Queen Elizabeth ii was a sterling example of feminine royalty in dress. Because she was only 5 feet, 3 inches tall, she wore tones to help her be seen in crowds. And that style was regal, modest and a style all her own.
We now live in a society that no longer sees regal dress as important. It prioritizes comfort and convenience. Everything is casual. This is happening in many areas, but it is especially obvious in personal appearance and dress. An “I don’t care” vibe prevails around our appearance, showing itself not just in slovenly dress but bizarre and freakish looks. This sad trend is made worse with a general attack on godly womanhood and femininity.
It is common to see women wearing leggings, athletic shoes and hair pulled back messily as they do errands around town. “Take me as I am” is in style. “I couldn’t be bothered” is in style.
Do we fall into this trap because society’s standard has dropped so low?
“Does Your Appearance Count?”, an article in the March 1982 Good News, made this thought-provoking point: “You may easily see many faults in the dress and appearance of others, especially when they are extreme. But how do you appear to other people? And more important, how do you appear before God? Is He concerned?”
That is a great thing to remember. We might not dress our best or worry about our appearance because we don’t plan on running into anyone we know—and forget that we represent God and always want to maintain that royal standard for Him.
Dress and Keep
“When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He commanded them to dress and keep the garden (Genesis 2:15),” the Good News continued. “Here is a great principle: We should properly care for what God gives us. We should not let it grow up in weeds and thistles. It should be kept in good condition, neat and orderly.
“This principle applies to our property and our homes, as well as to our persons. It includes how we dress, how we keep our hair, how clean we are.” As with any cherished possession, our bodies should be cared for and presented in the most appealing manner. A woman ought to take care of herself, including her outward appearance, through means such as regular exercise, properly fitted clothing and flattering hairstyles.
Consider what your look communicates to others—to God and to other people, including, very importantly, your husband and children. We shouldn’t use a busy lifestyle and children as an excuse to look dowdy. We want to make our appearance enough of a priority that we reflect royal thinking.
The Art of Dressing Well
God’s people should be a light to the world and set a good example (Matthew 5:14). This includes our dress. Herbert W. Armstrong warned against following extreme worldly fads in dress, but he also advocated dressing in style, within God’s standards.
Dressing well is an art.
A common misconception is that one must have wealth to dress nicely. In reality, one can look very nice on limited resources, and another can possess great wealth and look quite frumpy. Wealth can actually result in haphazard fashion since it provides the means to satisfy every last whim and desire. Having a limited budget forces you to think about your wardrobe, which can cause you to be more discerning about what is suitable for you. Avoid thinking that a tight or limited budget means you can’t dress nicely or with good style.
As a student at Ambassador College, I was given an article titled “Individuality in Dress: The Secret of the Well-Dressed Woman,” by Paul Poiret, published in Harper’s Bazaar in 1912. Poiret wrote that dressing well “is not an easy art to acquire. It demands a certain amount of intelligence, certain gifts, some of them among the rarest, perhaps—it requires a real appreciation of harmony of lines, of colors—ingenious ideas, absolute tact, and above all, a love of the beautiful and clear perception of values. It may be [summarized] in two words: good taste.”
The golden principle for the well-dressed woman was expressed by the Old Roman word decorum, which means “that which is suitable.” A well-dressed woman chooses attire and adornments that are suited to her, items that make her more pleasing. She does not choose based on who else is wearing that style—thus sacrificing her individuality—or in a vain effort to display the appearance of wealth. Good style brings out a woman’s personal type of beauty.
Obviously, our style should not draw undue attention to ourselves or attempt to appeal inappropriately to the opposite sex. Fashion designer Sarah LaFleur said, “Your clothes should be the least interesting thing about you.” Strive for balance. Sabbath services, for example, are not a fashion show to see who is wearing the nicest outfit. But we shouldn’t go to the other extreme and shrug off caring for ourselves because we don’t want to be “vain.” Maintain right perspective.
Sidebar: How to Enhance Natural Beauty
Be clean and neat.
Buy modest, nicely fitting clothes that show your figure but don’t show it off.
Buy clothes that enhance your natural skin tones.
Get a good haircut.
Exercise so you have a fit, trim and toned body, and so your skin is rosy from circulating blood.
Learn about nutrition and eat healthy foods so your body is working well and is clean on the inside.
Smile! Negativity always makes one look less attractive. Positive people are magnetic.
Develop the mind.
A woman who is God-fearing, intelligent, knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects, trustworthy, responsible and able to express herself well is an attractive person.
—From “Upholding God’s Standards in Dress and Appearance,” by Stephen and Amy Flurry
Sidebar: Here are six reasons why you should care about your appearance and standard of dress:
1. It is a form of self-respect.
When you take the time to care for your appearance, you stand a little straighter and hold your head a little higher. Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Bodily apparel is also used in the Bible to symbolize character. There is a kind of pride that is not vanity, but rather concern for others and respect toward God. That kind of pride we should have.”
2. It is a way to express outgoing concern for others.
Through proper dress and appearance, we elevate the setting for everyone and put others at ease. A sloppy appearance and signs of poor hygiene make others uncomfortable.
3. It forms others’ first impressions.
When you enter an office, lobby or classroom, there is a moment where everyone’s attention is on you. Unfair as it may seem, your outward appearance immediately causes others to react to you. That first impression can shape lasting opinions and can make you either magnetic or repellent to those around you.
4. It is a way to preserve God’s culture.
Grace, femininity, modesty and poise are almost nonexistent in women today. We can help preserve true womanhood by caring for our appearances in a way that preserves and promotes godly femininity. In the World Tomorrow, we will teach women and girls to embrace a feminine style and to dress like ladies.
5. It provides an example for those younger.
Good grooming and personal cleanliness habits are learned behaviors, instilled through daily routine. Your children will imitate your grooming and cleanliness habits. Looking after yourself helps your children to care about how they present themselves as well. If we are sloppy in the way we dress and carry ourselves, we can expect our children to follow suit. Alternatively, you can inspire the younger generation and show them that it is possible to dress stylishly yet modestly.
6. We are royalty.
Our elevated positions as God’s nobility should no doubt reflect in our outward appearance.
Don’t follow the ways of the world, either in slovenly dress and appearance, or in ostentatious, extreme styles. Take on a royal mindset and prioritize presenting yourself in a way that reflects high personal standards, an effort to care for what God has given you, and a desire to represent Him with dignity, beauty and class.