As a teenager all I wanted to do was fit in with others. Growing up in a small Christian school there were a lot of rules for the dress code, and my parents had taught me modesty from a young age. But public high school is a whole different world! I only knew a couple people there, and was desperate to fit in. I admittedly strayed from my modesty standards for a bit, in hopes of fitting it more. Thankfully I realized the error of my ways and slowly began caring less and less what other students thought of the way I dressed.
Fast forward to adulthood and I am right back in the trap of conforming and fitting in! But this time, modesty is the culprit. I don’t know about you, but where I live there are not a lot of modestly dressed ladies in the way you or I might think. I’m talking higher cut shirts, skirts knee length or longer, etc. As someone who is an exclusive skirt wearer, I stand out in a crowd! However, I have been using that to my advantage as a platform to start a discussion on modesty should anyone question my wardrobe choices (and they do!). Dressing in skirts and dresses only is a fairly new choice for me (I started in 2014) but I figured “If I am going to be dressing this way, I want to show others that you can still be stylish without compromising modesty!”. Sounds like a fair idea, right?
I can’t pinpoint the exact date, but somewhere along the way I became so focused on looking “trendy” and “young and fun”, that I found myself really struggling with clothing. I wanted to appear trendy so that people would see my outfits and want to dress similarly. The young and fun element came in because I am constantly worried about dressing frumpy or older than my 26 years. I provide leadership for a teen Bible study and was really stressing about clothes on the days we’d meet, because I wanted to be a modest and fashionable example to my students.
While my desires were admirable in my mind, I know it grew out of control. I would literally be standing outside my closet, whining to my husband that I had nothing to wear (my closet spans an entire wall … so I obviously had enough clothing!). He would come and hold up a skirt or sweater and ask why I didn’t just wear those items. I’d usually sigh and tell him they were too frumpy or too old fashioned or something like that. In reality, I truly liked most of my clothing, but I couldn’t get past the expectations I set for myself.
Now, while I liked my clothes, the way in which I wore them stressed me out more often than not. For example, in my area, leggings are still very much a trend. Women wear them as pants (I know … the horror!), but I wore them with a tunic to show one can still be on trend without showing everything off. Sure, my outfit looked fine and was more modest than what others were wearing, but I was so uncomfortable! I felt weirdly exposed, even though my whole body was literally all covered. But I wanted so badly to still fit in, to conform to the world’s idea of fashion while still clinging to my modesty standards, that I pushed my discomfort aside.
It was only recently that I realized how frustrated I was becoming with my clothing, and how little I liked what I had been wearing, in the way I was wearing it. So now I am turning over a new leaf. I have been going through my closet and filling bags with clothes to donate. If there is something I have been keeping because it is trendy, but I don’t like it, then into the bag it goes. If there are pieces I felt that I should keep, but were never worn, it gets donated. I have filled about three bags already and it feels good! Knowing what type of clothing I like, and knowing my personal style, helps me only wear things that make me feel comfortable. I have raised my modesty standards and will not be faltering this time around. I know who I am, I know Who created me, and I know Who values me regardless of how trendy I appear.
It is also obvious that I will still stick out in a crowd because of my fashion choices, but I am okay with that. If someone approaches me to comment on my clothing, I will still gently share my reasons for dressing modestly. But I am not putting nearly as much stock in my worldly appearance.