As I write this, we in the U.K are currently in the middle of a summer heatwave not seen since 1976!!
With summer temperatures skyrocketing, it can feel very tempting and even justified to shed layers of clothing and bare as much skin as possible.
However, as Catholics, we have a duty to dress in a dignified and modest manner…..even during the hottest of the summer months.
The subject of Catholic dress code and Marylike modesty seems to be a hot topic within traditional Catholic circles and don’t even get me started on the issue of wearing pants.
Modesty is a respectable manner of adorning one’s body and carrying oneself, born out of a freedom from a worldly definition of beauty and worth, and motivated by a hatred of sin and a desire to protect our dignity, whilst also drawing attention to God.
Now, this can be an almost impossible task to achieve as modern day fashions, especially summer wear, are very provocative and flesh-baring.
It was Pope Pius XII who said: Style must never be a proximate occasion of sin.
Yes, a lot of modern-day fashions are immodest, but it is still possible to dress attractively and fashionably without being immodest.
Dressing modestly does not need to compromise our beauty. In fact, being modest enhances both your beauty and femininity.
As Pope Pius XII also said: The more elegant you will be, and the more pleasing, if you dress with simplicity and discreet modesty.
There is no point dressing modestly for Catholic church Mass on Sundays and immodestly everywhere else. God is everywhere and lust can be stirred within the men in the church as well as outside of the church. We do not wish to be stumbling blocks and tempt our brothers to sin.
Below is a picture of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, at Royal Ascot earlier this week.
I really like a vast majority of Kate’s outfits for how modest, yet stylish they are and this outfit gets top marks from me.
The neckline, hem and sleeve lengths are very modest; the lace material allows easy circulation of air to ensure she keeps cool in the heat, and the cut is fitted and feminine, without being clingy. The only thing I would change is to swap out the lighter-coloured underwear for one that is nude-coloured.
So here are my top tips for staying cool AND modest during a summer heatwave:
Avoid necklines that are too low and hemlines that are too high.
Anything that shows your cleavage is immodest as well as anything that shows your cleavage when you bend forward. Your skirt or dress should not ride up your thigh when you sit down.
Go white or light
Wearing white and lighter colours help to deflect the heat.
Go airy or roomy
Wear airy, roomy fabrics like lace, chiffon, organza or even cotton. Avoid denim, wool and other heavier fabrics.
Nude-coloured underwear will help to protect your modesty. In addition, a bra that is slightly padded can be very helpful during chilly summer evenings.
Clingy is not sexy
Avoid anything overly fitted or clingy. Not only is this immodest, but as you sweat, the fabric will cling and stick to your sweaty skin and can look very unsightly. Lightly fitted, yet airy-type outfits like maxi dresses, shift dresses, A-line or swing-style dresses etc will allow circulation of air to keep your body cool and odour-free.
Accessorise with style
Sunglasses and sun-hats are practical, protective and stylish, so do not hesitate to wear them as you see fit.
Be sure you don’t skimp on sunscreen and re-apply every 2-3 hours.
Stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day….even if you are not feeling thirsty. Dehydration can happen fast and can be very dangerous to your health.
Spritz and Spray
Carry a little spray bottle in your handbag. A sweaty, frazzled look is anything but feminine, so keep a little 50ml spray bottle in your bag to lightly mist yourself. In my bottle, I have equal parts of unsweetened aloe vera juice, alcohol-free witch hazel and alcohol-free rosewater. You can usually get these ingredients from your local drugstore or on Ebay. The spray will keep your makeup (if wearing any) set, calm any sun-induced redness, take away shine and sweat, and also keep you cool. It’s a win-win all round.
This book can also give you great ideas for modest fashion and styles – Dressing With Dignity
I sign off this post with this quote from St. Ignatius of Loyola:
‘In your dress permit nothing unclean or slovenly, but at the same time avoid a studied elegance, which is not free from daintiness or affectation.’
ad Jesum per Mariam