Are Catholic Women Allowed to Dress Sexy?

Question: Are Catholic Women Allowed to Dress Sexy? Someone once told me that it was being immodest to do so and that this was sinful behavior.

Answer: As in most things, the answer depends on the object of your intentions. Are you dressing sexy in the hope of attracting someone with whom you want to have sex that night? Is your clothing too revealing to the point where it is clearly a “sexual overload for anyone who you hope to catch their eye (revealing way too much and leaving nothing to the imagination)?

Some would give the excuse that they should be able to dress however they want and that it’s another’s problem if they receive their outfit in a sexual manner. Granted, for some, even a nice pair of fitted jeans might be too alluring while for others it would have no effect. I think there is a line that goes to the heart of clearly revealing too much skin or simply dressing in a manner to send signals of sexual openness.

Sometimes even the rules on dressing sexy are made by people who only have sex in mind. For example, look at the “theme parties” that happen on Campus where men invite women to dress in sexy outfits based on a theme while they look powerful and in control–or where (rarer) women ask men to show up shirtless or in speedos to a party.

Lastly, do we wish people to see us only as sexual objects or do we hope to attract someone who will be attracted to all of us? If the latter (as I would expect), then our manner of dress should have no bearing on whether someone else considers us a good long term partner or not. A man might look sexy in a nice pinstriped suit and a woman even sexy in a sweatshirt in jeans for that matter when the object of their affections look at them with love for all that they are.

Modesty is a virtue and it has the power to “leave something to the imagination” for those who we date or are looking to date. We reveal ourselves emotionally over time and hope others will see us as an object of desire for who we are and not merely for our sexuality. We reserve sex as Catholics for marriage so we don’t get into bed with people who don’t accept us for all that we are and have made a loving commitment to us as people and not as objects of mere sexual desire. In doing so, we might offer bodies to them intimately in a completely open way–one that doesn’t hold anything back and has the power to transmit life in that loving commitment.

Bottom line: Think before you dress and ask the obvious…am I revealing too much of a signal with this outfit before I’ve even revealed my inner persona to another?

Mike Hayes

Mike Hayes

Mike co-founded in 2001. Currently, Mike is the director of campus ministry at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. A frequent speaker on ministering to young adults, Mike is the author of "Googling God: The Religious Landscape of People in Their 20s and 30s" and "Loving Work: A Spiritual Guide to Finding the Work We Love and Bringing Love to the Work We Do."