My daughter is the most confident young woman I know when it comes to clothing. I hope you’ll humor me for just a moment and let me tell you about my 14 year old not-so-girly girl. I very rarely talk about my kiddos or mothering when I blog, but I feel like there is something fantastic that we could all learn from her.
Here’s what I want you to know: She is absolutely sure of what she wants to wear, she dresses only for herself, and she wears it well. Now if you saw her, you’d probably not give her a second glance. She’s a jeans, t-shirt, Chacos and ball cap wearing gal. Her wardrobe is based on comfort, not fashion or getting boys to check out her cute little figure. She knows what’s in style and isn’t afraid to tell me when I’m “breaking the rules,” but she doesn’t really give a hoot as to how they relate to herself.
Who here can raise their hand and say they were that confident when they were a teen? What about now? I still have a hard time dressing for myself and definitely tried hard to wear all of the “right things” as a teen! Thoughts of what so-and-so may think about this outfit or “I wore that last Sunday” plague me often, if I’m being truthful.
I wish I could dress with her confidence! The world might be shouting their expectations for her, but she is NOT listening.
When it comes to clothes, I’ve experienced the full gamut as good little church girl blossoming into the yoga-pants-wearing-mom I am today.
Growing up my momma made sure we had appropriate clothing without becoming legalistic about it. As a result, I had culottes for church on Wednesday nights, because you couldn’t live in the Deep South and go to an Independent Baptist Church wearing shorts or pants. It was unheard of! I don’t think it would get you excommunicated from the church, but still…
By high school I no longer had to wear the culottes, but there were still plenty of understood expectations about my wardrobe. Oh. And I was guided by early 90’s preppy style and my love for puffed sleeves because obviously Anne Shirley and Green Gables. Melodramatic sigh.
Then I graduated and headed off to a very strict college with very specific clothing rules (my choice, mind you) where I had to wear skirts and pantyhose all the time (in 95* weather and 100% humidity), except when you were in your room or playing sports (enter culottes again!). I wore long khaki twill skirts and polo shirts the majority of the time, looking like 95% of the population of girls on campus. I am not.even.kidding.
When I got married, I finally started having the freedom to really choose how to dress. Only not so much. Even then, there were still dress codes for work and assumed ones for church that determined modesty for me. It’s all about fitting in and not rocking the boat, right?
Once my kids were both in school, I took a retail position for a clothing store. I enjoyed the fashion and the commissions, but I had to look a certain way and if you didn’t wear their clothes, it was pretty hard to sell them. Hard to beat that logic, huh? Even there my decisions were based on their guidelines.
All my life I have been dressing for other people. Of course my tastes had been factored in, but ultimately, what I put on wasn’t really a decision I made based purely on what I like, what made me happy or my personal convictions on modesty.
‘During the last couple of years Ive finally been able to dress without restrictions or limitations imposed on me. It’s been freeing. But also, it’s been convicting. I never realized how much time I spent trying to please others or get attention or, more likely, the approval, of others with my clothing.
Fashion is a fickle mistress that causes us to make some serious mistakes. (80’s anyone?) It comes down to us taking the vague directions from the Bible and forming our own personal convictions. There’s a lot of freedom in this. But guess what? That also means we need to extend a lot of grace to others as well, because how that looks is going to be different for each of us.
I’m so thankful that the guidelines we’re given in the Bible leave room for us to form our own convictions. I’m glad it leaves room for us all to express ourselves through our clothing. I’m thankful I don’t feel convicted to have 95% of my body covered in a shapeless dress and burka. I’m thankful for grace and the liberty to make my own choices. As Laura Story says…I can just be me…the graphic tee and AE Jeans and Chacos-wearing, messy bun, comfortable in my own skin, ME.