19 Kids and Counting alums Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar enforced a strict dress code for their daughters which included wearing modest skirts and dresses at all times. While their adult daughters have mostly swayed from their family’s strict rules in recent years, there was a reason behind the Duggars’ beliefs. Keep reading to find out why the Duggar women wear skirts. 

Why Do the Duggars Wear Skirts?

In 2013, the mother of 19 opened up about being a “born again” Christian and her decision to “cover up,” during a Q&A with TLC

“I felt like the Lord was saying to me, ‘You know what, you probably shouldn’t be wearing that. It’s a little bit low cut, or a little bit too high, you know?’” she began. “I just really felt like I needed to obey what God was saying to me first and understand later. And then I saw in the scriptures a lot of things that helped me understand why I was feeling uncomfortable with my previous clothing choices.”

The former reality star went on to say that she cleaned out her closet for a fresh start. 

“As a family, we found we could come up with our idea of what we thought modesty was, but we really wanted to see what the scriptures said about it,” she explained. “Our interpretation was that from the neck down to the knee should be covered. By keeping those private areas covered, there’s not any ‘defrauding’ going on,” she added, explaining that “defrauding” means to “[stir up] desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled.”

What Have the Duggar Women Said About Wearing Skirts?

The following year, daughters Jill Dillard (née Duggar), Jana Duggar, Jessa Seewald (née Duggar) and Jinger Vuolo (née Duggar) opened up about the family rule in their book, Growing Up Duggar

“We do not dress modestly because we are ashamed of the body God has given us; quite the contrary. We realize that our body is a special gift from God and that He intends for it to be shared only with our future husband,” they explained at the time.

They went on to say that they “avoid low-cut, cleavage-showing, gaping or bare-shouldered tops.”

“We try to make it a habit to always cover the top of our shirt with our hand when we bend over. We don’t want to play the peekaboo game with our neckline,” they added. 

In the years since, however, all four of the ladies – plus sister Joy-Anna Forsyth (née Duggar) – have strayed from their strict upbringing and began to wear jeans, pants and shorts. 

What Have the Duggar Women Said About Wearing Pants?

While Michelle described their beliefs as having come from scripture, daughter Jinger later revealed that their beliefs actually stemmed from the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a Christian organization that the family has been tied to since before their days on TLC.

The non-denominational Christian organization was established by Bill Gothard in 1961, after he dedicated his life “to helping teenagers and their parents make wise choices.”

Gothard’s teaching include “male superiority and female obedience,” guidelines on how men and women should dress, homeschooling curriculums and Bible memorization, according to a July 2016 article in The Chicago Magazine.

“I thought I had to wear only skirts and dresses to please God,” Jinger told People in January 2023. “And if I step outside of what I think is expected of me, I would think God’s going to be so displeased with me and it could bring harm on myself.”

Two years prior, in her book with husband Jeremy Vuolo, Jinger reexamined her family’s definition of “modesty.”

“Modesty was a huge topic in our house, and we believed that wearing skirts instead of pants was a central part of being modest,” the Arkansas native wrote in their 2021 book, The Hope We Hold. “[I] realized that biblical modesty is deeper and more profound than wearing skirts instead of pants. Modesty isn’t only about what you wear. It’s about the position of your heart.”

Following in her older sister’s footsteps, Joy-Anna opened up about her decision to wear pants in a March 2023 YouTube video.

“[My husband and I] felt like there wasn’t anything in the scripture that’s black and white on dress,” she explained. “I think biblically, we just kind of looked through scripture for a long time and feel like this is OK for our family.” 

While Joy came to her own conclusion, she added that she still “[tries] to be modest.”

“I had always worn skirts my whole life and so for me, like I don’t know, I just wasn’t in a rush,” the Counting On alum continued. “I feel like you can be modest and wear pants and that’s kind of where we came to. I do try to be modest in my pants, like in wearing pants, and not things too tight or too short.”

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