Q&A: Questions and Answers

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“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Jan. 2004, 16

Questions and Answers

New Era and readers’ answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

If we make a big deal about dress standards, isn’t that judging people by their outward appearance?

New Era

  • Dressing modestly is important because those around us judge us by how we appear.

  • What you wear tells others who you are.

  • What you wear shows your respect (or disrespect) for places you go and people you’re with.

  • What you wear reflects how committed you are to following the Savior. If you ignore how He’s asked you to dress, you’re saying, “The Lord isn’t important to me.”

  • The Lord has provided some appropriate dress and grooming standards in For the Strength of Youth.

It’s true that we should never look down on people because of the way they look or dress. That’s prideful. It’s also condemned by the Lord (see James 2:1–9).

But in everyday life, we often “judge” or form opinions about people by their outward appearance without necessarily looking down on them. What you put on your body “talks.” And everyone who sees you “hears” what you’re saying.

Some hairstyles shout, “Look at me!” Tight or revealing clothing begs, “I want you to like me for my body, but who I am doesn’t matter.” Modest clothing testifies, “I respect myself, I respect those around me, and I respect the Lord and His prophets.”

The Lord has provided some guidelines in For the Strength of Youth to help us know what He considers appropriate, but no list could ever cover every situation. Therefore, we should dress based on a few important principles:

  1. What I wear tells others who I am.

  2. What I wear shows my respect (or disrespect) for where I am and who I’m with.

  3. What I wear reflects how committed I am to following the Savior. If we ignore how He wants us to dress, we’re saying loud and clear, “The Lord and His prophets aren’t important to me.”

“Some foolish persons turn their backs on the wisdom of God and follow the allurement of fickle fashion, the attraction of false popularity, and the thrill of the moment,” said President Thomas S. Monson (New Era, Nov. 2002, 6). But that’s not how true happiness is found. “Joy and happiness,” President Monson taught, “come from living the way the Lord wants you to live” (Ensign, Nov. 1990, 95).

When you dress modestly, you invite the Holy Ghost to be with you, and others will feel more comfortable around you. Who you are—a child of God—then becomes more important than how you dress. “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” (For the Strength of Youth, 15).

President Thomas S. Monson

The way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act. Dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you.”
—President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, Ensign, Nov. 1990, 96.


It is important to remember that our Heavenly Father loves us and will not present us with a commandment that is not for our benefit. Wearing modest clothing will invite the Spirit and prepare us as youth to receive our temple endowments. Our bodies are temples and should be treated with respect.
Delina Rees, 17, Sudbury Ward, Sudbury Ontario Stake

Several years ago, my brother bought the latest fads: baggy pants and shirts with pictures of bad characters. When my dad saw him, he said, “Son, you look like you love the world more than you love the Lord.” My brother returned the clothes. That was a very good example to me.
Michael Moulton, 14, Genola First Ward, Goshen Utah Stake

If the Lord were to show up one day unexpectedly, how would we want Him to see us? We must dress modestly, as though the Lord were right here with us. If we are dressing to please the Lord, we shouldn’t worry about what everyone else thinks.
Miranda Fredriksen, 14, Albertson Ward, Goldsboro North Carolina Stake

If everyone dressed modestly, we could get around the fancy, flashy clothing of the day and see who they really are. Dressing modestly allows people to be friends, regardless of dress. This allows us to see past the brand and into the heart.
Daniel Arnold, 18, Fair Oaks Third Ward, Fair Oaks California Stake

The way a person dresses reflects who they are or maybe who they wish to be. If we dress modestly and tastefully, we may invoke the curiosity of those who are not members and have a chance for missionary work. By dressing as shepherds, we can feed the sheep.
Brianne Cole, 14, Moore Ward, Oklahoma City Oklahoma South Stake

We were not commanded to judge others’ dress standards, but to evaluate our own. The world tends to judge by outward appearance. And if we represent Christ, shouldn’t we follow His dress standards?
Kellie Edwards, 16, Union Second Ward, Sandy Utah Cottonwood Creek Stake

We are sons and daughters of Heavenly Father, who is perfect. We have been created in His image, making us something special and sacred. Therefore, we need to present ourselves in a godly manner. Why take the risk of looking like something we’re not?
Michael Mobley, 18, Fort Morgan Ward, Greeley Colorado Stake

What you do speaks louder than what you say. When people wear immodest clothing, it sends a message to others that they’re using their bodies as a way to get attention. Heavenly Father gave us these bodies. We should respect our bodies like the temples of the Lord. And that includes dressing modestly.
Janell Papenfuss, 17, Seattle 14th Ward, Seattle Washington Stake

Photograph by John Luke, posed by model