“Modesty Matters,” Ensign, June 2006, 22–26
Dressing modestly is a challenge in today’s world. Here, Church members share their responses to the following questions: How do you ensure that your clothing is modest? How have you promoted modesty in your family, ward, or stake (or branch or district)? What insights have you gained about the importance of modesty?
An event some years ago changed my attitude toward modesty. As I got ready to go to a Mutual activity, I put on some short shorts; it never occurred to me that they were inappropriate. The activities planned for that Tuesday included having the missionaries give us some practical advice about missionary work. One of the last empty seats was next to me. For a brief moment the elders began to argue, as discreetly as they could, over who had to sit next to me. Though they never said so specifically, I understood they were uneasy because of the way I was dressed.
At that moment, notwithstanding my embarrassment, I began to understand what it meant to be modest. I realized that I was making virtuous young men feel uncomfortable—and that I could also be making unvirtuous men feel too comfortable. I began to better understand what type of person I wanted to be with and, more important, what type of person I wanted to be. From that moment on, I was not only prepared for the changes I was about to make, but I looked forward to making them.
Chelsea Anderson, Ohio
In October 2004 the Young Women and Young Men organizations in our stake had an event called “Modesty in Dress,” based on the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth. It consisted of a fashion show divided into three parts: casual wear, sportswear, and formal wear. We asked each of the young men and young women to select three changes of clothing, and we helped them choose which clothes were suitable. We invited their leaders and parents to this activity. We emphasized scriptural verses about the body being a temple (see 1 Cor. 6:19–20) and the counsel of our prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley. The activity had a positive effect; the young people in our stake are more concerned now about grooming and dressing in an appropriate way.
Teresa de Jesús Contreras de Ramírez, Mexico
Modesty is definitely a challenge in today’s world, especially for teenage girls. I know—I am one. But you can be modest all the time and still wear what’s in style. Here are some tips I have found helpful:
Buy several long tank tops in different colors that you can tuck into your pants so your tummy won’t show with a shorter shirt.
Sew a strip of fabric onto the bottom of shorter shirts.
If a shirt is mostly cotton, buy a size larger than you normally would so when you wash it, it won’t be too tight or too short.
Buy long boy’s shorts when they are available during the summer.
If the top part of a dress is immodest, consider cutting off the top and altering the dress to make a fancy skirt; then find a nice top to match.
Start shopping early for the prom and other special events so you won’t be tempted to buy something immodest at the last minute.
A lot of girls give up on being modest because they think it is just too hard. But I can tell you that it can be done!
Jami Elsmore, Nevada
I have a picture of the Savior and a picture of the London England Temple in my wardrobe. When I open it to get my clothes, I am always reminded to keep myself clean and modest so that I can one day go to the temple and worship there.
Carolyn Bailey, England
Many people think immodest dress relates only to an insufficiently covered body. But a tight fit is also immodest, even when the body is fully covered. This applies to men as well as women. Many do not realize that tight clothing draws attention to the anatomy, which distracts from the purpose of education, business, leadership, or worship. Adequate ease in the fit of our clothes allows the viewer’s attention to go to the other person’s face for more effective communication.
Judith Rasband, Utah
Bahia, Brazil, where I live, has a very hot climate, which makes it a little hard for people to dress modestly. But I feel something special when I dress in a way that invites the Spirit to be with me. I know that the body is a temple of God and that it should be treated with respect.
Stephan Cerqueira Levita, Brazil
After a discouraging day of prom-dress shopping with two of my daughters, we returned home in weary tears. We had not found one modest dress. I encouraged my daughters to take their desires to the Lord in prayer. They looked at me quizzically, not at all certain that a wardrobe concern was prayer-worthy. I promised them that Nephi’s conviction in 1 Nephi 3:7 applies to the mundane as well as the monumental: “I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” My daughters agreed to pray about the problem, and within a week we found beautiful dresses in unexpected places that we could alter to be perfectly appropriate.
We continue to make modesty a matter of prayer. I have learned to follow small promptings from the Spirit, even if it means driving a distance, searching through sample racks, or making substantial alterations. I want my daughters to know that I value modesty enough to go out of my way.
Jerie Jacobs, California
One possibility for promoting modesty among young women is a panel discussion with the young men. This approach drew together the young people of our ward in serious consideration of this gospel principle.
Some of the priests we invited to participate were less than enthusiastic at first because they did not want to offend the young women who would be their audience. To help set the young men at ease, we met beforehand to talk about what they could say about modesty and how to present their ideas properly.
We felt the Spirit during the panel discussion. The young women joined in the discussion and listened closely to what the young men had to say. One of the panel members told them, “Could we start by not seeing any immodesty at Church meetings?” The young women responded very positively to the advice from their friends.
John Wilkinson, Utah
During my last year of high school, I decided I had to strengthen my testimony before I left for college. I studied all I could about the Savior’s life and His atoning sacrifice. As I did so, the reality of His love struck me so powerfully that it brought me to tears. I realized that I am indeed a beloved daughter of God. As the magnitude of this sank deep into my very being, I realized that dressing modestly is not just to prevent the boys from thinking bad thoughts. It is a way to show our appreciation for one of the most wonderful gifts God has given us: a body.
May I suggest that Church members be taught to be modest because they love and respect themselves and the Lord and they want to honor His gift. I never had a strong testimony of modesty until I learned to love Heavenly Father and the Savior more deeply.
Brenda Petty, Idaho
Coming out of the Los Angeles California Temple one day, I was dismayed to notice that some bridesmaids were wearing immodest dresses. I then saw that the bridesmaids in another group were wearing dresses that were modest yet very pretty. I asked where they had found such lovely dresses, and they enthusiastically chorused, “Online.” The Internet can be a good source of modest clothing.
Anne Elwell, California
When I was younger I wanted to dress just like my peers at school. I unwillingly obeyed my mother’s wishes for me to be modest. Today I am grateful to my mother for the clear line she drew and for her example. I now have my own testimony about the importance of modesty. It truly is possible to dress both modestly and fashionably.
Roberta Eggenberger, Switzerland
My understanding of why I should dress modestly came gradually after I joined the Church. I now look with great respect upon modestly dressed people whose eyes shine with the light of chastity. Dressing modestly is not always easy, but if we make the effort, God is bound to help us.
Olga Khripko, Ukraine
I believe we show our humility and respect to our Heavenly Father when we look decent and clean and are appropriately covered.
Sharlene Cherry, Philippines
I did not understand the concept of modesty before I was a member of the Church. Within a few months of my baptism, I learned that a piece of clothing would not make me more beautiful—rather, beauty comes from within. I am striving to serve the Lord in the way He asks us.
Roseangela Barreto, Brazil
“Prophets of God have always counseled His children to dress modestly. The way you dress is a reflection of what you are on the inside. Your dress and grooming send messages about you to others and influence the way you and others act. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and can exercise a good influence on those around you. …
“Immodest clothing includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and other revealing attire. Young women should wear clothing that covers the shoulder and avoid clothing that is low-cut in the front or the back or revealing in any other manner. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance. All should avoid extremes in clothing, appearance, and hairstyle. Always be neat and clean and avoid being sloppy or inappropriately casual in dress, grooming, and manners. Ask yourself, ‘Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?’”
For the Strength of Youth (pamphlet, 2001), 14–16.
“Modesty in dress and manner will assist in protecting against temptation. It may be difficult to find modest clothing, but it can be found with enough effort. … You can be attractive without being immodest. … Draw some rigid parameters, a line in the sand, as it were, beyond which you will not go.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stay on the High Road,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2004, 114.