08 June, 2010

Fashion or Modesty? Or can it be both?

You have no idea how many blog posts i have started about this subject but have always hit the delete button. It's a subject that Marlin and i have talked about, prayed about and struggled with. Is there something like modest fashion? Or is fashion from the pit of hell? A tool to destroy our churches and weaken our witness? You decide, i'm just going to share our testimony, our walk and our thoughts. We are very much a work in progress and more than anything, i want to glorify Christ, not me, myself and i. So here goes.

I'm going to start waaaay back, back when i was a little Eastern Mennonite girl, dressed in plain, homemade dresses. I remember that navy dress. A very special dress, for on my little belt that ran around my waist were 4 little dark blue buttons that turned my dress from plain to "fancy." At least in my 6 year old mind. I was quite fashionable and i pitied the little girls in the church we visited that certain Sunday evening. They were uncool, their dresses drab and boring but mine? I was to be envied. So you see? Even in the most conservative of churches there is fashion, just on a different level, and even in the youngest child, that flesh is working. I think every woman longs to be beautiful, at least at one point in our life. We want to be noticed, to be thought special and to make matters even more interesting, God created women to love beautiful things. It's our love of beauty that makes a home cozy and pretty and it's our love of beauty that makes us want to dress in a beautiful way. Is that wrong? Don't ask me, get on your knees and start asking God. But i digress. Back to the little mennonite wanna' be fashion model.

Fast forward to my teen years. I was obsessed about clothing, in spite of the fact that by then little blue buttons did nothing for my self esteem. And the day i married? Let's just say i could've cared less what any church said, i was finally free to wear what i wanted. Phooey on authority. I was determined to finally be cool. I loved the mall and being fashionable was a high calling in my opinion. Little did i know the power of fashion in a woman's life and to be honest, i wouldn't cared if i had known. Of course i believed in being modest, at least when you went to church. But even that varied on what church you went to, and Tommy Hilfiger quickly became a sort of god in my life. And then i met the real God and my fashion world got rocked in a serious way. So now the battle began. Where was the line? I remember standing in the church basement one evening before services shortly after salvation, and being troubled by a young girl's fashionable skirt that was sporting slits up both sides. But i brushed it off, due to the fact that her parents were heavily involved in the church and i was just a young christian. Who am i to challenge anyone? We then moved to a fellowship that was quite a bit more conservative and i found myself slowly changing. I still believed you could be modest and fashionable, but God was working. The fashion god was slowly dying. And then we moved again, back to an area where there were many, many fashionable "conservative" christians and i was shocked at what was happening to the young people. And the hemlines. Yikes, i felt like handing blinders to my men and a housecoat to the women. I won't even talk about the thin tshirts they wore with the skirts. And when they're that thin? Even 10 of them wouldn't be enough, never mind 2! But the thing that bothered me more than anything was the little piece of lace on the top of their heads. Make up your mind people, choose you this day whom you shall serve. Was i becoming legalistic? Judgemental? I battled it and prayed and continually asked God to show me His heart. I wasn't interested in becoming pious or super-spiritual, but i was sickened at what i was seeing. I'd look at my little girl and be saddened at the thought of men checking out her body in a hip hugging denim skirt and fitted shirt. Modest? Maybe, if you're skinny enough. But is that true modesty? And then i'd watch a young mennonite girl in a "fashionable" cape dress, and i didn't feel much better, but i wasn't sure why. Remember what i said about fashion even among conservative mennonites?

So then we moved again. Yup, i'm REAL good at packing but i've never regretted a single move. God is good and banana boxes are a blessing. And through the move I found myself probing deeper into my heart. "God? What is YOUR heart? Am i focusing on something you don't even care about? Is fashion a non issue?" Why, when i'd see people that were totally not fashionable 5 years ago but now are way cool, why did i feel bothered? Why did there seem to be a sweet innocence missing? Does God want me to dress drab, colorless? What about bright bold colors? Which, by the way, i LOVE. I love red. And orange. Lime? LOVE IT! Bright pink? O yeah! But why was there a check in my spirit when i'd put something like that on? It's like putting on a blinking sign. LOOK AT ME!!! LOOK AT ME!!!! I'm beautiful, worth noticing. And in talking to Marlin, i started to ask myself questions. Questions about where fashion comes from and who dictates it. God? The Holy Spirit? Um, let me think. Nope. Mini skirts and halter tops aren't exactly conducive to the "meek and mild" spirit God finds so precious. I think we'd all agree that fashion like that is from the pit soooo..........maybe if you only wear what's fashionable in the church you'll be ok? As long as it's considered modest? Maybe it's the Holy Spirit behind the fitted dresses (cape or not), the high heeled sandals, the cute shirts that tie right under the breasts? So ok, we won't wear things like that, we'll leave that to the renegades but that still doesn't answer the question. Can you be modest and fashionable? If we keep our skirts longer and our shirts looser, we can still be fashionable, right? To be admired for being both modest AND fashionable. But wait, if fashion stems from satan, does that mean it might affect the church? Could satan be having an open door into our very homes through the wives and children? If i dress my daughter in a modest but fashionable outfit, could i actually be buying into a lie that it doesn't matter, as long as she's decently clothed? Can true modesty and fashion walk hand in hand? Or, my friends, is there a spirit that comes along with fashion, a spirit that we would run from if we saw it for what it is? A spirit so deceptive and so smooth, that it is blinding our very eyes, rendering us powerless in our churches. We become desensitized and it becomes normal until one day we wake up and our grandchildren don't even bother with the modest part. So how about you answer the question. For yourself, for your family, and for your future generations.


  1. hmmm...lots of food for thought. this is an issue eric and i have been dialoging about as our daughters get older. many blessings to you guys. we'd love to see you sometime soon!!:)

  2. Hi Connie, we'd love to see you too! Marlin and i are becoming more and more convinced that we live in a treacherous time and satan is getting far more accomplished than if we had to run for our lives. We need to pray for wisdom and more wisdom........

    Marlin and i are blessed by you both! Marlin will miss his "dialoging" with Eric. ;) He truly loves and appreciates him.

  3. Keep thinking , Darla. The Bible teaches a meek and quiet spirit and modesty so that gives a good measure to go by. We should ask ourselves "Why do I want to wear this?""Why am I adding this to the item I'm sewing?" If we are honest, I think we usually know why - but true, Satan does warp our thinking if we give in to him. Another thing I think helps is to not be changing patterns ( except for growth reasons !! ). If I always make my dress this way and then am tempted to try something different . . . "Why?" Are we helping our children by getting them different styles and patterns for them - making them "style conscious" ? I enjoy following your growth!!
    Aunt Rachel

  4. Lots of food for much thought. I have been thinking along some of the same lines, with lots of questions in my mind. One thing Jess and I conclude about alot of things, including dress and headcovering, is not only the Biblical principlal, but SEPERATION. God has called us to stand out, to be set apart. I have come to the conclusion that when you start dressing in the worlds clothing, its not all that hard to take off the veiling. You don't usually see a decent sized veiling on an immodestly dressed women, do you??
    Praying and searching with you...

  5. You hit on a subject that I am very passionate about, Darla. I wonder if women truly understand how responsible they are if a man looks on them with lust? There is such beauty in seeing a woman who is modest and men can rest there cautious eyes on her without regret or guilt. In the days we live in and certainly more & more in the days to come, a modest woman (and man, for that fact) will be an oddity. Be strong, be odd, be blessed in modesty, simple modesty. Love you!

  6. Ahh Brenda, i actually thought of you. Thank you for being an example of modesty in my life. And as for the men? That's another whole blog post. :)

  7. I totally get you on this one. But I gotta say too, that coming from a different place, I see a lot of mennonite churches (or conservative churches) put a big emphasis on clothing too. it's fashionable but in a separate way.a mennonite girl one mentioned she was cold, I suggest we put on a sweater over her dress or a turtle neck under her shirt. "oh I don't think my church would be very happy about that!" she replied. I was dumbfounded! I had never heard of such a thing.

    a funny story - I always wore black when I was a teen (I just fancy black better!) and I was often told by more conservative folk in my church that It was depressing and that I shoudl add some color to my wardrobe to look joyful and reflect the joy of the Lord. it was a BIG switch to me to go to a mennonite church and have them think exactly the opposite lol! total culture shock!

    I think we alos need to be careful not to judge people on what they wear outside a general "modest or not modest" idea. God's frame work was modesty and though clearly it is hard to combine real worldly fashion WITH modesty, God did not directly tell us not to. So if one is modest they are obeying God. if one feels compelled to go beyond that modesty and leave the fashion world behind b/c they feel it is a dangerous place to be, then that glorifies God too. But not everyone will feel the same convictions and compelling ideals at the same time. God touches each of our hearts and minds in differing areas at different timesbased on our experiences in life. we are all on on a journey towards know in and understanding God... and we don't all grow at the same pace or in the same ways. I know some people who woudl think I am overboard in the modest area, but they are far more generous with their time or money. the important part is to do what we do to glorify God and give lots of loving grace to those who aren't where we are just yet. (just like it has been many a time given to us)

  8. Many good points Laura. I ABSOLUTELY agree about God having people in different places. Some of my dearest friends in Christ are not considered "conservative" by Mennonite standard and yet i know their hearts and actually feel far more connection with them than i do with many of the ultra conservative's who place certain dress styles next to the Bible or with "conservatives" who try and do the "christian fashion" dance. HOWEVER!!! Their hearts (my friends that is)are clearly NOT concerned about fashion and THAT is my point! They are clearly not serving the god of this world and while i choose to take modesty to a different level, i COMPLETELY trust God in their lives. (enough capital letters? :)) And yes, that fashion god is just as prevalent among the more plain circles as in the not so plain. The fact is, it's a spirit more than the actual clothes, and i find it just as sad when i see a woman obsessed with fashion while doing it within the context of church rules as someone who has no rules to hem her in.

    My heart is to raise a daughter who isn't afraid of not following what's popular and who actually chooses not to, all the while keeping the femininity that is a beautiful gift from God. A spirit pure and undefiled by this world's standards, able to stand alone and confident through the Holy Spirit...........possible? ONLY by the grace of God.

  9. WOW! I think this helps me answer some things my man and I have been thinking praying about for a long while... (No you don't know me but I came across your blog because you had posted a comment on the Lockwood's blog)

  10. I was taught that our clothing should conceal, not reveal. Sad to say many 'Plain' people don't take a hard look at themselves in the mirror and see exactly what they are revealing. ICK!

  11. I know this is an old post, but found it interesting. I always find it interesting when people - anyone - starts to honestly evaluate the 'why' of what they do. :) The color issue for instance - we know God loves bright colors - He made the world full of them!! But yet I felt wicked too, the first few times I wore red. Why? Because my conscience had been trained that it was wicked. Not from God's Word, but from mens opinions.
    And while I never had one qualm about driving a car - my amish cousins felt the same 'wickedness' when they first drove a car. Because they had their consciences trained that cars were wicked. It just shows that we can't go by our 'conscience.' Because our consciences have been trained by our parents, church, etc.
    It is why we have to stick to the Biblical standard - no other standard is going to be there when God calls me to account for my life.
    Thanks for an interesting post! :)


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