This past weekend I had a house full of teens, some being beautiful young women (one being my daughter, Carlee!). I had this conversation with one of the girls about modesty. This young woman dresses lovely and is appropriately modest in my opinion. This led to a conversation about being fashionable and modest. I gave her a bit of my testimony and journey about how the Lord had renew me in the area of being a Christian, dressing modestly and being okay with wanting to look nice. I said, ” Maybe I should do a post on modesty and fashion and if the two can go together.” She immediately said, “If you do that, I would write for you.” Thus the idea of this discussion was born! I asked all the girls if they would be interested in writing their comments on the subject and most of them agreed. A couple said it would be a challenge but they would do it.
FIrst, here is a bit of my story:
As a teenager I took a modelling course. It was in the late ’70’s early ’80’s when “thin was in”. I graduated from the course and did some local modelling from about 16 to 18 years old. During that time I worked at a very nice clothing boutique during high school. Fashion and make-up were very important to me. How I looked mattered to me….alot. I entered the “Miss Kitchener” pageant (did not win but came in 10 finalists). I really wanted to be a professional model.
As soon as I graduated from high school, I moved to Toronto in hopes of signing up with a modelling agency. I spent a small fortune on a portfolio of photos of myself which is what you needed to present an agency ,in hope that they would represent you. I soon found out, I was 10 pounds overweight (at 5 ft. 10 and 125 pounds) and did not have the right “look” for professional modelling.
I moved on to plan “b”. I was hired by a very exclusive clothing store, the most elite clothing store in Toronto. All the European designers has a boutique in this one store (Chanel, Chloe, Armani etc.). I was hired as an assistant to the sales woman in the Chanel boutique. I ended up working behind the scenes on all the “trunk” shows (that is where one of these big name designers would come and do a fashion show in Toronto). It was all very exciting. I mingled with all the who’s who of the Toronto fashion scene, spent all my money on clothes (very expensive ones) and entertainment. That life was my life for most of my 20’s. My way of dressing became very immodest (however always in the height of fashion).
Let’s fast forward to about two years after I became a Christian (and when I say that I mean that although I was raised, Catholic and was from a good family with Christian morals, I did not completely understand that I needed to give my heart to Jesus and thus the Word of God coming alive to me). I was now in my mid-30’s and had 2 children. I became so drawn to these scriptures:
“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
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. ”~1 Peter 3:3-4
I went in the opposite direction….to the extreme! I am sure many of my friends and family were wondering WHAT had happened to me. My husband sure did! I stopped wearing make up. I wore very loose clothing. My jeans were 2 sizes two big and most of my blouses were and XL (I am a S or M!). If I wore a dress or skirt they would be the big flowy kinds and LONG. My husband did not like my new look. Although he didn’t mind the no make up, he did like when I dressed up on occasion and he did not like the big flowy dresses. He likes me in a straight skirt of a reasonable length. I would not dress that way and I actually gave away most of my clothes. I needed to find a balance.
After awhile, a few years down the road, I started to realize that God wanted me to look nice for my husband. Really, I felt it was ok and actually pleasing to God to dress nice and to take care of my appearance. It pleased my husband and made me feel better about myself. I realized that I how I dressed was affecting how I felt about myself. I started to wear subtle make up again and bought some new clothes. I read the above verse differently. It does not mean you cannot dress yourself nicely and wear lovely clothes, it means that your beauty should not come from there. It should come from within…a gentle and quiet spirit. Modesty is an outward manifestation of a pure heart. I needed those years to clean up the state of my heart and renew my mind in the area of appropriate dress.
So now, I wear make up again, however, of a more subtle nature. I wear nice clothes but I try to make sure they are not low cut, that my skirts are not too short, that I have no midriff showing…basically anything that would promote lust.
“Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” Romans 14:13B
Do I want someone else’s husband looking at me lustfully? No I do not. Is it necessary to wear a low-cut top or a bikini? I don’t think it is. We should not want to stimulate lust in another that would cause them to stumble. And that is what we will be doing if we dress in a provocative way. I love fashion. I am not always drawn to the latest trends but I like to look nice. When I read about the woman in Proverbs 31…I so long to be like her in every way! One of the things it mentions about her is that she is “clothed in fine linen and purple”. But it also says that, “that she is clothed with strength and dignity;”
I want to say that this is what God has shown me. If my husband wanted me to wear a head covering or wear dresses only, I would do it. I might have to die to a piece of myself but I would do it to honor him, but secretly glad I don’t have to! 🙂
I do believe there is a place for fashion if we can abide by the biblical principle of modesty. if it is not an idol in your own life or causes another to stumble than wanting to look our best is a good thing.
So that’s my story. Watch for the posts from the young people over the next week. Feel free to comment with the “reply” key. Let’s hear from someone else!