Should Christians Be Fashionable?
- Tuesday, June 05, 2012
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 Who cares if your outfit is 12 years outdated and full of holes; as long as you have a servant’s heart, it’s all good.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.
4. Choose Fashions that Last
I confess, I’ve been guilty of purchasing certain items that had a very short closet life. I learned the hard way that they call certain pieces — like your little black dress — “classics” for a reason. Classics stay classy for a long time. Invest in good fad-proof clothing instead of putting money down on those new zebra print pants with polka dot pockets. Here are some wardrobe staples to consider: dark wash jeans, solid color cardigans, fun ballet flats, slim black pants, and a chic trench coat or peacoat.
5. Shop off Season
If you would like a new winter wardrobe, wait until the end-of-winter sale to stock up on new sweaters. That’s when you’ll find the best deals both in-store and online. Outlet malls are especially good places for end-of-season sales. If I need seasonal clothes, I try to shop ahead for the next year. For example, I shop for swimsuits when summer ends, store my purchase in my closet, and bring it out the following year.
6. Shop Online Clearance
The great thing about shopping online is that you can shop whenever you have free time and don’t have to worry about traffic, parking, or crowds. To top it off, they deliver to your door and, in many cases, the shipping is free.
I generally only order online if I’m comfortable with the brand and know my size at that store. If you just guess your size, there is a risk that the item won’t fit. So find out if there is a store location nearby where you can return the piece if necessary. Shipping returns back to the company may be pricey; so if there is no store nearby and you are unsure of your size, you may want to reconsider ordering.
7. Give Stores Your Basic Contact Info
Note, I did not say give them your social security number! Basic information is all they should need. If they have a free membership card that gives you points for your purchases, registering with your phone number is helpful, especially if you don’t want your wallet overflowing with cards. Give them your address and email address for coupons. Consider creating a special email account specifically for coupons. Check this shopping email account (or your coupon drawer) before you head to the mall; you might find some valuable coupons.
8. Hunt for a Good Thrift Store and/or Consignment Shop
Three dollars for a T-shirt! You can’t get much better than that. And, on top of the already low prices, some thrift stores even have sale days or give student/military/senior discounts. Helpful hint: Thrift store shopping requires a lot of patience. It takes time to look through the racks and find quality merchandise. You might have to try several stores before you find one that you like.
9. Sell and Swap Your Stuff
You can earn money by selling your unwanted clothes (and often shoes and purses) at a consignment shop. Trading your old clothes is another way to get the most out of them. Gather up a group of girlfriends and host a clothes/accessories swap.
So, in answer to the question: yes. Christians should be fashionable — as long as they go about it in a balanced way. Use these practical tips on your next shopping trip and make shopping fun again.
Felicia Alvarez is a twenty-something author who is passionate about reaching her generation for Christ. She graduated summa cum laude from Liberty University and is currently working on her second book which addresses the intersection of worldview and Christian relationships. Her mentor, Pam Farrel, says, “Felicia is a talented new voice bringing wisdom to her generation.” Connect with Felicia on her blog or on Facebook, she would love to hear from you!
Publication date: June 5, 2012
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