Fashion and Faith - Can They Coexist?

Fashion and Faith - Can They Coexist?

I blog about fashion. As a result, I spend countless hours writing about, talking about and shopping for clothes. I’ve made it a huge part of my life and my career by choice. But I also grew up in a Christian household, reading Bible verses like these:

  • 1 Peter 3:3 - Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear.
  • 1 Timothy 2:9-10 - Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel… not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness-with good works. 

Growing up, I wasn’t permitted much money to spend on clothes, and felt like clothes were mostly vain, frivolous and off-limits. So how did I wind up blogging about fashion?

1. When I realized that fashion is kind of unavoidable and makes a big difference.

I was fresh out of college and had a really exciting job interview. My skills and qualifications were a perfect fit for the company and the position. But when I walked in, I immediately sensed something was wrong. I didn’t get the job that day… because of how I was dressed. I should have been wearing a suit, but didn’t own one because I was far too frugal (aka felt too guilty) to buy one. It’s one of many fashion faux pas of my early 20’s. There were numerous times I showed up for work or church, not properly attired and felt embarrassed. Or froze to death during an outdoor activity. I was so hung up on the idea that clothes had to be frivolous, expensive or flashy, that I didn’t want to participate at all. But eventually I realized that clothes are an unavoidable issue. We can’t walk around naked so there will always be the question of what to wear, every single morning, and how we answer it matters.

As I began to work on my wardrobe, I started seeing how what we wear is an important form of nonverbal communication. I saw how differently people reacted to what I wore at work. And I realized that giving my outfit some thought helped me never feel too hot, too cold, underdressed or overdressed. In other words – clothes helped me enjoy my life more fully. Clothes are not life itself, but they do help you live that life.

2. When I realized that God loves every part of our creative hearts and wants us to feel beautiful.

In my early 20’s I had a God encounter that I’ll never forget. At the time, I really wanted a pair of True Religion jeans. I could never afford them on my salary, so when I found a look-for-less pair at a local boutique I was beyond ecstatic. As I stood in line to pay for them, I did a happy dance and prayed “God, thank you so much for this blessing. You knew how much I wanted those jeans and you provided a way for me to have them on my budget. Thank you Lord!!” And then IT came. Shame. (We all know this monster!) The voice changed to “You’ve got to be kidding me. God has WAY better things to do with his time than to help you find a stupid pair of jeans.” That’s when I looked down and saw the tag (that’s a photo of the jeans above - I still have them). The tag said “God Loves You.” It sucked the wind right out of me, and hot tears rolled down my cheeks. It mattered to Him. It really, truly mattered, because my heart matters. All of it. All of the tiny little things that make up my heart, including the creativity and joy in style that would eventually become a career in fashion (see #4). He rejoices in what your heart rejoices in, the same way you would with your own child. A reader once commented:

I think sometimes society, and maybe even the Christian community today, discounts beauty and art as not being important, or at least not near as important as other things… But it’s obvious through animals, the sky and nature that God is ALL ABOUT beauty for its own sake. He loves it!” – LG

I couldn’t have said it better. God loves your creative heart, and He loves YOU and wants you to feel beautiful. I think when the Bible talks about “putting on gold,” God is not literally commanding us to stick with sterling silver (laugh track). Considering the context, it seems possible that it was more of a charge not to obsess with keeping up with the Joneses. Back then, you wore clothes that matched the “status” you occupied in society (okay, same now but there were less malls and shopping options). I don't think it's saying “don’t put on a nice dress from time to time” but rather “don’t obsess over things you can’t afford.” Which (to me anyway) sounds like solid advice, even for today. 

3. When I realized that you can have style and still be responsible.

I had a bad job interview, and one time God communicated with me via pair of jeans. But it was certainly not enough to undo 20 years of messaging that clothes are superfluous. Try as I might, I was still feeling guilty about everything I bought, even when I really needed it for work. So I set a budget - $250 per month - to get my work wardrobe up and running. I took a hard look at my income, and all my expenses, and decided that was a responsible amount of money that I could feel okay about spending. (Fun fact: that is still my clothing budget, almost 10 years later. And yes, my tithes and offerings are exponentially higher, then and today.) I made a deal with myself not to feel guilty when I stayed within that budget. I had already given the go ahead and what I spent within those limits is no one’s business (including guilt monster’s).

It didn’t happen overnight, but the guilt started to subside. After awhile, I started to have fun with my clothing budget. I had so much fun and got so creative that I started a blog. And eventually that blog turned into a full time career and I got to inspire other people to love fashion too. Which brings me to my next point.

4. When I realized I could make an impact on fashion journalism.

There’s a lot we could say about the darker side of the fashion industry. But that’s exactly why I wanted to blog– to change it! “Fashion” doesn’t have to mean a model walking down a runway in a $10,000 dress. Fashion is also the woman who just had a baby and has no idea how to dress her new body. The woman who is newly single and dating for the first time in a long time and doesn’t know what to wear. The college grad who just landed her first job and wants to strike a balance between fun and appropriate at the office. I realized that I could blog about uplifting topics like:  

And daily outfit posts about:

  •        re-wearing the things we’ve already bought
  •        not needing to spend a ton of money to get the style you want
  •        saving women time by doing the budget shopping for them
  •        and ultimately… making women feel a little more beautiful (see #2)

Like with everything in life, there’s a balance. We can be too hard on ourselves and shut out fashion completely. Or we can have a shopping addiction and spend too much time and money on clothes. My guess is that most of us fall somewhere between the two, and that we’re really not breaking too many rules that would require faith-based concern. I always try to strike a balance, and I’m certainly not perfect. I have moments of extreme frugality, and I’ve experienced moments of overspending as well. What I’m proposing today, is finding a place where we feel free to express our personal style, responsibly, without any faith-based guilt. If you’ve ever struggled with this, I hope today’s post can give you some inspiration to find that freedom, too!

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear your experiences with faith and fashion.