Dressing to Dignify the Human Person: A Life Chat Interview w/ Nicole Caruso

The following article is a synopsis of an episode from our Life Chat Podcast series. To listen to the full episode, click here.

The “M” word: Modesty. What does this have to do with being pro-life? According to Nicole Caruso, a former fashion designer and current mom and Instagram influencer, the way we dress has a lot to do with how we view ourselves and how the rest of the world views and respects our bodies.

Caruso always loved fashion, and interned at a few fashion designer outlets when she was young. She loved the work, but, “Working among the people in this industry was soul-sucking,” as she explained to Mary Kate Knorr in a Life Chat podcast. She worked an average of 70 hours a week, leaving her little time for anything else, and one Sunday she almost missed Mass because of her work. When she was in the confessional with the priest, she started sobbing and telling him about how hard and exhausting her job was, and how it wasn’t leaving her time to do anything else. “Sounds like you gotta get a good job,” the priest said, and Caruso reluctantly said, “Okay.”

From then on, she thought about her love for fashion in this light: “How can I take that and transform it?” Wanting to dive more into working with actual people, she went into the makeup business and found it often very fulfilling. “Someone would sit in my chair, and we would look at each other face to face… how would I help them here and find out who they are?” In this way, she used her love of beauty and fashion to help people who needed someone to listen to them.

Once her daughter was born, Caruso began to dig deep into the meaning of how she was dressing and why she was dressing that way, so she could imprint a respect and love for her body on her daughter. “What you put on your body tells a story,” Caruso comments, “Style is your story… it’s an extension of who you are… you’re telling part of your story with your clothing whether you think you are or you aren’t.” 

“Everyone has a style,” Caruso claims. “It’s just a matter of being intentional with, ‘what’s the story I want to tell here?’” This is very important: one of the first things someone is going to notice about you when they meet you is how you are dressed. “There is a difference between dressing for dignifying your person and dressing for attention,” and that will be manifested in how tight your clothes are, how bright and flashy your clothes are, or how you wear clothes that fit you, are neat and classy, and are suited to your lifestyle.

Caruso mentions one example. If someone is wearing a piece of clothing that is either much too tight or much too loose and they have to constantly adjust it, it takes away from any sort of personal connection that person might have with the people they are interacting with because they are so focused on fixing their clothes. Clothes are meant to be an extension of the person, to draw attention to the person’s beauty, not to distract from the person and distract the person from those around her.

“It is shown that clothing and makeup and how we groom ourselves affects our confidence,” Caruso claims, and this is another reason we should dress for the lifestyle we are in. If someone is an accountant, and wearing high heels and a pencil skirt is acceptable, they should wear that. However, wearing high heels every day is probably not practical for a stay-at-home mom. The balance of what to wear and when to wear it is very important.

Caruso noticed how her kids would start to pick up on how she dressed and respected herself in that way. “As I whittled down my closet, it got so much easier to get up, get dressed, and take care of my little girl, and she started to notice,” Caruso remembers. She explains how her daughter would compliment her necklace and her shoes in ways that she hadn’t before. “It’s very sweet how they [kids] see beauty and celebrate it!”

Lastly, Caruso expresses to parents a difficult sentiment that she believes is very important. She explains how parents should not force their style onto their children, but rather allow them to cultivate their own, within reason of course. “We are not meant to be a clone of our parent; we are uniquely who God made us to be,” Caruso ends the interview by reminding us that this is part of letting style affect your dignity and worth, and creating a style that will respect the body God gave you, and enhance your natural beauty.