Reader Q | Recommendations for Flirty Yet Modest Summertime Dressing?

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Mamas, when we received the following reader question about modest summertime dressing, I was stumped.  There are many words to describe my style….but modest isn't one of them.  Most of the time my bra is hanging out (even my work shirts tend to be low), my shorts are usually inches away from dangerous territory, and I'm generally confused by the boobs or legs rule and usually end up going with both.  TA DAAAA!

My theory?  Flat shoes make up for a lot of skin.

But I had the best of intentions, Mamas.  I thought about the modest question and was all "oooo, maybe I'll try dressing modestly for ONE WHOLE WEEK!  I'll do a fashion experiment, blah, blah…"  So I busted out some turtlenecks and gypsy skirts and mom capris and then – THANKFULLY – saw an email from Style With Shannon.  Fellow mom-blogger Shannon specializes in modest fashion and was happy to take a crack at our reader's question.  And guess what?  Her style is fabulous, flirty, fun…and modest?  Crazy, I know. 

Reader Question:

I'm an LDS (aka: Mormon) mommy of three little cuties.  Our religion is a strong advocate of modesty (not too high, not too see-through, not too low), in a world that's not-so-modest. Hence my dilemma.  I wholeheartedly support modesty, but my advocacy doesn't make it ANY easier finding cute, stylish mommy gear.  I LOVE your style!  And while most of it I can wear, some things I can't… like super-low (way cute, btw) v-neck shirts.  And yet, I know those shirts are also very flattering to a small chest (another problem of mine)… so what's the compromise?  I hate the look of your basic white t-shirt under a v-neck shirt–it's so lame!  Where I live, that is what we Mormon Mommies are subjected to day in and day out, especially come summer, and it's getting out of control!  Away with the underneath shirts I say!  And while we're at it: Boo to khaki cargo capris!
Help the Mormon Mommies think outside of the box! 🙂
Modestly Frustrated.


Shannon's Answer:

Being a modest dresser myself I can understand how hard it is to find something stylish and covered up in the summer! But I do have a few tips on how to stay cool and look stylish at the same time.

1. Layering

 Ok, living in Utah I know what you are talking about with the white "Shade" shirts that EVERYONE wears under EVERYTHING. Instead, try a collared shirt under a sleeveless dress.


Or try a colorful tee under a blouse of the same color. Sometimes people think it's one shirt.

Shannon wearing TWO shirts



 2. Dresses & Skirts


Dresses and skirts are your best friend in the summer – so easy and breezy. I love how you can look put together and stay cool at the same time. Wear your skirts with a tee and flat sandals for an everyday look.


 3. Tailoring

 I can't count how many times I've looked at a item of clothing and thought "if it was just different in this one spot…it would be modest."  Well.  If you have a great tailor, it can be adjusted for you. I've lowered skirt hemlines, sewn up slits, and added sleeves to countless items of clothing.

4. Modest websites

 There are more and more modest websites added to the web everyday!  A few of my favorites are:

Screen Shot 2012-07-30 at 11.00.44 PM

Clockwise from top:  Mode-styShabby Apple | eShakti 

Modesty is important to many women but it doesn't mean you need to give up style! Just think a little outside the box and you will achieve the look you want! Good Luck!

About Author

Shana founded The Mom Edit in 2008. She lives with the love of her life (his name's Mike) and their two crazy boys in downtown Philadelphia. She loves a good styling challenge (her engineering side shows eventually), appreciates kindness, and usually picks scotch over wine, sneakers over stilettos, and denim-underwear, always.

Shop Shana's Closet


  1. Thank you Shannon! I struggle with the same thing. I want to look good but… The whole DownEast/ Shade thing is getting old.
    Thanks for the great ideas. I’ll be broadening my horizons.
    PS- Utah is awesome!

  2. I have to admit that I’m puzzled by this reader’s question. She uses language like “frustrated”, “I can’t” and “subjected to”.
    To me, Aint No Mom Jeans is about wearing what makes us feel great about ourselves. If someone else’s rules (e.g., an arbitrary definition of modest attire) don’t make us feel fabulous, then the rules are a problem. A big problem.
    I will admit that I am a modest dresser, so I appreciate the outfits presented in Shannon’s response. But let’s be clear about our motivation. I don’t want a website that I love (i.e., this one) to condone oppression in any form, however mild it may seem.

  3. I’m a mostly modest dresser myself, love the examples provided! I live in a Jewish community where the women dress modestly but modern and really chic in a lot of instances. I’ve taken a lot of pointers from them, and I’m not Jewish or religious.

  4. This is great! Because honestly, there’s nothing oppressive about wanting to look good and keep a little something reserved from public viewing. I’m not Mormon, but I wish more women could understand that real modesty is about freedom and has nothing to do with oppression.

  5. I loved this post and the suggestions! I feel that “modestlyfrustrated” may be slightly misunderstood by some readers. If you’re not a Mormon or familiar with the faith I can see how her question seems as if she is oppressed. I think what she was saying that they are “subjected” to seeing the typical undershirt under a tank top everywhere she goes. I do not think that Mormon women are “subjected to” wearing any type of uniform. I think she’s frustrated by the lack of accessible, fashionable options for those of us who CHOOSE to be modest. Thank you for addressing this question ANMJ!! Can’t wait to check out the new websites!!

  6. I definitely appreciate this post! I’ve been living in the Muslim world for the past six years, and although I’m not Muslim myself I try to dress relatively modestly to show respect to our host culture (and, let’s be honest, to avoid attracting lots of really unpleasant attention). I love, love, love ANMJ, but a lot of the looks are just not something I could comfortably wear out of the house here. This post is great for helping me think outside the box!

  7. I appreciate this post. Though I am not religious in any way, I think this speaks also to women who work in most office/professional settings. In my job professional dress is a must (not even jeans on Fridays :-/ I know), and I like the sleeve and layering options featured here. Honestly, I don’t even find them overly modest, just normal!! Also, almost all of these outfits could be adjusted for 3 or 4 season wear. Kudos!!!!

  8. I could weigh in on the whole modesty debate stirring in these commnents, but I’m too distracted by the outfits! How great are they? I love them all. They look classy, distinct and so darn cute (or maybe it’s just Shannon…). I do love a good knee length skirt and that mustard/goldenrod is awesome. Where’s it from?

  9. I really enjoyed this post. I’m not in the slightest bit religious (an atheist, in fact) and am a big fan of sexy, but (whatever it is about my upbringing – maybe being European and middle-class has something to do with it, or maybe it’s just because I come from a cold country!) to me sexy also means things like classy, sophisticated and grown-up, not half-naked. I’m often horrified by American women in their teeny-tiny shorts: I understand that it’s a cultural difference, but it’s still hard sometimes not to think the look trashy and immature. These outfits are gorgeous – and, yeah, I wouldn’t describe them as overly modest, just normal!

  10. I wouldnt describe the pairings as modest but classic. I love them and could easily see myself teacher in all of them.

  11. I love the tailoring suggestion-I have at least half a dozen shirts that I need to take in about an inch at the shoulders so I can wear them in public (because I feel uncomfortable with any cleavage showing and have a lot of it naturally).
    Are cropped jackets and cardigans out of style? I didn’t see any here, but that’s my usual trick instead of an undershirt. (like the green sweater I wore in the outfit I sent you:

  12. Great question! I’m a conservative/traditional Catholic and while I wouldn’t say my style is modest, I’m a layering queen due to being chunky. Although I try my best to buy things that suit me, things shrink, are already too short, show my underwear (why is everything low-rise?!?) or go half-way up my back if I bend over, show too much cleavage (although I look best in v-necks) or too much of my fat upper arms… Hence, lots of little 3/4 sleeve cardis, tanks, lightweight layering tees…but it gets old. VERY OLD.
    I bought a gorgeous dress from Shabby Apple several months ago and it was so inexpensive. Wonderful site suggestion. Not practical for my everyday life, but lovely clothes and I certainly will purchase from them again.

  13. ModestlyFrustrated on

    Thank you Jenny! Yes, I was misunderstood in my Reader Question… I am frustrated with the LACK of stylish-modest options; I do not feel subjected to or suppressed by my religious beliefs, in no way shape or form. I think I even stated I “wholeheartedly support” modesty.
    But these are awesome ideas from Shannon right?! Love them. Thank you Shannon and ANMJ! Great insight! Time to get shopping… 🙂

  14. I’m a Utahn and cannot believe how often I see white tees under summer clothing such as spaghetti strap tank tops and halter dresses. (Yes, halter dresses! Ridiculous!) I hope beyond hope that every white-tee-wearer within a 50-mile radius of me sees this informative post. Bravo!

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