This article took an unexpected turn. It was supposed to go up two weeks ago, before the Red Heels article. But, providentially, it has gone from expounding my husband and I’s view of fashion as Christians to a re-examination of that viewpoint, lengthy discussions over meals, and articles written by both of us. So this is not so much a lesson, as it is a story of growth and change. This is a transition article from where I was to where I am. Hence, it’s the last Lesson from the Boutique.
Over the years, I’ve traveled from self-righteous frump, self-focused goth, respectable yet loud fashionista, to a woman who desires Christ’s commands. He stripped away the world’s varnish one layer at a time until I’m more concerned with Christ’s kingdom and my Church family than this fading ball of dust. Christ is thorough. He doesn’t leave any part of our heart and mind uncaptivated by Himself. Nor does He dictatorially force us. He leads us like lambs, sanctifying us.
After a year out of the boutique, I’m still sorting all this fashion stuff out. What liberty do I have in Christ? What influence should my church family play? How much can I pull from my culture? I hope you can be understanding as I think through fashion via my keyboard and seek to apply what I’m learning.
From the boutique, I learned valuable lessons, which helped me see how selfishly I dressed most of my life. They showed me that I had gone from a holier-than-thou wardrobe to a shock-value wardrobe. (“You can tell I’m holy by how little thought I put into my outfit. See how holy and modest I am. I’m way frumpier than you!” to “If I can get one more home school mom’s mouth to drop open, I’ll have twenty points just this morning.”)
Lesson 1: Image is important because what you wear says something about you. Are you saying what you want to say?
Lesson 2: Image is important because what you wear communicates respect. Are you respecting those around you with your clothing?
Lesson 3: Image is important because it is a form of honesty. Are you sharing yourself honestly, or hiding behind your clothing?
I lived and breathed these three principles for over 10 years. They were my guiding stars every morning when I got dressed, when I shopped, and when I critiqued wardrobes. But, I’ve come to believe I missed important Biblical principles. Who is my standard for respectability? Did I go to the Bible first, before my culture? Unfortunately not. I moved fashion entirely into Christian Liberty, and then looked to the world for what it considered respectable. God has some very real and important things to say about fashion. I never did the hard work of paying attention to His Word except in the widest application.
We’ve all been told that we should dress up on Sunday morning because we’re going before the King. This is true. But, this King doesn’t want all the pomp and show that our worldly kings desire. He wants a humble and pure heart. This is what He values. We, as Reformed Baptist, preach and believe that you can’t worship God how you want to, but that you must worship Him according to the commands in His Word. Why do we think coming into His Church as His bride is any different? God tells us how we are to dress in a way that honors Him the most. This must be what informs us. What a humble King we have. Look how He commands us, His faithful daughters, to come before Him. He doesn’t set an impossible standard of beauty and wealth that none of us can reach. He doesn’t pit us against one another in a constant game of cutting-edge style. He is far more merciful than we are on ourselves. And yet, at the same time, He is far harder. He is far more concerned with our hearts than with what we’re wearing.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 “Likewise also the women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works.”
1 Peter 3:3-4 “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
So, transitioning out of the boutique and into a housewife, I’m trying to relearn some lessons. Here is where my husband and I are so far.
1. Respectable apparel: The clothing you wear as a daughter of the Lord, first off on Sunday, but influencing your wardrobe as a whole, should be respectable. It should be clean, in good order, and put together, a bit dressy, but with self-control. Sunday is not a fashion show. Our society does help us define what is respectable in our day and age. It would be inappropriate for a woman to arrive in a respectable Victorian-era gown to church. Nor would it be appropriate to come to church in “denim underwear”. That may be stylish for young women today and the Victorian gown may be modest, but one isn’t self-controlled and the other is distracting. You have to live when and where you live, not defining respectability by a different ages standards. We are called to dress with self-control, not flaunting ourselves, or our clothing.
2. Good Works: God is more concerned with our good-works than our wonderful fashion sense. We spend a fair amount of time thinking about what we’re going to wear when we’re going on a date, or out with girlfriends, or even on Sunday morning. God wants us to spend more time thinking about good works than about wardrobe. The context of these good works in Timothy is the managing of the Church. Men are to put on prayer and women are to put on good works. Does what you wear on Sunday Morning communicate this concept? Are you ready with a helping hand to those in need? Are your children behaved and your husband respected by you? These are far more beautiful to God than what you’re wearing to cover your skin.
3. Submissive: You’re clothing should communicate a submissive heart, a meekness of spirit. Have you ever shopped asking yourself if what you’re wearing communicates submissiveness? It messes with your mind, believe me! The context of the 2 Peter passage is abuse by authority. God tells women that if your husband is abusing you, look to your wardrobe. What? Don’t nag your husband. Don’t belittle him. He should see you not as all the other women in the world who fret and worry over what they will wear and this wrinkle and that wrinkle. He should see you worried about spiritual matters. He should see you without a fearful heart. Submission is honestly very scary. (I’ve written about that before.) It requires a complete giving up of yourself to the authority of another. Your husband should see that while you submit to him, it’s to Christ that you ultimately submit. Think how our marriages would be transformed, Ladies, if instead of spending so much time in front of the mirror, we spent more time working to lovingly submit to our husbands.
4. Hope: I’m getting older. Every day my skin seems more dry, my hair more gray, my energy sapped. I swore I would age well. I would not hide from my wrinkles or gray hair. But, there are days I’m so tempted to test out the latest serum to see if it will magically remove the aging of my body. Look to the Bible ladies! “Imperishable beauty” is what Peter calls a gentle and quiet spirit. Look at this great hope given us. If we seek first the Kingdom of God, God Himself promises us Imperishable Beauty. This doesn’t mean that we won’t age. It does mean we’ll become more beautiful to Christ, our Husband, as we grow in good works, a gentleness of spirit towards our earthly husband, and poverty of spirit. The world will see old women, but Christ will see great beauty.
This is where I’m at right now. How has it affected me practically? I’m testing out several new systems to cut down on my dressing time. I need to make sure I’m wearing respectable things that are encouraging to others, which takes planning and time. But, good works are to be my main adornment, so I don’t want to spend as much time fretting over my wardrobe.
As I’ve thought about this, I’ve been convicted about what I wear on Sundays. I tend to be a very loud dresser. I love big jewelry. I love mixing things up that don’t exactly go together. None of those things are sinful in and of themselves, but Christ has said how I’m to come to Him on Sunday. I need to listen and make sure I’m on the same page. I’m going to try to wear more simple outfits on Sunday. Respectable? Yes. Stylish? Yes. Simple? Yes.
I’ve also been convicted about how I view other women who don’t dress “stylishly”. Could it be that after all these years of groaning about horrible home-school-mom-fashion, that I was wrong, at least on a certain level? That what I saw as frumpy might in fact be a woman seeking submission, self-control, and good works instead of fashion as the world sees it? I think so. You won’t catch me in a jean skirt and sneakers anytime soon, but you will catch me—I hope and pray—trying to submit my wild heart to the dictates of my most beloved Husband, and my loved earthly husband.
Now, done with Boutiques and on to Housewife!
If you would like to read some very well done articles on Modesty, please check out my fellow 1689’er Queen of Scotch and this Matt Walsh article. Also, I hope to share some of my husbands thoughts soon. Here’s the first one from his blog: Rod of Iron!