Modest Apparel

Genevieve Ang
Business woman wearing modest clothes

Women's modest clothing isn't limited to black and shapeless items, but it can be a challenge to find pieces that fit fairly well without being too revealing. However, retailers in recent years have started offering non-revealing apparel options that are both fashionable and affordable.

Different Standards

Because modest apparel is ultimately a personal decision, either made for style or religious reasons, the term "modest" covers a wide gamut of standards. In general, modest clothing:

  • Is not revealing
    • No low cut tops
    • No sleeveless blouses
    • Skirts are knee-length or longer
  • Is not skintight

Eight Places to Purchase Modest Attire

There's been a steady rise in retailers geared specifically for the women who prefer to dress conservatively. They offer pieces that incorporate the latest trends, like Aztec patterns and polka dots, while maintaining modest standards.

1. Jen Clothing

For modest clothing that does not scrimp on style, Jen Clothing is for you. Their range of dresses is perfect for the fashion-forward woman, and the site even features retro-inspired swimwear styles that are extremely affordable. They offer free shipping on orders above $100.

  • Perfect for evening engagements, their Jasmine Chiffon dress in slate gray costs around $65 and is available in sizes XS-L. A nod to retro glamour it features cap sleaves and a layered chiffon skirt that flows as you walk. Embellished with a cute satin bow at the waist, this dress would look good on any body type, and can be paired with black, blue or white pumps and a matching clutch for a night out or even weddings.
  • For the beach, the one-piece halter striped swimsuit costs around $35 and is available in XS-XL.

2. Shabby Apple

Shabby Apple offers modest clothing with a retro flair that never feels dated, including a nice selection of work dresses. Their website features an extensive "style tools" section that gives great tips on finding the perfect fit for your body type as well as styling advice for popular pieces. They offer free expedited shipping over $150 in the US.

  • The Celest Skirt, $64 and available in sizes 0-12, is a fun every day staple for running errands in and perfect for all seasons of the year. The a-line shape makes it suitable for women of all body types and especially the apple-shaped ladies. It comes in a variety of colors for ultimate versatility.
  • With an accentuating shape, the Ali Wrap Dress, $76, is available in sizes 0-16, is a modest, and sassy, addition to any closet. It can be paired with a variety of shoes and pures for a look that's totally put together for an evening out or a day in the office.

3. Dainty Jewell's

Ladies who love ruffles, frills, and all things girly, Dainty Jewell's is for you! Offering clothing with a distinctive Victorian flair, this e-commerce store is perfect for special occasion apparel that is not overly-revealing. Shipping cost is dependent on weight and order processing takes 4-10 days.

  • Talk about a dramatic look! The Claire dress retails for under $97 and is available in sizes S-XXXL. It also comes in your choice of midi or maxi length. It is a beautiful dress with a flair for the dramatic with embellished hems. This dress would work great for a daytime wedding.
  • The original Dainty Jewels layering top, $30 and available in sizes S-XXXL, is an explosion of femininity and practicality. It comes in a variety of colors so it can be your staple shirt in your wardrobe. As the name suggests, its versatile for layering your look as well.

4. Mika Rose

The tagline for Mika Rose is "reinventing modesty," and that definitely rings true in the trendy, yet conservative, pieces that they offer. They interpret seasonal trends with an eye towards the modern woman, and the result is a collection of clothing that any woman would be happy to include in her closet. Shipping costs are dependent on weight.

  • The Kennedy dress, $60 and available in sizes S-XXL, and in colors navy, blush or blue, is the very picture of elegance, working well for both the workplace and dressed up for a night out. It is best worn with a pair of nude pumps.
  • The Ella dress, $55 and available in sizes S-XXL, is the perfect Spring dress, incorporating florals and a feminine look. This look would be appropriate for both the office and a girls' brunch.

5. Kosher Casual

Despite the name, Kosher Casual provides basic modest apparel options for all women. They offer a full range of skirts, including pencil skirts and workout pants that are not overly-revealing. Shipping fees are dependent on weight.

  • Their sports skirt, $45 and available in XS-XL, is a perfect alternative to the short skirts offered by traditional sports retailers for playing tennis or golf. It even contains UV protection for outdoor wearing.
  • Perfect for work, their pencil skirt, $22 and available in sizes XS-XL, is made from a heavier, stretchy and durable fabric that is cut to fit women of all body types.

6. ASOS

ASOS.com has an extensive range of midi- and maxi-length skirts perfect for a conservative wardrobe. Coming in a range of prints, colors, and length, this is an affordable option for women who like to keep up with the latest styles. They offer free shipping and free returns.

  • This Midi Skirt with Tie Side, around $32 and available in sizes 4-18, is a versatile addition to any woman's closet. The neutral color makes it appropriate for both colder and warmer months, and it can be paired with a variety of lighter colored tops.
  • For a night out, this premium full midi skirt, $35 and available in sizes 4-18, is a beautiful skirt, especially for the colder months. The dark color pairs well with a bright and colorful top, and the structured flare brings some drama to an otherwise plain skirt.

7. Uniqlo

An Asian favorite, Uniqlo provides comfortable, basic options that are extremely affordable and will form the basic building blocks of any modest woman's closet. They offer long-sleeved cotton t-shirts that are made from high-quality cotton for under $20, and a nice selection of casual pant styles. This retailer is especially great for petite and smaller women. They only have a few stores in the US, mostly in the New York tri-state area and the San Francisco Bay Area, though online shopping is available. Free shipping is available on orders above $100.

  • Their long-sleeved cotton t-shirts are made from high-quality cotton that does not shrink in the wash. They are also great value-for-money, coming in at under $20. These t-shirts are available in XS-XXL.
  • Their extra-fine merino wool sweaters are also a great deal at around $30 and are available in XS-XXL. Incredibly soft and made from extra fine merino woold, it is a flattering sweater on any woman.

8. J.Crew

J.Crew has a wide range of buttoned-up shirts and modest skirts - in virtually any color, pattern, and print that one can imagine - that are perfect for working women. They have a generous online return policy, as well as a range of retail locations nationwide. They offer a flat rate shipping of $5 and free shipping for orders above $150.

  • J.Crew's pencil skirts, $128-$300 and available in sizes 00-16, are classic, beautiful, and made from lovely fabrics. They are perfect for the working wardrobe.
  • Their popover shirts, $78 and available in sizes 0-12, are remade in different fabrics every season. They are perennial favorites and go well with jeans, pencil skirts, and even shorts for the summer.

Dressing Modestly

While there is no textbook definition of what constitutes modest clothing, most individuals would agree that if one could sit, cross their legs, bend over, or stretch their arms overhead in an outfit without baring an immodest amount of skin, the item would be consider modest. Quite simply, these garments keep you covered with no unsightly gaps no matter how active you are. While they are not skintight or overly revealing, they are also not shapeless and unattractive.

Clothing manufacturers that specialize in such garments use techniques like sewing a bodysuit or fabric under-layer beneath tops, or shorts under skirts and skorts, to provide an additional level of modesty and cover the midsection. The design details prevent the fabric from billowing or ballooning, and skirt lengths fall over the knees.

Some individuals need modest clothing to comply with the guidelines of their particular religion, such as those of the LDS church. Clothing manufacturers who cater to this market produce attire that covers the shoulders, back, and chest, with hemlines that fall to the knee or longer.

Many private schools have dress code requirements that call for students to wear attire that is designed to keep from exposing the body if a shirt rides up. However, no matter why one chooses to wear modest attire, it is important to know where to buy such garments.

skorts and culottes provide a functional alternative for those who prefer not to wear slacks or shorts; these items are similar in style and fit to gaucho pants or knee length shorts. Swimwear items range from swim jumpers to swim tights to swim shirts, and are perfect choices for individuals who feel that a swimsuit is just too revealing.

Personal Preference

Varying standards and preferences mean that the definition of "modest" is a flexible one. Modest clothing can be just as exciting to shop for as other styles, and can be found at a wide variety of retailers. One can always pick and choose according to personal taste.

Modest Apparel