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Standards in Modest Dress

[St. Maria Goretti (1890-1902)
Portrait by Mr. D. Brovelli]

"A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper."

The Cardinal Vicar of Pope Pius XI

Mary-like Standards for Our Lady's Martyrs of Purity Crusade members.

1. Looking to Mary as our guide and model, her dresses in all approved apparitions fully cover her from head to wrists to feet. Should we accept any less for ourselves? Ask yourself - have you ever seen the Blessed Mother portrayed in anything less than this? Have you ever seen her in any of her approved apparitions with even her head uncovered? Could you imagine her in any of the fashions of today even seemingly simple loose fitting PANTS? We should therefore follow her example and not follow any of the worldly fashions.

2. Mary-like dresses have sleeves that extend at least to the elbows, which excludes sleeveless dresses, tops, short sleeves or cap sleeves. (Note: Quarter length sleeves are tolerated, with Ecclesiastical Approval, for the time being until Christian womanhood again turns to Mary as the model for modesty in dress.)

3. Skirts and dresses, following the direction of Blessed Padre Pio, should extend at least 8" (eight inches) below the knee. This would exclude anything shorter than that, such as mini or micro skirts. They are also to be full enough to conceal the figure of the wearer and not reveal. Just because it is a dress, does not mean that it is modest. If the dress is to narrow or has a dropped waist, or is designed in such a way as to emphasize unduly parts of the body, they would be considered immodest and not appropriate for wear. Flesh colored fabrics, giving the example from a distance of 'flesh' are improper at all times.

4. Dresses should fuly cover the chest, back, shoulders and the neckline should not exceed two inches below the pit of the throat, nape of the neck or sides. They should not admit as modest transparent fabrics, laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc unless sufficient backing is added. They may be used as trimmings. This would also eliminate tight sweaters and blouses or other shirts.

5. This list would also exclude pants, slacks, culottes, jeans, shorts and such, as they have been proven to be men's attire, and harmfull for women and society at large, and against God's command in Deut. 22:5. Most unbecoming is also sloppy-looking clothing such as jogging pants and oversized t-shirts and such, for both women and men.

6. Swimwear for women must at all costs be modest. The soul of another could be at stake! Due to the impure society in which we live, all public pools should not be used at all. Prefer instead to have your own swimming pool or swim at another Catholic family's pool. Even in the these conditions, modesty must be kept in check. Unfortunately, women will not find any appropriate swimwear in any store in any Western country. Some substitutes are biking shorts over which a skirt is placed extending to knee level. A loose top is added. Otherwise, one could simply wear a dark t-shirt and long shorts as a substitute. One could also do as I have personally done, simply discontinue swimming as a penance for the immodesty of others.

7. For Men: Loose fitting, long pants or sufficiently long shorts that come at least to the knee. Long sleeves and pants for Church attire. This excludes all tight clothing, especially immodest swimwear, tight exercise clothing, or topless dressing in public.

SUMMARY: Our children need to be taught from the youngest age the importance of proper attire that is modest, that is becoming and feminine for women. These guidelines are designed to instill a sense of modesty in both boys and girls, and restore a sense of femininity in girls and women. Be sure to always sew or purchase clothing that matches these guidelines and you will not be an occasion of sin or source of embarrassment to yourself or others.

Adapted from The Mary-like Crusade by Fr. Kunkel (1944-1969)


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