Biblical Reasoning Behind Wearing Skirts and Dresses

About one year ago I shared about why my family chooses to wear skirts and dresses almost exclusively.  Those reasons were pretty much cultural, and not at all Biblically based.  However, much like my sudden understanding of head covering, I feel like the Lord revealed something to me this past weekend which is a Biblical case for wearing skirts!  Now, I totally understand that many will not see things the way that I do.  That’s okay.  Although I mostly wear skirts, I do not only wear skirts at this point in my life.   One reason that I believe that I am so intrigued by this topic is because I came from a church background in which immodest dress was considered normal and good.  Those who do not share the same background as I most likely will not be as convicted about modest dress as I am.   I’m truly just here to share my heart, and maybe the Lord will speak to you about this topic through my few meager words.

Basically, one day last week I was reading through several of the shorter epistles in the New Testament.  I had just finished up, and then felt lead to take a look at 1 Timothy.  As I read verses 2:9-10 I was reminded of why modesty is so important.

In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 (NKJV)

For some reason, I felt lead to look further into the word “apparel” which is used in these verses.  I’ve read this chapter many times before, and truly never felt any reason to look further into this.

So, I looked into the Greek wording.  Personally, I believe that the original Biblical manuscripts are inspired and infallible, but sometimes the English versions might not get each and every text exactly right, due to the fallibility of the men doing the translating.

The Greek word which was translated to “apparel” or in some versions “clothing” here is katastoleKatastole is only used once in the entire Bible.  There are many other Greek words that can be used for apparel, such as esthes, esthesis, himation, and himatismos. (Credit)  Katastole is a feminine noun.  “Kata” means “a lowering, letting down.”  “Stole” in and of itself is not necessarily feminine, and is “a loose outer garment.”

This is a more detailed description:

“According to Thayer’s Lexicon, the Greek word translated “apparel” in I Timothy 2:9 (katastolē) means “a garment let down, dress, attire”. The Greek word for apparel in this text is Katastole, meaning a long dress. Kata meaning down – a garment flowing down; and Stole – a long garment, covering or wrapping. It should be noted that Thayer’s Lexicon describes the Greek term stole in this way: “a loose outer garment for men which extended to the feet”, and it is found in such passages as Mark 12:38 and Luke 20:46 where it is translated as “long clothing or long robes”. But in I Timothy 2:9 women are commanded to adorn themselves in modest katastole, which seems to emphasize that women’s legs and even feet should be covered by loose forming apparel. When women here are commanded to wear modest katastole, the term katastoleis not just a more general term for clothing, apparel, or array like the Greek term himatismos, which is translated “array” at the end of I Timothy 2:9 and apparel in Acts 20:33. The Greek word for modest is Kosmios, meaning orderly, well-arranged, decent, modest, harmonious arrangement, or adornment. Modesty is also Biblically applied to one’s demeanor or behavior. This same Greek word is translated good behavior in 1 Timothy 3:2 in the qualifications of bishops. Therefore, women are instructed to wear modest long dresses (Kosmios Katastole). Thus this Kosmios Katastole not only specifies that the article of clothing should be a dress, but also specifies that the dress should be of a suitably long length. And I Timothy 2:9 teaches that this dress is to be characterized by “shamefacedness” and “sobriety”.


Sometimes, we dismiss Biblical teachings as strictly cultural.  For example, we can look at many of the times that the word “apparel” is used in the Bible and say, that’s what people used to wear, and it no longer applies to us.  When we read of what Bible characters were wearing, this can be true.  But the verses in 1 Timothy are written in more of a “command” or instructional form.  In fact, in 2 Timothy it is written that:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Ladies, I truly believe that this is something that we should at least consider as we seek to be obedient to The Lord.  If you are interested in more information about this topic, please feel free to watch the youtube video that I posted below.  May He bless you richly!

*I have recently moved web addresses, and some links are likely broken. Thank you for grace as I work on updating the new blog, Redeeming Home.



20 thoughts on “Biblical Reasoning Behind Wearing Skirts and Dresses

  1. Trisha says:

    Very interesting, Nicole! I have heard that too. I have read a book called “Biblical Apparel” by Ignacio Palacios that delves into the original Hebrew and Greek regarding modesty and apparel. I think you would enjoy it if you can find it anywhere.

  2. Sweet-Water-and-Bitter says:

    Nicole, one of my favorite books on this topic is “Your Clothes Say It For You” by Elizabeth Rice Handford. She comes across as such a kind, humble lady, that you can just imagine her sitting across your kitchen table with a cup of coffee, sharing what she knows as an older woman. (She also wrote Me? Obey Him?) These can be found at Sword of the Lord publishing ( I promise I don’t work for them, I just enjoy a lot of books they publish!

  3. Susannah says:

    This is such a great topic for women who desire to follow the Lord to dig into. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into digging into the Word. I believe that those verses are so valuable but not necessarily in the way that they are to be taken as the literal garment we, as women, are to wear. Instead, we are to dress modestly, not drawing inappropriate glances to ourselves. I wear shorter (NOT short!) dresses/skirts, pants, shorts, etc but I am constantly asking my husband and friends if what I am wearing is appropriate and I also think about why I am wearing certain items of clothing. If it’s to draw male eyes then I don’t wear it! I think that is the heart of the verse… But I could get to heaven and find out I’m wrong and I’m ok with that. 🙂 Thanks for linking up this thought provoking blog post to the Faith and Fellowship blog hop!

  4. JES the Pilgrim says:

    Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. This is an interesting interpretation of the word apparel. One more reason to keep wearing skirts in our home too 🙂

  5. rmclellan1949 says:

    I have been a skirt wearer for almost 50 years and I have never had to curtail my activities because of it. I fell girly and feminine when in a skirt and just love it. Thanks for sharing this !!!

  6. Lydia Borengasser says:

    Interesting thoughts. I intend to write an article on this subject this summer. I may come back to give you the link once it’s up. 🙂 I must say, I’ve never heard that description of the Greek word and am a bit skeptical of the interpretation. My question is, why did MEN in Bible days wear “long robes”? Were they wrong to do so? Or should they still be wearing “long robes”/skirts today? Is it not just a cultural description then, since both men and women wore “long robes” in that day?

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks for stopping by! Personally, since this verse is a New Testament instruction for women, and not just a description of what someone (either man or women) was wearing, I believe it is relevant today. I personally believe that since men were not given a specific New Testament instruction on this, they do not have an obligation to wear long robes today. 🙂

  7. Jessica Roldan says:

    Hi, Nicole!

    I am currently reading your book, Meant to be Modest, and am enjoying it greatly! You know, I hadn’t really thought much before about the issue of the Greek meaning of “apparel,” but your comments have gotten me thinking . . .

    Just one quick side note: some of the links in the book don’t work. The ones that supposedly go to your older blog, Children are a Blessing, go instead to some site about painting companies. I don’t know if it’s even possible to fix that by now, but I just wanted to let you know. 🙂

    Thank you for taking the time to write these important and helpful things for us! You have been an encouragement to me in so many ways!

  8. Kj says:

    I have studied this in-depth . You brought up a very good point that some thinks everything is cultural and those times . And in this case I do believe that to be the case , the reason being if it’s not cultural , then we have to consider this ! Men wore chitons about knee length in Paul’s day . So if we are going to say it’s not cultural for the women’s dress, same for a man . But how many women here including yourself would want your husbands to wear what Paul wore ? Not many I don’t think if any . Also , should we as women throw out wearing high heels since they were originally a mans clothing ?
    Yes I do believe we should dress modesty . No dresses above mid calf , no low cut blouses , no tight jeans or shorts . But , to say only dresses , I respectfully disagree considering in biblical
    Times all wore the same thing except women’s we’re long robes or chitons and men’s were usually to
    The knees . I have researched this thoroughly. And I do believe this is a lot culture . Men don’t wear chitons in our culture but if we hold women to the culture of that time and not men we are cherry picking scripture and choosing what we want and don’t want . Modesty is a must for men and women both . But we want to be very careful and not bring burdens either . I’ve seen long dresses just as immodest as a pair of pants .
    I truly believe this is a personal conviction. And if one is truly convicted of pants I strongly urge don’t wear them ! Be obedient to the Holy Spirit always without hesitation.
    Ty for the article is was interesting reading God bless you and keep posting

    • Nicole says:

      Thank you for your thoughts! I don’t believe my reasoning is cultural, but Biblical, in that Paul specifically instructs women to wear katastole (long, loose, clothing) in Scripture, but not men. To me, that is where the distinction lies. Thank you for stopping by!

  9. John says:

    For men please look at “girding up the loins.” It was something men did but not women. God even told Job to “gird up your loins like a man”, not like a woman. The way a man girded his loins was by reaching between the legs grabbing the back of the robe pulling it to the front and tucking it into the waist band in the front, making the robe like a pair of pants. They did this for freedom of movement when doing physical labor. Also, God had the Priests wear breeches under their robes to cover their nakedness. That way when they walked up the steps to offer sacrifices they would not expose their nakedness. The breeches went from the waist to the knee. From breeches we get what we have today britches. It was from these two things came pants and britches. So from the time of Adam and Eve until the 1900’s men were the only ones that girded their loins. Women for the first time started wearing trousers during WWII because they had to work in factories to help with the war effort while the men were overseas. Even in the 1960’s people were still trying to resist women wearing pants. But today hardly any women wear dresses or shirts, and see nothing wrong with women girding their loins…

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