Fashion and modesty are traditionally always at odds with each other. The trends of the day since the invention of the bikini in 1946 reached its high point in the 1960s with the free love movement and finally plateaued in the late 1980s through the 1990s.
Probably the most famous icon of the last few decades to really make an impact in fashion was pop star Britney Spears. She was wrought with controversy over her trailblazing in near-nakedness on the stage. As parents of the 90s became more concerned over Britney’s behavior, she became more popular with teens; and, as history goes, whatever teenagers see as popular, the fashion trends are close to follow.
Soon after Britney Spears set the stage for bare midriffs and low cut shirts, fashion companies followed suit. In the 1990s and even to today it’s difficult to find clothes that reach the bare minimum of modesty guidelines. Then, if luck has it in finding modest clothes, the worry is if they’re trendy enough or if they look outdated and frumpy. However, although this may be the case in some instances, the truth of the matter is that modesty and fashion are not contradictory. In fact, modest clothing is seeing quite a comeback in the fashion industry.
Fashionable Modesty: Not An Oxymoron
It seems that fashionable and trendy modest clothing would be an oxymoron and even a contradiction in terms. However, now that the fashion industry is noticing more modest trends, we’re seeing it creep back into stores with more blouses, longer skirts, and long maxi dresses. Even athletic wear are becoming more modest with longer and loose-fitting shirts, with leggings attached to athletic skirts, and longer shorts. Even scarves and other head coverings are gaining popularity, thanks to the rise in Muslim women wearing hijabs in Western countries.
Even with your popular clothing companies switching out the sheer and low-cut tops for loose-fitting blouses, we’re seeing an increase in popularity in boutique modest clothing companies as well. It seems as if modesty is certainly becoming a fashion trend.
However, even amidst the rejoicing we can enjoy with finding tasteful modest clothes in our favorites stores, perhaps we should air on the side of caution. After all, as Christians, we shouldn’t be choosing to be modest because DKNY, H&M, or Tommy Hilfiger says to be modest.
Choosing Modesty To Put On Christ
As Christians, we are not called to follow the ways of the world. Jesus tells his Disciples that we do not belong to the world:
“If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” (Jn 15:19)
Then, Saint Paul teaches us in his letter to the Romans to not conform to the ways of the world: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
So, even though we are finding great ease in being able to dress fashionably and yet modestly, we must also remember that our choice to be modest is not due to trends. We are not Christian because it’s fashionable. We are not virtuous because it’s popular. We live by Christ’s words because we are called to be sons and daughters of God; to love Him above all things; and to do this courageously despite popularity.