Confused.

That’s the reaction many Christian women have when it comes to fashion and God. It’s all about your heart, right? Who cares if your outfit is 12 years outdated and full of holes; as long as you have a servant’s heart, it’s all good.

Although we know God wants us to focus on our character rather than on our outward appearance, we also need to remember that we are His representatives — His ambassadors to the world (2 Corinthians 5:20). And I don’t think God wants a shabby, disheveled person as His representative. Would you?

When you represent a company, you typically dress in a business suit. You are careful that the material is ironed, that your hair is neat and in place, and that your shoes don’t have holes in them. Meeting with a client in holey jeans, a baggy t-shirt, and a bad case of bed head probably wouldn’t win you points with the boss.

Similarly, God wants His ambassadors to reflect Him. Our God is not the frumpy, dull, or ugly type; He is a God of beauty.

In Exodus, God was very particular about the quality and cleanliness of the priest’s garments (Exodus 28:2, 3). He also instructed the Israelites to build the tabernacle, with beautiful embellishments, precious metals, and intricate carvings (Exodus 26). In Proverbs 31, we read about the woman of noble character who is not only clothed in “strength and dignity,” but her clothes are “well-made and elegant” as well (25, 22).

As His daughters, we should be neat and well-dressed. This doesn’t mean we have to be decked out in the latest White House Black Market garb every time we exit our house, but we should look put-together.

The key to honoring God with our clothing is balance. In our pursuit of being a fashionable representative, we need to ask ourselves:

Am I spending more time shopping than serving God?

Does shopping time take priority over my family time?

Am I spending more money on clothes than what I’m giving to God’s work?

1 Timothy 2:9 speaks against costly clothes meant to impress others or feed our ego. Why spend $300 on a pair of shoes when you can purchase several outfits with the same amount? As in all other areas of our lives, we need to be financially responsible. We should make our dollars stretch when it comes to clothing. The good news is that all it takes to control your trendy spending is a bit of planning.

Nine Practical Ideas for Frugal Fashion:

1. Set a Budget and Stick to It

This might mean withdrawing cash ahead of time and not whipping out your credit card. Many times, I’ve impulsively tried on a dress and said, “I like how it fits and it’s on sale. I have to buy it!” Resist this temptation by sticking to a budget. Also, don’t be fooled by the word “sale.” Check the prices at other stores (or use common sense). Some stores actually raise their prices before putting items on sale. 

2. Digitize Your Shopping List

Before you head to the mall — or go on a virtual shopping safari — make a list of what you need. This helps keep your mind and your wallet focused. If you complete your “need” purchases, and have leftover cash, then you’re free to raid the clearance racks or shop for some of your “wants.”

Not only will your list keep your shopping trips on course, but you can reference your “needs” list whenever you see a sale at a store. Who knows, you may refer to your list and find that, not only are camisoles 50% off at one store but, according to your list, you actually need a new white camisole.

3. Get the Store Card

Take this tip with a grain of salt. If you aren’t good with credit cards, don’t do it! But if you can manage store cards, the savings are great. I usually take cash with me, so that I can pay the card off immediately and avoid getting hit with an unexpected bill at the end of the month. At one store I always receive 20% to 30% off if I use their card and another shop has already given me several free items of clothing. So, it’s definitely something worth investigating.