Is a sleeveless shirt or a knee-length dress immodest?




Are sleeveless shirts that are covering everything immodest? I had a skirt that was right on my knee and I wore it to church. I had an older man come up to me and tell me how sinful I was for wearing such a thing. It revealed my knee he said and it could make lustful thoughts in guys. I understand that guys are more physically stimulated, but is a skirt right on my knee immodest because you can see my knee? I would like to know the true Christian standards of modest clothing. Please let me know. Thank you.

Many people resort to subjective ideas concerning modesty because they are unable to define what is or is not modest in a definitive way. The problem is that subjective answers only tell you what a particular person's opinion is on the subject and those opinions vary over time. In addition, we are all influenced by what the society we live within accepts. For example, in the late 1800's it was considered immodest for a woman to show her ankles, which led to long skirts and high top boots being the fashion. Today, few think twice about it in the United States.

I've written several articles on the matter, so I won't repeat the contents here, but take a look at:

Modest Apparel
You Can't Tell Me How to Dress!

There are several aspects to the topic of modest dress. One is whether the chosen outfit covers one's nakedness, but this only governs the minimal standard. The second is whether an outfit is appropriate for the occasion. Third is whether an outfit makes a person stand out in a group. Fourth is what meaning society assigns to the selected clothing.

Let me give you an example of the latter. Many years ago, prostitutes wore veils over their faces (Genesis 38:14-19; Song of Solomon 1:7). But at other times, a veil signified modesty (Genesis 24:65; Song of Solomon 4:1; 5:7). I assume the difference was the type of veil in use, but notice that certain items of clothing carried meaning to the society at large. "And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart" (Proverbs 7:10).

All factors must be taken into account when deciding whether a particular outfit is modest. Using your example, a plain knee-length skirt would create a different reaction from a very tight skirt with a slit up the side. Both are knee-length, but both cannot be called modest.

See also:

Question and Answers regarding Modest Clothing
Articles on Modest Clothing
Sermons on Modest Clothing