My cousin posted the following status on her Facebook page earlier this week:
Think about it...clothes aren't for you, they're for others. Maybe we should think more about others when we pick out our clothes. It might change what we wear. — feeling challenged.
This seemed like a wonderful topic for a blog post, so with my cousin's encouragement, here we go!
I've been mulling this thought around in my noggin all week long, letting it simmer like a tasty fall stew, considering the question: For whom do I dress? For others, as KB suggests? For myself? For my husband? Or is there perhaps another Person for whom I should be dressing?
Going back to the original purpose of this blog, I hoped to pull myself out of a clothing slump. I'd found myself wearing sweat pants and giant baggy flannel shirts - certainly NOT fashionable, although quite comfortable, and NOT attractive or flattering in any way. I wanted to attire myself, even in my everyday housewife life, in such a way as to be appealing to my husband and to improve my own self-image. As a Christian, after a short time of blogging about clothes, I began to wonder if this were a vain or frivolous activity. But I recalled a passage of Scripture that speaks of clothing:
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. I Timothy 2:9-10
Blogging about what I wear, for me, is a way for me to determine if I am dressing modestly, with decency and propriety. The clothing I wear is important - not to draw attention to myself, necessarily, but to reflect positively on God, my husband and those I love.
Which brings me back to the question - For whom do I dress?
The most important Person for whom I dress is my Father God. My goal is to wear what pleases Him, and that my clothing choices will give Him glory. Secondly, I dress for myself. (More on this later.) Finally, I dress for others, most particularly my husband. My goal is not to embarrass him with my appearance, but to reflect on his wise choice in marrying me. (Big smiley face here!)
There have been many times that what I've worn has failed to please God, I am quite sure. I know for a fact there have been countless times an outfit has not pleased me! I'm still refining my personal style, although this blog is certainly helping me determine it. (I have discovered that I am not a big fan of bold color, for example, nor do I care to follow drastic trends. Classic with a bit of moderate color seems to fill my bill.) My hope and prayer is that my clothing choices will bring honor to God, and not shame Him.
To achieve this goal, anything that adorns my body needs to meet the standards listed in the verses quoted above: modest, decent and proper. Granted, each of these terms is fairly subjective. What is modest to me may be immodest to another. I believe that each of us should define modesty how the Holy Spirit leads us. For me, modesty looks like this...a neckline that does not show cleavage; nothing that clings so tightly that it leaves the viewer an exact idea of what lies beneath; skirts no shorter than just above my knee; and nothing with a crude or suggestive saying or picture on it (including any word scrawled across the seat of pants). Bare arms and bare legs are modest, to me, as are shorts (no shorter than where my fingertips reach at my legs) and pants as long as they do not fit like a second skin.
What is decent to me? Very similar to modest, but with consideration to quality. For example, my favorite jeans and sweater may meet my standards for modesty, but when they develop holes or giant stains, they are no longer decent. Decent can also mean "not revealing". To me, a long skirt with a slit in it that goes nearly all the way up is not decent, although I suppose it could be modest if you're standing still. For my definition of "proper", let me refer back to the sweat pants and baggy flannel shirts. Yes, they are modest, and even decent if they aren't all worn out (many of mine were, however), but they are wildly inappropriate to wear to church, to work, or to pretty much anywhere out in public, in my opinion. (Please, if you find sweats and flannels proper, I don't mean to offend. This is just how I feel about these things on ME.)
As for my clothes being worn for myself, I think it is good to wear clothing that fits and flatters and that appeals to me personally. Honestly, if I don't LIKE an item of clothing, I am not going to wear it, even if it meets the criteria of being modest, decent and proper. For example, culottes. Modest? Yes. Decent? Of course. Proper? Most likely. But I loathe them! I have tried to like them, truly I have, but I quite simply do NOT. (If you wear culottes and love them, please do not take offense! They are fine on others, just not on me.) Also, in my experience, what I am wearing many times has an effect on my mood and/or my outlook. Those sweats and flannel shirts felt like I had given up and just didn't care about my appearance. They reflected the negative self-image I had developed. When I put some care and thought into my clothing choices, it reminds me that I am God's own dear child. It isn't necessary for me to wear a shapeless sack of a dress in order to be modest, decent and proper.
There is another verse that sums up what I try to do with my clothing choices. It was the theme verse at the Christian school I attended (for one year? several? I don't recall.). We recited it every morning when we opened with chapel, and our music teacher set it to music. I am so thankful to my school for drilling this verse into my head, and especially glad Mrs. S. turned it into a song so that there is no way I'll ever forget it. This verse is the answer to every aspect of my life....