Roundabout Consignment – This is my favorite favorite place to find skirts these days. Because it’s consignment, I have access to all different name brands and, if you find something that has been hanging on the rack for a while, it is usually on sale for a deep discount. I have yet to pay more than $7 for a skirt there.
Target and Walmart – I get my staples at these places … leggings, tank tops, tights (got on clearance last spring), knit shrugs, and cute maxi skirts and dresses.
Lands End – I have found some great skirts here, and their clothes meet all of my demands (comfortable, durable, washable). And if I order the wrong size, I can return them to Sears with no hassle.
Where I Get My Inspiration
Well, partly from my faith, as modesty is a pretty strong value in the Scriptures. But also from a couple of bloggers who have modeled for me what fashionable modesty looks like. One in particular is Caroline Allen, whose Modest Mom Blog and Facebook group have been a great encouragement.
Dressing in a way that is both modest and fashionable is a challenge, especially when you are trying to do it primarily with skirts, but I am delighted to have finally found the style that I am comfortable with that is modest and stylish.
Do you strive to dress modest? What has worked for you?