Etiquette in Dress
Charity “Doth not behave itself unseemly…” I Corinthians 13:5
To behave unseemly, you would be acting inappropriately, against good womanly etiquette. If you have the law of charity inscribed on your heart, you will practice good etiquette.
Etiquette for women has changed throughout history in many ways. When I was a little girl, I learned a lot from my grandmother about etiquette. I would stay by her home some weekends. My grandmother would snap at me if I put my feet on the sofa, “You dassant do that!” I was not allowed to put my elbows on the table nor ask for anything to eat. You just patiently wait your turn. Grandma Isla was born in the early 1900s. The era she was brought up in was very different from what we know today. I think my grandmother would be utterly disgusted at the unravel of society. These are some contrasts of what was appropriate in her time from what is appropriate to our society today:
The code of dress for women of the early 1900s:
Women always wore long skirts and petticoats under them. They wore long stockings and laced shoes. Corsettes were used to help with proper posture. The hair was grown long and often pulled back. Women wore hats if they were to appear in public. It was a disgrace to have anyone see you in your pajamas.
Modern Dress Etiquette...
Practice Charity in Modesty...
If you want to practice charity in your dress, you will dress with discretion. I am not saying you need to have a dress code like that of the early 1900s, but not to behave unseemly by revealing so much of your body that it forces others to gawk at you. It is unseemly. The line of discretion is blurred with each passing year in the evolution of fashion. A person can dress modestly and still be fashionable. It takes effort to find appropriate looking attire these days, but many ladies can pull it off. Modesty is a touchy subject for many women. They feel offended if you mention it. I heard a young man once say, I feel safe around a woman that dresses more modestly. As a woman we have power with our body. We can tempt or shield temptations. And yet there are men that are so far gone, that you could wear a tent and they will find pleasure in their twisted imagination somehow. For the most part, to dress unseemly would be in the intent of the heart. Whether you are trying to get that attention you seek. Some of us are dense. I sometimes wear something that I think is cute. I like the color of the top because it goes with my skirt perfectly. It still has to pass the HUB Test (husband test). My husband will send me back to the dressing room if I wear a shirt that is too snug or a shirt that when I bend over, you can see everything. He is a good discerner as to what is appropriate for me. Each family should judge for themselves what they agree is appropriate since there is no code for dress in the modern world and no prescription of dress noted in the scriptures.
Teaching my Girls about modesty...
My mother brought us two white pretty dresses for the girls when they were only 8 and 9 years old from another family. They were pretty and very long. My daughter Molly said, "Do you think white and peach go well together?" I said "Why?" She said, "Well look up at the top. My skin is showing so much I just wondered if that looks good, white with peach?"
I know that she was feeling uncomfortable with the spaghetti straps of the bodice and I told her, "You know what, darling, you can put a white t shirt under it if you feel better about that." And she was happy I let her do that. I would never want to make her feel half naked.
Most parents forget about the modesty issue. The churches forget to teach about it and the kids start looking just like the rest of the world leaving it all hang out.
It is surprising to me how many Christians are oblivious to modesty. You go to the churches and see girls, young girls, looking half dressed and ready to go out looking for a mate. It is nice to look nice but not so you cross the line of your own purity and integrity. I realize some people have been slowly leaning in that direction, so slow that they realize it when it is already normal to their children. They are wearing immodest attire on their little girls and all of a sudden they realize their daughter is becoming a young lady who looks desirous! It would be hard to teach a young girl that it is not good to dress that way after she has grown accustomed to this way of dressing. She would not even be one bit ashamed to have a bikini on.
Now that Molly and Megan are young ladies, they seem to keep the pattern I laid before them. They have their own convictions on dress. I do not tell them what to wear. They make their own decisions in that area and I trust them. They do not flaunt their bodies toward the boys. When other girls dress inappropriately, they are the first to notice. I just talk to them about it. I ask questions on how they think about it which is good for them to articulate their own mind on the matter.
Unseemly behavior of a flirt...
For tomorrows Lesson: Etiquette in Hospitality