The Gospel and Wardrobe Crises

DSCN2851I’m convinced that all women experience a wardrobe crisis at least once in their lives. (Insert disclaimer about first world problems here. #America) Whether it’s the freshman 15, baby weight or just life in general, there comes a time when you feel like you have nothing to wear.

For the sake of my gentlemen readers, let me explain the list of criteria that must be met when a woman is choosing what to wear. If, at any point, the chosen outfit fails to meet just one of these criterion, the process must start over again, from the beginning, with an entirely different outfit. It’s exhausting, really.

Believe it or not, these outfits were appropriate… for a Thrift Store Prom.
Believe it or not, these outfits were appropriate… for a Thrift Store Prom.

Criteria #1 – Event Appropriate
The clothes a woman chooses must be event appropriate. This is why you will often overhear women asking each other “What are you gonna wear?” While some may find this question superficial and verbose, the truth of the matter is that the question is often necessary for gathering pertinent information.

To illustrate, if you are invited to someone’s house for dinner, what should you wear? You can’t answer that question without asking for more information. Who’s going to be there? What is my relationship with these people? Is it casual or professional, long-term friends or new acquaintances? How do they usually dress? Are we having a sit-down meal or an outdoor barbecue? Do they have children?

Criteria #2 — Modest
For women who desire to follow Christ, the wardrobe crisis can be even more difficult. Clothes must not reveal too much. Christian women who have been in church for more than a few years have heard multiple messages about the importance of modesty. (It usually accompanies the annual sermon addressing the issue of lust.) The low-cut tank top you use for a swim suit cover-up should probably not be worn to your neighborhood picnic. Unless the picnic happens to be at your neighborhood pool, in which case you should probably reference the first criterion again.

Criteria #3 – In Style

The 70's called…
The 70’s called…

The older you get, the more grace there is in how current your fashion should be, but the majority of women want to be current. Take jeans, for instance. The high-wasted, tapered leg “mom jeans” of the 90’s are the new “it” thing in 2014, provided they aren’t acid wash or some other equally dated wash of denim. (Fashion is tricky like that. Trends come full circle with just enough amendments to make it futile to try to wait until they come back around before getting rid of old items.) If the event appropriate, modest dress you choose to wear to a black tie gala has puffy sleeves because you wore it as a bridesmaid in the 80’s, look for a different dress to wear. If you’re going to a Thrift Store Prom, it’s fine.

dress shoppingCriteria #4 – Fits Properly
While there can be some overlap with this and criteria #2, this is the more sensitive area of the wardrobe crisis. Once a woman has made it this far in the list of standards for clothing, it can be devastating to have chosen an outfit that no longer fits properly, especially if the attire is now too small. This is the point when tears are most likely to happen, when men should tread lightly and when plans may or may not change depending on the severity of the wardrobe crisis. Note: telling a woman to buy bigger clothes or go to the gym, while logical solutions, will NOT be received well.

Criteria #5 – Shoeswooden shoes
I have been known to have the perfect outfit to wear until I remember that I can’t wear flip-flops or sneakers with said outfit. As ridiculous as it sounds, a woman needs shoes that match the outfit. By match, I don’t just mean the colors should work together favorably. Open-toed, close-toed, wedge, stiletto, flat,… they all mean something different. If you have to consider the comfort level of the shoes, just plan on adding another hour to the “getting ready” process because fashion is painful and comfort is not always stylish.

Criteria #6 – Weather
It fits, it’s event appropriate, you have just the right shoes and it’s modest, but it’s sleeveless and a cold front just blew through. Three options: wear your date’s sport coat over your dress all night, freeze or go back to the drawing board, a.k.a. the closet.

Criteria #7 – Wearability
Wearability depends on the time frame in which you’re choosing what to wear. For an outfit to be wearable it needs to be clean, pressed and have all the buttons or fasteners necessary to be worn. If any of these details are lacking, they can be remedied given enough time. However, if the outfit needs to be dry cleaned and you’re already running late, anticipate a meltdown.

Those are the criteria. There might be more for someone who’s more fashion savvy than me: color palettes, fabrics and whatnot. For me, these seven are more than enough and they give guys an idea about why it can take a girl so long to decide what to wear. If it were to be made into a Venn diagram, it might look a little something like this: wardrobe Venn diagram

I’m so thankful Jesus didn’t add a bunch of rules and regulations about what we should or shouldn’t wear. We complicate it enough all by ourselves. The only time I see clothing being a real issue in the Bible is in Genesis when God finds it necessary to replace the fig leaf attire with animal skins. Otherwise, you’ve got John the Baptist who wore camel’s hair and a leather belt, David dancing naked in worship and Joseph’s coat of many colors (which was a source of tension more than a statement of fashion).

Through the prophet Isaiah, we learn that Jesus comes to give us a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3). He goes on to say,

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
 my soul shall exult in my God, 
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
 he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
 and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (vs. 10)

Sounds to me like God’s got the wardrobe crisis under control. Jesus seems to confirm it in the Sermon on the Mount:

“And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:28-33)

Texas doesn't have fields of lilies; we have wildflowers.
Texas doesn’t have fields of lilies; we have wildflowers.