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When you think of faith, fashion, and the bible, you may instantly think of verses that are used to say things like, “Be modest, wear a head covering, and don’t be too flashy.” Whether you grew up hearing these things or not, there’s no denying that there are verses that can be taken out of context and leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, leading you to believe that caring about fashion is shallow and ungodly. Well, I’m here to share 10 things that I believe my faith teaches me about fashion. And they might not be what you think.
1. It’s Okay To Appreciate Fashion
We’ve got to get this one out of the way first: It’s okay to appreciate, enjoy, and dare I say, have fun with fashion!
Many people may think that “dressing like a Christian” means dressing in clothes that don’t draw too much attention. Many people believe that clothes are purely for function and shouldn’t be enjoyed. I believe that there is so much beauty in fashion to be appreciated, as designed by God himself.
After all, who do you think created colors, textures, and prints? Who is the ultimate Fashion Designer?
In Exodus 28, when the Lord commands Moses to create the Priests’ garments, He says they shall be of “gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns” with “fine twined linen” and “skillfully worked”. He goes on to describe the garments in detail, and says, “For Aaron’s sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them for glory and beauty.” (Emphasis added)
This is not the first mention of clothes being made for beauty in this chapter. Early on, in verse 2, God once again states that the holy garments shall be made “for glory and for beauty.” And that creating such garments required a God-given skill. (“You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill…”)
If clothes weren’t supposed to be noticed for their beauty, then why would God describe them in such a detailed way? Gift certain people the ability to create such beauty? Or here’s the real kicker- say Himself to create certain garments for beauty?
Exodus 28:3 makes it clear that God is the one that gives the skill to create beautiful clothes. So though it’s okay to appreciate, admire, and enjoy the beauty of fashion, one key thing to remember is that you’re not meant to worship the clothes, but the Creator behind them. Enjoy the beauty of clothing. Just remember who the beauty belongs to.
“For Aaron’s sons you shall make tunics; you shall also make sashes for them, and you shall make caps for them, for glory and for beauty." -Exodus 28:40
2. There’s No Need To Stress About What To Wear When Times Are Tight
God will always take care of our clothing needs so we never have to worry about what we’ll wear. No, this doesn’t mean that God will plan out all our outfits for us (though that’d be great), but it does mean that if times are tight, there’s no need to ever stress if you or your family will be clothed. Because our heavenly Father knows what we need, and in one way or another, if we seek Him first (Matthew 28:33), He’ll provide it.
Because if He takes care of the birds in the air and the flowers in the field, then we can know that He’ll take care of us because we are so much more valuable to Him.
"And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" -Matthew 6:28-30
3. Dressing in High-Quality Clothing Is Encouraged
There is a misconception out there that dressing as a Christian means buying the cheapest clothes you can and then giving whatever money you have left over to the poor. Though I’m not one to speak on someone’s personal convictions, you may be surprised to know that it’s not wrong to purchase more expensive high-quality clothing. In fact, it’s encouraged.
The Proverbs 31 woman is revered as a woman who fears the Lord. She is an “excellent wife” who takes care of her household. And in taking care of her household, she makes sure they are clothed well in high-quality fabrics, such as scarlet.
She herself is clothed in fine linen and purple. Not only is purple a symbol of royalty, as you may know, but purple clothing in those days was a sign of wealth, prosperity, and luxury too.
In ancient times, acquiring purple clothing required a complicated dye process using snails. Needless to say, it was not easily accessible. In fact, some believed it to be more valuable than gold. And yet, it was specifically noted that this godly woman was clothed in purple.
The Proverbs 31 woman is respected and praised for all does, and these key details about what she wears are not in the bible by accident.
"She is not afraid of the snow for her household,For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple." -Proverbs 31:21-22
4. Dress Well, but Pay More Attention to Internal Beauty
When some people read 1 Peter 3:3 saying that beauty shouldn’t be external, they take that to mean you shouldn’t partake in anything that shows external beauty, and that wearing gold jewelry and braiding your hair is wrong.
But what it means is that your beauty shouldn’t just be external. This verse does not mean that you are prohibited from doing these things, it just means that’s not where your beauty should derive from. The body is more than clothing (Luke 12:23).
Dress well, sure, but do not obsess over the external. And certainly don’t let external beauty be the only thing you have. Your true worth is not in your appearance.
Go ahead and throw on those classic gold hoops, but know that being “clothed with righteousness (Psalm 132:9)” is more important. Clothe your heart in righteousness, not Gucci!
5. It’s Okay To Enjoy Luxury and Designer Items (in Its Proper Place)
Ah, should a Christian purchase designer items? The big debate. But it’s important to recognize that one person’s designer handbag is another person’s nice car. Designer items seem to get all the judgment. Why get a Chanel bag when a Target purse will do just fine? Well, then why get a new Honda Pilot when a used Toyota Sienna would do just fine?
Some say go ahead and some say it’s a sin because that money should be given to the poor instead. Though, who cares what “some” say. What does the bible say? (And at that, make sure you cross reference everything I’m saying for yourself.)
I believe that purchasing and enjoying some designer items are okay when they’re done in a way that glorifies God. In my belief, glorifying God means making decisions in a financially smart way.
Meaning you’re not making these extravagant purchases until you’re out of debt, tithing to the church, giving extra, and taking care of your family. Then with the extra wealth that God has so graciously given you, can you guilt-free indulge in some of these blessings.
If you think having extra wealth is wrong, then just think of King David. David was “a man after God’s own heart”, yet was shockingly rich and dressed in extravagant clothing made of fine linen and purple.
To refresh your memory on the importance of purple clothing, recently, a scientific discovery has been made on an archaeological expedition. Textiles have been discovered from the age of King David and King Solomon and now, we are able to have evidence of the dyed fabrics from these biblical times. Dr. Naama Sukenik says King David’s clothes contained “the most highly valued of the dyes, which often cost more than gold.” (Source)
I don’t think it’s much of a jump to assume that King David’s clothes could very well be the equivalent of today’s high-end designers. Or consider Abraham, King Solomon, and Job, all wealthy men that enjoyed the finer things in life (literally- fine silver and gold) because God made them wealthy.
In Ezekial 16, when God is painting a picture of His love for us despite us being unfaithful, He uses expensive and high-quality clothing to fill in the brush strokes of this picture.
In this metaphor, we are clothed with embroidered cloth, fine leather, fine linen, and silk. We are ornamented with bracelets, rings, earrings, and crowns, made out of the finest gold and silver. This is yet another picture of how God can use beautiful clothing as a blessing and a way to show His love.
If you’re in a position of wealth and extra possessions and can splurge on items you’ve always wanted, then rejoice and enjoy, but never forget that it is a gift from God.
"Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God." -Ecclesiastes 5:18-19
Related: Will God Make My Dreams Come True?
6. Don’t Dress With the Intention To Show Off
As you know by now, purchasing something (even something designer) because it’s beautiful, high-quality, and/or practical is of course, not a bad thing to do. But buying anything to purposefully “show off” or to try to make others jealous is a bad thing to do.
Buying something with the intention of boasting about your life or creating others to want what you have is a godless thing to do. (Literally- it is not from God. It’s what the bible says!)
Of course, you can not control what makes one person jealous. It could be a pair of Madewell jeans for one person or a pair of designer sandals for another. But you can control whether or not you purchase something with impure motives so you don’t become conceited and purposefully cause others to envy (Galatians 5:26).
Your part is to continually check your heart before purchasing an item to see if the real reason you want this is to show off your wealth or make other people jealous.
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." -1 John 2:16
7. Be Content With What You Can Afford
It’s a fact of life: some people have more than others. Some of it is based on lifestyle and job choices, and some of it can not be explained.
And though I’m sure we would all take a little more if offered, this life lesson remains: Be content with what you can afford. Whether you’re making 30k or 130k each year, shopping at Old Navy or Neiman Marcus, this is a life lesson that will change your life, wardrobe, and credit card balance once learned.
You may think that someone making 130k/year would have no reason to be discontent. But that’s the thing with contentment. It has nothing to do with what’s on your pay stub and everything to do with what’s on your heart stub.
Don’t put your treasure and value in the brands you wear, because what you’re really doing is putting your heart there. (Matthew 6:21)
The sooner you can be content with the type of clothes you can afford, the sooner you’ll be happy. And the sooner you realize that though expensive clothes can be fun to have, the sooner you’ll realize there’s more to life.
Do not go into debt to keep up with the Joneses. The Joneses aren’t actually all that happy.
"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." -Hebrews 13:5
8. Be Wise With Your Wardrobe
We are told to be wise in everything we do and there’s no reason to think this doesn’t extend to our wardrobes. So how does this work?
Taking wisdom from Proverbs 31 once again, we can see that “trading well” is a good quality to be had. Part of trading well means doing your research. And for modern-day applications, this means knowing which clothing retailers are worth purchasing from and knowing where to shop for what.
It’s also knowing when it’s worth splurging and when it’s not. After all, a Burberry trench coat could be the same quality as one from Everlane, for half the cost. Being wise and doing your research means you are “trading” your money well, getting the right clothing items in exchange.
And when you are being wise with your clothes, you are also being cautious. So how does this play out practically? Well, if you are shopping secondhand, be cautious and inspect your clothing. Don’t bring home a bunch of items with holes, rips, and stains.
Be cautious about buying another pair of jeans when you already have 10 in your wardrobe. Be wise and cautious about what you need and when.
"How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!" -Proverbs 16:16
Related: Can Fashion Glorify God? & Other Thoughts About God and Work
9. Fashion Can Be Used as a Blessing
If you want to know how fashion can be a curse and not a blessing, then take the example of the two men in Luke 16, the rich man, and Lazarus, the poor man.
The rich man has made a show of his wealth, ignoring Lazarus who lay at his gate hoping to just catch a few crumbs. When they both die, the rich man goes to hell while the poor man, Lazarus, goes to heaven. The rich man made such a show of his wealth, with no regard for anyone else.
If you have extra clothes or simply way more than you need, it can be a big blessing to share your wardrobe with someone that doesn’t have what you have.
Whether it’s as simple as passing along a shirt you know your best friend has been eyeing or donating half your wardrobe to the poor, keeping a loose grip on your material possessions is a great way to love your neighbor and prove that fashion can be a blessing.
In Job 42:11, after Job’s wealth was restored, Job’s friends and family each gifted him with a gold ring as a token of love, esteem, and friendship.
Proving you love your neighbor doesn’t mean forsaking all you have and clothing yourself in a pillowcase. It can even be gifting someone a clothing item you know they want and would never buy for themselves. If this is done as a “token of love”, then it can be a huge blessing to someone.
"John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” -Luke 3:11
10. Do Not Show Favoritism Based on How Someone Is Dressed
In a self-focused world, we have become all too natural at quickly judging whether or not someone will be of use to us. At networking events, instead of getting to truly know someone else, we are instead mentally calculating if this person can benefit us or help us climb the social or corporate ladder.
If we see someone dressed in filthy, ratty clothing, most of us are probably going to turn the other way, instead paying more attention to the wealthy-looking person. I could say, “Well, you never know who’s truly the rich one…”, but that’s not the point.
The point is that we shouldn’t be showing favoritism period. We are not to judge with evil thoughts or discriminate against those that don’t look as fashionable.
And though it’s tempting as selfish humans to want to be friends with the rich, stylish friend, we should treat all people equally, no matter what label they are (or aren’t) wearing.
"Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?" - James 2:2-4
Though the bible may not specifically touch on what clothes to buy and where to shop, I believe that faith and fashion intersect and there are biblical principles we can apply to our wardrobes today.
For other principles that may very well change your wardrobe, check out 10 Principles for a Good Wardrobe That Will Transform Your Closet!