What Does Dressing Modestly Mean? A Catholic Stylist's Creative Take on the Dignity of Women

Ascension Presents, home to the popular Catechism in a Year podcast by Fr. Mike Schmitz, shared a newer outlook on the modesty conversation.

Catholic blogger, stylist, and author of Theology of Style Lillian Fallon gives an updated understanding of modesty and how women can still be fashionable while showing reverence for the Lord. 

Taking a more unique and creative approach to the topic, Fallon believes modesty reflects much more than just clothes.

“Modesty is really about an internal state, it all boils down to our perception of our worth,” Fallon says.

Fallon explains that her approach to choosing clothes naturally comes to her because she understands her worth and personal identity in Christ. 

The Current Issue with Modesty and Changing the Narrative

Modesty continues to have a negative undertone often met with old wounds and apprehension. These conversations, though good-intentioned, often drastically target women over men, making the female body out to be something lesser than or a source of shame that needs to be covered.

This often becomes the source of a very complicated relationship between personal style and the perception of God’s love. 

Fallon addresses this, stating,

“So many of us have come to see that the body is something that is this potential of lust and temptation and we start to see it in a negative light. Another important way that we can have a new modesty conversation is to really reaffirm the dignity of the female form.”

In shifting the conversation from a list of rules to a reflection of one’s personal relationship with Christ that highlights the sanctity of women, the concept of dressing modestly becomes more understandable, approachable, and attractive.

“The fact of the matter is that women and men are different and a woman’s body is particularly sacred,” Fallon says. 

She then references Alice von Hildebrand’s “The Privilege of Being a Woman.”

Fallon shares how she understands the connection between the all-encompassing beauty of women and our Creator. 

Fallon shares,

“If you think about the beauty of creation, the galaxies, beautiful landscapes, beautiful cathedrals, these things all call whoever is encountering it to contemplate the Divine. Similarly, a woman’s beauty causes those around her and who encounters her to contemplate the Divine.

Fallon later reveals,

“Maybe it’s the word itself [modesty] that has a lot of baggage with it. That’s why I like to use the word reverence more when it comes to how we dress and the significance behind it. “The word modesty implies a bit of keeping things in check…there’s a little bit more or a negative implication. Whereas, with reverence, it is something we are upholding–something so beautiful and sacred that it demands respect and protection.

Lastly, she says that speaking with young girls about reverence provides a deeper outlook.

“You were created on purpose. It was not an accident. You are entirely one of a kind…Don’t you deserve to dress in a way that expresses that? Why not use the way we dress as an opportunity to express our originality and who we are, made in the image of God?”

Fallon concludes with some helpful advice:

“With modesty, we have to have a spirit of forgiveness with ourselves and others, because the core of modesty is self-worth. Our self-worth doesn’t change, but the way we see our worth does, which comes out physically. Be forgiving with yourself and how you dress, but most importantly, keep on fighting…you’ll find as time goes on modesty will be something that comes naturally to you.”

Fallon beautifully explains how personal fashion, self-worth, and our identity in Christ can exist in perfect harmony.

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