Modest Apparel


“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” – 1 Timothy 2:9-10

I’ve heard some good teachings on this verse, and I probably won’t do it justice but I hope this can be of some help, somehow.

1. Respectable apparel implies that there is clothing that is not respectable. Rather than defining what is respectable, God is trusting us to use good sense and know what is appropriate. Styles change, but there are general rules for respectable attire. This passage is telling woman to abide by that knowledge.

2. With modesty and self-control, or as the KJV renders it: with shamefacedness and sobriety.The word used is aidos and depicts “a sense of shame” and because I feel “shame” is something our generation (at least) is lacking, let’s look at the definition:

1. the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., (

When we get dressed each day, we need to be aware and sober-minded of what is dishonorable and improper. Being sober-minded is thinking clearly, and in this sense it is thinking that is freed from impure desires and twisted judgment, which I think will be clarified in the last point of this post.

3. Not with braided hair, gold, pearls or costly attire Braided hair, gold and pearls are not inherently evil or sinful things and the point is not that a godly woman cannot dress well or fix herself up. The point is that a woman should not be focused on the outward appearance, especially when compared to her concern for her godliness. I want to incorporate one other verse:

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – 1 Peter 3:3,4

More than the decision of what to put on physically each day, we need to actively make the decision to put on Christ each day. These verses are truly comparing our Christian conduct to how we clothe ourselves; we need to be purposeful Christians, making a conscious decision to put on the new man and please God rather than waking up and going through our day without thought and spiritually naked.

Nevertheless, our main text is still instructing us on our physical appearance. We need to be aware of the message we are sending with our clothing, and I’d like to point out costly apparel for a moment. “Costly” is a relative term, but that doesn’t make it difficult to know if we’re perhaps spending too much money (translate: caring too much about your appearance instead of godliness). That line is different for everyone, so we need to be careful not to assume about others, I’m simply encouraging everyone to take an honest look within themselves and decide with much study and prayer. Money can be used for so many things, and there are so many brethren that are lacking in the church, which is something we ought to keep in mind when decided where “our own” money will go: can we use it for hospitality, having people over, taking them out, providing for a need, giving to the church, supporting evangelistic efforts, whether local or overseas? It’s so easy to fall in the vanity trap, and it’s an insatiable desire when you consider the changes in fashion, age and continuous growth of hair. So, is it pleasing to God, does it produce anything worthwhile, to esteem our perishable beauty however highly we currently do?

4. But what is proper for women who profess godliness-with good works

Does your attire reflect the godliness you profess?

The standards haven’t been clearly defined in the New Testament and perhaps that should suggest that our choice will depend entirely on the intent of our heart, which God can see and will judge.When we apply the message of developing that inward beauty, striving to be precious in the sight of God, obeying Him, serving Him and others and fulfilling our duties as Christians, won’t we recognize whether our heart is deceiving us into wearing clothing that has no godly effect? Won’t we discern clothing that only has the potential to cause others to stumble and lust, and manifests our possibly ungodly and proud desire to attract inappropriate attention?

Can you give me a godly reason to wear:

bikinis and revealing swimwear, tight clothing, revealing shirts/tank-tops/skirts/dresses (even wedding dresses), halter-tops, spaghetti straps and other tops that show a lot of unnecessary skin(shoulders, back, stomach) or short shorts(especially in athletics)?

Let us as Christians allow our outward appearance to reflect the humility and godliness of our inward person, the person striving to please God in all things.


One thought on “Modest Apparel

  1. I agree that some clothing simply invites ungodly thoughts. I question your issues with athletic clothing. Those uniforms have nothing to do with lust. They are all about athletic performance. Nothing done while wearing those clothes invites lust, either. If I pant after watching a sprinter win a tough race, it isn’t lustful panting. It is borrowed exhaustion as I admire the effort and the ability of such athletes.
    I am more dismayed by people whose clothing choices show a complete lack of respect for themselves. A large woman who tries to stuff herself into size 10 shorts and shirts looks ridiculous, not sexual. I think choices like that show that the person does not value herself as God does but rather, chooses to lie to herself by trying to deceive others into believing she is smaller than she is. I don’t join in the utter scorn for people with non-optimal weight. I think the problem is not the weight; the problem is actually self-scorn. In a healthy relationship with Christ, we learn to respect God’ gift of the body. That changes everything. That is the root of discernment. In that context, modesty is the outgrowth of healthy self-respect, respect born in gratitude for all God’s gifts to us.


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