Etiquette in Dress

Charity “Doth not behave itself unseemly…” I Corinthians 13:5

To behave unseemly, you would be acting inappropriately, against good womanly etiquette.  If you have the law of charity inscribed on your heart, you will practice good etiquette.

Etiquette for women has changed throughout history in many ways.  When I was a little girl, I learned a lot from my grandmother about etiquette.   I would stay by her home some weekends.  My grandmother would snap at me if I put my feet on the sofa, “You dassant do that!”  I was not allowed to put my elbows on the table nor ask for anything to eat.  You just patiently wait your turn.  Grandma Isla was born in the early 1900s.  The era she was brought up in was very different from what we know today.  I think my grandmother would be utterly disgusted at the unravel of society.  These are some contrasts of what was appropriate in her time from what is appropriate to our society today:

The code of dress for women of the early 1900s:

Women always wore long skirts and petticoats under them.  They wore long stockings and laced shoes.  Corsettes were used to help with proper posture.  The hair was grown long and often pulled back.  Women wore hats if they were to appear in public.  It was a disgrace to have anyone see you in your pajamas.


Modern Dress Etiquette...

In contrast, today there is no code of dress.  You can see women in Walmart dressed in their pajamas and sometimes even in their underwear.  There are things I see women wearing that I am embarrassed to even look at.  The breasts pop out of the top of their low cut tops, and I have to fight against the pull of my eyes from looking down.  I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be for a man to stop from staring.  Women have wild hair styles, piercings, tattoos, gobs of dark makeup, and dress in a way that appears so inappropriate you wonder if they are a hooker.  Bellies show, pants are so tight they look as though they are painted to the leg.  And it is all worn with pride.  Not even a blush of the cheeks.  It feels wrong and inappropriate, very unseemly.

Practice Charity in Modesty...

If you want to practice charity in your dress, you will dress with discretion.  I am not saying you need to have a dress code like that of the early 1900s, but not to behave unseemly by revealing so much of your body that it forces others to gawk at you.  It is unseemly.  The line of discretion is blurred with each passing year in the evolution of fashion.  A person can dress modestly and still be fashionable.  It takes effort to find appropriate looking attire these days, but many ladies can pull it off.  Modesty is a touchy subject for many women.  They feel offended if you mention it.  I heard a young man once say, I feel safe around a woman that dresses more modestly.  As a woman we have power with our body.  We can tempt or shield temptations.  And yet there are men that are so far gone, that you could wear a tent and they will find pleasure in their twisted imagination somehow.  For the most part, to dress unseemly would be in the intent of the heart.  Whether you are trying to get that attention you seek.  Some of us are dense.  I sometimes wear something that I think is cute.  I like the color of the top because it goes with my skirt perfectly.  It still has to pass the HUB Test (husband test).  My husband will send me back to the dressing room if I wear a shirt that is too snug or a shirt that when I bend over, you can see everything.  He is a good discerner as to what is appropriate for me.  Each family should judge for themselves what they agree is appropriate since there is no code for dress in the modern world and no prescription of dress noted in the scriptures.


Teaching my Girls about modesty...

My mother brought us two white pretty dresses for the girls when they were only 8 and 9 years old from another family. They were pretty and very long. My daughter Molly said, "Do you think white and peach go well together?" I said "Why?" She said, "Well look up at the top. My skin is showing so much I just wondered if that looks good, white with peach?"

I know that she was feeling uncomfortable with the spaghetti straps of the bodice and I told her, "You know what, darling, you can put a white t shirt under it if you feel better about that." And she was happy I let her do that. I would never want to make her feel half naked.

Most parents forget about the modesty issue. The churches forget to teach about it and the kids start looking just like the rest of the world leaving it all hang out.

It is surprising to me how many Christians are oblivious to modesty. You go to the churches and see girls, young girls, looking half dressed and ready to go out looking for a mate. It is nice to look nice but not so you cross the line of your own purity and integrity. I realize some people have been slowly leaning in that direction, so slow that they realize it when it is already normal to their children. They are wearing immodest attire on their little girls and all of a sudden they realize their daughter is becoming a young lady who looks desirous! It would be hard to teach a young girl that it is not good to dress that way after she has grown accustomed to this way of dressing. She would not even be one bit ashamed to have a bikini on.

Now that Molly and Megan are young ladies, they seem to keep the pattern I laid before them.  They have their own convictions on dress.  I do not tell them what to wear.  They make their own decisions in that area and I trust them.  They do not flaunt their bodies toward the boys. When other girls dress inappropriately, they are the first to notice.  I just talk to them about it.  I ask questions on how they think about it which is good for them to articulate their own mind on the matter.



Unseemly behavior of a flirt...

Flirting is to behave as though attracted to or trying to attract someone, but for amusement rather than with serious intentions.  Beware:  Flirting is definitely unseemly and is not acting with good etiquette or propriety.   It is meant to draw the attention of men by way of body and batting of the eyes.  It is not practicing good charity that embodies unlimited love and kindness if we lead others on.  You could be the most modestly dressed woman, but if you behave unseemly, in a manner that leads men on, you are not concerned about their soul. 

For tomorrows Lesson:  Etiquette in Hospitality

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0 thoughts on “Charity in Dress Etiquette

  1. I love this post. I too am teaching my daughters about modesty. Back in the early 1900s girls looked feminine and pretty. Now, they just look like boys. They both wear blue jeans and colored t shirts. It’s getting harder to tell them all apart. I am thankful that my girls love to look like ladies, not like prostitutes.

  2. When I was young, I had a pair of Sunday shoes, a Sunday coat, and a couple Sunday dresses. We always dressed up for church…always. The men wore suits and the women dresses. In high school, I went to a different church with a friend. I couldn’t believe my eyes; people wore their everyday clothes. Now it seems to be an everyday occurrence. To this day I still like to get dressed up for church. I’m happy that people come to church, but for me it’s a special place, so I like to dress like it is.
    I really enjoyed your post, and your young ladies are beautiful!

  3. “The churches forget to teach about it …” No, they haven’t forgotten, I think most of the male pastors are too afraid to preach about it because many of the womenfolk would get offended and upset and the pastors don’t want to deal with that drama.

    • I agree with you 100%. And I think it’s such a large majority of women in some churches. It’s not like the Pastor would just be offending a few, but many…including their husbands…and it would almost cause a riot in some churches.
      I think it all started with just a little bit of showing until it gravitated to more and more.
      But as Erin said, it’s the intent of the heart. Sure, some women dressy slightly inappropriately without knowing (I used to be one of those women…wearing what was modest on others, but not for my body type…and I didn’t realize it)…but I also dressed as a “flirt” when I was younger. I didn’t realize how it really affected men.
      I’m so thankful God delivered me from that.
      I think even fashion can be dangerous with the intent of the heart…but that’s another story.

  4. Great article. I made a link back to it from my blog. Speaking of churches teaching modesty, it has been my experience that when churches DO teach it, it is ignored and the ones who teach it ridiculed. People have hard hearts today.

  5. I honestly think the Lord is working on me in this area. Not that I show off too much, but that I’m to dress a more feminine. The last 4 blogs I’ve read talked about this subject.
    Thank you SO much for this post. Have a blessed evening.

  6. I like the way you talk about the observable and acknowledge it! I was at a restaurant and there on the tv was a music video with 4 people in bed together. I was trying to eat dinner with my family and just couldn’t. I couldn’t believe I was the only person in the whole restaurant appalled at the immodesty. I’ve talked to my husband about it and he doesn’t share my convictions. He wants me to wear tight dresses and high high high heels to church but I cannot. I wear a loose dress and flats. Some say “that’s just the hispanic culture.” But even american girls dresses are getting shorter each year. How do they keep from showing their underwear?? I love your posts! Keep them coming please.

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