We have finished siman 5, discussing the chiyuv of a woman to cover her hair. We learned that there is a machlokes how we pasken regarding covering hair at home and other private areas. The question is raised whether this machlokes is extended to other parts of the body. We know hair is unique in that an unmarried woman does not cover her hair, so it is not as inherent of an ervah as other parts of the body. Rather, it is considered ervah because a married woman has a chiyuv to cover her hair from the Torah, and once there is a chiyuv to cover it, it becomes an ervah. If so, maybe the halachos of hair are unique, and due to its uniqueness, it lends itself to specific leniencies that would not be extended to other parts of the body.
Before we discuss this question, we need to return back to something we touched on a long time ago in Klal 1. The Shulchan Aruch, in siman 2, quotes the Gemara in Shabbos 118b, where Rav Yosi says that he was always careful to get dressed in a way that the inside of his clothing was never seen. The understanding of that Gemara is that since people used to sleep under their covers without clothing, If they got out of bed in the morning, they would be uncovered. Therefore, he was makpid to get dressed under the covers, in a way that at no point was any part of the body visible.
The Shulchan Aruch then brings this concept in siman 2, writing that one should get dressed under the covers, so that when they get up, they are fully covered. One should not say that they are in their inner chambers, so no one sees them, because Hashem sees a person at all times.
The concept of tznius applies equally to men and to women, and we see over here that a person has to be dressed properly at all times, and even in one’s inner rooms they must be dressed properly. One could have argued that this din is unique to Rav Yosi, as the Gemara goes through a list of different practices of tannaim and amoraim which it considers mili dechasidus (extraordinary piety, not for the average person), and lists this practice as one of them. However, the Shulchan Aruch does not bring it as something only for the pious, but rather as an expectation for all.
The Rambam brings this down in Hilchos Deos (5:6), where he deals with the way a talmid chacham should act. The Rambam writes that just as a talmid chacham is elevated in his knowledge above others, his actions should elevate him above others as well. One of the examples the Rambam brings as an action befitting a talmid chacham is never to expose themselves, even in their innermost chambers. The Rambam understands that this is an action of a talmid chacham, but is not expected by the average person (as pointed out by the Pri Megadim). However, as we mentioned, the Shulchan Aruch does not seem to delineate this practice as limited to a talmid chacham.
We will discuss the specific halachos of women being dressed properly, but we see that the general chiyuv of tznius applies to men as well.
The Shulchan Aruch writes that one must be careful to get dressed in a way that their body is not exposed, and, in general, not to expose themselves even in their innermost chambers.