It’s time for a talk ladies! Since this post is largely my opinion, you may take it or leave it, or glean whatever you’d like. But I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts about modesty, feminine fashion and possible misunderstandings about those things, especially among conservatives, all while having a little fun 😉
“Set-apart” doesn’t equate styles from different eras.
I’ll cut to the chase: being feminine, modest and even “set apart” in our dress doesn’t mean we need to look like we came from a different era. If you enjoy that look, then that is wonderful! But often I think in our zeal to be separate from the world we separate ourselves, physically to an unreachable degree. All fashions, even those that may be 60 or 70 years behind were once “modern” and therefore could be considered “worldly”. Styles do not make an outfit modest or not.
What I mean by that is, if you are living for the Lord, you’re already quite odd. And that’s OK. There are issues on which we can’t compromise, odd or not. But we don’t need to add “unnecessary oddity” to the mix.
I believe that we are called from Scripture to be modest, to glorify the Lord in all we do, including the way we dress, but I do not believe that includes ignoring cultural fashions all together when we make our choices.
Of course there are gray areas all over the place that each of us will have to answer for ourselves, according to how the Lord leads. I realize some believe the Bible teaches that a woman is not permitted to wear makeup or jewelry. If that is a biblical conviction (and not a man’s law), by all means, you must honor that. (If you’re interested in seeing all references to jewelry in Scripture, concluding that the Bible never forbids it, check here.) Some will not feel comfortable in pants, others have no problem wearing pants modestly. Each of us must be less concerned with “rules” of dress and more concerned with the heart of the matter before the Lord.
A woman covered up can have a thoroughly immodest attitude. This discussion assumes we understand the importance of a “modest heart” before we even begin discussing dress.
And still we will all have varying opinions of what is “attention-grabbing”, one form of immodesty, and what is simple, acceptable adornment.
Importance of Dress
Regardless of where we stand, I think we all agree that dress is important. If it were not, the fashion industry wouldn’t be so lucrative. We all care, and so it’s a worthy topic of discussion, especially as Christians who desire to “do all unto the glory of the Father”.
Because He has made us male and female, distinctly, and if for no other reason, we should glory in that. Also, there is power in femininity, given to us by God, if we don’t balk at it. Just try it a few days and you’ll notice a difference in treatment by other people.
Because Scripture commands it and a Christian, loving others as she should, would abhor the thought of being a visual stumbling block.
Why not? We are allowed, within the confines of modesty and humility, to live within our cultural norms where they do not compromise our obedience to Christ. There are plenty of fashionable, modest and feminine choices without purposely seeking to draw attention with out-of-fashioned dress (which in itself can be immodest). Important note: the Bible doesn’t forbid women to be beautiful. It starts with a “woman who fears the Lord”, but we don’t have to hide or downplay our natural beauty.
These are examples of fashions I would consider attention-grabbing, out-of-date and/or an attempt to mask a woman’s natural beauty:
Many women dress perfectly modestly in “grungy” clothes, but lose the feminine privilege of beauty that has been given to us. Again, as we seek to reflect our Creator, disorder and disheveled are not traits of His, so generally, they do not serve our purpose either. (Of course there’s a time and place for grunge…messy painting jobs?)
Feminine Fashion. The following are styles I consider modest, feminine and yet fashionable…they are not a prototype, as you may have very different tastes. But a contrast and example of how feminine doesn’t need to be frumpy. Hopefully they inspire!
I love paring down my wardrobe ever so often, checking for clothes that are just taking up space and also making sure I have a versatile wardrobe which saves money and, if classic enough, can last a long time without going out of style.
Scarves, cardigans and jackets can quickly change the look and mood of an outfit. Remember to look for basic staples and accessorize around those.
When in doubt, I ask my husband. Bottom line…what am I trying to “say” with my clothing? Am I seeking to represent orderliness and natural beauty (both characteristics of my Creator), and not draw attention to myself in either ostentatious dress or super out-of-style fashions?
Happy wardrobe trimming!
***For a fantastic, in-depth study on this subject, Anna And Elizabeth Botkin have a fascinating study called, Reclaiming Beauty, that I would urge you to consider. It would make a great ladies’ study if you wanted to get some friends together!