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Mary-like Modesty in Dress

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The issue of modesty in dress is always a hot topic, especially during the summer months. But as we are often inclined to shed layers, we instead have a perfect guideline in Mary-like Modesty standards.

It is no secret that we are living in some wild times. Dressing modestly is viewed as a negative thing or shamed by many people in our culture.

But, I believe that it’s important for us to remember that as Catholic women, we need to observe the basic traditional Catholic standards of modesty in dress.

Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost. And as such, we must dress with dignity and embrace modesty.

And what better example can we find for dressing with dignity than that of Our Lady?

lady in white checkered dress holding flowers.

Traditional Catholic Modesty Standards

I’ve heard it said often among Catholic women that the church does not have specific guidelines on modesty. But this is not true.

It is extremely important and necessary to know what the Catholic Church has said regarding modesty standards and to be obedient to these guides.

A wise priest once told me, modesty is not about looking as ugly as possible. 

And it is not dressing frumpy either. It is honoring the dignity of our bodies, it is about taking and adorning the true beauty of womanhood. It does not detract from feminine beauty, but enhances it. 

Our Lady of Fatima said, “certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much…those who serve God should not follow these fashions…” 

And…”more souls go to hell for sins of the flesh than from any other sin.”

Aren’t these warnings from Our Blessed Mother enough to convince one of the necessity of modesty of dress?

What does the Bible say regarding modesty?

There are many excerpts in Scripture that we could pull from regarding the virtues of modesty and chastity. Let’s start first with the Sixth and Ninth Commandments of God:

  • “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14
  • “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.” Exodus 20:14

And we read that Our Lord said, “You have heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that anyone who even looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

In like manner women also in decent apparel: adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety, not with plaited hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly attire, But as it becometh women professing godliness, with good works.

1 Timothy 2:9-10
pastel colored dresses hanging in closet.

Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

What the Popes said regarding Modesty

On a couple of occasions Pope Pius XII addressed Catholic women with the following quotes:

“How many young girls there are who see nothing wrong in following certain shameless styles like so many sheep. They would certainly blush with shame if they could know the impression they make, and the feelings they evoke, in those who see them.

“The good of our soul is more important than the good of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts. If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up.  

“O Christian mothers, if you know what a future of anxieties and perils, of ill-guarded shame you prepare for your sons and daughters, imprudently getting them accustomed to live scantily dressed and making them lose their sense of modesty, you would be ashamed of yourselves and you would dread the harm you are making for yourselves, the harm which you are causing to these children, whom Heaven has entrusted to you to be brought up as Christians.

“Christian girls, think also of this: the more elegant you will be, and the more pleasing, if you dress with simplicity and discreet modesty.”

statue of blessed mother with two blessed candles

Mary-Like Standards of Modesty in Dress

  1. Marylike is modest without compromise, “like Mary,” Christ’s
    Mother.
  2. Marylike dresses have sleeves extending at least to the elbows,
    and skirts reaching below the knees.
  3. Marylike dresses require full coverage for the bodice, chest,
    shoulders and back; except for a cut-out about the neck not
    exceeding two inches below the neckline in front and in the
    back, and a corresponding two inches on the shoulders.
  4. Marylike dresses do not admit as modest coverage transparent
    fabrics—laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc.,—unless sufficient
    backing is added. However, their moderate use as trimmings is
    acceptable.
  5. Marylike dresses avoid the improper use of flesh-colored
    fabrics.
  6. Marylike dresses conceal rather than reveal the figure of the
    wearer; they do not emphasize, unduly, parts of the body.
    Marylike dresses provide full coverage, even after jacket, cape
    or stole are removed.

🖤🤍 Resources on Modesty 🤍🖤

Here are two really great sermons on modesty from Traditional Catholic Priests:

Sermon by Fr Carlos Zepeda on The Catholic Wire

Sermon by the late Fr Denis Chicoine, CMRI on The Catholic Family Podcast


🖤 Favorite products:

Here are a few of my favorite items related to modesty & chastity:

Mary-like Standards of Modesty in Dress pamphlet

Dressing with Dignity book

St. Joseph’s cord

St. Philomena’s cord

St. Thomas’s cord


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