Honoring God and respecting the men in our lives is impossible if we try to keep up with an increasingly sexualized culture. But understanding God's definition of modesty today can complicate even the simplest shopping trip. The Bible speaks of women avoiding adornment and braided hair, but how is this relevant to today's fashion?
Just because a hot fashion trend is featured in the pages of People magazine does not mean that anyone else should dare to bare. Here are a few tongue-in-cheek looks to which we're happy to bid adieu . . .
1. Booty shorts
The original purpose of shorts—an abridged version of the ever-popular "pants"—was for people to experience greater comfort, via increased air circulation, on warmer days.
What doesn't need air, in most civil societies, is a woman's bottom. Anything south of a woman's "back" and a few inches north of her "knees" falls into the personal area known as "private." Yet a quick glance around the company picnic or a shopping mall indicates that many modern women have not gotten the memo.
In the 1970s, the earliest "booty shorts" were minimal denim cut-offs worn by Daisy Duke on the popular TV show Dukes of Hazard. I'm willing to give Daisy the benefit of the doubt by blaming her sheltered lifestyle and wily fraying fringe (no doubt the culprits). Yet today women—young and old—are choosing to bare their booties by purchasing shorts that cover no more than a Kleenex might.
Rule of thumb: Most of us don't want to see the crease between your bottom and your legs. Leave us guessing. It's better that way.
2. Peekaboo tops
Peekaboo, most often played with babies, is a game of surprise. It hinges on the thrill when a baby recognizes a hidden face that has, graciously, returned. Peekaboo, at its root, is about relationship.
Revealing peekaboo tops hint at modesty, with necklines often reaching as high as a woman's collarbone, but the suggestion is actually a ruse. These tops feature a creative "cut out" section, which serves to "frame" a woman's shoulders or bare back or, if we're really lucky, her cleavage.
Rule of thumb: Peekaboo is about the surprise of relationship. Let's keep it that way and leave it to infants—a legit segment of society for whom women's breasts actually are about healthy life-giving relationship.
3. Words-on-the-bum pants
Many women today—mostly younger ones—are using their backend real estate to communicate with others the way one might do by renting billboard space along the highway.
Ladies, if you have something genuinely important to communicate to others—that something or someone is "Juicy" or that you enjoy time at "Key West" that you enthusiastically "Cheer"—please use paper. It is now available in single sheets, with and without lines. Or text your message to your closest friends. Scribble it in the sand at Key West. Send an e-mail. Use sidewalk chalk. Hire a plane and write it in the sky.
There simply isn't a message important enough to inscribe on your bottom.
Rule of thumb: Bottoms are for sitting.
4. Yoga pants
Let's just call them what they are, people: comfy pajamas. Very, very, very form-fitting comfy pajamas.
The upside of this fashion craze, of course, is ease of movement. And if you suddenly need to stretch into cobra or curb into downward-facing dog, these should be your go-to pants. But for situations when you won't need to strike a nature-pose on a dime, stick with pants that aren't preceded by an athletic modifier.
Rule of thumb: When clothing is as form-fitting as your bra or underwear, save it for Pilates class.
5. See-through tops
You may, of course, need a see-through top if you are a Twinkie, a hard peppermint candy, or Lady Gaga. But in the event you are not a sugary confection or shameless pop star, please wear clothing that is opaque.
Strangers don't need to see everything between your shoulders and your hips. If there's a pressing need for you to be reminded every so often (if you have a memory condition causing you to forget what's under there), simply wear a blouse with buttons and take a peek in private.
Rule of thumb: Save clear packaging for granola mix and other tasty treats.
6. Navel-dipping necklines
Note to the actresses and musical artists on the red carpet: You would look gorgeous if you showed up at the Oscars or the Grammys in red flannel lumberjack shirts and denim overalls. You might possibly even be able to pull off a red wool cap or Grizzly Adams beard. This said, you most definitely will turn heads in floor-length gowns that cover more than a minimal portion of your breasts.
While some, no doubt, enjoy the anxious excitement about what could possibly be revealed if you drop your clutch onto the carpet or breathe deeply, many more of us are fine not knowing. Truly, do yourself a favor: Cover up. And enjoy your evening.
Rule of thumb: If you have to apply duct tape to cover private areas, your garment needs more fabric.
7. Itty-bitty string bikinis
If you have chosen to sport a string bikini, you are most likely at the beach. (Wearing one to the office is—in so many workplaces—a firm "no.") For decades culture has pressed us to believe that proximity to sand and water is some sort of a free pass on baring our bodies.
Please know that this was not the intention of the earliest bathing suit designers, whose modest designs covered knees and shoulders. Rather, bathing suits were meant to allow women to move freely in the water, without billowing and life-threatening skirts. Yet today so many string bikinis actually keep women from moving freely.
For this reason, we name string bikinis a fashion fail.
Rule of thumb: If one snip of a small pair of cuticle scissors is all that stands between you and nudity, you may want to rethink your fashion choices.