We want to appear nice--look good, dress appropriately, have a good image. But how do you not get caught up in appearances and expectations and still not seem out-of-date, behind the times, or out-of-place?
Wanting to look nice is natural and perfectly acceptable. It's fine to dress with a good sense of style. It's hard to deny that appearances are very important in society, so it makes sense to look good -- to look one's best, in fact. But, as your question implies, we don't want to become slaves to fashion, especially since Jesus tells us, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21). So, the issue is how to maintain a sense of balance.
First, we need to examine our motives for dressing in fashion and be pretty honest with ourselves. Are we dressing to become popular? to impress certain people? to fit in? Well, probably. But notice what happens when we change our motives for dressing to the following:
- to forget about ourselves;
- to show respect for ourselves and
These new motives shift the focus away from ourselves, away from what we're getting to what we're giving. Rather than try to impress and attract others by how we dress, we can work on expressing God and reflecting His beauty. God-given beauty will naturally attract others. Attraction comes because our focus truly is on God. How do we express and reflect God's beauty? We can:
- be more loving towards our classmates
and family members;
- smile at strangers and friends alike;
- listen with purpose and interest
to what others have to say;
- and we can even dress with more spontaneity,
creativity, and sensitivity, which can't
help but lead to a balance between color,
style, flair, fun AND appropriateness,
neatness, loveliness, grace.
Such actions move the attention away from self to others. When we dress to forget about ourselves, our focus is no longer on how our make-up or hair looks, whether or not our shirts are tight or loose enough, or if our jeans are in style. When we dress to respect others, we won't dress provocatively or sloppily.
A little shift away from self-focus to God-focus makes a big difference. In order to help us discover where our "treasure" is, where our "hearts" are, we may ask ourselves:
- How much time do I spend thinking
about how to be more Godlike versus
how I look?
- How long is this style going to be
"in"? Will I wear these "fad"
clothes if they go out of style? How
much money am I willing to spend on
something that will go out of style?
Rather than let the fashion industry define us, we want to define our own sense of style. Trying to keep up with all the trends not only takes our focus off of God, it takes money out of our accounts. We can have a sense of style and not be slaves to fashion. Often, we can be creative in altering clothes we already have or in finding appropriate accessories to fit styles more effectively. It's amazing what second-hand and discount stores have available. We may just want to be more selective in our purchases. We don't want to treasure fashion more than we treasure God.
The most important point, though, is to get our priorities straight and to understand what makes our appearance beautiful. If we are able to answer "yes" to the following questions, we are on our way to outwardly expressing our inner beauty:
- Do I appear settled, stable, humble,
poised, calm, compassionate?
- Do I appear confident and respectful?
- Do I appear interested in others more
than in myself?
Such appearances are really reflections of our desires to glorify God. The real motive to dress with respect is to let who we are — our God-given nature — shine through us unobstructed.