Managing Your Wife: Rules for Apparel

This is Part 4 of a series on Managing Your Wife. This series already includes sections on handling finances, emotional outbursts, and eating and health.

I have written briefly before about setting standards for a wife’s apparel in the context of good rules to start with early in marriage. It is imperative to establish a good standard early, and it’s also one that’s easy for most couples to do. It will quickly help a wife get in the habit of being conformed to your will, and thinking of what you expect of her each day. However, dress deserves its own longer discussion, which I will provide here. Clothing connotes much about a person, and communicates heart attitude, character, and position. Just as you recognize that there are clothes for the office, clothes for labor, and uniforms for various kinds of officers, there are also right clothes for women. A wife’s clothes are no less important than anyone else’s. They ought to be appropriate for a virtuous woman in the community, and when in private, the kind which is enjoyable to her and to her husband.

Many husbands do not know to set good standards in this area. Some men consider it out of their domain, when in fact it is not. Few things could be more important than what a wife communicates through her clothing. A wife should appear in stark contrast to what much of this world expects of womanhood. She should not flaunt her flesh. She should not wear tight or revealing clothing. Her dress should be appropriate for a woman, and feminine, such as skirts and dresses. A man has to think of these things. His woman should not be walking down the street attracting attention to herself, but should instead be an image of meekness and modesty. Nor should she need to spend much money on clothing, or follow the latest fashions. Her clothing should not be flashy. It should not try to be hip. It is clothing that reflects her modest and meek heart, being simple, feminine, and well kept. She needs little more than this.

Modest and feminine dress are a communication of the heart, but they are also a tangible reminder to the woman herself. They help her remember she is not trying to puff herself up or be more important than others. Nor is she the diva of the moment. They help her remember instead her femininity and her softness. Moreover, this clothing helps her be soft and submissive for her man, communicating that gift that God gave her, and making her feel even more so. It accentuates the natural. Similarly, her hair also is feminine, being long, rather than boyish. Long hair is flowing and soft and feminine, and also adds to a woman’s beauty. A virtuous woman is not trying to imitate a man in her appearance any more than in her behavior. She is being all woman all of the time. She is feminine and meek inside and out. A husband is wise to assure that her wife follows this path, and if she does not know how, to teach her and encourage her. 

Some conversations on this web guide have also touched on the apparel of the head covering. In the Bible head covering is called for in worship, but it is also useful to wear regularly, since it is convenient and since it accentuates modesty. It has appeared across the world for reasons both religious and cultural. A woman with a cloth covering on her head has a spiritual version of what God has already covered her with in her hair; a long mantle to cover, wrap around, protect. The head covering, whether a bonnet, a scarf, or something else, pictures the husband’s authority and protection over her. It also pictures God’s authority over all of us, and the protection He gives us, and it does so in an immanent way she can feel. Women who wear a head covering, particularly one which is obviously religious, are likely to get less unwanted attention from men, and be viewed as someone who takes their virtue seriously. This sets a certain high standard and it should. It is a reminder to the woman, and a standard to be lived up to. It is moreover feminine, as her modest and flowing attire is. 

A husband needs to set these standards early in the marriage. He should decide and communicate clearly what is acceptable with apparel. He does not need to micromanage her dress, especially if his wife already has a fairly good sense of modest womanly apparel. This kind of woman will mostly make good decisions anyway. He just needs to set the basic rules, and she will make plenty of good clothing purchases with her own judgment. However, a wife who has learned little sense in this regard, and who has lived previously by the secular standards, may need to lean on her husband’s guidance with clothing more often. Be prepared to take time, and develop a system step by step. It rarely appears overnight. Modesty is not a hard standard to live by once you get into the habit, nor is feminine attire. It becomes routine, as you pick up new items, and find the best shops to buy from. 

What about clothing for the home? Some people believe that it should be radically different, but this is not so. For most daily purposes, the woman’s clothing in the home should follow the same standards I’ve discussed. The daily work and regular interactions with family, friends, and guests, may occur inside the home, but they are not wholly private. Someone coming over to the house should not be greeted by someone with much lower standards. They should not be greeted with flesh in the home. They need to see the same principles as work in the home, and appreciate what the apparel communicates, which is spiritual and from the heart. There may be cause to wear more relaxed or comfortable clothes there, for sure, but modesty is still present. It would be very distracting if it were not. 

The only real time for a woman to be sensual and sexual in appearance is for her husband alone. Being in sexy dress, or showing her flesh, are for making love, or for when her husband chooses to discipline her. Then it is acceptable to change attire. Her husband is the only one who needs to see her like that, and the contrast between that deeply intimate private appearance, and her public appearance, can point out the importance in each one, and help her see why they are so different. Some couples buy special clothing just for making love, but I don’t recommend leaning too much on that, or spending too much money on it. While special clothing for the bedroom may be lovely and enticing, it’s not really necessary, and man and wife ought to be able to enjoy each other’s bodies with great excitement without needing too much extra help. Some husbands have a wife wear unique clothing for discipline sessions as well. This makes sense in terms of setting the right frame of mind for a correction, and keeping a woman focused on how to behave during the discipline. I do not use that myself, but I can see the purpose that special dress can serve in discipline. 

Just as apparel serves a woman in learning to walk with a modest and humble heart, being bare for her husband alone serves her in learning things of equal value. A husband may have his wife undress only to have her get used to being fully his, to being fully trusting, and to walk more deeply in submission. It may serve her also in embracing the vulnerability she has before her man, and learning both the incredible care and the incredible power which he has with her. A man should assure his wife is comfortable being bare in his presence, and undressing as he desires. In making love her nakedness reveals her glory. When being disciplined it reveals her humbling and her shame. It is good to plan time for your wife to be alone with you in the nude, to serve you and be enjoyed by you when you desire. 

When looking for clothes, it is easy to make the occasional misstep. It is good to be patient with purchases that don’t quite meet the standard. If you find yourself in that situation, take an item back if it’s necessary. It’s worth the effort. However, a husband needs to be clear that rules for dress cannot be ignored, and should give his wife a clear correction if she flaunts the rules, or does not make the needed purchases. I would give a spanking for a clear violation of the rules. She will learn and do better. I have never had to spank my wife for problems of dress, but I have spanked her before for ignoring the children’s dress, when I had reminded her about it. I have allowed her to learn over time, and generally she has learned very well. Let your wife find apparel she enjoys as well, as her tastes may be very much to your liking anyway. As long as it is within the range you allow, she will appreciate finding clothing she is happy with, and which also please her husband. 

A woman in her dress is seeking to please God and please her husband. She should be learning to conform herself to her husband, giving regular thought to his desires for her. Her husband’s valuable rules for apparel give a new wife a chance to think of her husband’s desires each day, every morning as she dresses. It brings him into one of her most intimate places. A woman who dresses with virtue, as her husband expects, is also gaining a valuable weapon in overcoming her weaknesses. Modest apparel helps teach a modest attitude, which strikes at the vanity and self love which many women suffer from, generally more than men. It wraps them up in something different instead, and gives them a different goal for their heart and their life. That place is to be low and humble, not a source of attention or the object of desire of many men. In doing so she enjoys the peace and protection that meek attitude brings with it, and she can function better to serve others, and not simply herself. Her full beauty, her body, her allure are still fully present, but there only to be enjoyed by her husband. Just as she is the object of his guidance and love, she is the object of his deep desire. 


6 responses to “Managing Your Wife: Rules for Apparel”

  1. Aron,  I was wondering what you thought of this.   I was always a modest dresser growing up Southern Baptist.  So I think my husband thought this: “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it (no rule needed).  So there is only one rule regarding dressing:  No pantyhose,  even buying pantyhose would be a spanking offense- let alone wearing them,  So I never did.  
    You might get a laugh out of this,  We had been dating for 2 to 3 months when he took me shopping.  He took me to several stores.  He  had bought me a red dress, and matching red pumps.  At Fredricks he told the sale’s lady what he wanted me to wear.   I never had a man shop for me for bras, panties etc. it was fun.    At one point, he said to the saleslady he: he wanted to see the “stocking and garter belts”

    And I said, “O no, honey I wear pantyhose, no one wears stockings and a garter belt any more. ”

    Without any hesitation, he said, “if you want to continue to date me. you will start wearing them!” and said to the saleslady, “can we see what you have.”   The saleslady just smiled and showed what they had. 

    1. aronhusband Avatar

      Hello Jelena, That’s an interesting story. I’m sure it was memorable for the saleslady as well. I probably would not have been so upfront about it in public, but he does have the right to make decisions like that, if it is his wish. I haven’t thought much about pantyhose, and when I was younger, I can’t remember any woman I dated who wore them. How that plays into modesty, I do not know, but perhaps it’s a matter for personal preference. I just set a basic standard for clothing in my home, and my wife shops within those parameters, with very few mistakes.

  2. DarcyNH Avatar

    I am fortunate that my husband and I are on the same page about dressing modestly. I was raised in a family where girls wear skirts and that has stuck with me into my adulthood. My husband prefers me and our daughters to wear skirts below the knee and we are pleased to submit to that. (The girls wear leggings under their skirts to account for gym class at school and playground activity) My shirts are to be on the more loose fitting side and I am not allowed to wear any T-shirt with words or patterns on it that draw eyes to my chest. Me and our daughters cover our heads with a very simple scarf when we are in church and during family bible study times at home. We don’t head cover in our day to day lives outside of active prayer and worship. I did not grow up head covering but my husband’s mother did and he asked me a few years into our marriage if I would consider it, so of course I immediately started.

    Like your wife, Aron, clothing has been something I’ve never been disciplined for. It’s not a hard rule to follow and I feel a lot of joy in my modesty and it warms my heart to see my daughters who are 11 and 9 being modest little girls.

    1. aronhusband Avatar

      Thank you, Darcy. Modesty is a simple thing to follow, and I’m very glad your family is living within a good standard of modesty. People make it sound as if it’s difficult or complicated, when of course it’s not. Some people just don’t like to do it. Modesty reflects a good heart, and is beautiful. It also protects from much unwanted attention. Bless you and your family.

  3. searching Avatar

    This issue is common sense. Not sure how this could pop up as a problem after a man dates and vets a potential wife. Immodest dress would be very obvious prior to marriage. Years ago when my daughter was in middle school, short shirts and low cut jeans were very popular. We never bought them but continued to look for modest clothes. It wasn’t easy to find them. When she was little she wore leggings or tights under her dresses. We always wear modest dresses to church. I am praying for anyone who is struggling with this.

    1. aronhusband Avatar

      It is common sense. Dress can be a problem that needs to be managed though. That is because not every man is going to be careful enough in learning everything about his future wife before they marry. Some men need to learn to respect it more themselves, and be willing to set standards, as some men do not. Also, even if she does generally respect modesty, there is still the matter of respecting the home standard, and following the rules. With both man and wife caring about modesty though, it rarely comes up as a problem.

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