Lessons from the Boutique 6: Fashion from Boutique to Housewife

Prada Fashion Fall 2011

Prada Fashion Fall 2011

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?

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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.

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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!

Thoughts???

The Housewife and her Man!

The Housewife and her Man!

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!

Lesson 1: First Things First

Lesson 2: Opening and Closing

Lesson 3: Have a System

Lesson 4: Dealing with People

Lesson 5: Red Heels

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17 thoughts on “Lessons from the Boutique 6: Fashion from Boutique to Housewife

  1. Thanks for another thought provoking read! I’ve pondered the same issues as a rather loud dresser myself 😉

    Two questions: not seeing the implication of abuse in that 1Peter passage. Just read the whole chapter but maybe there’s something in the original language…?

    And secondly–in a related Pandora’s Box–what are your thoughts on tattoos? I’ve heard a lot of conflicting input. As an artsy person, I totally get the attraction to a beautiful tatt. I also understand that as Christians we don’t adhere to most of what is found in the OT passage that addresses tattoos. But I’ve had fully fluent-in-Hebrew people tell me that the tattoos are a moral law, rather than a health or relational law. Tattoos were exclusively rooted in idol worship. Moral laws still stand. Etc. Any thoughts on the subject?

    • If I understand the passage in 1 Peter correctly it actually starts in the end of Chapter 2 (especially v. 16-17) when he’s discussing the Freedom we have in Christ and then talks about the areas we need to submit to kings and such. Then Peter specifically addresses the two most oppressed groups of people in history: slaves and women. It is not specifically said abusive, but is implying oppression or living with unbelieving rulers. The end of the section on wives mentions Abraham specifically. The things he put Sarah through would have been cause for divorce in our day and age, but Sarah submitted herself to the Lord and obeyed Abraham.
      Sorry for not making that more clear. The post was getting very very long. 🙂 But thanks for asking. I hope that explanation helps and doesn’t muddle things further.
      As far as Pandora’s Box. 😉 I have an interesting history/relationship with tattoos. My husband is anti tattoos though he obviously doesn’t condemn people who have them. We both feel that is a very personal choice. Price does believe they are very pagan and a sign of the paganism, which is rampantly growing in our culture. I tend to agree with him, hence neither of us having tattoos. I can’t address the passage in the Old Testament as I have heard convincing arguments both ways and so I place myself under my husband’s rule in this area, which is no tattoos.
      Now, I know I do use tattoos in my writing. I watched a movie once that dealt with how tattoos work in the Russian mob. They are not there to make a fashion statement or even to be personal but as form of identification. If you have a Russian mob tattoo as a fashion statement, they will remove it. They guard the symbols very closely. The marks that they use tell a story about the person wearing them. This is how I have used tattoos in my own writing. They have an artistic flare, yes, but generally they are used as identification within the subcultures of my worlds.

      • Sorry you had to write another blog post in response, LOL.

        When I read “abuse” I think bodily injury or serious verbal assaults. Though I do not believe in divorce, I do think there’s times when a wife needs to separate for her own safety and/or that of the kids (with hopes of God doing a work to restore). I feel like you are referring to something much milder–though still hard to bear–like oppression or a general ill temper and the condescending way of a thoughtless husband. The connection of being abused (in my mind: smacked around) with looking at our wardrobe seemed extreme but I think it was because we each had different connotations to the word ‘abuse.’ Feel free to say otherwise, if there’s something I’m not getting here.

        And yes, I’m with you on the tattoo issue. It is complex and personal. Always the best position is to be at peace with your husband’s position. It’s been a subject of interest with my kids on several occasions! They can have some pretty compelling arguments about getting a Christian tattoo that is significant to their faith. Christmas and Easter were pagan holidays that we’ve Christianized, right? Can’t we Christianize the pagan tattoo practice? I don’t always know how to answer those questions. Not that they are headstrong for getting a tatt but they do have an interest and admire certain ones. Thanks for your thoughtful response!

        • Don’t worry! I love long comments and good discussions. It probably would have been better to say oppressive than abuse since, rightly so, I think we all jump to something very physical or high on the emotion side. I don’t think or believe that a husband smacking his wife should send her running to her closet as if the answer is there. I think that if a women finds herself in a rough marriage, she needs to make sure she’s spending more time in the word and prayer than in her closet trying to either woo or rebel against her man. Sorry if that whole thing turned out a little confusing. There’s a little bit of background here that I’ll share when we go out next time. 🙂 Easier to talk about it than write it all out.

          I totally agree with you on the tattoo thing. I think many Christians have sanctified it and I think God is very good at using all of us in different places in our lives. Meaning someone with a tattoo He may use to talk with someone who would never listen if he hadn’t seen that tattoo. Or switch that and go the other way around. 🙂 It’s been fun thinking about it and talking about it!

  2. Loved reading this! Thanks for exposing your heart and for your encouragement. I have always looked up to you as a godly fashionista and you continue to inspire me in both fashion and being a women after Gods heart!

  3. Abby,

    So many thoughts as a middle aged, sloppily dressed male who has a liberal, very open view of how to worship God.

    You talked all around it but to me I didn’t get the connection. God isn’t concerned about what we wear, he is concerned about our heart. Do the clothes you wear fit in with the fashion of the civilization in which you live? If the answer is yes, then don’t obsess about it. Put on the clothing that makes you feel comfortable and enter into a worship service thinking about worship not what others may think.

    You were made exactly how God wanted to make you. You are perfect in his eyes because he made you perfectly. He made you with fashion sense, maybe you have an obligation to use it. I have no fashion sense and I have no desire to learn. If they made geranimals for people like me, that wouldn’t change how I dress.

    I have a different viewpoint of the two verses than what you concluded. I think he was describing women who dressed like prostitutes. There is a huge difference between looking nice and looking slutty. Yes some women dress inappropriately at my Church and who am I to judge? If they feel comfortable and are okay with their clothing then it is okay with me. Now I know your wondering about causing a man to have impure thoughts. I assure you that if they were wearing a burlap bag from neck to ankle, a male can still have impure thoughts. It makes no difference, trust me. But I think Peter and Paul’s point were to not dress like the prostitutes that worked in the temples.

    Finally, if you are having this discussion because of what others wear and your outfits are out of step with their fashion then I would be disappointed if my wife were to follow the crowd. I have found that the staff of a church dress in much the same manner as the lead preacher and his wife. If they wear jeans and a bluish/gray plaid button down, then that becomes the uniform of the church. If they wear a suit and tie, then that is the uniform. Be who you are, and be proud of what you are. Don’t follow the crowd and don’t dress like everyone else because unspoken traditions can quickly become laws of worship and to break the tradition is equal to sin.

    I love this article and I am so happy that you are having this discussion. It is very important and I think you are way out in front of this issue. I also admire your honestly, there is a lot to learn and you are doing your part.

    • Hey Rob,
      Thanks for jumping in! It’s always fun to have different views from both men and women on the subject of clothing. 😉 You’re very brave to jump in here!
      I’m gonna gently beg to differ on a few points. The very fact that God has two different apostles talking to women about what they wear in the space of very short letters shows that on a certain level He is concerned about what we wear. Now, I do agree, and think the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 and following, shows that God is 100% concerned about our hearts. Evil is not in the things—what you eat, drink, wear—but in our hearts. This is why I didn’t address the idea of dressing so men don’t lust. As you pointed out, that is impossible and honestly not my problem. Lust is a sin and it is that specific person’s sin, not mine. It’s not my place to deal with his sin, that’s between him and God.
      I do think it is very important to take into account our culture. As I pointed out, we aren’t supposed to wear clothing from 200 years ago as some form of supposed modesty. We do live in this day and age. Entering into worship not worried about what others think is the very thing I’m trying to combat. I don’t go into worship worried others my think I’m dull. The way I tend to dress is going into worship making sure everyone is looking at me. This is a very personal journey that I’m on in the fashion world. 🙂 Someone could wear exactly the same outfit as me and be going into worship with the right attitude while I go into it hoping everyone notices how cute I am and how well put together I am. I’m used to dressing very gaudy due to working in the fashion arena for so many years and now I’m trying to move away from that.
      As far as the two verse are concerned, prostitutes aren’t mentioned in either context. The context of 1 Timothy is how to order the church. Paul just got done talking about how men are to behave in church and then he addresses the women. In 1 Peter, Peter is carrying on from chapter 2 and his discussion about submission to authorities and our freedom in Christ.
      Again, I think clothing is very personal. I may not agree with all the fashion choices of my sisters in Christ which range from odd, to frumpy, to something I might feel very uncomfortable in due to the amount of skin showing, but that is between them, God, and their husbands/fathers. It’s not my problem. I trust the Lord to gently lead them along just like He has me over the years when I’ve gone from frump, to odd, to probably inappropriate at times. Understanding sanctification and keeping your eyes on your own issues, sin, and struggles helps you be more understanding and patient with your fellow church members. I do think that the passage in 1Cor 11 where it talks about head coverings is dealing with the temple prostitute issue.
      Never worry about me following the crowd. I generally tend to run in the other direction to a total fault when it comes to crowd following. 🙂 But I do believe that what I wear should respect the people I’m around and what I’m doing – hence, the bathing suit is worn to the pool and not to church on Sunday morning. 🙂 I don’t think anyone in our church has ever worn anything because one of our pastor’s wives wore it. We have three pastors and their wives are all very different. We tend to be a diverse church, so I don’t, thank goodness, run the risk of dressing like them for the sake of dressing like them. I try to learn from them and apply the heart behind what they’re wearing. They are after all the older women I’m supposed to be learning from. 🙂
      Thanks for commenting and for challenging me to further think through these things and encouraging me as you always do!!!
      Abby

  4. Pingback: Lessons from the Boutique: Part 1: First Things First | A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

  5. Pingback: Lessons from the Boutique, Part 2: Opening and Closing | A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

  6. Pingback: Lessons from the Boutique, Part 3: Have a System | A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

  7. Pingback: Lessons from the Boutique 4: Dealing with People | A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

  8. Pingback: Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels | A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

  9. My, my, what a controversial lot we are. I absolutely loved this article and it challenged me in some ways that frankly I’d rather not be challenged :). I did really, truly, deeply appreciate what you said about dressing in a way that enables you to serve others. Brad is very patient as he helps me to submit to him in the are of dress more and more (although I still pet the short dresses at ReRun when I go 😉) that combined with the slowly diminishing post-baby weight has really helped me in this are. However I still look at other women on Sundays and think about how elegant they look. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t qualify as a good work. Thank you for your honesty! And now onto a tattoo discussion!

    • 🙂 I must also admit that it challenged me to write it in ways I didn’t want to be challenged. But, as I get older I find it easier and easier to quietly loose myself for Christ sake. I don’t really know how this is all going to play out yet. I’m still trying to find the balance between how Christ asks us to dress and where Christian liberty is. I love that our church is so diverse and our ladies so elegant in so many ways. I think it is very respectful to be a bit dressy on Sunday morning, but it is also equally interesting to dress so that you’re good works may be what is seen and not your outfit. It’s a very challenging and heart probing issue. Like most things with God. 🙂 Love you! Look down at Heather’s comment and my reply for tattoo discussion. Please feel free to jump in with your take! 🙂

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