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The Ultimate Catholic Modesty Conundrum


A Letter from A Reader and My Response - Extreme Cover Ups - Swimwear Resources


Related Pages:  Modest Clothing for Catholics - Veils and Mantillas - Aprons: Garment of the Domestic Vocation

I get a lot of mail every single day.

The majority is positive. Some readers offer welcome constructive criticism.  The most controversial topic on this entire website seems to be swimsuits. I even received a series of lengthy emails from a small home-based seed company that wanted to be featured here and then decided not to because of the swimsuits!

Here's an example:

Dear Catholic Home and Garden, 

I stumbled upon your website, and am most interested in modesty in dress, but...  these swimsuits you advertise as modest are not. 

Please look into Meant to Be Modest or Wholesome Wear for truly modest swimwear.  Not all their ready-made is long enough for the legs or arms, but these can be altered to accommodate the modest buyer.

I would also like to politely take issue with the skirts that just hit the knee and the short-sleeves and V-necks on the tops.  I didn't see Church rules for modesty right away, and since we're talking about raising the bar on modesty (and the pendulum has swung oh, so far), ladies should consider

St. Padre Pio's rules for skirt and dress lengths:  8" below the knee.  That's 8" below the bottom of the kneecap.  He lived in our times and women followed his rules -- if they wanted to receive his advice or absolution. 

Wouldn't we do the same -- to save our souls and see God?

Thank you for your kind consideration!

In Maria,


Dear C.M., 

Thank you for writing. I wanted to take my time in replying to you in order to provide a complete and thoughtful response. 

First, regarding the swimsuits.  We live in a beach community and there is a very active culture of swimming and lifeguard activity here.  Perhaps by St. Pio’s standards the swim suits on my website not modest, but let me assure you that by the standards of what one sees on beaches, they are extremely modest. I am familiar with the sites you mentioned, but must say that individuals dressed in this manner would not be permitted into the waters in our ocean or into the pools simply due to safety concerns. In a nutshell, they would drown.  Perhaps they would be best suited for use as wading garments in calm ponds or streams, but then, why bother to use a suit at all? You could simply wade in your dress and save money.

There is another issue.  If one does choose to go to a public beach dressed in this manner, you would still be exposed to the multitude of others who are dressed in a most indecent manner.  Unless one has a very firm grip in the area of custody of the eyes, it is best not to go to these beaches at all. 

Regarding the length of dress, I agree and have provided many links to long dresses that reach to the ankle.  Again, there is another consideration.  Many women work outside the home, as teachers, as nurses, in offices and in shops.  This is a necessity, as much as many might prefer otherwise. It is a fact of life in these modern days borne of necessity.  Wearing floor length or 8” below the knee skirts and dresses simply is not acceptable in many of these settings. That is not to say that one cannot wear an attractive if slightly shorter than floor length dress and still maintain modesty. A great deal of modesty is found in the wearer and not the garment.

Wearing a dress that covers most of the arm – at least to the elbow in many traditional circles – and that does not plunge too low is acceptable to most traditional Catholics.  One can always add a scarf, a shawl, or a cardigan for extra cover up.  A dress that comes at least to the middle of the knee is acceptable as well for office wear although I know many teachers and others who do wear longer skirts with no problem. 

The tide is changing for many back to a more modest garb, but the truth is, these are very difficult items to find.  There is a sensible common ground between dressing like a pilgrim and dressing in an indecent manner, and the resources to do that is what I have attempted to provide. 

God bless,


I know I'm probably going to regret this, but what do you think?  Email me

Extreme Cover Ups
To each his or her own

Here they are

Personally, I think two of these swimsuit styles are dangerous for ocean swimming. But I recognize that most of the country doesn't live on the ocean. Maybe they're good for a quiet little pond.

While it is just my opinion, they look just plain weird.

At least the Burquini looks like a streamlined wet suit

But if this is what you are looking for you'll find the web addresses at the bottom of my descriptions.

For the rest of us, I've provided modern swimsuit links below.

And that's the end of the swimsuit discussion please

Wholesome Wear

This company offers swimwear with pants that are securely zippered together for a "stylish modest look". They come in three styles: culottes, swim dress and a slimming swim dress (which I think looks like grandma's house coat). They come with options that expose or cover the arms and legs (below the knee, that is). Color options for the outer sack are   blue or black. No racy prints. They are expensive. A child's suit is $62, girls' sizes $71 and women's sizes range from $80 to $98 for plus size. www.wholesomewear.com

Meant to Be Modest

Swim dresses with "double layered bodice for optimum modesty".  Leggings are separate so you don't need to "peel off the entire wet suit to use the restroom".  A bit more form fitting than the one at the left and at least they come in attractive floral prints.  Again, these are pricey - but that can't be avoided  with smaller home-based businesses. A girl's size 2T is $40 and prices go up to $70 for women's plus sizes. Add long sleeves and ankle length leggings for $3-$7 for each feature. www.meanttobemodest.com

The Burquini from Alsharifa

10% Discount at Alsharifa.com

This site caters to Islamic women but the representative tells me that the suits are very popular with Mormons and those who are concerned about skin cancer. Their suits are water repellent and have a more streamlined design much like a wetsuit. Much safer for swimming in ocean waters. Comes with a built in hood and several style options.

Modest Swimwear


Swimsuits for All has lovely choices for everyone larger than Size 8 also Mastectomy Suits


Belle20 for 20% Off Ends 4/30

$5 Gift Certificate Use 5gift

Free Ground Shipping

Use FreeGroundShip or ShipFree These end in April

Longitude with Free Sarong

Flower Power Halter Skirtini


Two Piece Skirtini



Bealls Offers many sales throughout the year.

Use Coupon Code Extra 10 for 10% off $50 or Extra20 for 20% off $60. Ends April 24

Check Back for More Coupons


Skirtini Swimwear Bottom

Double Delight Swim Dress


Zebra Empire Swim Dress


Plus Size Swimwear

Always for Me has a variety of plus size swim suits. If some of the necklines plunge too much consider tacking them closed a bit

Folkloric Drawstring Swimdress

Delta Burke Swimdress

Maui Tunic Cover Up

Shop Fashion Specialists!

Fashion Specialists offers steep discounts and lots of specials

Click Here To See Them

T.H.E. Swimwear Empire-Waist Swimdress

Vented Tankini Top

Nikki Wior Dot Swimdress

Old Pueblo Trading Old Pueblo Traders Free Shipping

10% Off Your Order

Floral Print Swim Dress .

Empire Waist Swim Dress

Two Piece Skirtini

$1.99 Flat Rate Shipping on ALL Orders

Blair has a lot of affordable clothing, but the nice part is the $1.99 shipping!

Surplice Skirt Swimsuit


Lots of Tankini tops and skirts

Many new patterns

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