I have read through about a fourth of these posts and I'd like to introduce myself and share a few of my thoughts.
I was raised in a very religious community (Jewish) and at some point, I rejected it. I went through a phase particularly, of rejecting the strict standards of "modesty," which I felt, and still feel get mixed up with demonizing the body, and with sexism. About 4 years after I got married, I like to went through a stage wore tight jeans and tight, tight tops, and bikinis at the pool, etc.. I assure you, I got a lot more attention that way (not from dh who did not like it), and it can be sort of addictive.
However, I have since come to appreciate the idea of modesty. I don't feel that bodies are evil, or that sexual impulses are bad. In fact, we all want to be looked at as a sexual object at times--it just needs to be from the appropriate person in the appropriate situation.
I have really started dressing much more like the women in the community in in which I was raised, minus some of the aspects I find silly. For example, I live in Texas--it is regularly in the 100s for weeks at a time. I do not feel compelled to wear black stockings under sandals in the summer. I think I can be perfectly modest and I don't think I am causing any strange men to go into paroxysms of lust at the sight of my toes. I also wear pants suits at work frequently. I am a professional, and it is appropriate. I wear very loose pants that do not emphasize my curves, and I never show chest (not big enough to have cleavage). But generally, I just cover myself--not because I feel bad about my body, but because I don't like to attract attention to myself in an inappropriate way.
My dd is 11, and I find that I am just trying to get her to understand appropriateness. She is totally "fine" with not wearing short skirts or tight jeans so far. She loves the long, long skirts. It of course helps that she has many Orthodox Jewish girlfriends, and went to an Orthodox school for a long time, though we have since moved.
I have come to believe that it is all about what is appropriate for a given setting, and not wanting attract inappropriate attention from the wrong parties. Ultimately, it is about self-respect, and feeling confident enough in yourself to not have to feel that you need to dress provocatively in order to feel good about yourself. If you are married, I think it is also about respecting your spouse.
I have a question for head-coverers. I mentioned that I am a professional--I work full-time. I do not cover my head at work. Most Orthodox women often wear wigs at work or "out." I hate wigs! They are uncomfortable, expensive, and hard-to-care-for, IMO. I am fine with a tichel (scarf) or hat in other settings, but it just doesn't look right with a business suit. I am also not in an area with many Orthodox women or Muslims, so it is very, very rare to see women with covered heads. If I wore a tichel at work, I'd just attract a lot of unwanted attention. Any ideas?