Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Dressing Classy!

I have decided to take a deep breath and write a post on an area I've always felt too intimidated to blog about. It's also felt like there are already countless numbers of people far, far more informed in matters of fashion than I am (or ever will be) who already blog about this subject. However, I do feel that the Lord has taken me on a journey over the last few years in this area, which may be worth sharing for anyone out there who (like me!) is in the process of learning what it means to dress femininely, modestly and classy! :D By no means do I claim to be an expert in this, after all, it is a grey area with a mix of personal convictions and tastes, and God by His grace is teaching me more every day! It's my prayer that this post will prompt you to investigate further and find ways to dress in an elegant, classy, fashionable and modest way! :)

From Pinterest

So, here are a few tips I have learned in my quest to dress in a more classy way!

1. Dress with modesty

From Pinterest
This one really should go without saying, but it is something all of us young ladies struggle with to some degree - there seem to be so many disagreements and "dos" and "don'ts" in this area among Christian circles. I've written a post about this here which you can look at, and there are many great articles avaliable online which go into more detail as to why we need to dress modestly. A truly classy woman is always modestly dressed! :) If you look at fashion icons both past and present (think Audrey Hepburn and Kate Middleton among others) who have a classy style it quickly becomes clear that they generally dress or dressed in a modest way which draws more attention to their face and inner beauty than mere outward appearance. Our dress should draw others (especially guys) to Christ, not just ourselves.
"Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 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 3:3-4 ~
From Pinterest
Important as this issue is, I think we also have to remember grace: if you are a girl who is a new believer, while I would encourage you to look into this further, do remember that "the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). If you dress modestly (great as that is and I would encourage you to!) but your motive in doing so is "because my parents told me to" or "because I want to look really godly to everyone and earn God's favour", then I really urge you to go to God's word and see how this thinking is wrong. Our hearts have to be right with God before we can truly be dressing our character modestly as well as our outer appearance.  No matter how outwardly modest you may appear, God looks at our hearts, and modest dress will naturally flow out from a heart that wants to honour and serve Him! :)

From Pinterest
Guys, I'm going to put a note in here for you too (if any of you happen to be reading this)! When the topic of modesty comes up, it's easy to focus on what we as young ladies need to be doing. But really, we are only 50% of the equation. Some guy friends once asked me and some of my girl friends what we percieve to be immodest in guys. That one had me stumped for a long while but after thinking about it lately I think I have an answer based on this passage:  "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28)

Yes, we ladies have a responsibility to make things easier for you and to not cause you to stumble, but when you give us the attention that we are seeking when we dress provocatively, you reafirm in our eyes that in order to get your attention we need to dress that way and you can send the same message to girls in the room who are making an effort to dress modestly and not to cause you to stumble, tempting them to lower their standards. This creates a vicious cycle on both your side and ours. I want to challenge you that if you look around and feel tempted to complain that all the girls of your acquantince dress immodestly that you also examine your own heart and actions and see whether you or your guy friends also are contributing to the issue in this way, and are sending girls the message that you will only notice them based on how much skin they are willing to reveal. For you to be modest means to take this verse in Matthew as seriously as God takes it and to see it as applying even at this level. Instead, try to see all girls, modestly dressed or not, as your sisters in Christ and treat them respectfully as such. I'm sure it'll make a world of difference! :)

2. Research!

Whewf, now that the tricky and most controversial one is out of the way, we can move on to some more practical ideas! :-) a Pinterest page and start researching the different styles, eras and famous people that you wish to base your classy "look" upon. I have a Pinterest page where I put all my ideas ( I tend to focus on what is most important to me (that something looks and is modest) and work out from there. This means that some outfits on my page I would never personally wear or match a certian way, but I do love the way the person has created a modest outfit, and wish to integrate these ideas in the way I wear my clothing. You may prefer to stick to pinning styles that are quintesentally you (especially if you don't use Pinterest much): just do whatever works best for you. :-)

Audrey Hepburn style! From Pinterest
Over time as you do this, you will generally find a pattern emerging as to exactly what kinds of clothing items you prefer. For myself personally, I have discovered that I lean towards knee-length (or midi) skirts and dresses rather than floor-length ones, I prefer dresses/skirts over more casual items like jeans, I love bygone eras (most particularly the '50s!) to be reflected in some way through my clothing, and I do like the classy style of women such as Audrey Hepburn and Kate Middleton. It is through creating a pin board of clothing that I have come to recognise these preferences that I have. A word of caution about doing this however: be careful not to let this make you envious of what other people have (it's easy to covet that $500 coat which is well beyond your budget!) and don't get addicted to spending too much time on Pinterest (haha I'm more than guilty of this one)! ;-) Feel free to check out my Pinterest boards devoted specifically to dressing or a Facebook page, Dressing to the Glory of God, I have started on the subject to get you started! :-)

3. Find local (and affordable!) options

In many ways, this is the hardest step. It's easy to want to create a Kate Middleton look, but let's face it, not many of us have quite as big a budget as she does for clothing! Especially if you are a student (like me) it is necessary to find ways to dress classy without spending lots and lots of money. It becomes even worse when you are in a small country like New Zealand where there are not as many options (I still don't entirely like buying clothing online when I can help it). Many people are under the illusion that to dress well it costs a lot, but from personal experience, I think it is more about being strategic and taking a bit of time to find affordable solutions. It has probably been said many times before but op shops/second hand stores are absolutely amazing when it comes to finding items that would normally not be affordable. For those in New Zealand, Save Mart is my personal favourite. :-) They have a massive selection and virtually every time I manage to find what I need. Most of my favourite skirts are from there. :)

Other great New Zealand stores that I have found have a lot of modest clothing (that is not to say that everything on these sites is modest, use your own discretion!) are:

However, even more mainstream and cheaper clothing shops can potentially be used to dress modestly if you are strategic and put a bit of extra effort into it such as by using layering (camisoles are a lifesaver!)
From Pinterest

4.  Buy several staple classy items 

I'd recommend buying several classy items and working your way up from there. If you have a small budget and are starting pretty much from scratch as I did, maybe buy some staple items that are good and brand new quality from on sale at one of the above stores and then to use second hand shops like Save Mart to widen your selection of items such as skirts in order to keep costs down. It's worked for me. :) Some of my own favourite staple items (aka items I wear frequently and use as a base to add with other things) are as follows: 

  • Coats (my latest favourite!) :D
  • Bootcut/bootleg jeans 
  • Camisoles (for wearing under most of my shirts to stop things being too transparent or revealing clevage etc.)
  • White top (goes with virtually anything!)
  • Cardigans (one black and one white, as those colours go with almost anything)
  • Skirts - especially blue/black ones in winter and pink/white ones in summer.
  • Dresses, some formal, some more casual - especially for church/special occasions.
  • Bolero/little cardi - for wearing over dresses for extra warmth
  • Black boots with a small heel (again, goes with just about anything, I wear them all the time in winter!)
  • Heels
  • Ballet flats


5. Final tips

To finish this post, here are some final tips that have helped me:
  •  Simple is often best - dressing classy means you often feel over-dressed if you are not careful! Many a time, I have turned up to something in heels and a dress or skirt only to suddenly feel out of place. Dress classy but get to know ways to tone down an otherwise dressy outfit (e.g. less accessories, the use of a coat over a dress, less make-up, ballet flats instead of heels etc.)
  • Wear for the weather and circumstances - tempting as it is to dress up fancy every day (well, at least it is for me!) sometimes wearing a floaty skirt on a gusty day is simply not a good idea and will put you in a place of perpetual discomfit all day long! :P Similarly if you are going to be doing running around activities or rock climbing, wearing those heeled boots may not be the greatest idea (yes, I am guilty of this too!). :-/ Save yourself unnecesssary stress by thinking carefully about what the weather is like and what you will be doing throughout the day. 
  • Find your own unique style - despite these factors don't be intimidated or afraid of dressing in a way that flatters the body God has given you, and that suits your personality and personal preferences. Your style will probably look a lot different from mine and it's not wrong to favour a more casual approach (I have loads of friends who much prefer jeans over a skirt any day!) But what I want to encourage you is that it is possible even through dressing casually to have an element of classiness and to be able to express your femininity and be modest. We will always slip up at some points (I know I still have a long way to go in this area as my friends who are fellow authors on this blog will be able to testify!) but God can and does help us to honour Him in the way we present ourselves, no matter how many times we slip up! :)
God bless - you are in my prayers today! :)

1 comment:

Emily Blakeney said...

Hi Violet! I've tagged you at my blog:

Please don't feel obliged to do it if you have already :)

God bless, Emily