Why Modest Apparel Wins

This morning I got on the bus from New Jersey to Port Authority.  It was crowded, and it was hot.  Luckily I scored a seat right near the front of the bus, but my luck didn’t last long.  Only one stop after mine, a middle-aged man scaled the bus stairs and positioned himself directly over me.  In most situations, I understand that such close proximity is necessary; commuting in and around New York City is never simple or fun, so I generally tolerate whatever comes my way and attribute any unpleasantries to typical urban living.  This particular man, however, was convinced it was kosher to use public transportation while half dressed.  Sporting a completely unbuttoned shirt, his hairy forest of a chest was coated in a glistening sheen of sweat reminiscent of morning dew.  Gross.

A friend of mine moved from Arizona to New York City over a decade ago to “escape the hot summers of the southwest.”  He didn’t do his research very well; New York City, like most northeastern urban centers, is a swamp in the summer months.  The humidity here is enough to drive anyone insane.  No one here can deny that summers in the tri-state area are brutal.  But that does not give anyone the excuse to dress improperly.  Booty shorts, low cut shirts, breathtakingly high slits and unbuttoned shirts are a no-go.  The scantily clad look classless and pose a threat to New York’s reputation as a cosmopolitan fashion capital.  There is nothing attractive about showing too much skin, and although the individuals sporting such clothing (or lack thereof) may claim to be more comfortable, they are making the rest of us LESS comfortable.

Modest clothing is not uncomfortable, and it makes us look classy, not frumpy.  Ladies, choose lightweight cotton tops or dresses with short sleeves or tank tops that cover bra straps.  Leave tights behind and choose skirts, shorts or pants that offer room to breath but still cover more than your bikini would.  In general, an inch or two above the knee is as short as adult professional women should opt to wear both at work or on a day trip.  If you are not athletic (I am not!), take that into consideration; nothing is more unattractive than a display of lumps and bumps.

Wear clothes that fit.  Know your bra size.  I worked at Victoria’s Secret throughout college, and it is incredible how many women do not know their true bra size.  You should not have “four boobs.”  Your bra should fit comfortably and seamlessly under a t-shirt.  Victoria’s Secret offers free measurements, and they are pretty accurate.

Modest is not synonymous with boring either.  Select unique, bold prints and colors and mix and match.  I would never claim my wardrobe is conservative by any means, but that is primarily because of my passion for classy clashing.  Stripes and polka dots DO go well together, and floral patterns compliment solid pieces as well as repetitive prints!  Choose materials and patterns that reflects your personality; I love animals, so I jump for adorable prints exhibiting giraffes, foxes, and especially, cats!

Unless you are at the beach, at home, or at the club, do not wear clothing that you would not wear in the office (or in any formal professional setting).  Grocery store runs are not an excuse for wearing pajamas.  Nor are undergraduate 8 am classes.

Call me old-fashioned, but I take pride is looking my best whenever I’m in public.  It’s what classy ladies do!


The heat is not an excuse to dress sloppily!  Teachers on a coffee break in Los Angeles in July.  Note my long-sleeved shirt (right)!  If I can do it, you can too!