Beanery Online Literary Magazine

August 8, 2008

DRESSING FOR BLESSING: GOD AND FASHION Part 2

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

DRESSING FOR BLESSING: GOD AND FASHION   Part 2
—by Kathleen Clark

(to read Part 1 click on DRESSING FOR BLESSING: GOD AND FASHION Part 1)

GETTING PERSONAL
Personal church attendance spans many years. My parents always accompanied me, shepherding my Christian upbringing, though I don’t recall Mom or Dad as being particularly religious. We went rather consistently, but they weren’t strict. Sunday School was standard and when I became older I was expected to sit through Sunday services. During adolescence, Sunday’s were very family-oriented and set aside for relaxation: hiking, picnics and planned vacation trips. After attending church services I had something to look forward to.
Mom saw t it that Dad and I were dressed within acceptable standards—crisp but comfortable outfits. She usually wore a stylish shirtwaist with a collar, or matching suit jacket ensemble, complete with accessories; clutch or purse, sturdy high heels (no spikes for her!) and, for the finishing touch, gloves and a form fitting hat (with awful stays that pinched above the ears) having an over-the-forehead veil, a cluster of flowers tucked at the side, or often a wide-brimmed nylon or straw creation. In a photo circa 1951, titled “Mom in her Sunday Best” she wore a white or pastel short sleeved, scoop neck, knee-length dress, pearl necklace, white wrist-length gloves and open-toed, ankle strap low heels.
While Mom wasn’t super trendy, she was fashionable and bought stylish clothes at Troutmen’s, Kauffman’s and Sears. We did a lot of catalogue shopping in those days. I remember pouring over the pages selecting outfits and other items I liked. An excellent seamstress, she bought new patterns, selected beautiful fabric, often altering them to suit personal taste. Sewing was cost effective and allowed her creative flare to show. It was also thrifty. Mom sewed my older sister Marilyn’s special college gowns, as well as my everyday school outfits and many of her own. These home sewn creations were embellished with lace, ribbons, and special hand embroidered designs. People routinely commented on her colorful appliqués and original designs.
Dad, of course, wore standard dark and light suits or seasonal sport jacket and slacks, and a hat and tie. He wore leather dress or casual shoes for work and social affairs. I never saw him wear tennis shoes. An accountant for 35 years, he wore more formal attire. In summer, he opted for casual short-sleeved pastel or plaid shirts. It was hot on the second floor, and no air conditioning! At home he changed to blue jeans, the pant legs usually cuffed, but they were never the faded, ripped or dirty versions men were today.
Personally, changing clothing styles haven’t greatly affected my spirituality. However, thoughts of what constitutes spirituality have developed and deepened. I’ve accepted fashion changes and gone with the flow. While living at home, anything too “out of the ordinary” was frowned upon. I don’t recall owning a mini skirt and had I tried wearing one, I’m sure I’d have been reprimanded. In high school, during the late 60’s, skirts grazed the knees. Skirts with big gold safety pins were “in” along with madras and tie-dyed shirts. I filled my closet with them! I remember three skirts; burgundy, navy and logan green with side or front kick pleats like it was yesterday! They were mixed and matched with multiple blouses, a sweater, vest or jacket and the popular penny loafers.
Coordinated slack outfits began to be acceptable for church in the late 60’s to early 70’s. Jeans or denims weren’t permissible school wear, even during gym days—which I hated. Instead, I wore the same pin-pleated shirtwaist dress with small purple flowers and knee socks, which was easy to strip off and throw on, to make it to class before the bell rang. Jeans were worn only at home. When I graduated from high school, rules for wearing pants were softening. Life would have been easier were we allowed the comfort and convenience of jeans and slacks!
Acceptable dress standards have changed quite a bit in the 21st century. Almost anything goes, when it comes to what’s worn to church and on other important occasions. Women wear slacks, pantsuits, Capri’s and sandals. Hats went out a couple decades ago, with the exception of Easter, weddings or special occasions. Kids wear shorts, cut-offs, cargo pants and denims with rips and tears, some decorated with graphic logos, beads, jewels and glitter. Gone is the sleeveless taboo! Now spaghetti-strap tanks, camisoles and strapless tops worn with matching blouses or jackets are common. For men it’s jeans, khaki’s, Dockers, boots and tennis shoes.
On a positive note, congregational members no longer need to feel uncomfortable while praising the Lord or participating in church-related activities. At least, most people feel this way. On the negative side, perhaps these relaxed standards have caused a shift in our attitude toward God. Perhaps formal dressing constitutes a proper frame of mind. More subjective than objective, beliefs are private, individual matters, therefore leaving final decisions open for interpretation. God judges the spirit, (that unseen, omnipresent entity) and the heart. The spiritual attitude a person wears, not the physical clothing, is the most important criteria for receiving His blessings.

Additional Reading:

Pennsylvania Wedding, Lamoine Roots

PROCOPE CAFÉ, PARIS: Part 1—Finding photographs: An International Adventure

PROCOPE CAFÉ, PARIS Part 2

SHOULD INFORMATION ON AN ALLEGED CHILD ABUSER BE PUBLICIZED?

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 2

ONE ROOM LIVING

SHE WAS OLD NOW

YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW

PROTECTING PRIVACY OF PERSONAL DATA ON YOUR COMPUTER

HIKING THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY Part 1 of 2

MUSTANG SALLY’S GUIDE TO WORLD BICYCLE TOURING

CHILD ABUSE AND SCRIPTURE

BEAR STORIES ACROSS THE NATION & BEAR CONFRONTATIONS: SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

OF FIREFLIES AND LIGHTNING BUGS

BLACK FLIES AND OTHER INSECTS: Then and Now

WATCHING CORN GROW

THE KILLER KITTEN

FERAL BIRDS: THE LATEST COMMUNITY HAZARD

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