Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I commented once to my sister-in-law that I had learned just enough fashion protocol growing up to be miserably uncomfortable in almost any social setting. In other words, I know enough to understand that there was a right way and a wrong way of doing things...and that whatever I am currently doing is probably the wrong thing.

Here are a few time-distorted fragments of what I picked up as a child:
*A lady always wears a slip underneath a dress or skirt. Lack of a slip is irrefutable evidence of lack of moral character.
*Shoes should be the same color as or darker than the hem. And white shoes are almost always a no-no.
*Accessories should match, or at least be deliberately co-ordinated. Wearing black shoes? Then wear a black belt and carry a black purse.
*White is never worn after Labor Day or before Memorial Day.
*A lady is practically undressed if she is not wearing lipstick.
(I have faint memories of other rules about hair, open-toed shoes, eye makeup, eye contact, and a host of other things, but have apparently repressed these so deeply that I cannot clearly recall them.)

The topic came up in conversation because I was having difficulty finding a slip - there were NONE in any of the stores in Obion County - and I hoped maybe my sister-in-law knew where I could purchase such an essential item. She looked at me and laughed - she laughed. "Good grief! You have got to be kidding! Nobody wears slips anymore." I sat in shocked silence. Had the world around me really degenerated into such...such looseness? But my sister-in-law wore skirts and dresses, and I knew she wasn't a "loose woman" - did she really go out in public (gasp!) slip-less?

A funny thing happened to me in college because of my peculiar understanding of fashion. A very nice young man invited me to attend his fraternity's winter social. I immediately asked, "What are we supposed to wear?" He replied, "It's dress up."

Well, he came to pick me up for the dinner/dance wearing a tux and carrying a corsage. Me? I was "dressed up" as a shepherd (Seemed appropriate for a Christmas party...shepherds watched their flocks by night, right?) Fred gawked for a minute, then managed to ask, "Why are you wearing that?" Clueless, I answered, "You said it was 'dress up' - isn't it obvious that I'm a shepherd? Why in the world are you wearing that?"

It didn't take us long to figure out that what Fred meant by "dress up" was what I had always heard called "formal" - in my vocabulary, "formal" meant tuxedos and evening gowns, whereas "dress up" meant costumes. We both got a big laugh out of the misunderstanding, and, since I did not have an evening dress available in my dorm room, we set out for the evening as a nattily-dressed young man escorting a rather humble shepherdess wearing a corsage. (I wonder what Fred's parents thought when they saw the pictures from Winter Social!)

* * * * *

Several years ago, right after my family had moved to Millington, I attended a community Thanksgiving service hosted by several area churches. An exciting young preacher had recently accepted a pulpit in town, so, as a way of welcoming him into the community, he was asked to preach that evening's sermon. His topic was The Wedding Feast of the Lamb, based on Revelation 19. Among other things, this dynamic speaker expounded how in heaven, we will all be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. But, he continued, that is just our undergarment. All the good things we do in this life are like the ornaments, the jewels, that will embellish our outfit for the great Wedding Feast. And, he asked, wouldn't it be embarrassing to go to the wedding supper of the Lamb wearing nothing but our underwear, while everyone else gathered for the feast was wearing gold and diamonds and rubies?
I was appalled - that was probably the closest I've ever come to standing up, crying out, and thoroughly disrupting a worship service. This man considered himself a minister of the gospel? He pastored a respectable congregation, in a main-line Protestant denomination?
Folks, my fashion savvy is just about non-existent, and this fact has on occasion caused me considerable discomfort and embarrassment. But I do know EXACTLY the attire for the great wedding feast, and I will not blush or apologize on that day because of my dress - it will be nothing less than the radiant, glorious righteousness of Christ. Nothing less, and nothing more - because nothing else would be appropriate.

See related post: What are you wearing to the ball?

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I remember that sermon. :( I thought OUR pastor was going to rush the pulpit and tackle the guy! Such a depressing and faulty view of the gospel.

"When I stand before the throne/Dressed in beauty not my own/When I see You as You are/Love you with unsinning heart/Then, Lord, shall I fully know/Not 'till then, how much I owe!"