God cares about your ootd
Judy Lee | JULY 11, 2019 | 3 MIN READ
Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a three-part series about fashion that will be written and curated by Judy Lee, SOLA’s editorial intern.
If you think fashion and the Bible can’t go hand-in-hand, you’re ignoring one of God’s biggest gifts to humankind. In Genesis 3:21, we see how He clothes Adam and Eve with garments after their fall from Eden. When the two had nothing but shame and nakedness, God covered their bodies with the skins of slaughtered animals, symbolizing the sacrifice of Jesus that would cover far more than our bodies. But for their (and our) immediate needs, God gave clothes to be temporary markers of His grace.
In the present, our clothing seems to have an entirely different function. They are still a necessity, but fashion seems like a whole other beast. Every advertisement and every sponsored Instagram post is trying to suck us into its never-ending whirlpool of the latest vogue, especially with the rise of fast-fashion markets that bring new trends every season. It’s no wonder the industry’s been labeled by the Christian community as indulgent and a vanity.
I’ve loved fashion since I was a child. Dressing up and playing around with my wardrobe is probably one of my only surviving childhood hobbies. I even imagined working in the fashion industry. But falling into the world of Instagram, fashion influencers, and online shopping, made me question the value of fashion as a Christian. Fashion felt stigmatized and superficial. Never once did I imagine that God might call me to the industry, as much as I wanted that to be the plan. Anything to do with fashion as a career felt like an excuse of a “calling” to indulge in my addiction.
I had to step back and reevaluate fashion as a gift from God to remind myself that He can—and does—truly work through any area of our lives, fashion included.
There are more than a fair share of warnings in the Bible about vanity and external appearances. Peter’s heed to “not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear” (1 Peter 3:3) wrenches me (and probably other Christian fashion lovers) right in the heart. How can we possibly display a love of fashion when we’re explicitly instructed to limit our external adornment? Are Christians called to only wear plain, inexpensive clothing and no jewelry?
But Peter continues, “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4).
There is a clear call to prioritize the inner spirit over external appearance. This goes to show that for any human interest that consumes us, whether it’s fashion or beauty or food, the root problem is with the state of our hearts. When our hearts are in the wrong place, and clothes become our identity, yes, fashion can become an idol. Shopping can go from a fun and necessary activity to an addiction, and Instagram-hopping can go from inspiration to obsession.
In such a state, simply quitting (or trying to quit) these activities won’t fix your problems. You need to have your entire heart be transformed. When your heart is healthy and pointed towards the right direction (hint: towards God), you’ll naturally be more concerned with adorning your inner self. Clothes and accessories will merely be an overflow of that, an act of gratitude to God for first clothing your soul, then your body.
Then, and only then, does fashion become what it is meant to be: a good gift from a good Father.
Fashion is and has been a marker of culture, civilization, and status. In recent years, our relationship with fashion has become even more complicated with the rise of influencers, sweatshop labor conditions, and other conditions.
Whether you’re a top Instagram influencer, high-end designer, or just the average H&M bargain hunter, if you have the ability to use fashion to express yourself as an individual, then you can contribute to how the world sees and uses clothing. As believers, we have a responsibility to use fashion not for our own glory, but for God who clothed us with His sacrifice and grace.
In a series of looking at fashion through a Christian lens, we’ll explore two of its major relevant facets today: the fashion influencer world on Instagram and the ethical fashion movement, both of which stem from a deeper root of consumerism and materialism. We’ll see in parts 2 and 3 of this series how this is relevant to our Christian lives, and how we as members of the industry can use fashion in a God-glorifying way.
Judy Lee is a English Writing major at Biola University. She serves for the Youth Ministry at New Life Presbyterian Church of Orange County, and is a lover of all things Shane & Shane, iced coffee, Asian food, and the color peach. She is currently working on her first novel. Her fashion blogs and writing can be found on her Instagram and website, The Urban Royal.