How To Dress Modestly & Not Look Like Your Grandma (13 Tips + Outfits)

how to dress modestly

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Who said dressing modestly means boring or orthodox? Here’s how to do it with Panache!

The 21st century is a topsy-turvy world. I believe it was much easier for our old folks to be fashionable while also staying modest. 

But today, that’s harder than playing chess. We’re ruled by a gigantic amount of fashion trends, and all strive their best to steer clear of modest fashion. 

Celebrities, fashion designers, etc., are setting new benchmarks for revealing outfits and while some of them are actually impressive (I wouldn’t lie), I’m not a fan of provocative or naked dressing, especially on wrong occasions. 

Modest fashion might seem like a bygone term, but trust me, it’s here to save your day! In a world full of Kardashians, you can be Princess Diana (in terms of fashion; no one can beat her personality, after all).

You can always strike a balance between modest and fashionable, and this guide is a testimony to that fact. So, on that note, here’s how to dress modestly and catch people having their eyefuls on you!

But first, let’s quickly take a look at why modest fashion is regaining its popularity.

Why Does Dressing Modestly Matter?

dressing with modesty
Courtesy: @yazz1zz

If you’re someone who raves about elegance and sophistication, you already know what modest fashion can bring about. 

Clean, refined, and simple dressing can add immensely to your personality — how people perceive YOU. It’s not about a specific part of your body (let’s say cleavage in a dress with a plunging neckline) that draws in all the attention, but the entire you is the sole focus.

This is extremely important in places where you need to adhere to your cultural/religious values and societal norms. 

Modest fashion also reflects your humility — outer appearances do not interest you, rather the inner character does. A must-have for professional settings.

Plus, let’s not forget that it is super comfy and peaceful. You feel safe and the designs are more comfortable to wear.

What are the rules for dressing modestly?

dressing modestly
Courtesy: @yazz1zz

First and foremost, it’s important to understand what “modest” means. In general, this refers to dressing in a way that doesn’t draw too much attention to your body or reveal too much skin.

  • First, opt for clothing that covers your shoulders and chest. This can mean wearing tops with higher necklines or adding a cardigan or jacket to an outfit.
  • Similarly, avoid shorts or skirts that are too short – it’s usually best to aim for knee-length or longer.
  • When it comes to fabrics, it can be helpful to avoid materials that are too clingy or revealing. Instead, opt for more structured or flowing fabrics that drape without clinging to your curves. This can include things like cotton, denim, or silk.

Lastly, keep in mind that modesty means different things to different people and cultures. What might be considered modest in one setting might not be appropriate in another.

Ultimately, the key is to dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable, confident, and respectful of those around you.

How To Dress Modestly? A Quick 11-Step Guide!

Here’s a quick guide on how to dress modestly without going out of style:

1. Understand Your Body Type

modesty in dress
Courtesy: @yazz1zz

The biggest mistake people often commit while preparing their outfits is directly jumping onto the dressing part without considering their body type. It’s like ordering a pizza without knowing its crust.

Identifying your body type will only help you further ace modest fashion without looking frumpy. 

For example, women with hourglass body shapes can wear a bit tight as well as loose-fitting clothes. However, wearing baggy outfits over a pear body type might create disorderly and unrefined silhouettes.

By understanding your body type, you can also easily recognize which colors/prints suit you, what type of pants you should wear, the right rise, and so on. 

2. Know Your Flaunt-worthy Assets (Without Overdoing It)

modestly dressed woman
Courtesy: @trendelitee

Before we jump into styling tips, let’s talk about you for a moment. Identifying your best features is essential for dressing modestly and fashionably.

Emphasizing your favorite aspects of your body can give you a powerful yet elegant look without revealing too much. The trick here is to find the perfect balance. A high-neck blouse with puff sleeves, for example, can highlight your elegant collarbones without the need for an overly plunging neckline.

Here are some ideas to emphasize your favorite assets while keeping it modest:

  • Wear high-waisted pants or skirts to accentuate your curves
  • Utilize eye-catching accessories, such as statement necklaces or earrings, to draw attention upwards
  • Choose flattering patterns, like vertical stripes, that emphasize your silhouette

3. Pay Attention To The Length Of Your Dress/Skirt

modestly dress woman
Courtesy: @maryamwears

It’s crucial to think twice about the hemlines of your dresses or skirts before stepping out. Modest fashion might be a bit old school for a few of you, but trust me, it’s much more sensible. 

So, if you have midi skirts and shorts, I’d suggest ditching them if you want an ensemble that screams modesty. 

Knee-length coverage is considered ideal. That’s the max to which you can shorten up your skirts. The same goes for dresses — midis that fall around your knees are acceptable under the modest school of thought. 

And honestly, this is more comfortable than outfits that end near your thighs or above the knee. The latter can be a menace when it comes to handling your dress, which is strictly the opposite of elegance.

4. Avoid Clingy & Revealing Clothes

modestly dress
Courtesy: @yazz1zz

Serving as the motto of modest fashion, avoiding revealing clothes is a must if you wish to stick with the classy. This includes minding your necklines, sleeve length, fitting, and even the fabric of your outfit. 

I’m sure by now you’re familiar with your enemy necklines — anything plunging or low-cut. Thus, choose tops and dresses with necklines that cover your chest and complement your shoulders.

Tube tops are a BIG NO-NO. Avoid outfits that reveal your bare shoulders or underarms. Even spaghetti straps must be dumped when curating a modest fashion wardrobe.

Another major factor to consider is the fabric type. Sheer or see-through dresses must be shunned at all costs. Rather, go for thicker tops that offer better coverage.

Lastly, remember to wear clothes that are loose and not skin-tight. Your aim is to hide your body contour as much as possible while creating an elegant silhouette.

5. Mix, Match, and Layer Like a Pro

modestly dressed woman
Courtesy: @maryamwears

Who says modest dressing has to be boring? Play around with colors, textures, and prints to create interesting ensembles that express your unique personality.

Layering is an inevitable step for dressing modestly. All the pieces in your outfit have to be strategically decided, including the layers that we often put on without giving much thought.

Choosing the right layer means:

  • Providing coverage to your arms, chest, and shoulders
  • Adding depth to your outfit or making it more interesting
  • Making your ensemble more versatile and adaptable to different needs
  • Smoothening any frumpy lines and silhouette
  • Balancing your outfit and making it season-friendly

This not just includes blazers, coats, and cardigans, but also cover-up dresses for preparing a modest swimwear outfit.

Thus, even if you have a couple of dresses and tops in your closet, with layers you can easily style them in numerous ways without repeating any particular outfit for a long time.

6. Bring Out the Sleeves

how to dress modestly
Courtesy: @maryamwears

Cap, puffed, bell, or bishop – get adventurous with sleeve styles! Ditch the stereotypes that say modesty equals long, loose sleeves exclusively. The fashion world is currently obsessing over stylish sleeves, and you should join the party.

7. Choose Appropriate Undergarments (& Swimwear)

How To Dress Modestly & Not Look Like Your Grandma (13 Tips + Outfits)
Courtesy: @salma.adel.20

I’d be honest — even I didn’t care much about selecting the right undergarments until I stumbled across their benefits and how much they contribute backstage.

For starters, the right bra can support your chest in a way that makes your body outline sophisticated and non-provocative. You can also rely on shapewear for hiding body contours and shaping your outline neatly.

Plus, nude-colored undergarments can make your outfit modest by preventing see-throughs in light and sheer fabrics. 

Not to forget that putting some thought into selecting undergarments can also save you embarrassment from wardrobe malfunctions like visible bra straps, underwear lines, etc.

Coming to modesty in the pool, you’d want to invest in swimwear that’s not unnecessarily revealing. Swim dresses, burkins, and swim leggings are some modest options.

8. Accessorize Without Being Flashy

clothing modesty
Courtesy: @yazz1zz

The more interesting and captivating your outfit is, the better. But there’s a limit to what you can add to your ensemble to keep it modest. 

The golden rule is to accessorize as a minimalist and not overdo it. For example, you can skip statement necklaces over dresses with high necklines. Rather keep it simple and sweet with statement pearl earrings, a pendant, or a matching bracelet.

Classic analog watches are your BFFs. You can also style scarves in different ways to elevate your outfit and pair them with sunglasses for an old-money look.

In addition, gloves and leggings are great accessories to amp up the humility of your dress and work the no-skin rule. 

Remember, it’s not about how much you accessorize, but how mindfully and tastefully you do it. So, keep things as simple and uncluttered as possible!

9. Personalize With Modesty

modesty dressing
Courtesy: @yazz1zz

Being modest doesn’t mean there’s no scope for adding your personal flair to your outfits. Rather, personalization can actually work wonders and bring about a change that reflects your vibes and personality better.

To make your outfits more about you, I’d suggest focusing on color choices and designs. Go with shades that complement your skin complexion and the occasion. For example, a beach party calls for wearing subtle, light shades while a business meeting is where you can make a statement with darker tones.

Moreover, how you mix and match expresses your dressing style and taste. Layering up and accessorizing are some other ways to unravel the fashionista within you. 

Personalization is also synonymous with customization — custom tailoring, DIY projects, and self-designed outfits!

So, don’t shy away from making your outfits scream your personality.

10. Prefer A-line Dresses

How To Dress Modestly & Not Look Like Your Grandma (13 Tips + Outfits)
Courtesy: @prinoora

Compared to asymmetrical and bodycon, A-line dresses are highly modest and decorous. 

They do not cling to your skin and have a decently loose fitting that begets a flattering silhouette. Even though these dresses work greatly to hide your body contours, they do not interfere with your feminine energy at any cost.

Thus, you can still enjoy a graceful look!

Plus, A-line dresses come with modest necklines and sleeve-lengths. You won’t have to put a lot of effort into hiding your skin or worry about being indecent.

And did I mention how versatile this style is? You can pair them up with cardigans, blazers, scarves, and whatnot! Endless options to make an A-line dress work for different occasions!

11. The Quality Of Your Outfit Matters.

How To Dress Modestly & Not Look Like Your Grandma (13 Tips + Outfits)
Courtesy: @maryamwears

All in all, it would be a sin to skip any of the above points because, coming to the last rule, the quality of your outfit goes a long way in making you modest.

Yes, read that again. It’s not just about avoiding revealing clothes or gearing up simply and decently. Modest fashion also includes how comfortable the outfit makes you.

So, if you’re busy handling your dress, pulling the hemlines down to keep them from jumping up, that’s not elegant. How you carry your dress is crucial and if the fabric/design/style makes it a tedious task, it’s probably not the right dress for you.

A Couple More Things To Avoid when dressing modestly…

How To Dress Modestly & Not Look Like Your Grandma (13 Tips + Outfits)
Courtesy: @prinoora

I’ve already covered the basics — hiding your skin and some specific body parts, ideal dress length and fitting, etc. But there are a few more points that you need to steer clear of:

1. Offensive Prints/Texts On Your Clothing

These are massive turn-offs when it comes to dressing modestly. Make sure you avoid clothes with texts like “sexy”, “fuck”, or any other disrespectful/offensive words. 

Personally, I’d suggest buying clothes that do not have any kind of text or messages written on them unless you’re in an informal setting (with friends and family).

Also, don’t purchase tops/dresses, or layers that have trendy or inappropriate graphics on them. 

If you really love clothes that have texts/graphics, just ensure they are not obscene or disrespectful and you’ll be good to go.

2. Too Much Accessories

The next thing that you need to be aware of is going overboard with accessories. Excess of anything is bad; just remember this quote when you’re putting together your ensemble for the day.

Have a statement piece that accentuates your outfit without requiring a lot of complementary accessories. For example, a headscarf is more than sufficient to style an A-line dress. The max you can do is throw in a pair of sunglasses for a chic, classy look.

Remember, accessorizing is all about balancing your outfit. So, you can match but not overmatch that it makes you look like some weirdo. 

Whenever in doubt, keep it simple and minimal.

Some Modest Fashion Outfit Ideas For Beginners!

You thought I’d leave you with a guide on how to dress modestly without the paradigm examples? NO WAY.

Here are some easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy outfit ideas to dress modestly without really spending a bomb on new clothes.

1. Pencil Skirts

woman dress modestly
Courtesy: @yazz1zz

Doing modest fashion doesn’t mean you can’t look hot at the same time. If you’ve got the knack for it, dressing sexy while also staying modest isn’t a tough nut to crack.

The simplest way is to wear a knee-length pencil skirt with a linen shirt and layer it up with a tailored blazer for formal events.

2. Leggings Under Midi Skirts

woman dress modestly
Courtesy: @sumayahaldakheel

While it’s best to avoid midi skirts, you can still wear them modestly if paired with quality leggings to hide your skin. You can match a polo shirt with a midi skirt and wear contrasting full-length leggings to create a sporty and modest attire. 

However, make sure the leggings are not see-through or in a ripped style.

3. Jumpsuits

woman dress modestly
Courtesy: @trendelitee

In a pickle about what to wear? Jump into a jumpsuit!

Probably the most no-brainer outfit today, jumpsuits are an excellent choice for pairing modesty with contemporary style. They are upbeat, trendy, and versatile — you can wear them to formal and informal events!

4. Wide-legs + Blouses

woman dress modestly
Courtesy: @yazz1zz

Another modest outfit right of your closet is wide-leg denim/pants with elegant blouses that come with non-repulsive necklines and proper coverage. 

Add a crossbody bag, sneakers, and a hairband for a simple & sweet youthful look!

5. A-line Skirts + Blouses

modestly dress woman
Courtesy: @yazz1zz

While pencil skirts can be your go-to outfit for business meetings, cute and subtle A-line skirts with relatively plain blouses can be a showstopper on other occasions.

And if you’re into k-dramas, I’m sure this combo has already crossed (and settled in) your mind!

6. Khaki Dresses

How To Dress Modestly & Not Look Like Your Grandma (13 Tips + Outfits)
Courtesy: @yazz1zz

Khaki dresses strike the best balance between the formal and the informal. They’re neutral in color and exude highly pleasing elegance which is perfect for celebrations and ceremonies. 

On the other hand, when paired with sneakers and sporty accessories, it can also serve casual sessions with friends and family.

Final thoughts on how to dress modestly

And there you have it! Armed with these tips, I’m confident you’ll rock the modest fashion scene like a true fashionista. Remember: with the right attitude, a little creativity, and lots of experimentation, dressing modestly can be just as fun, thrilling, and inspiring as any other fashion pursuit!

So go ahead, unleash your inner modest fashion icon and shine on!

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