How Clothing Influences Your Relationships

by Jen on March 3, 2005

By Nick Sidwell

“Sometimes we don’t realize how far the ripples reach when we throw a rock into a pond. The fact is, those ripples that we cause, may affect others though we are unaware of the damage. So, it is important to remember that our actions always have consequences and we will always affect those around us. Just like those ripples in the pond; sometimes we have no control over where they go and what happens with them. It’s best not to throw the rock.” –Josh K.

I am a student at SUU in southern Utah. I study communications because communication is all about how the messages we send change the world around us. They especially change the relationships we develop with others. Relationships have always been important to me because I knew someday I would be married forever in the temple and I needed to find the right person. And, I was married there, to the right person! My wife, Sarah, is my best friend!

When I was dating after I turned 16, I had lots of fun learning about new people and what I liked about them. I still remember being astounded when I found out that girls use signs and gestures to show guys what they think or feel. Like how they sit when they are by you can say a lot. I started noticing these little signs more and more and tried to guess if they liked me or not based on the little messages. It turns out; they have classes that teach about nonverbal communication and relationships- that’s where I am today.

Like I said, communication is all about messages being sent back and forth. Through dating I learned to read these messages and interpret them the best I could. Every thing we do sends a message and we are always communicating. Even the clothing we wear sends a message about us.

I just finished a huge research paper about the influence that clothing has on relationships. I studied a lot of people and what researchers have said about clothing and relationships. The results were very interesting, especially about immodest clothing. In dating and meeting someone for the first time, the clothing you choose tells a story about you for the other person. In the case of immodest clothing, the story in not a good one. The girls that wore revealing clothing made the other person uneasy and uncomfortable. Even girls were uncomfortable with other girls that wore immodest clothing. The most interesting was the boys’ response. It got their attention at first but most of them decided to back off the relationship or not approach them at all because they felt uneasy about the clothing.
I learned a valuable lesson. We can tell who has “… [His] image in [their] countenances…” (Alma 5:14) and we feel good around those who have the “light of Christ” because that is the message they send out through their choice of clothing. Those who know their body is the temple of the Holy Ghost have the spirit with them. Those who show off their bodies and invite the world in don’t keep the spirit with them and they make us uncomfortable. My friends and several guys I hang out with look for those who always dress modestly because we appreciate that they take our feelings into consideration. When the weather gets hot we often comment about having to always look at the ground because girls wear less clothing and our thoughts become uncontrollable. It’s a constant struggle that I hate being burdened with. It’s not fair, but I don’t think girls know or understand it.

Since studying the influence that clothing has on others, I thank girls who wear modest clothing and act modestly. They are the ones who have a positive affect on those around them, without even knowing it. I know the Lord gave us a body just like His. He wants us to be happy and “let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works, and glorify [Him]…” (Matt. 5:16) Thank you, to all those who send out the right message, that they love the Lord; I know he is pleased with you. I appreciate you.

About the author: Nick Sidwell is 24 and lives in Cedar City UT but is originally from SLC. He is studying Communications and Spanish at SUU (Southern Utah Univ.) He and his wife Sarah (age 22) were married in the Manti temple a year and 1/2 ago. Nick served a mission in Torreón, Mexico. Sarah is a new 4th grade teacher- and loves children. They hope to raise righteous kids someday that dress modestly and love the Lord 😉



You can reach Nick at sidwello@yahoo.com
Or at: 655 South 300 W. apt. B4
Cedar City, Utah 84720

Feel free to comment, respond, ask advice or give advice and money… they also accept Walmart gift-cards 😉

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous March 20, 2005 at 5:51 pm

I think that you blame women for your lack of self control. Most wommen dress for themselves and for comfort. I think your theory is ridiculous. God made our bodies they way they are…not to hide and be ashamed of. Breasts are for nursing babies and if men are overwhelmed by them, maybe they need help. Sexuality is not anything to be ashamed of either. Geez.

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Jen March 21, 2005 at 12:31 am

Yes, our bodies are beautiful and God made them the way they are. We shouldn’t be ashamed of them at all. Breasts are for nursing babies! Of course!!!

But where your misunderstanding comes in is that you think we cover our bodies because we’re “ashamed”. If you had a million dollars would you walk around with it fanned out in cash in both hands every day?

Why not? Are you ashamed of it? No, you want to protect it because it’s so important and valuable to you.

Jesus said: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matt. 7: 6)

The whole “ashamed” thing is one of the main ways Satan tries to lead us astray about showing our bodies.

Do you see how differently the body is viewed when you look at it in God’s way, not as something not to be ashamed of, but as something that is prized and valued? It’s a gift from God.

Yes, men should control themselves. The issue here is that when you pass someone on the street, you see them. Even if it’s just in your peripheral vision, you see them. You can’t just close your eyes when you’re walking down the street. You don’t have to look again. That’s where the choice comes in.

If a girl is walking down the street and sees a cute guy coming in her direction wearing a speedo, or tight pants, or sagging pants that show his butt and no shirt, then she saw him. It doesn’t mean she was staring or ogling; she was basically forced to see him. She never has to look at him again, but his image has been before her eyes. Now what she chooses to do with the image in her mind is where her free agency comes in. She can think about it or not think about it.

I see when girls dress in revealing clothing, and it bothers me. That doesn’t mean I was “looking”. We just crossed paths and I saw them.

So everyone should have the freedom to dress the way they want to wherever they go, and everyone should have the freedom not to be forced to see people dressed in a way that bothers them, right? But those two freedoms can’t coexist. Sometimes we are forced to see things we don’t want to see.

Jesus said: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt. 5: 27 & 28) I believe that if you think it’s wrong for a man to lust after you, but you consciously choose to go out dressed in a way you think is very sexy when you have perfectly good other options because you want to be noticed, and a man sees you and chooses to have sexual thoughts about you, then you’re both to blame. You participated in the sin. God knows your heart and your intentions. He won’t blame you for what you didn’t or don’t understand. But when you consciously choose it, he knows that too.

I used to think the same way you do. In fact, I’ve probably said the exact same thing you just said. It seems like it makes sense. Especially when you’ve grown up on a daily diet of today’s T.V., taking in the culture and values of the people who produce the media like I did.

If you’re a Christian, then you must know that God commanded “that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety” (1 Tim. 2: 9).

It’s hard to understand commandments sometimes, and sometimes it seems like they’re not in our best interest. But it seems like that only because we’ve been deceived. I’m here to testify that all of God’s commandments are in our very best interest. He is literally our father, and he wants us to be our best version of ourselves; to live up to the full potential that he knows we have inside of us. This potential is always more wonderful than the vision we’ve come up with in our mind of our ultimate life and our ultimate ambitions. We think small. He knows what will make us happy and bring us personal joy.

God isn’t the same as our physical parents on Earth. I think it’s important to make that distinction. We see our parents’ faults and mistakes and although we still honor them, once in a while what they tell us may not be in our best interest. So we become skeptical. But God is perfect. He would never and could never tell us something out of naiveté, selfishness, or a desire to have us be someone or something we’re not. He really knows us and knows what we want and need. He knows everything. Most people just want to be happy and live their life. And that’s what he wants for us too. But he’s the only one who can show us what it will take to “just be happy”.

I used to not have the faith to blindly follow a commandment when I didn’t understand why. And since I didn’t understand modesty, I didn’t dress modestly.

If you will read the article called “Understanding Modesty” you’ll hear my story and come to understand modesty too.

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Anonymous May 3, 2005 at 10:17 am

Thank you for a website that advocates modesty! I was married at nineteen and at the time, was VERY concerned about my appearance. I always felt uncomfortable with some of my clothing WEAARING them, or how I noticed others looking at me when I did wear them. Thats supposed to give you a lift, I guess, but it embarrassed me and made me want to hide in a corner. The message I got was that guys would not look twice at a girl who did NOT dress that way, even religious men. COuntless times I have noticed a beautiful girl with barely anything and EVERYONE would look. Sneaking peeks. After a good while, I did not want to be that girl. Sure, you get looked at, but it isn’t with respect, and the behaviour change it demands from onesself and others, especially other women, is less than gratifying.
After I had learned about modesty from the Bible, it troubled me. My husband did not share my beliefs at the time, and that caused a lot of conflict and heartache. It is so gratifying to find some support somewhere that deals with this issue. Thank you for taking a stand.

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Nick Sidwell September 1, 2005 at 12:00 pm

Hello, this is me, Nick Sidwell, and I just thought I
would pop in and see how my post was doing. It is
funny to see how people want to shake the life-bottle
up and pretend that nobody saw them. That’s why our
friend here is “anonymous” and did not leave their
name, that would be embarrassing if everybody knew who
she was and that she just popped in to bash a guy for
a sec.
In response, I must say that I just stated what
research says, not a theory. My “theory” was that
clothing influences relationships. The “research”
showed that it does. The “results” proved that
immodest clothing affected relationships negatively.
It is as plain and simple as that.
Jen is right in her response that value is placed
on our bodies from God and we must value them also.
They are a gift, a peal of great price, for the which
we sold all that we had (being in the presence of God
before this life) to obtain it. We fought to have
these bodies to become like God, not to disrespect him
or ourselves, but to glorify him. It all comes down to
selfishness, are you using your pearl of great price
to prove that you are rich or for any other selfish
reason? Does what we are doing glorify God or
ourselves? If it is the latter, think back to what
Satan tried to do by being the savior- to glorify
himself. Those who followed him were also cast off.
To bring the message back, wearing immodest
clothing is to gain glory for yourself and you drag
others with you by doing it, both will be caught at
judgment.
I want girls to know what a sacred role they hold.
The mothers of tomorrow. Satan will try to upset this
role anyway he can. We can all choose to be part of
the problem or part of the solution. Josh. 24:15!
Thank you Jen and to all!
Nick

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Beth October 21, 2005 at 6:36 am

My name is Beth. I don’t know how old this thread is but I wanted to comment on Nick’s “lack of control” issues. I have realized after being married to a man for 8 years that most men’s thoughts are much more sexual than most women’s thought. Thus there is the misunderstanding between the sexes. Men wanting to blame women for their indecent thoughts and women dressing or acting immodestly because they don’t understand the male mind. I’d have to say that only some women dress for comfort and some dress for style and fashion and some dress to be looked at so others will like them. I honestly do not think girls know how an immodest outfit leads to impure thoughts for others. I know I didn’t before I was married. As a women when I see an attractive immodestly dressed man I will notice him, maybe think he is good looking or has a nice body but it stops there. After discussing modesty topics with my husband I understand that for most, if not all, men it doesn’t stop there. Just to clarify my husband is not a pervert or sick, from my experience he is a very normal man who has learned and is continuing to learn to control his thoughts.
Jen, I liked your analogy of having a million dollars and flaunting it. I think I might use that analogy when teaching my 3 daughters about modesty.

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Nick Sidwell November 8, 2005 at 12:49 pm

Who said I have lack-of-control issues… besides Mrs. anonymous, that is? That’s kinda funny 🙂 I am just a researcher who already knows how the male mind works, (I have one that I also control and also know many minds that run rampant without restraint.) My motive, objective and agenda is only to help girls see “the why’s” and reactions and consequences. Clothes and/or the lack thereof, “says” something. To other women it says something, at times, completly different than it does to men. That’s all.

I wonder what women believe it says to men… I can assure them it is more than they think, like Beth said. Choosing clothing should be like choosing your words. What if you said “I love you” to a person when you only enjoy talking to them occasionally? Might they get the wrong impression? Choosing the right words is essential to communication. The messages we send tell who we are and the way we interpret them does too. Justly said by Beth, Boys who don’t control their thoughts have just as much to worry about as girls who even by ignorance, provoke those thoughts. Communication is about the sender, the reciever, and the message. If we carfully guide all three, whe prove to be good commincators, even through clothing messages. It is like the new “conversation clothing,” say who you are inside by how you communicate on the outside. All I want to say is- “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.”(Matt 5:16)

Thanks again!
Nick Sidwell

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One Rung November 12, 2005 at 6:21 pm

Thanks Jen, Nick, Beth and Anonymous for bringing the issues to light.

Let’s talk about hot weather.
Women can wear clothing like cotton that is breathable and light and also opaque – cannot see through it.

Females can wear attractive, fun, colorful clothes and feel sexy inside and still cover up and be athletic too.

Soon, if not already, there will be swimsuits for observant Muslim women.

I do think that having to wear dark colors in high heat is oppressive.

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Anonymous November 12, 2005 at 6:28 pm

I do want to say that when I was younger I had some bad experiences: underwear could be seen through my pants (not intentionally), male response was to make remarks from across the street! I felt very uncomfortable. The remarks were unwelcome.

I do think there is a limit to modesty too: I would not want to cover my entire face or wear clothing that restricts my movement.

I think elbows and ankles are ok to show.

Hair can get in the way if it’s too long. I think hair should be restrained if it is long – whether on a woman or a man.

Yes, work clothes need to be more modest.

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Eden January 27, 2006 at 3:25 pm

I am glad to hear men are really glad that we women wear modest clothing. I think that ones body shall not be reaveled until proper time. Unmodesty just leads to a path that is unwanted. Thanks

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Karen February 11, 2006 at 10:38 am

You know,

I have to say that modesty is important, when it comes to clothing. Eventhough I’m not Mormon, I am glad to see how the LDS Church stresses modesty. I am a plus-sized woman, and it can be difficult to find something cute and modest, for women who are plus-size, like myself.

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Anonymous February 17, 2006 at 8:33 pm

I’m a teenager but I have to say that what we wear says alot of what we desire or want. I fully agree with Nick. We influence our communication to others through what we do and wear. Our clothes are a signal of wether you are wanting to meet some one for all eternity or someone for fun. I’m told by alot of new boys that they know that I am LDS because I wear modest clothing and think I’m very brave for wearing those clothes. I sometimes wish that other women would get this understanding but wether they do and abuse it is up to them. But I am glad to find that there is a man who is telling the world what he learned about communication. Thanks.

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Anonymous August 20, 2006 at 2:52 pm

Most people think that to be popular, they have to wear immodest clothing. I am here to tell you that that is absolutely not true. I was taught a cute little saying at Girl’s Camp in my second year about modesty. They said “Raw meat attracts dogs.” So yes, dressing immodestly does attract people, especially guys, but they’re not the ones you want to spend eternity with. My boyfriend told me that the thing that attracted him the most about me was the fact that I never let down my guard on modesty, even in sweltering heat. The simple act of being modest and dressing accordingly can change the lives of others and yourself. My modesty inspired my boyfriend to become interested in the standards of the Church, and we are to be happily married in the Salt Lake Temple this fall. Christ died for us. The least we can do is wear knee length shorts and t-shirts with sleeves.

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L. Craven March 25, 2007 at 12:16 pm

It’s funny, because long before I knew what the LDS church stood for, I was the one extrememly upset when I saw girls “hanging out” all over the place. Of course, I was more upset when I saw guys go for that kind of thing!

I’ve had boyfriends in the past who asked me why I didn’t dress more provocatively (that’s not the word they used…they said things like “better”, but we all know that’s what they were thinking…). I told them it was because I didn’t want to attract the wrong kind of person. Sure, some guys are attracted to that way of dressing. But truth be told, they’re NOT the kinds of guys you want to be with! They don’t respect you or your body, and often times you are more of a trophy than a girlfriend to them.

So my advice to all the young girls around me is this — “Dress modestly and find someone who loves you for your mind and can see both your inner and outer beauty while you’re covered up. The perfect guy for you won’t care if you wear a sweater buttoned up to your neck everday, he will love you no matter what. And after you are married ( the temple or otherwise), that will be the time when you can show off your beautiful body….until then, stay strong against feelings and words of others”. And I follow this advice too…..I’ve met the most amazing guy….he leaves on this mission at the end of this summer and when he returns we will be married in the temple. Until then though…..we’re fine with being modest with others and ourselves!

Thanks for doing a wonderful job!

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Alohilani Cheyanne March 26, 2007 at 11:42 am

Hi! Thank you SO MUCH!!! I know dressing modestly is very important, and considering that the message from President Hinckley this last Young Women General conference about modesty, I feel especially grateful that the young women and well as I (I’m a Mia Maid president) can turn to things like these and be strengthened from the Prophet’s words. Since the Prophet speaks for the Lord here on earth, the words are actually from the Lord. So dressing modestly is very important.

Honestly, I knew that guys had thoughts. It’s not like they don’t think. I really don’t understand how guys think, but I’ve always known that dressing modestly helps them. I really appreciate the fact that Nick explained some things that I didn’t understand. You see, it’s very important to me…there’s a young man at church who I am very close to. I’ve dressed modestly…and at times I admit, I haven’t dressed as modestly. And I understand now even more the importance of dressing modestly, because the young men hold the Priesthood, and we as young women should not try to put them on the train of thought that would make them unworthy of the Priesthood. Most of them I do believe try their best. And honestly, now that I understand this more I never, EVER want to put my guy in any position to have those thoughts. THANKS A BUNCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Anonymous July 6, 2007 at 5:57 pm

I think people as a whole focus more on females when immodesty is brought up and not enough on males. I have seen plenty of males being immodest such as tank tops and underwear showing. I think we need to focus more on people as a whole and not on one gender alone.

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Modest Wife January 25, 2008 at 9:13 pm

I just wanted to say that my husband STILL thanks me for dressing modestly, both when we were dating and now. I’ve had other men thank me for dressing modestly. I have a lot to show off if I wanted to, but I don’t and it’s saved me a lot of drama in relationships and has landed me the most kind, compassionate, and respectful man I have ever met. He has told me multiple times that he wouldn’t have dated me if I didn’t dress so modestly. Oh and by the way, modesty didn’t make me any less attractive. He still thinks I am the most beautiful woman in the world and he is grateful he never has to worry about what I wear in public. All those years of trying to find modest clothes have paid off! I always dressed so that when I went through the Temple I wouldn’t have to throw anything away. And I didn’t, something I will always be proud of. Young women, I hope you never forget this. Modesty is a true principle, even in our day and age.

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Anonymous June 30, 2008 at 10:54 pm

You know in my college classes most of the guys weren’t looking at the girls who were wearing low necks, short skirts, etc. They were looking at me. I was alone wearing modest clothes, but back in the past when I wore immodest clothes, I felt as if every guy could see my flaws. I love my body, and it’s MINE until I’m married, then my body will belong to my husband. The importance is do you love your husband, and yourself. A girl who keeps her body to herself is a very strong woman because in this world we stand alone. The devil will never rest on women, he knows how to target us to bow to his whim, and drive guys crazy. It is sad, so why bow to him; when he never has the power over you in the first place.

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Anonymous July 6, 2008 at 8:36 pm

I really loved your article. I’m always talking to my friends about how much easier life would be if we could just get inside a mans head. I understand what you are saying, and I think that it couldn’t have been said any better I would love to see more of your articles

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