Modesty Guidelines for Our Daughter

Modesty Guidelines for our Daughter {via} Specific clothing guidelines we use with our Ladybug, from shopping to dressing to gifts.Is it just me, or is “modesty” the most confusing topic EVER? I find nothing about being a girl momma–NOTHING–more confusing than this modest clothing issue. I have no desire to raise my daughter to be a tramp, or to dress like a tramp. Yes, I know there’s a different. But I don’t think the Lord wants either for our girls! But as soon as you start looking for “rules” someone pops up and says “it’s not about rules, it’s a heart issue.”

I get that. I do! But raising children means setting rules and boundaries in place until they are able to internalize the heart issues for themselves–not just leaving them to flounder around hopelessly until they sink or swim or magically figure it out at 21! Here in the real world, you have to set “rules” for children, as well as nurturing their hearts. It’s a two-part process. And for me–just your average, every day, tired Momma in squeaky new shoes, stumbling after the Lord on that narrow path–I find the heart issue easier to get my arms around than the actual, concrete, in-the-store-aisle, daily decisions.

know it starts with the heart, and needs to follow the Lord in prayer and Bible reading. What I don’t know, is whether shorts two inches above the knee, to the top of the knee, the middle of the knee, below the knee, or covering the knee when sitting down make the Lord happier!

Just a few pictures of the Ladybug from the wedding rehearsal last week. Mr. Fix-It's sister got married last Friday.

Just a few pictures of the Ladybug from the wedding rehearsal last week. Mr. Fix-It’s sister got married last Friday.

So having recently has a few talks with my Ladybug about this, I look forward to writing about my experience with this heart issue later. But right now I’d like to do something a little different.

I’d like to give you a snapshot of what our “rules” look like right now.

Not because I think they are “right” or we’ve “figure this modesty thing out.” Not because I think I’ve found some special insight from the Bible about skirt length and shoe styles. Just because this is what I’ve searched for and haven’t found and maybe someone else would like some practical, organized, insight as well. A starting-off point to develop your own family expectations. A list to take shopping with you for some guidance.

The Ladybug and one of her new cousins!

The Ladybug and one of her new cousins!

So here’s the generalities we follow with the Ladybug…


  • Modesty does not mean we are trying to hide our bodies or that we are ashamed of the shape God gave us. It simply means that clothes are meant to cover and protect our bodies, not to show off our shape. We dress to be a Godly example and appropriate to the situation, not to get attention.
  • Our testimony is in our words and actions, our clothes should not distract or detract from that.
  • Modesty does not mean ugly or poor fitting, it simply means we are not intentionally drawing attention to ourselves or our body shape through our clothing choices.
  • We are not responsible for someone else’s heart when they look at us–but we ARE responsible for the intentions of our heart when we dress ourselves.
  • We will try to defer to a more modest dress code if asked. We do not defer to a less modest dress code just to fit in or be part of a special occasion (like a wedding). Modesty is about our testimony for Christ, and we don’t compromise that.
The Ladybug and Mimi (Mr. Fix-It's momma).

The Ladybug and Mimi (Mr. Fix-It’s Momma).


  • Back and shoulders should generally be covered, but a layer can usually be added to make a bare-shouldered top work.
  • Cap sleeves and flutter sleeves are fine. Tank tops and halter tops need another layer.
  • Wider tank sleeves for special occasion dresses are generally fine. Add a sweater for church events.
  • Necklines should generally be just below the collarbone, and/or not showing any cleavage (or cleavage-area for younger ladies!) Boat-neck and ballet necklines can be fine if they are not too low in front or off-the-shoulder.
  • All tops should be long enough to raise your arms over your head and still cover the button/belt-loops/waistband of your pants without an under-layer.
  • Loose or flowing tops should have an under-layer regardless of length to have coverage in case of blowing or shifting fabric.
  • Basically no cleavage or midriff skin, ever.
Her practicing her walk down the aisle.

Practicing her walk down the aisle…


  • Shorts should be to the top of the knee when standing, loose cut, no tight or “skinny” styles, generally falling straight on the legs from the hips and bottom.
  • Skirts/Dresses should be to the top of the knee when sitting, and be loose enough to fall straight from the hips and bottom, not so tight they “tuck in” under or around the hips and bottom.
  • Pants/Jeans should be regular, straight leg, or boot cut styles, no “skinny” styles or any styles with the intention of being more form fitting around the hips, bottom, and thighs. Pants should be loose enough to “pinch an inch” under the bottom and the inseam of the thighs.
  • This does NOT mean that “slim” sizing is off-limits or that any bottoms should be saggy or poor fitting. It just means that the cut should not be form-fitting and/or intentionally clinging or calling attention to the hips, bottom, or thighs and they should be the right size. 
  • Leggings are not pants.
  • Under-shorts or leggings can be added to a skirt or dress to accommodate play, cold weather or style, but does not change the length expectations. The extra layer does not make it ok to see up our skirts!

{A tip for skirts and dresses is that she has to be able to sit “Indian style” on the floor without showing her underwear and she has to be able to bend over and touch her toes without showing her underwear to someone sitting on the floor. These self-check criteria keep the debate to a minimum. She can see the reason, it’s not me “making” her do something.} 

We had to keep slowing her down, she was a woman on a mission!

We had to keep slowing her down, she was a woman on a mission!


Ugh! This is the worst! I don’t have a good answer, here. I just have what we’re learning to be ok with.

  • One piece swimsuits, or tankinis which are long enough to provide complete midriff coverage while swimming. (They exist–I have one.)
  • All suits should have full coverage in the front (what is with these side cut outs?!) and at least to the mid-back area in the back. No high-cut leg openings.
  • When swimming in mixed company (boys and girls, outside of family) a swim shirt and either swim shorts or swim skirt should be added. (The Ladybug prefers to wear her swim shirt pretty much all the time anyway)
  • We defer to a more modest dress code if it is expressed to us before we get there.

Because this is what we expect, buying “a bathing suit” just automatically means multiple pieces for us. Unless we’re trying to meet a special dress code, we don’t make them wear regular shorts or tee-shirts or anything. We accept commercial rash-guard shirts as swim-shirts and board shorts or skirted bottoms. They are short, but they cover more than the swimsuit does, and they defuse attention to the body-shape outlined by the swimsuit.

As I mentioned above under GENERAL comments, we’re not trying to hide the fact that we’re girls, we’re just trying to avoid intentionally directing any attention to our more personal assets.

The boys were ushers. The coodinator and I had a full-time job keeping them from using the programs as swords.

The boys were ushers. The coordinator and I had a full-time job keeping them from using the programs as swords.

So that’s our shopping criteria when it comes to clothes for our girl. When we’re out shopping, or looking at gifts she receives, this is what we expect. When she gets dressed in the morning for school, this is what we expect. When I get dressed in the morning, this is pretty much what we expect! As I said above, modesty is about our clothes not detracting from our testimony for Christ–and that has nothing to do with age. The only difference is there’s a few things I think she’s too young for that she’ll grow in to (make-up, heels, etc.)

That’s what modesty LOOKS LIKE, down here on the ground in the daily grind, for us. How about you? I would love to hear about your practical, in-the-trenches, applications of modesty in the world we live in. As most everything else in this messy real life world, our understanding of this is a journey and our thoughts and family direction is evolving, not fully-formed.

See where I’m sharing this week…

boots footer 2014



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