Conversations in Modesty: My Personal Approach to Fashion

As an unofficial extra to my series on modesty, here is my personal development in finding my style. Please click the Catholic Church Tab and scroll down to see the official series.

I am not a fashion expert. I only recently dived into the world of dressing on-trend (I bought a blush colored belt, people).

When I was in 5th grade I wore my bangs in a sort of poof in front of one eye because I imagined I looked like this:

I didn’t. I found that out in 6th grade, and 7th, and 8th, and all throughout high school.

In high school, I wore t-shirts from church functions and bought a navy corduroy pea coat. It looks a long time for I discovered how to shop for myself. I eventually started to develop a sort of classic timeless style. I wore black boots, boot cut jeans (but I preferred khakis or trousers to jeans), and my peacoat in the winter. I wore sweaters and really liked that little band of midriff showing above my low-rise jeans.

Serving with NET Ministries, the use of the undershirt was praised for preventing one’s stomach or lower back from showing in public. I found undershirts made for a smoother look overall, like how people use Spanx now but much more comfortable. I enjoyed not worrying about my shirt coming up. I enjoyed not feeling that chill on my lower back or worrying about my pants going too low when I sat.

After NET I continued to seek out a clean, classic style shopping at places like GAP. I enjoyed dressing in ways that made my boyfriend happy. The more feminine the better, in his eyes. A typical Californian, with lots of colors, at least in the warmer months.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI kept it simple: no makeup, always wearing my crucifix. Verbal affirmation from my first and only boyfriend boosted my confidence. I liked how I looked. I felt beautiful. I watched more and more old movies and became less and less influenced by the modern requirements of beauty. In the 2000’s I didn’t even know I was supposed to have stick straight hair. I liked it au natural.

DIGITAL CAMERAEast coast life after marriage challenged my carefree attitude. We struggled financially and I pressured myself to measure up in public. Schoolmates dressed professionally for our graduate classes (unthinkable on the West Coast). I wanted to look more polished on a regular basis. With an introduction to Clinique skincare, I found myself with a free gift bag full of makeup. Time to play.

So at this time, fashion began to become to me what home decor and furniture design were. I enjoyed reading about the styles, watching them change, picking up on the references. Since I was in and out of pregnancy so there was little I could do. It was actually the recovery after my first child that left me without clothes that fit and got me shopping again for a whole new wardrobe.

With the whole new wardrobe came a whole new style. Looser, more flexible clothing became invaluable because it meant I could move up and down in size without needing a new set of shirts. I wanted to dress like a 30-something adult. It felt good to free myself of the more restrictive styles of high school and college. I searched for pieces that would keep me polished but comfortable.

As a nursing mother, I struggled to find modest, attractive clothing. They all looked like this. Not bad by itself, but a whole closet full is over doing it.


If you add a few cup sizes that shirt gets very difficult to wear. Other than nursing convenience, I do believe modesty is much more attainable now than in the 2000’s when everything was spaghetti strapped and super tight/sleek/not for women with curves. The shift dress brought in whole new necklines. Every skirt hem is out there and on trend. It’s a good time in fashion.

I appreciated the features from Real Simple, 15 items to make a zillion outfits:

I don’t obsess over it, but I enjoy it. It makes me feel good when I’ve been up several times a night and feel exhausted, to look in the mirror and see some addition that makes me look sophisticated, well-coordinated, or bright-eyed. I also discovered that my hair takes less maintenance if I invest in a good haircut with a style and I blow dry it. Each morning is my time to invest in myself in a peaceful setting, dressing carefully, adding make-up, and every morning I walk out to show my husband how beautiful I feel.

IMG_5802I believe that how we dress does have an influence on our behavior. If dressing up, a person is less likely to act like he or she is having a lazy day. Likewise if one is on a picnic, dressing too stiffly will inhibit his or her fun, skirts and wind and all that. My daughter asks why I wear makeup. “Because I think it’s fun,” I tell her. I don’t tell her when I experience the temptation to dislike my looks. We have fun conversations about how everyone looks different (she has Italian skin and I do not). If I treat myself well it will help her to treat herself well.

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