[Sorry for the late post. Busy day, and this post itself was rushed out. Apologies for missed mistakes and poor construction.]
In my most recent post I explored women’s dress. Today I want to explore some scripture that deals with the matter. Here we have St. Paul’s 1st Letter to Timothy:
9 also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire 10 but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion.
(1 Timothy 2:9-10)
Then we have St. Peter’s 1st Letter:
3 Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of robes, 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
(1 Peter 3:3-4)
I know there are some other passages that would be appropriate, but I cannot think of them at the moment.
But what we have here is basic teaching on modesty. As I’ve argued elsewhere, modesty as the Christian understands it stands two functions: the first is to reduce sexual temptation, and the second is to avoid avarice and envy. Both of them, however, have as their base the following:
Wearing clothing or other adornment such that others are not tempted into sin.
At the same time, that can be extended to include the wearer as well, who can no doubt be affected by the clothes she (or he) is wearing.
From looking at the admonishments above, and the previous post, we can see that a Christian understanding of modesty, as far as women is concerned, is about alleviating tendencies women face when dressing. As was pointed out in Dressed to Impress by Maea, “Women seem to fall into one of 3 groups– the women who dress for other women, the ones who dress for men, and the ones who dress for the sake of beauty.” Modesty aims to target the first two groups, or tendencies (which I think fits better).
The first tendency is to dress “for” other women. That is, to dress to impress other women with their own attractiveness, to show off their “value”, as well as to show off their wealth and social status. The second is when women dress “for” men. That is, to dress to impress men (or a specific man) with their sex appeal.
Modesty aims to stop both. It limits the signs of social status and wealth, and limits displays of attractiveness. Modest dress thus helps the woman who dresses as well as the men and women who see her later. Hopefully that third tendency, the one women should aim for, is what is elevated instead. At least, that is how I see it. Perhaps my readers have their own thoughts.