Ask CF: How Can I Dress Modestly and Fashionably?

Modest and fashion-forward can absolutely go together.

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(Editor’s note: We still love the advice from this guide, however we just published an updated guide on how to dress modestly in summer, perfect for the warm weather months! Check that out for more specific summer advice.)

Modest fashion

Welcome to the latest edition of Ask CF! Every two weeks, we select a reader fashion question and answer it here on the site. Do you have a specific fashion question for us? Scroll to the bottom of this post to learn how to send it our way!

Ask CF Question

Dear  CF,

I find it difficult to come up with outfit ideas because I have to keep my entire body covered because of my religious beliefs. Could you guys do an article on modest dressing? I find I always get stuck in the same routine clothes because I can’t wear shorts or short dresses – and I always end up wearing cardigans tops and jeans. It would really help! Thanks!


Covered Up

Our Response

Dear Covered Up,

Thank you for your question! I have received a few questions from readers asking how they can dress without exposing a lot of skin so this question seems like something that would be helpful to address. Luckily, longer hemlines for skirts and dresses have been in style recently, meaning it’s easier than ever to find modest clothing options in stores. And for days when you want to wear pants, there are also many more options to wear up top aside from cardigans. All it takes is a little creativity and experimentation to find what works for you and your lifestyle. Below, I have created a few outfits that can hopefully inspire you. Enjoy!



Outfit #1

ask cf-modest-outfit 1

Product Information: Sweater, Scarf, Pants, Shoes, Earrings

One way to stray from your jeans-and-cardigan routine is to wear a bright pair of pants on the bottom and a sweater up top. I love the idea of wearing these bamboo yellow jeans with a grey pullover. To add some excitement to your look, add on a grey floral scarf like the one above. Simple post earrings and classic grey ballet flats pull the outfit together.

Outfit #2

ask cf-modesty-outfit 3

Product Information: Short sleeve top, Long sleeve top, Pants, Bag, Necklace, Shoes

Another great way to stay covered up without using a cardigan is to layer. Here, I paired this blue-green long sleeved shirt under this swingy navy top. Grey bootcut jeans keep the look classic and simple. Next, silver sneakers provide much-needed support for your feet during a day spent running around. Last, put on this pretty silver necklace and add a pop of yellow with a fun bag. If this clutch style is not appropriate for your day, you can easily switch it out for a larger bag.

Outfit #3

ask cf-modesty-outfit 2

Product Information: Sweater, Necklace, Earrings, Skirt, Bag, Shoes

Another way to keep covered but still look stylish is to wear a maxi skirt. Maxi hemlines have gained popularity over the past few seasons, making them easy to find in stores no matter where you like to shop. I love the look of a pleated navy maxi skirt worn with a striped rugby sweater. A cool necklace like the one above will make you stand out in the crowd. And while many people often wear their maxis with sandals and heels, these options are not so practical for a college student during the fall and winter. Instead, try wearing a pair of navy Converse All-Stars. Lastly, finish the look with some studded post earrings and a simple tote.

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If you have a question you want to see answered in this column, just send it on over via email to askcf @ and one day you might see your question answered right here on the site!

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What do you think?

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? What do you like to wear to stay covered up? Do you like the outfits I picked out? Which one is your favorite? Please let me know by leaving a comment below! 

19 thoughts on “Ask CF: How Can I Dress Modestly and Fashionably?”

  1. This post is awesome for two reasons in my eyes: 1) I live in the UK and we’ve had about 3 days of sun this year, and 2) I like to dress modestly cause I like to leave stuff to the imagination (and I can nicely cover up the body bits I don’t like :P) I’ve been taking some inspiration from Kate Middleton recently, as she’s required to be modest for her role

    I’m glad that it can be fashionable to dress modestly.

  2. For Ask CF I was wondering if you could do a post on alternatives to skinny jeans?…

    How to style boot-cut/flared jeans, or boyfriend jeans? What shoes would you would wear with them and how to look fashionable in them?

    This would be great as I don’t feel comfortable in skinny jeans as I’m a hourglass figure and I’m sure other girls feel the same way I do :S

    Thank-you :] xxx

  3. This is awesome !!!! I mainly get my fashion source from here . Cosidering I’m only 13 and I love the fashion and beauty tips . It also helps because I’m in middle high

  4. Ooh, I’m liking that second outfit. 🙂 And, a post on modest evening dresses would be much appreciated by me as well!

    Mm, to contribute to influences on what women wear (religion or ‘Western’ or otherwise), what we’ve got to realize is: Everything we come across will influence us in some way or another. Everything. Some things are more direct, like a religion dictating what women should and should not wear; other things are more subtle, like Western society’s views (as has been mentioned).

    For example, I dress predominantly in skirts, dresses and shorts–seldom to the knees, though often with tights underneath–but I do not do it to please men. Nor do I wear heels to please men (I just buy ones that are extremely comfortable, haha). They just happen to be what I feel most comfortable wearing. I generally don’t like the feel of pants or long dresses, so I don’t wear them (pj pants and formal and ‘princess’ dresses are exceptions). I haven’t got around to making more knee-length skirts, though I hope I will once my course load dies down a bit. I wear bows in my hair when I want to, curl it when I feel like it, and drool over shoes and bags I find adorable. I am proud to call myself a woman. And I will damn well freak out over an adorable plushie or china doll or pack of stationary (etc.) that I find in a store.

    Am I being influenced by Western society’s views of what is ‘normal’? Yes. Am I being controlled by it? No. I’m being myself. To me, choosing to forsake certain items simply to ‘rebel’ against what are perceived as society’s norms is to be influenced just as negatively as blindly following what are perceived as society’s norms is. We all need to make our own decisions. If that means dressing modestly because you respect your religion’s dress code, props to you; if that means rocking a leather mini skirt and leopard-print spike heels because you feel like it, props to you; if that means wearing jeans and a t-shirt every day because they’re comfy and you don’t want to wear anything else to sit through a full day of lectures, props to you; if . . . well, you can see where I’m going with this. 😉

  5. Woah guys, thank you so much for the feedback! I have read each and every comment & I am so happy that we can all get involved in this discussion together. A few comments:

    As many of you have mentioned, there are so many things you can do to dress modestly. Blazers, maxi-dresses, vintage styles, menswear, etc. are all great suggestions that I considered for this post too but didn’t add in. Looking back I think it would have been good to mention, so I’m so happy that you guys did!

    For those of you who shared blogs: I really enjoyed looking at these! They were great suggestions, so thank you!

    Ali: Definitely not! Tights and cardigans with dresses give you so many opportunities to play with textures, patterns, and layering — something that is definitely not lame!

    Here is the link for the pants. Sorry that it wasn’t correct earlier:

    Again, thank you all so much for your responses! I really enjoy hearing everyone’s thoughts and opinions.

  6. @AnnieK – It’s always hard to know who wears what, my friend is a Pakistani Muslim and she doesn’t wear pants, so I suppose each family tradition is different. I’m Jewish, and although I never used to dress modestly, as I grew older I now only wear skirts that cover my knees and elbows, like the more tradition Orthodox women wear. Getting into dressing modestly really makes a girl feel pretty deep down because, (for me at least) I know guys (and girls!) look at me in a different light when I am covered up, and it is a good feeling.

  7. Thank you so much for this post. As a Muslim who despairs of finding fashionable yet modest clothing I really appreciate the help:) Although I don’t completely cover up I still prefer looser and longer options in outfits.

    You know what drives me crazy though? The total lack of modest evening dresses. I can never find a pretty sleeved/maxi evening gown in the shops. I would really love it if you could post some suggestions. I know others who have the same problem, some of them like me and others because they are self concious about parts of the body and feel that covering them would be more flattering.

    Thank you!

  8. Hi! can you help me get mischa bartons(marissa cooper) look from “The O.C.” i love that show. even though its over i think her style is so amazing! please help me!

  9. Love these outfits and love this post!! These definitely fit my modesty standards! And way cute!! You can always dress fashionably AND modestly at the same time ;D

  10. Thanks CF! I think this post helped more than a few of us. 😉
    I’m Christian and like to dress modestly, not just because of my beliefs, but because I don’t WANT to be objectified by men. I consider myself an old-school feminist in the way that women’s way of dressing shouldn’t be dictated by giving lustful men some eye candy.
    That said, I LOVE these outfits, especially the first one! I agree with the other Leah, could you do a part 2 with more dresses and skirts? Even better, are there some non-maxi skirts that aren’t really short? I can only find them at Goodwill. 🙂

  11. I agree with those above that mentioned Mormon bloggers…I’m not Mormon, I’m Catholic so though we don’t have any explicit requirements, we are encouraged to dress modestly. i especially like and both girls are Mormon and have excellent style. I also find their blogs fascinating from a lifestyle perspective, as both girls married while still in college, so it’s cool to read about their atypical college experiences.

  12. I love these outfits! I especially like the maxi skirt, which I think is a must have and is very fashionable. I really like the colorful jeans too, although I would prefer a pair of coral or red jeans!

  13. Thanks for the post. I’ve always been modest in my clothes and appearance and it has always been tough to find clothes that suite my preferences. My favourite lately has been knit tights, they go really well with skirts. Loose button up shirts with sweaters are also a favourite look for me. Jackets and blazers are also great options. For inspiration I look at styles from the 40’s and 50’s with modern touches for sure. Dressing modest can be a challenge but for me it’s important and a part of who I am.


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