True Modest Dress

“[T]here is always an absolute norm to be kept after having heard the admonition of conscience warning against approaching danger: style must never be a proximate occasion of sin.”

Pope Pius XII, Moral Problems in Fashion Design. (Address to a Congress of the “Latin Union of High Fashion” November 8, 1957)

Modest Dress for Women

“A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers’ breadth under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper.” (Cardinal-Vicar of Pope Pius XI, Cardinal Pompili, on 24 September 1928)

  1. Modest dresses have sleeves extending at least to the elbows, and skirts reaching below the knees.
  2. Modest dresses require full coverage for the bodice, chest, shoulders and back, except for a cut-out about the neck not exceeding two inches below the neckline in front and in back, and a corresponding two inches on the shoulders.
  3. Modest dresses do not admit, as modest coverage, transparent fabric — laces, nets, organdy, nylon etc — unless sufficient backing is added.
  4. Modest dresses avoid the improper use of flesh colored fabrics.
  5. Modest dresses conceal rather than reveal the figure of the wearer; they do not unduly emphasize parts of the body. This prohibits dresses that are tight in the bodice area.
  6. Modest dresses provide full coverage according to the standards from the Vatican after removing any outergarments such as a cape or jacket and after being seated.

These rules are a minimum and admit of no exception even for clothes for special purposes (e.g. athletics, playing, swimming) or places (e.g. beach).

It is unfortunate that it must be noted that pants or shorts are definitely immodest.


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