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I was going to search in the forum for this but there is no way to search, hence a new post to make everyone happy and mad about each other's opinions on modesty.

People have pointed out there are cultural considerations in defining what is modest. Well, the example used most that I have seen is people in Africa that wear very little even when they go to Mass because that's what they wear, is not immodest there but would be very immodest to us in the developed world. Besides that, I don't know of other places where the normal fashion would be immodest to us.

People also point out environment circumstances, too. Obviously, beach/pool vs. not beach/pool. The summer when it is hot outside.

One reason why it is important to dress modestly is to not cause scandal and tempt another to sin through objectifying you or imagining you as only something to use.

I think it is easy to agree on some clothing that is always immodest: Yoga pants/leggings all exposed, bikini, speedo for men, extremely short shorts for women (men don't wear them as far as I know), skintight shirts/tops, and cleavage revealing shirts/dresses.

Now for questions for the community to answer, and if you have reasons, I hope you include WHY you draw the lines where you do.

1. Where do you draw the line to say that women's shorts or dress/skirt length are modest and not immodest?

2. If a swimsuit is considered modest, does clothing covering an equal amount of skin in a different environment than the beach/pool also deserve to be called modest, even if it's exposing a lot of legs and shoulders?

3. Assuming we agree revealing cleavage is immodest, how much, if any, of a woman's shoulders/neck may be exposed and still be called modest? Does it make a difference if it is a fancy dress or a tank top or spaghetti strap top?

4. Jeans: they cover the legs entirely. There are definitely super tight jeans that would be immodest like yoga pants. Yet most jeans for women are not super tight, but still are form-fitting without any bagginess. Do you think the normal jeans and other form-fitting, not-baggy pants that women wear are appropriate?

I look forward to hearing what you fellow Catholics think! As of now, I myself answer my own questions as follows. Still, others might be able to persuade me to shift my views.
1. I am actually undecided about shorts. Too short is too short, but I also have the thought, "What's so bad about exposing a little more leg, something both men and women have and know how it looks?" The middle thigh is just like the lower thigh, just higher. On the other hand, I think skirts should at least drop down to the top of the knees.
2. No, an equal amount of clothing is not modest in a different environment because environment does matter.
3. I am undecided. My friend that I think cares about modesty wore a dress that exposed half of her shoulders but was not revealing, and open in back to a little below her shoulder blades, and I thought it was modest enough and she looked elegant.
4. I think they are okay if they are not super skintight because they have become so common. They don't stand out like tighter pants do.
Jun 28th 2014 new

Tony, all the questions are about women and their clothing. What about men?


Jun 28th 2014 new
(quote) Lora-1060287 said:

Tony, all the questions are about women and their clothing. What about men?


That would have been an important perspective to include, as Lora notes. I painstakingly remind my readers whenever I broach the subject of modesty, that it is mutually binding on both sexes, and if we want to avoid admittedly absurd comparisons to the Taliban by radical feminists, we'd do well to mention that. I speak of modesty in dress with reciprocity in mind. I believe women are obliged for the same reason that I'm obliged. I don't wear clothing which unduly flatters my athletic physique and I'm only asking for the same reciprocity. My concern with immodest clothing is the tendency to highlight erogenous areas of a woman's body (cleavage etc) so I'm not as preoccupied with a bare shoulder (although I think they should be covered in reverence for the Mass).

As far as the pool/beach is concerned, I would note that that's different. A lot of it has to do with functionality. That's why I'm willing to entertain the idea that in certain contexts like the gym, or when swimming at the pool or the beach, form is function. I wear outfits at the gym which I wouldn't wear in any other context, except perhaps the beach. The same argument extends to primitive cultures in Africa. At that social level, form is functional, when you're eking out a primitive existence.

That said, however, I don't think my modesty permits me to walk around shirtless, even at the beach, unless I'm headed in the ocean. It's not because I'm self-conscious about my body necessarily, because I'm athletic and aesthetically speaking, my body is nothing to be concerned. Call it a natural sense of modesty.

Jun 28th 2014 new
1. Where do you draw the line to say that women's shorts or dress/skirt length are modest and not immodest?

Answer: For church I would try to stay below the knees. For other events I would probably go mid thigh.

2. If a swimsuit is considered modest, does clothing covering an equal amount of skin in a different environment than the beach/pool also deserve to be called modest, even if it's exposing a lot of legs and shoulders?

Answer: For bathing suits I have worn a one-piece (or a two-piece that covers the same amount of territory and looks like a one-piece) ever since I can remember. I hate bikinis. Now I choose suits with little skirts. Clothing that covers the same amount of skin in a different environment would be immodest.

3. Assuming we agree revealing cleavage is immodest, how much, if any, of a woman's shoulders/neck may be exposed and still be called modest? Does it make a difference if it is a fancy dress or a tank top or spaghetti strap top?

Answer: I don't find spaghetti straps to be attractive, but I don't see them as immodest either. For a fancy dress, a little decolletage is attractive.

4. Jeans: they cover the legs entirely. There are definitely super tight jeans that would be immodest like yoga pants. Yet most jeans for women are not super tight, but still are form-fitting without any bagginess. Do you think the normal jeans and other form-fitting, not-baggy pants that women wear are appropriate?

Answer: I hate the look of tight pants. The key to modesty is drapery instead of definition. With tight pants, things are being defined that shouldn't be. Normal jeans are okay but women need to check themselves out in a full-length mirror. Sometimes a long blouse or shirt is needed. We have lost a sense of beauty with regard to women's clothing. Muslim women always look beautiful when they go out in public with a hijab (note-- I am not referring to burqas!!!). Everything is draped and nothing is defined.
Jun 28th 2014 new
(quote) Lora-1060287 said:

Tony, all the questions are about women and their clothing. What about men?


I realized that, it just does not seem to be a significant issue about drawing a line. I only mentioned speedos, and really short shorts that I don't think men wear, besides long distance runners while running. Devan saying not wearing tight shirts is another thing.

Lora, what kinds of clothing do you think men should not wear to not cause scandal? Are women still tempted that way, although surely not as men since men are much more visual?
Jun 28th 2014 new
I completely agree with Susan's answers
Jun 28th 2014 new
One factor you that was not mentioned was the person's perspective, different people will have different opinions of what is modest and not. Body type also has to be considered. . what looks modest on a petit person isn't going to look modest on a curvy woman .... There is no point to generalizing what is modest or what isn't because unless it is something completely obvious, no one will ever agree on all or every example of modest attire.
Jun 28th 2014 new
(quote) Tony-1031677 said: I realized that, it just does not seem to be a significant issue about drawing a line. I only mentioned speedos, and really short shorts that I don't think men wear, besides long distance runners while running. Devan saying not wearing tight shirts is another thing.

Lora, what kinds of clothing do you think men should not wear to not cause scandal? Are women still tempted that way, although surely not as men since men are much more visual?

First of all speedos are beyond disgusting. Put the most gorgeous man in a speedo and he would look disgusting and ridiculous. I am not saying that a man wearing really short shorts, tight pants/jeans, or a tight shirt would cause a scandal - he would just look ridiculous. I think that you are right maybe that men are much more visual. For me I know that I notice a lot more about a man than how he physically looks. I think that men notice more also about women. You said it though "men are much more visual." I hope some of this made sense.

Jun 28th 2014 new
To inject a (perhaps) obvious, but salutary point: it is well to remember that dress is only one manifestation of a person's modesty. It is one of great importance---but in focusing on its finer details, one must be vigilant not to lose ultimate sight of all that modesty encompasses.
Jun 28th 2014 new
(quote) Lora-1060287 said:

First of all speedos are beyond disgusting. Put the most gorgeous man in a speedo and he would look disgusting and ridiculous. I am not saying that a man wearing really short shorts, tight pants/jeans, or a tight shirt would cause a scandal - he would just look ridiculous. I think that you are right maybe that men are much more visual. For me I know that I notice a lot more about a man than how he physically looks. I think that men notice more also about women. You said it though "men are much more visual." I hope some of this made sense.

"Disgusting"? I find that word choice interesting.
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