|Country Style fashion, June 2011|
"How do you understand and apply 1 Peter 3:3-5, 'Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.'"
This is one of the questions I'll be answering in a TV interview this morning, while wearing an outfit not unlike the Country Style styled ensemble above (thanks to my sister, who has leant me a lovely black Marcs dress for the occasion).
My basic answer would be that while your wardrobe and outer beauty should not become the focus of your being, and most certainly not at the expense of your spiritual, intellectual, professional, creative and/or relational development (see Amy Choi's 'Avoiding Temptation'), the way you present yourself – more particularly, as a Christian woman – should come from an inner desire to please God, and not others or the self.
The outward working of this is between the individual and God; and my sense of appropriate sartorial expression has been a gradual awakening tempered on the one hand by the word of God and on the other time spent with serious fashion students who treat attire with more than an uncontrollable shop-shop-shop desire.
Conformity to prevailing cultural standards, institutional standards and church standards each have their part to play in the formation of self identity expressed outwardly, particularly for women outside of schools (nothing like convent schooling to propel one out of sartorial conformity!) and uniform job roles.
In 'Sad but true, sisters: dress for success', Adele Horin writes, "A mother I know was unsurprised that her daughter, a postgraduate student, was treated like a child when she approached a company for access to their archives to further her research work. The company sent the young woman away with a few glossy brochures. ''If you dress like a 16-year-old, expect to be treated like a 16-year-old,'' she told her daughter, who heeded the lesson."
Coincidentally, the Marcs dress is from David Jones, where rumours still circulate about the liberties taken by a certain former CEO, which brings me to a very excellent second question I'm to be asked today: "Men often contribute to women's discomfort with their physical appearance. Is there anything men can do to be part of the solution, rather than the problem?". More on that to come!
Girl With a Satchel