I’ve lived in California long enough to not know how Southern California clothing fashions match up with the rest of the U.S. But since the many forms of media (especially television) are so widespread, I’d assume that fashion (especially amoung the younger generation) is fairly homogeneous. Fashion runs in time cycles and geographical patterns anyway, so what’s “in” here will soon be “in” there and what’s “out” now will be “in” later. And vice versa.
I’ve been happy to see that, at least here in Southern California, long shirts are ”in” for women (for now). Not that every girl or even most girls wear these kinds of shirts, but they’re definitely “in.” For anyone who cares about purity (especially us guys), this is usually better than the short shirts that reveal a woman’s midsection whenever she’s not keeping her arms straight at her sides (and sometimes even when she is).
What disappoints me is that many believers I’ve seen seem to have only switched over to wearing these long shirts because they’re “in,” not because they’re a bit more modest (they might still be tight or provocative, but at least they cover the skin). In other words, many Christians have semi-modest clothes only when those clothes are in style. I think it should be the other way around. We should wear completely-modest clothes even when those clothes aren’t in style.
My point, though, is that accidental modesty is a very poor form of modesty. As a man, I can certainly appreciate any form of modesty. But as a Christian man, I want it to flow from a heart that understands the difference between God’s agenda and the world’s agenda, the difference between beauty adorned with godliness and a ring of gold in a pig’s nose (Proverbs 11:22), the difference between empty charm and the praiseworthy fear of the Lord (Proverbs 31:30).
I’m not trying to denigrate style and culture. Style and culture are simply the outflow of the human heart. Sometimes a cultural element can be a good overflow of the tarnished-but-still-noticeable image of God. And sometimes it can be the bad overflow of rebellious, sinful hearts. Either way, it behooves us to examine everything carefully and to know why we do what we do and wear what we wear. The alternative is to just go with the flow. Sometimes the flow might head in a decent direction for a short time, because the world will sometimes get things right by sheer providence. But just because a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in awhile doesn’t mean the other squirrels around him should just close their eyes as they do their hunting.
I’m not advocating that all women wear sackcloth and ashes instead of nice shirts and mascara. Proverbs 31:22 says that the excellent wife “makes coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.” She dresses nicely, paying attention to what she’s wearing. But there’s a big difference between dressing nicely and dressing provocatively. There’s also a big difference between wearing a modest shirt on purpose and wearing one for a few months because it’s fashionable. I’m afraid that while long shirts are “in” now (for the world and for much of the church) and that a bit of modesty has therefore crept in the backdoor, soon they will be “out” again, and that bit of modesty will be gone again, too.
Instead of Christian modesty rising and falling with the tide of culture and fashion, my hope is that it will clamber up on shore and stand firm on the ground of Scripture. And my prayer is that any form of godliness and set-apartness and wise decision-making would not be coincidental but would be biblically intentional.
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30).