In this “anything goes” culture, where tunic tops are now accepted as dresses and leggings as pants, it can be difficult to discern what is appropriate for a Christian woman to wear. Biblically based values stand in stark contrast against a lot of what is sold in stores today.
Yet it is not necessary to forego fashion in the pursuit of being modest, pairing the most basic and boring outfits to cover up. Modesty and style do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, in many cases combining the two create a classy, attention-grabbing outfit. And with this kind of outfit, all the attention is positive and appropriate.
Paul writes a reminder in 1 Corinthians 9:19-20 about the need for respect in regard to body and dress: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (NIV).
In his letter to Timothy, Paul writes about the way Christians should act as they worship God. “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God” (1 Timothy 2:9-10 NIV).
Christians, as believers and worshippers of God, should honor Him with their bodies, being respectful toward what He has made. In the same way, one should be aware that what one wears is a representation of He who has made them. (Note: Women can still braid their hair and wear pearls; both are cute and classy. The above verse is speaking to the vanity they can become and the subsequent distraction they can be from worship.)
Everyone is sending a message about themselves by what they wear, whether they like it or not. In a visually-driven culture, where style blogs and fashion-centered television shows are around every corner, people have become extremely conscious of what they wear and what it says about them. When Lady GaGa wore her “meat dress” she was sending a message, and was extremely aware of it. When Audrey Hepburn donned her black crop pants with flats and a simple shirt, she was sending a message. When some people walk out of their houses they look like their closet threw up on them -an accidental disaster. Yet even they are sending a message.
Jordan Christy, author of How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World, and advocate for raising up the next generation with a sense of morals and class, said in her book, “Now, if you’ve so much as stepped outside your door in the past four years, you’ll know that modesty and tasteful discretion are no longer the name of the game.” She acknowledges that it can be “intimidating and discouraging” to value modesty in a world where celebrities are baring all at movie premiers and walking down Sunset Boulevard with Daisy Dukes and strappy tank tops. “But let’s be honest, those looks aren’t flattering on anyone,” she continues. “While it can be tempting to want to keep up with the current trends, the respect we’ll receive from not exposing our chest region and upper thighs is worth so much more than the five-second stares we’d get from a bunch of ogling buffoons.”
People often see each other before speaking to each other, and clothing is the first impression that they will receive. Wouldn’t it be best to look classy and fabulous, showing the world how to be modest, while still having a sense of style?
There are several things to remember when in pursuit of a classy, modest look. Every good structure must start with a good foundation, and the structure of an outfit is no different. While it may not seem ladylike to discuss such things, the “underpinnings” one wears can have a great effect on how clothing lays on the body. These are items worn daily, so it is worth the investment to spend a bit of time and money on high quality pieces. Salespeople at these types of stores specialize in making sure everything fits properly, and with their help the best fit can be found. Some women choose shapers to smooth clothing lines, and for others a simple slip can do wonders in the appropriate department. With this in mind, a solid foundation is laid and one can move on to the exciting part of an outfit.
Trying things on before purchasing is another necessity. Knowing if something fits properly before buying it is a way to be wise with the money God has provided while not walking away with something you’ll never feel comfortable wearing in public. Investing in a full-length mirror is also beneficial – looking at an outfit from top to bottom before leaving the house can save you from embarrassment later on.
One issue that many women face in this department is buying clothing that is too small. They see beautiful clothing hanging on the front of a rack at their favorite retailer and choose a small size in the hopes of fitting in it at some point down the road when they’re the size they want to be. However, that only serves to make the buyer feel guilty for who they are and their current size. For others, it tempts them to wear a piece that is too small, hoping that the cute item of clothing will make them feel good. Everyone has seen that person at the grocery store wearing a top several sizes too small with jeans that leave nothing left to the imagination. Does anyone like seeing this person? Sure, they may get second glances, but certainly not the kind that they would like.
Stacy London, co-host of TLC’s “What Not To Wear” once said, “Women have a tendency to squeeze into things and say, ‘If I buy this, there will be motivation for me to lose weight.’ Then, when that doesn’t happen, the skirt hangs in the closet as a shameful reminder. Tugging at your clothes is never a good look.”
It can be tempting to slip into something shocking to get a bit of attention, but in the long run, no one really wants to be remembered for spilling out of a too-tight dress or having a Marilyn Monroe moment with a skirt.
Famed designer Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion has become a joke. The designers have forgotten that there are women inside the dresses. Most women dress for men and want to be admired. But they must also be able to move, to get into a car without bursting their seams! Clothes must have a natural shape.” Though this statement was made decades ago, it still rings true today.
Fortunately in the past year, designers have turned back to classic shapes and longer hemlines. The resurgence of the lady has come at last. With it comes greater ease of finding relevant yet suitable clothing. Shapes that were once difficult to find have been mainstreamed.
Finally, learning the art of layering and altering is the easiest way to work with what is already in the closet. Put a camisole on underneath a shirt that is cut too low. Sew an inch of lace to the bottom of a dress that’s a bit too short. Throw on a cardigan to cover unsightly straps. There are plenty of ways to make little alterations to clothing to make things appropriate instead of tossing them (though sometimes pieces aren’t redeemable and are better off in the trash).
Clothing stores such as J.Crew and Banana Republic have large offerings of basics and classic pieces, with pops of current trends. When paired together and layered correctly the result is a modern yet modest look.
One of the best parts of dressing modestly is the confidence that will follow. Suddenly there is a sense of self-respect that perhaps wasn’t there before. A girl can walk with her head a little higher knowing that she isn’t trying to compensate for something or draw distracting attention.
Instead, personality and character shine through, and that is what endures in the long run, after looks have faded and clothing has gone out of style.
What’s your go-to style? What current trends are you passionate about? We want to know. Email us at [email protected]