NOTE TO READER: This post is a compilation of facts about my sense of style. None of the following information is intended as an authoritative statement of “truth”, and by that I mean: This is not a guide book with standards that must be adhered to in order to accomplish perfect modesty/style/holiness. It is merely a glimpse into my personal choices.
As a sequel to my post entitled “Thoughts on Weirdness”, I would like to touch on the topic of my weird wardrobe. If you have read the afore mentioned post, you have an idea of why I like to be weird, and what I mean by that. One of the most visible ways in which this weirdness manifests itself is my choices in style.
To begin, I would like to state bluntly that I love to dress modestly and like a woman. It is not a sign of an oppressive father (which mine is not), a heavy-handed pastor (which mine is not), or even a lack of self-assurance/self-esteem/confidence, or what-have-you. I do, honestly, thoroughly enjoy dressing within my “weirdness”.
Also, I will say this upfront: Modesty is a word that is cherished and frowned upon, misunderstood and idolized, over-analysed and sometimes helpful.
Rather than going into a lengthy sermon-esque explanation of what I consider modest, I will simply give an overview of what it means (practically) day-to-day in our household.
Two of the foundational questions that I ask myself on this subject are, “Why do I dress like this?” and, perhaps an even more poignant question, “Who am I dressing for?”. To avoid yet another sermon-esque rabbit trail, I will focus only on the latter question. This question, I find, is incredibly helpful in maintaining an appropriate wardrobe – and, even in critiquing individual outfits before leaving the room.
It’s raining outside, and it’s a chilly morning. I sit up in bed, put my glasses on, yawn, and begin to contemplate my tasks for the day. But, I’m cold. Finding myself back under the quilts, bending my poor glasses by plopping my head back into my unusually inviting pillow, I tell myself not to fall asleep. In an attempt to begin chipping away at my tasks while under the covers, I start with the first goal: dress myself. I sigh of relief when I realize that I have nowhere to be all day. The pressure is off. But, realizing that this sigh was also related to the fact that I am drifting into dreams, I muster up the tiniest bit of motivation to keep me conscious. So, I have nowhere to be. Great. And no outside chores! Gotta love brothers. Therefore, I can conclude that I neither have to dress nicely for town or visiting, nor in old clothes for dirty chores.
Where does that leave me? I begin thinking through my wardrobe as I pull the quilts up around my face. I’m definitely leaning toward something comfortable. Reluctantly, I cross pajamas of the list of possibilities. No PJs, no old rags, no tidy town clothes. Perhaps that comfy old dress with the missing button. Not glamorous, but definitely comfortable. It doesn’t really fit… it’s probably 2 sizes too big. And, the color is atrocious on me. But, it’s comfy.
Once out of bed, and into my dress, I check my outfit with all my usual rules-of-thumb for overall modesty. Sitting in a chair doesn’t even begin to reveal knees. Doing a toe-touch doesn’t reveal undergarments or anything else inappropriate. No shoulders or back are showing around the sleeves. Everything seems to fall in to place effortlessly.
Now, consider the conclusion. I have chosen an outfit that, by my “law”, is perfectly acceptable. But, who am I dressing for? Nobody wants to see me wearing that old potato sack. My complexion when wearing it resembles that of a dead man. The answer: I’m dressing solely for myself. My “legal requirements” were met, but not really with the right spirit. A pair of smelly old sweats might have done just as well.
I will now change the scenario just a bit, to illustrate another common fault of mine.
Preparing to leave my room, wearing my comfy potato sack, I hear a familiar engine. How could I have forgotten? I must be the guys coming to help on the fence repairs. I scramble for my camera and boots, only to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Shocking! I run back into the closet and search for something… cute. My eyes land on a go-to favorite, so I assemble the outfit, redress, and apply a healthy amount of mascara. I throw my hair into a messy bun, since I don’t have much time to spend on it. I take the next 10 minutes making the messy bun cuter. I grab some earrings, and run out the door.
To say that there is something innately wrong with this scenario (or even, necessarily, with the first) would be a dreadful overstatement. However, I believe they do the job of illustrating my point. In this second scenario, I am no longer dressing for my personal comfort. I am likely dressing for the young men/man that just drove up, and for myself, since I want the attention or the confidence that I look cute.
Is it wrong to look cute? No. Do I make sure I’m wearing flattering clothes when someone is coming over? Yes. I just have to check my motives, and make sure that I’m dressing primarily for Christ and Daddy – not that hunk-of-a-friend down the road.
And, as long as I’m talking about style, here are some points to remember (specifically for all you fellow homeschoolers out there!):
Stand up straight!
Walk with confidence!
I have my own sense of style, and get to explore it, change it, enjoy it as much as I like. I simply have some standards that help me shape that style. It’s not oppressive. It’s not unpleasant (I have a TON of fun with it). It’s definitely weird.