About

Rightly or wrongly, the way we are dressed is often one of the first things that others notice about us. As such, clothing plays an important role in building group and individual identities. This is true with religious identities as well. But the function of clothing in religion is not just an external one, but more importantly a means of cultivating an inner attitude. Generally speaking, religions advocate attitudes of modesty and humility, which can be cultivated inwardly in conjunction with their outward expression of simple clothing. In this way, we come to learn not to attach too much importance to material goods. We should not rely on flashy clothing to make us feel good or to garner respect from others; rather, it is our intentions and our actions which determine who we are as people.

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Quotations

The New Testament
Christian scripture
Christianity

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.”

C.S. Lewis
Christian theologian and writer
Christianity

“Thus, while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians at all times, the rule of propriety changes. A girl in the Pacific islands wearing hardly any clothes and a Victorian lady completely covered in clothes might both be equally ‘modest,’ proper, or decent, according to the standards of their own societies: and both, for all we could tell by their dress, might be equally chaste (or equally unchaste).”

The Qur'an
Islamic scripture
Islam

“[Prophet],tell believing men to lower their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do. And tell believing women that they should lower their glances, guard their private parts, and not display their charms beyond what [it is acceptable] to reveal.”

Saba Mahmood
Anthropologist
Islam

“A majority of the participants in the mosque movement (and the larger piety movement of which the mosque movement is an integral part) argue that the veil is a necessary component of the virtue of modesty because the veil both expresses ‘true modesty’ and is the means through which the virtue of modesty is both created and expressed. In contrast to this understanding is a position(associated with prominent secularist writers) that argues that the virtue of modesty is no different than any other human attribute—such as moderation or humility: it is a facet of character but does not commit one to any particular expressive repertoire such as donning the veil."

Sefer Ha-Aggadah
Collection of Jewish writings
Judaism

“In my town, my name's my fame; elsewhere, it's what I wear.”

The Hebrew Bible
Jewish scripture
Judaism

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves."

Shoghi Effendi
Baha'i leader
Baha'i

“Regarding Bahá’í women using facial make-up: individuals are entirely free to do as they please in such purely personal matters. As Bahá’ís are enjoined to use moderation in all things, and to seek the Golden mean, the National Spiritual Assembly can, if it deems it necessary or advisable, counsel the believers to use moderation in this respect also.”

Lieh Tzu
Daoist sage
Daoism

“In the southern kingdoms, people wear their hair short and go naked. In the northern kingdoms, people wrap turbans around their heads and wear furs. In the central lands, they wear hats and skirts. People of the middle kingdom know how to make the best use of the resources from the land. There are farmers, traders, hunters, and fishermen. Therefore, the people of the central lands are well fed and well clothed. In winter they have furs to keep them warm and in summer they wear cotton to keep themselves cool. They travel by boats and cars, and they do not need to exert a lot of effort to get what they want."

Mahatma Gandhi
Acknowledged by Indians as Father of the Nation
Hinduism

“I wear the national dress because it is the most natural and the most becoming for an Indian.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Baha'i leader
Baha'i

“We are not the judge of fashions. We rather judge the wearer of dresses. If she be chaste, if she be cultured, if she be characterized with heavenly morality, and if she be favored at the Threshold of God, she is honored and respected by us, no matter what manner of dress she wears. We have nothing to do with the ever-changing world of modes."

The Dhammapada
Buddhist scripture
Buddhism

“If a man’s thoughts are muddy, If he is reckless and full of deceit, How can he wear the yellow robe? Whoever is master of his own nature, Bright, clear and true, He may indeed wear the yellow robe.”

Chuang Tzu
Daoist sage
Daoism

“I have learned that those learned ones who wear round caps on their heads, know the seasons of Heaven; those who wear square shoes know the shape of the Earth; those who tie semicircular disks to their belts deal perfectly with all that comes before them. But a nobleman can follow the Tao without having to dress the part. Indeed, he might wear the dress but not understand the Tao at all!”

The Analects
Confucian Text
Confucianism

“There is no point in seeking the views of a Gentleman who, though he sets his heart on the Way, is ashamed of poor food and poor clothes.”  (4:9)

The New Testament
Christian scripture
Christianity

"I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes."

The Hebrew Bible
Jewish scripture
Judaism

“Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear.”  (Deuteronomy 22:12)

The Analects
Confucian Text
Confucianism

“[Confucius] wore coarse clothes while sparing no splendor in his robes and caps on sacrificial conditions.”  (8:21)