The truth about the Duggar family's strict dress code

Ah, the Duggar family. Once America's sweethearts, their wholesome (and huge) family shared their daily lives on the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting. Then, horrible news broke about the alleged sexual abuse committed by their son, Josh Duggar. Obviously, TLC permanently dropped the show and the family lost a great deal of religious cred. Other secrets were revealed that the Duggars didn't want fans to know about, and people began paying attention to the sketchier side of the family that viewers previously ignored. In other words, a lot of people noticed the double lives of this once squeaky-clean family.

However, some of the Duggars, especially the daughters, are active on social media and boast large numbers of followers. And as such, people are still talking about this family these days. There's a fascination with the female Duggars because their family's religion, which MSN called "Christian fundamentalist," promotes a more traditional way of life. As such, the Duggar women aren't supposed to have "real" jobs, yet they manage to find ways of making money.

In addition to this financial restriction, the Duggar family, specifically the women, adhere to a very strict dress code. Why, you might ask? Well, we've got the answers.

The Duggar family tells their daughters they are 'presents' for their future husbands

The Duggar family revealed a lot about themselves in the 2014 book Growing Up Duggarwritten by the four eldest daughters (Jill, Jinger, Jessa, and Jana). In the book, the young women explained why they wear more conservative clothing (via InTouch Weekly), "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."

According to MSN, the Duggars are particularly interested in female modesty to teach their daughters that they're "this present that's wrapped" for their future husbands. Family matriarch Michelle Duggar wrote a since-deleted blog for TLC in 2013, adding further details about their dress codes. "We really wanted to see what the scriptures said about [modesty]. Our interpretation was that from the neck down to the knee should be covered," she said (via InTouch Weekly).

In Growing Up Duggar, the sisters wrote, "We avoid low-cut, cleavage-showing, gaping or bare-shouldered tops and, when needed, we wear an undershirt. 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." While there don't seem to be any such stipulations for the men, the guys follow another tradition to maintain this spirit of modesty.

The Duggars have a special code word tied to clothing

The strict dress code practiced by the Duggar family seems specifically targeted toward covering up the women. As MSN pointed out, "the family pins most of the responsibility on the girls in the family." But the men in the family are tangentially included in this lifestyle of modesty. When the Duggar family goes out in public, should a woman walk by who is dressed in a way that doesn't adhere to their personal standards of modesty, the women say the code word "Nike." This tells the men in the family to avert their eyes.

In their book Growing Up Duggar, the family wrote about their special code word (via In Touch Weekly): "That's a signal to the boys, and even to Dad, that they should nonchalantly drop their eyes and look down at their shoes as we walk past her." They added, "It's meant to help keep the guys' eyes from seeing things they shouldn't be seeing."

Of course, the Duggars' modest lifestyle isn't for everyone, but at least fans now have more insight into why they dress the way they do.