Modesty Starts with Mom: How to Teach Your Daughter to Dress Modest

modesty starts with mom


As much as we moan and complain about the immodest dress on TV and in magazines the reality is that the biggest influence on how your daughter dresses is you, her mom. Everything you do and everything you wear is observed by little eyes and taken in, and it does matter. Wether they grow up to be just like you or the complete opposite you have a lot of influence on your daughter and that includes her view of fashion and modesty. Most women are not truly teaching their daughters to respect their body when they dress, sometimes consciously and other times subconsciously. The moms who like to push the envelope with risque clothing well, let’s assume they are not reading this article as modest dress is probably not a priority and they will pass on to their daughter the message of risque is ok. I on the other hand want my girls to love and respect both their body and fashion and yes the two go perfectly hand in hand.


fabkids mommy and me


I am very conscious of the way I dress knowing that one day my daughters will imitate it. I like to look good every day and I dress with intention and purpose showing them that style always has room for modesty. When you choose to wear over-sized t-shirts and baggy pants you are not teaching your daughter modesty. How will she ever know what length skirt is appropriate, or what cut of shirt is ok if you never show her? How will she know if a dress is too tight or if shirts are too revealing if you never give her examples? Like anything in life extremes are never good, if you take modesty to the extreme and just refuse to even try to dress in a flattering way what message are you sending your daughter? To be ashamed? To not even try? That all clothes are bad? If you wear your very tight workout gear all day long don’t be shocked when your teen wears super tight shirts and pants, you modeled it for them. Fitted workout gear has a place, its during a workout, but the message it sends as clothing is probably not what you mean to say.

From a very young age we stress modest dress with our girls. We talk about don’t show your tummy or your underwear. We discuss wearing bike shorts and leggings under dresses and we talk about things being too tight. Do I tell my 2 year old that one day too tight pants will get her the wrong kind of attention from a  man? NO of course not, we discuss fit and comfort but long term the message sticks in her head of too tight pants are not a great choice. My girls never wear a dress or skirt with out bike shorts under it, I don’t even have to tell them this, they know it is to keep their underwear covered in case of a wardrobe malfunction. But one key point that is often missed ( and I made this mistake with my oldest) was not pointing out these are not shorts they are underwear covers so don’t show them off like you are wearing shorts. I also do not let my girls wear the bike shorts that are for under skirts as regular shorts thus keeping the message clear that bike shorts are for encouraging modesty. Ultimately it is up to me to buy appropriate clothes and pack up the clothes when they become too small and inappropriate, too often I hear a mom say these are probably too (short, tight ect) but they are just a little girl it’s not a big deal. But it is a big deal! If you let them wear super short and tight shorts then one day say, just kidding that’s not ok, it makes no sense. Is it hard sometimes to find appropriate length skirts and shorts? Yes it is. But is it worth searching out the right clothes to keep your little girl modest and teach her life long lessons? Yes it is!


girls bermuda shorts


leggings under dresses


When it comes to tops my girls regulate themselves by about age 5, they do the arm test and lift up to see if their belly shows, if it does they find a new shirt without me saying a word. Modesty is ingrained in my girls not as a limitation but as a normal aspect of dressing each day. When I make the mistake of squeezeing myself into pre-baby jeans too early because nothing else is clean my preschooler points out my underwear shows when I bend over and you know what? It is a great teaching moment and reminder that they see everything and take it all in and I need to be consistent in my message on how to dress.

Modesty is a tough concept for many adults but it doesn’t have to be, you can be stylish and dress in a flattering way while still being modest and more often than not the modest outfit is more flattering than the immodest one anyway. So do your daughters and yourself a favor, model good fashion choices for your girls from a young age and you will save yourself angst during the teenage years. If your daughter has to look outside the home for fashion advice it will not end up being in your favor.

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  1. Since an important lesson, these days it just seems like girls wear racier, skimpier things at a younger age. Completely freaks me out.

  2. I completely agree with this post and try hard with my daughter. Some girls are just more drawn to that kind of apparel as well, so it’s even more important, being the mother to be a good example. Though I typically do not wear my workout apparel other than to work out, that is a super valid point which i really loved that you mentioned. I also like that you pointed out that by just “not caring” and wearing whatever also teaches them to more or less go with what society is teaching, and if you visit a lot of clothing stores (more so as they get older) it’s far from appropriate. Love the bike shorts, that’s a staple item in her wardrobe and we are so thankful for them. WONDERFUL POST!!!!!

  3. she is so gorgeous and i love this post. So many young girls these days, no offense dress like HOES so i’m glad you wrote about this. More bloggers should follow your lead!

  4. I’m a regular mom, like you, i dress modestly most if not all of the time. Jeans and a nice shirt or leggings and a sweater. over the summer I noticed my daughter wanting to wear tank tops or have her shoulder hanging out of her sweater. Or wear see thru things. I don’t wear stuff like that. I know she’s getting it from barbie’s and tv shows… I tell her that it’s not acceptable. We will see if it gets better. I hope so. She is 8 almost 9…

    1. Sounds like you are doing the right thing and she does have a good example, imagine how it would be if she didn’t have you to look to. All kids push the envelope at one point or another but if you teach her then there is hope she will embrace it for herself one day.

  5. Sounds like you are being a great role model to your girls. I love being a modest mom, even if my girls sometimes probably hate it. But they know to dress properly. I love your daughter’s black and white top.

  6. This is great Ellen. I completely agree: my mother was key in teaching me how to dress modestly and it was mostly because of how she dressed. I have always admired how she dressed modestly yet stylishly and well. I hope I can do the same for my daughters someday!

  7. Cute outfit. I agree, kids learn by example and they will do what we do and not so much what we say. Age appropriate and modest…

  8. I love this post! You really hit the nail on the head. I also believe my daughter learns from what I wear. You can be cute and fashionable without looking inappropriate. I have worked hard to teach my daughter that it’s not about dressing like other’s it’s about dressing for yourself.

  9. I really applaud your efforts on this topic. I teach at a middle school and see much more of the girls’ bodies than I ever want to see. Having those discussions with my own daughter is so important!

  10. As a mom to two girls (one of whom is in middle school), I LOVE this post! It really does mean a lot for moms to set a good example. Our kids look up to us and we greatly influence them in so many little ways that we may not realize!

  11. I completely agree with this post. But if the dress is a long length, I do not make them wear shorts underneath. My eldest daughter actually prefers wearing lycra shorts under her skirts as she like to do gymnastics but would never flash her pants. I find the older girls have influenced my youngest daughter in fashion. Ours wear school uniform and my youngest has started copying her sisters and wears her shorts under her pinafore.

  12. Just wanted to pop in and say that while I whole heartedly agree that we need to model modesty for our daughters, dads play a role as well.

    My oldest daughter (now 20) moved in with her dad when she was 14. He turned a complete blind eye to what she was wearing, despite my protests. No amount of preaching from my end changed her behavior.

    I’d encourage dads to get involved as well ….. instead of leaving everything up to mom. Dads can:
    Complement moms and daughters on attractive, modest clothing
    Encourage their daughters to make modest clothing choices
    Help do some of the shopping, even if it’s through catalogs (My #2 daughter loves to look at Land’s End catalog and pick out swimsuits – with her dad’s approval)

    Thanks for a positive focus on an important topic, Ellen!

  13. What a great post! As with everything else it all starts at home. I am the same way with my daughter, and since we are in South Florida it is especially important for me to teach her modesty, because many of her friends (2 and 3 year olds) are already beginning to wear two-pieces. I so agree with the bike shorts, and for this reason I always look for bike shorts at Gymboree, whenever they are on clearance. Between coupons and 30-40 percent off clearance I can get them at $2+.

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  15. We were very fortunate that our daughter was more the trendsetter, her friends would follow her lead and she was really pretty modest for the times.

  16. This is such a perfect article to share. I’ve seen on instagram how immodest they are dressing their young ones. At such a young age, fashion has become to revealing and non appealing to us moms who actually take this important message to dress them modest from the youngest to the oldest to the example (us parents ).

  17. Very hard at times to explain age appropriate as my daughter is about to be a teenager and tall for her age. She keeps making the right choices which is great

  18. Its hard enough being a mom but trying to make sure to model good behavior in all respects, including how to dress is incredibly important! as a mom to both genders we try and keep focus off flaunting skin and on character and personality. we flounder through it but hope it sticks!

  19. my duaghter is 12 and hard to explain at times. But she is understanding some like sports bra is not swimming top or the beach so can not wear to the store

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