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Dressed for Success

I announced this morning that we were going to head to the gym so that mommy could get in an impromptu workout.

Which had nothing to do with the disappearance of a certain bag of mini M&M’s.


Cailey had been running around in a cute little black dress, with black pants underneath, to ward off the unexpected cold that has gripped Florida.

I asked her to brush the rat’s nest that doubles as her hair.  And I figured we’d be good to go.

She disappeared into her room for about 20 minutes.

And emerged wearing a black leather micro-mini-skirt, with a hot pink tank top, adorned with sequins at the neckline.  And she had set out her black leather boots.  The ensemble accentuated the purple in her legs from the chilly temperature in the house.

If you had added baby blue eye shadow and two front teeth, you would have been looking at me, circa 1972.

“You are not leaving the house wearing that!”

“But MOM, I’m wearing shorts underneath.”

Oh.  Well. THAT makes me feel better.

I pointed her in the direction of her room and told her to try again.

In my defense as a parent who stresses modest dress, the black leather micro-mini skirt was a garage sale find from when she was FIVE, and somehow it didn’t look as  trashy on a short dumpling of a girl that used to live down the hall.

The child has stretched considerably in the last year, and has lost all vestiges of chubbiness.  Even the dimples in her hands are gone.  Sob.  Sob.  Sob.

I marched into announce to Fiddledaddy what his second born daughter was outfitted in for a trip to the gym.  His reaction was the same as mine.

Oh dear Lord in heaven.  She’s starting to notice the opposite sex.  The older sister has had to be reigned in with discussions of “boys make very good FRIENDS.”  Two of them under one roof just might send a father right over the edge.  And cause the mother to require medication.

And that reminds me, I need to place that weekly phone call to my father to apologize for the 70’s.

A little while later she reemerged wearing blue flowered capris, an army green t-shirt, and baby blue Tinkerbell fishing cap.

And I kept my fashion opinion to myself.  I’m already mourning the days when my little fairy girl happily left the house bedecked in loud flowery pants, and a striped shirt not even in the ballpark of the same color palette.  Topped with a pink terry cloth Princess hat, 3 sizes too small.

And that black micro-mini-skirt will be cut into hand sized cloths and used to polish the silver.

And by silver, I mean the stainless steel.

So, gentle readers, if you have daughters, how do you encourage them to dress appropriately?


27 Responses to Dressed for Success

  • I’m guessing neither you nor your husband were around in the late 60s. Back then, such a style would scarcely have been noticed. The majority of school-aged girls sported distressingly short styles. After an initial fear that civilization was coming to an end, the ‘look’ was seen to be harmless, wound up being accepted and, as with all fads, eventually went the way of zoot suits and platform shoes.

    • OH, contraire Pierre! I was alive and well in the 60’s. Albeit a mere school girl. Wearing a Catholic school uniform. Measured in length by the Sisters. And believe me, I daily attempted to skirt the issue. As it were.

      The 70’s era was my time for rebellion. What with my 18″ bell bottoms, platform shoes, and skirts which left little to the imagination. Groovy. (Hence the present weekly phone calls to my father.) 🙂


  • To this point, I’ve lucked out on this issue. My 10 year old has gone the opposite way. While her friends are showing off their Uggs and Hollister, my girl has worn running pants and t-shirts (often boys’) almost every school day so far this year. Works for me. She’s not exposing anything and she’s clean. And she does dress up for church (often even a dress) she just feels more comfortable in her “everyday” clothes!

  • I have no advice…came to the comments hoping to hear some from someone else. My soon to be 7 year old and I have similar conversations weekly…at least it’s not daily…yet.

    In our house, the word I use for inappropriate dress is sassy. And I just explain, over and over, that we do not dress in sassy clothes. At this point, she doesn’t argue ‘why’ too much. When she does, I just explain that it’s just not appropriate for her to wear and there’s no reason to discuss it any further. I will say that this is one of many advantages to homeschooling. She’s not constantly faced with the latest and greatest fads while at school…she’s just faced with my rotating sweat pant wardrobe!

  • Sorry, having only boys, I don’t qualify to answer your question.

    On the other hand, if your daughters are dressing to gain the attention of boys, I hear enough.

    My guys DO notice what the gals are wearing (even the little ones), and I’m frequently asked “why” a girl would dress such a way. On the other hand, they appreciate those with modest dress much more. . .

    You know, unless it’s a Victoria Secret’s model (or the SI swimsuit models). . .but I’m not sure those women count as “girls”. I think the boys see them as mythical creatures, like unicorns. . .


  • With two daughters I know of what you speak!

    I took my oldest to a Secret Keeper Girl program. (The youngest is a tomboy and modest clothing is not an issue, I’m happy to get her out of jeans and tshirts and into a dress for church)


    If there is one near you – GO! If there isn’t, get a group together and have them come to you! The program is very livley (loud) and holds the attention of a room full of 8-12 year olds! It’s amazing.

    They talk about modesty and the “why” along with loving yourself. Since the information is NOT coming from mom, it really sinks in. She was 7 when we went the first time. I was concerned that it would be over her head – wasn’t! She got “it”. 🙂

    Now the flip side, the information REALLY sunk in for my daughter. Now I try to dress her in something and she won’t wear it because she doesn’t think it’s modest. 🙂

    The other day, the daddy looked at how she was dressed and commented on the long skirt and how she looked like she belonged in a cult. I rolled my eyes and reminded him that at least she was wearing clothes that covered her body and for that he should be VERY thankful! My point was acknowldged and not a peep has been said since. heeheehee

    Good luck! It’s tough to dress them modestly when so much of what is out there does not reflect modesty. I’ve had to brush off my rusty sewing skills and make my oldest her clothes. She grew so fast that nothing in her size was appropriate! She’s a tall 10 year old and wears a girls 14/16 and my shoes!

    On this Mommy Adventure – It’s all good! Enjoy!

  • Oh, how I remember the “mini” skirts and girl, I wore them,too. When my daughter was a teenager, we battled about her attire. She still wears some things (at 35) that I don’t consider very modest. But I just remember that “This too shall pass.” Hopefully. Especially now that HER daughter is about to be a teenager. 🙂

  • I am teaching my three older sons about what is modest and what is immodest. Once when my husband was putting our two year old daughter in the shopping cart her shirt caught on the back and lifted up exposing a little back skin. My oldest was aghast. “Dad, pull her shirt down, she’s being immodest!” I think the brothers will be the best thing around for our girl to be modest!

  • D,

    I have recently discovered your blog and have laughed my head off in the last few days going through the archives. What a pleasure it is to read your writing! So, though I usually tend to lurk and don’t often comment, I will de-lurk to give my thoughts on this question… Forgive me, it’s become a novel.

    With two girls, 6 & 3, this issue hasn’t come up *too* frequently, but on occasion the older one will want to wear something somewhat inappropriate for her age… But only somewhat (usually something a little to small/short because she’s grown). She’s also aware of boys, but has lost interest, I feel, because of the change in her school situation. Other than her age, I feel that there are several factors which have helped with this:

    1. If it’s too small, it’s gone immediately, unless I just adore it and *have* to save it for her sister. We give to Goodwill a lot. There was one skirt which a little girl (of whom I did not much approve… Although the skirt wasn’t skimpy, just ugly :O) gave to my daughter, and she finally told me that she loved to wear it because it was her “sexy” skirt (I’ll get to the whole sexy thing in a minute). That skirt almost became a burnt sacrifice on the spot. It was gone less than 24 hours later, and thankfully, I haven’t heard a word about it.
    2. I also pick out all of her clothes. She has never come with me on a clothes shopping venture (well, maybe once), and once we have a NUMBER of conversations on modesty and appropriate dress, and she’s about 25, I *might* let her pick out her own clothes. Maybe. I remember me at 15. *Shudder*
    3. I have no idea if you watch TV or not… But… We don’t have cable. In any form or fashion. I LOVE IT. I lived with my grandmother for a while, and in her home the TV is on 16 hours a day. No joke. Living without the TV on, and better yet, without commercials, is like chocolate for my ears. And my girls are more content for it. I rarely get accosted about useless toys any more, and better yet, I control EXACTLY what they watch, which is old Looney Tunes, a few modern cartoons I approve of, and a motley assortment of good, wholesome movies. Or simply ones that I like. :O) This instead of then, when my five-year-old was asking me why she can’t watch shows like Drake & Josh, and why they always talked about their girlfriends… Also there’s not the continual bombardment through advertisement about being “beautiful”…
    4. Besides the TV, here’s the thing I think has made the *most* difference (although this is not something you might be able to do). School. Last year, my daughters both attended, on scholarship, a very posh private preschool and kindergarten. It was a wonderful place that supported and encouraged us as parents, and covered our daughters in love while challenging them to learn. Having said that… My then five-year-old was (and still is) *very* attuned to what her peers think about her and any time that there was an event which required “street clothes” instead of their uniforms, she was often hysterical about looking perfect, everything matching, etc. Also, some of the little boys in the school were apparently “in love” with Hannah Montana because she was “sexy”. These are FIVE-year olds, I’m talking about. So my daughter comes to me telling me that she wants to be sexy, too. I asked her what she thought sexy meant, and she said, “Oh, you know, pretty and skinny and stuff.” At FIVE. It broke my heart to hear that. We have banned the word sexy in our home (at least when the kiddos are around… Which basically means that it’s totally banned. :O), and have had several conversations about what it means to be beautiful. Which we’ll keep having. But anyway, she’s now in first grade in a public school in which 80% of the students are living below the middle class level, and many are living below poverty level. She has a fantastic teacher, though, and I am SO grateful to the Lord for that! There is a huge amount of ethnic diversity among the students (something I prayed for), and many of those in her class are lucky to have clean clothes to wear. There is a “uniform” required, but it’s a very loose standard, and it is obvious that many of these kids are underprivileged. I am thankful for this for many reasons, but namely because she has nearly completely lost interest in looking “perfect” and is just happy to be herself around them. It has also provided an opportunity to talk about kindness and generosity toward others who are different or who have less than we do. We are focusing on how to be loving and thoughtful toward others.

    Perhaps if the only boys your daughters are coming in contact with are the ones they see at church on Sundays and Jensen, you might consider taking them once a week to a community center where you can volunteer, and they can play with boys (and girls) who are (generally) much less focused on outward appearances and are just being kids while they have the opportunity. Perhaps you could also consider inviting a few of the boys whom your daughters are eyeing over for a visit to play, and have a not-so-casual conversation about the nature of FRIENDSHIP. And one more thought before I end this version of War & Peace – think about chatting up the importance of girlfriends and appropriate clothing/friendships with boys at any opportunity that your girls might be listening. If they hear you talking about it a lot, they’ll start thinking about these things, and inevitably, the questions (and opportunities to teach) will come. :O)… Good luck, and God bless!

    • Hi Kristen,

      Thank you first of all for your sweet words!

      “Burnt sacrifice” made me laugh out loud! No, we don’t have cable, so they really don’t have any good sense of what is “in”. Thank the Lord. They really are sheltered. I don’t think they’ve even heard the word “sexy.” 🙂

      I’m pretty sure all this has more to do with Cailey being a free spirit, than a beacon for the opposite sex. But the modest dress issue is a hot topic for me. And I want to instill it in them while they are young!

      Thank you for weighing in!


  • I will second the Secret Keeper Girl. I did the program with my daughter.

    Also Barlow Girls stress modesty, and not dating till God shows you the one in their music.

    I also had rules.

    Shorts/skirts could not be shorter than the measurement of putting her arms down to her sides to the longest finger.

    She also had to do the “bend over test” if she bent over and I could see down her shirt…nope!

    She also had to do the “arm raise” test” if she raises her arms over her head and I see skin…nope.

    As she got older (13-14) I began to counsel her that how girls dress affect boys, and we don’t want to cause a boy to sin.

  • I can only offer advice from my younger self because today I am the mother of all boys. But in todays world the answer would HELL NO, get you butt back in your room and find something that covers said butt! But I would say this in the most sincere encouraging voice!

  • Fortunately, mine “gets it’ now when I say something. Before that, I had to stress that she has to trust me. We also have a few things she just wears around the house- not in the yard, mind you. So she still has the freedom to dress up and play. That helps a lot. She is also used to her very blunt mother.

  • I have a nine-year-old. I go clothes shopping with her and Momma gets the final say on all purchases. (My daughter loves to go to the thrift store too.) Right now she is just happy to get “new” clothing, so I don’t hear much discussion on the matter. However, I am SURE the time will soon come that it will be a battle.

  • Well, I just took my 3 girls shopping for bathing suites and was amazed at the lack of modest options for CHILDREN!

    In the Rocky House, we speak often of the virtue of modesty and often just label things as, “just not modest enough”. The eldest seems to accept that for now. I have to say, it is hard not to sound judgmental of others. But really, what are some parents thinking when they dress their children in skanky clothes!?! OK, now I have to go check my eyes for planks!

    Right now we emphasize that modesty is to honor God. But later we will discuss that it is also to protect them. and even later we will discuss that it is to protect the boys looking at them from stumbling. But right now, I keep it simple.

  • P.S. I just found these books that help…The Lily Series by Nancy Rue. A and I have read one together and it opens tons of discussion.

  • My girls are only 2 and 4- so it hasn’t become a huge problem yet. One thing that I’ve done since they were born is think about what I buy for them-or the hand-me-downs I let them wear. If I don’t want them wearing a bikini when they’re 12 why would I let them wear one now? Same thing with the backless sundresses and things like that.

    We don’t have cable either and some of the things that I think that my girls would enjoy- like Dancing with the Stars- they don’t watch because of the outfits. I don’t want them to think that they need to expose that amount of skin to be beautiful.

    Thanks for opening up the discussion!

  • I am soooo lucky. My girls (14, 13, & 10) are sporty and not at all into fashion. For them, jeans a t-shirt (layered with long tank underneath) are the outfit of choice. Usually with a favorite hoodie over the tee. I think what we wear has a great impact on what choices our girls make in their clothing. One resource I’ve used for teaching them modest dressing are the “12 Modesty Rules” by Dana Gresh.

  • I have low-maintenance girls, 22 and 16. It’s never been an issue. One summer, my oldest was frustrated about not being able to find decent shorts that she wore capris all summer. This was in the middle of high school. I, on, the other hand, was not so modest when I was young. So who can figure? By the way, I gave you cyber slap, all in fun, today at my place. You should have never bragged about your weather. Weather-braggart!

  • My daughters want to be modest, but I can hardly find a pair of jeans NOT cut to short! We’ve had to venture into boys wear to find jeans for my long waisted princess. And shirts! WAY to short, hardly touch the top of her pants, but if I go a size bigger, she’s swimming in them! Poor kid better learn to sew!

  • ok i have all boys so dont really know for sure how i would deal with that issue…but just want someone to tell me
    even the clothes that cover them all up wind up not being super appropriate…
    Diva. Princess, etc…
    my 5 y/o neice even has a set that says JUICY on her butt????
    saw some t shirts for st pat’s day….in the lil girls dept…” rub me for luck”
    good greif…it might me a shirt i would wear for my husband after kids in bed but for an 8 y/o?????
    who the heck decided it was ok to teach all of our kids this stuff? because it does affect our boys too…
    one of them asked me not long ago why a ladies shorts had words on her butt.
    i was taken a bit by surprise and finally whispered in his ear that it was so she would remember to sit down on her hiney cause otherwise she might not find it…..

  • We’ve been talking about modest dress since they were toddlers. We watch tv and comment about the outfits, and talk about what could be added to an outfit to make it more acceptable but still cute. Though they’re not teens yet, it’s working so far. They will come out and say, “Do you think this needs a tank top?” or ” Leggings?” They’ll do the thumb test on their shirts even though there’s not a need yet (closing all five fingers in a tight, flat palm, putting thumb on collar bone. If pinky doesn’t touch the top of the shirt, you need to wear a tank) We’ll see what happens when they get to Jr. High. 🙂

    also, I pray!

  • My DD4 has her own sense of style. But, I have learned the hard way that I have to be SO diligent with getting rid of what is too small and not appropriate for her. She likes to dress herself, and I have to keep the drawers ONLY stocked with what matches and fits. She grows SO much that I buy big (Lands End is my best friend) and she always wears shorts/leggings under her dresses.

    I love your blog so much!

  • My daughter was mostly a tomboy so it wasn’t much of a problem for a long time. When it became a problem, her dad – a police officer – had a talk with her about some of the girls he has had to arrest. She quickly went back to the tomboy look. Yes, I rent him out. Wait till they start to date!! He has turned many a date into a “quick burger and soft drink then home again before you dad kills me.” She now says Thank you but she is 32 years old.

  • We don’t allow any of our icons to show their bellies. That means Mama has to go to work with a marker when it happens to be Ariel that comes out of the quarter machine. It was really fun when DD was three, and always stumbled over the word “in-popiete.” DD tends to gasp and point in public when she sees someone dressed “in-popiete” now, but we are working on that.

  • I have 2 daughters, 6 and 2.5 and as such, they have no say in their clothes! 🙂 The way I see it, I am the parent/grown-up, and the way they dress and the image they give out is my responsibility until they are of an age and maturity that they can make wise choices.

    At present, in agreement with my husband, our girls own dresses, skirts and tops. They don’t have shorts or pants, and tops are modest. They do have spaghetti straps on some of them, but no gathering at the chest area, and we are vigilant about not having words on them that lower their worth or promote bad attitudes or a disrespectful nature. I deliberately buy longer skirts and dresses and steer clear from the short denim stuff. They wear ballet flats and sandals with no heels. (we live in the tropics)

    My husband is becoming increasingly concerned at the clothes that some girls are wearing. He saw a t-shirt the other day on a pre-pubescent girl (that I will not repeat here, it was disgusting) and he was so distressed by it he wanted to shake her parents and ask them what on earth they were thinking. We are concerned that the way some young girls are being dressed as mini adults, and believe it only increases the promiscuity level in our culture. My husband wants our girls to be girls as long as possible without stifling their natural maturation. (Can I say that I am so glad that my husband cares so deeply for our daughters?)

    *ahem* I could go on and on, but I shall spare you. As it is, I’m not sure I stayed on the topic of the question!

  • Well, with an 11-year-old boy who is just starting to notice girls, and a 7-year-old girl who plays with girls in the neighborhood who are a few years older than her, this issue comes up a lot. So we have begun telling our daughter (and her friends, if they happen to be there) that Boys have one private area to keep covered, Girls have two. If you wear things that are too short or reveal too much, you are showing your privates. End of discussion. This is a huge issue, especially with bathing suit season quickly approaching – we have a “no bikinis” rule in our house! And of course, we are the meanest parents in the world… but that’s OK.