September 24, 2010 by Stacy McDonald
Recently, I read a helpful article that was basically a do’s and don’ts fashion list for Christian young men. Let me begin by saying I agreed with the general sentiment: Christians—even Christian men—shouldn’t dress in obnoxiously outdated styles that communicate “nerdiness. When possible, I agree that as Christians we should present ourselves in a way that is winsome and attractive. But, as a parent, I found the “fashion list” a little irritating. And it’s not simply because I disagreed with some of the author’s opinions of which styles are offensive.
One thing the list reminded me of is how fickle the fashion industry is – and how it’s not so much about dressing well as it is about making money. If someone can convince us that braided belts are “the thing” to wear one year, and the next year it’s the worst faux pas since rainbow colored suspenders, then that “someone” is in control of our pocket books…or should I say handbags…purses…see how difficult it is to stay “with it?”
Think about it: Dad spends his hard earned money buying Junior a nice pair of white tennis shoes. Junior wears them to church or to school, only to have a kid he looks up to tell him that white tennis shoes are hopelessly “uncool.”
One of two things is likely to happen. Either a perfectly good pair of tennis shoes now sits in the closet, unworn, and Dad’s money is wasted on a new pair, or, Junior (who may be at a particularly insecure age) is made to feel like an outcast among his peers. And Junior now resents his hard-working father who made him wear the tennis shoes regardless of what his friends thought. And yes, I know I’m slow, but I “just found out” that white tennis shoes aren’t allowed anymore. What’s up with that, anyway? Is white suddenly uncool?
As homeschooling parents, many of us attended public school and encountered this type of social manipulation…often. We’re able to look back and see how ridiculous it is. Think gold stretch belts, straight-legged jeans—and yes, rainbow colored suspenders (thanks Mork and Mindy). We weren’t slaves to fashion; we were slaves to whatever the current trend or fad was. Different styles, yes; but, the same mind/emotion control.
Just now, my husband walked by in his Birkenstocks. He was heading out to the deck to work on his sermon. As he passed me, I shrieked in horror, “You’re wearing socks with your sandals!”
He shrugged, “It’s chilly out here on the deck. Why can’t I wear socks?”
Well he can. That’s my point. But, how would you answer his question?
You see, we’ve lived long enough to realize we don’t have to impress “them.” Whoever they are. By the time I was in high school, I would never have been caught dead in “flared” jeans or a tie died t-shirt—so much for hand-me-downs. And the fact that thousands of dollars in clothes that “could/should have” been handed down to younger siblings, cousins, and friends are now in the “untouchable” bin is another issue.
One of the distinctives of Christianity is liberty; so, if we’re free, why do we surrender any portion of our personal freedom and decision making to the world—to God haters? Even if it’s just an issue of fashion? Why not be the trend setters instead of following “them.” Why not choose classic styles that are going to last and look nice without needing to be replaced in two years because they’re suddenly “out of style.” Why give authority to the fashion police by asking their opinion?
Think about it. Many teens come to their “convictions” about what is cool by watching and mimicking television commercials, movies, and by obeying the subtle commands of perverted marketing gurus. And have you considered the morals of those who are heading up the fashion industry today? Yikes! Not exactly who I want my children emulating!
For the record, I happen to like braided belts on men. I know…I’m uncool like that. For growing boys, they’re great—they fit multiple, expanding sizes. It doesn’t surprise me that they may be considered uncool—since they don’t need replacing as often ($$$). So please don’t tell my kids they’re uncool—I can’t afford it.
Here’s an idea. Simply choose classic styles that you actually like all on your own — not styles that are simply novel, or that you’re drawn to because you saw them on the latest Hollywood starlet or music idol.
Don’t base your taste in clothing on what your friends say is cool. Obviously, stay within the bounds of reason and modesty; but, learn to evaluate a style because of how it complements your coloring, your figure, or your personality. Who cares what “everyone else” is wearing? Really. Learn to dress in a way that truly communicates the confident spirit God is growing within you. Don’t be controlled by fashion. Instead, take fashion by the head, and be the leader God created you to be!
CLARIFIER: To be clear, while I had a problem with her fashion list, there are many things Christa Taylor has written that I appreciate and promote. Christa Taylor has a heart for bringing sanity and modesty back into the fashion industry. And I, for one, appreciate that effort!
“Being home-educated has instilled within me a desire to be a culture changer.” – Christa Taylor