I sat in the dentist chair. The hygienist
was young, a natural blond, and cheerful.
Her uniform was cheerful, too. Its pastels,
cartoon characters and orange flowers
seemed to match her personality. While
she clipped the bib around my neck we
shared some small talk. She probably
asked me what I do. And I probably mentioned writing for home educators because our talk hopped onto the subject.
“I attended Catholic school until 8th
grade,” she volunteered. Afterwards
she entered the mega-size high school
in the area.
“How did that go?” I asked. It was the
last thing I could say before I was required
to hold my mouth ajar.
Deftly selecting a metal tool she said,
“My biggest difficulty was trying to decide,
each morning, what to wear.”
“Uh,” I vocalized but could say no
more. But I understood far more than
my “uh,” let on. I surmised that the tran-
sition from her schooldays in uniform to
freedom-of-choice was a sore trial. Why?
How does a girl blend in without
compromising her modesty? Clothes-
choice can be deeply, emotionally trying
to the coming-of-age Christian person.
Peers impose the fashion status quo. Ev-
erything one does in the fish bowl of a
government school is conspicuous.
Nothing escapes notice. Any deviation
from the status quo—especially one that
takes a step toward modesty—can all-
too-easily be made the subject of a joke,
condescension, ridicule or gossip.
In our little homeschool I was able to
keep my children un-self-conscious a
little longer. On second thought, it was
a lot longer than children today. In our
rural church most of their friends were
home educated for high school and had
siblings. Their peers were of mixed ages.
And most of them, thankfully, were
modest inside and out. They were blissfully ignorant of the domineering pull of
immodest fashion in the sub-culture of
the teenage world. 8
I know the circumstance is different
in large metropolitan areas. Eventually,
no matter where we live, the subject of
clothing needs to be addressed. When
it is, I recommend rooting it in ideas on
The writer is still working on modesty.
She seeks to:
• Model modesty
• Make strength and honor her clothing
• Have the courage of her opinion (like
• Look outside of herself to the needs
and feelings of others
• Bloom in beauty of character
Home educators know Karen Andreola by
her groundbreaking book A Charlotte Mason
Companion. Karen taught her three children
through high school—studying with them all
the many wonderful things she missed during her own education. For fourteen years
the Andreola family researched products,
and wrote practical reviews for Christian
Book Distributors. Knitting mittens and
sweaters for her grandchildren, and cross-stitching historic samplers are activities Karen
enjoys in her leisure. For encouraging ideas,
visit her blog: www.motherculture.com.
1. Philippians 4: 12
2. Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children,
3. Matthew 18: 3
4. Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children,
5. Proverbs 31: 25
6. Peter J. Leithart, Miniatures and Morals –
the Christian novels of Jane Austen, Canon
Press, page 182
8. I Timothy 2: 9-10
“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman
and loose enough to show you’re a lady.” —Edith Head