I hate that I do this, because it almost sounds like a threat; but I pull most of my blog post from things that recently occur in my life. Without this sounding like “don’t offend me or I’ll post negative comments about you on my blog”, I’ve recently had derogatory remarks made about the way I dress. Now, it’s one thing to make such manner of statements about someone whose garb is offensive, immodest, or inappropriate, (pajamas in Walmart); however it is entirely different to undermine a person’s character by accusing them of vanity and pride.
Those of you that know me know that I dress well: I wear a collared shirt, nice jeans, and a tie most every day. I don’t do this religiously, and it is anything my faith or my family dictates, rather it is something my character compels of me. Just so my intent is clear, I don’t dress nicely for the benefit of my vanity. I don’t do it to show others my superior wealth and stature, (I have neither), my clothes cost less than the average homeless man’s, and with very few exceptions I don’t spend money on clothing without need.
Now that’s what I do, not exactly why; before I get into the why I do what I do, here’s what people have been saying about the way I dress.
- It makes me unapproachable.
- It makes me stand out in a way that makes people think I’m weird.
- It’s not fit for many of the purposes for which I use it, (sports, manual labor, etc…).
- I care too much about the way I look.
That’s a good start. Here’s why I believe these allegations are unfounded. The people who are most approachable to others are pastors. They have a title and a position: true, but the dress nicely in respect of God and other people; they don’t feel the need to lower themselves down to someone’s level in terms of dress code in order to reach them. And unless I intentionally dress to be unapproachable and it’s a heart issue, God will bring those to me to whom I am meant to share the witness of the gospel. I don’t believe in my heart that my motives are selfish and vain.
Sure it makes me stand out, but in what way? Does the world see a well dressed person and associate them with anything worldly? In Vegas perhaps, but in everyday America people see you dressed nicely and ask one of three questions: What event did you come from, (wedding, funeral, church, etc…)? What group are you with, (youth group, Mormons, bands, etc…)? Or do you work here? I’ve gotten that last one quite a bit. The dark side of the world isn’t what people think when they see well dressed, well-mannered young men and women. They see the light, the good.
I know it isn’t really appropriate for every occasion, rather, it isn’t ideal. But neither are a t-shirt and shorts fit for Sunday lunch or a business meeting. The difference is, I can physically play sports and do manual labor in my collared shirt and tie as well as in any other garb. It may not be what is normal, but I don’t often travel with extra sets of clothing on the off-chance I’ll do something sporty.
I don’t feel that I care too much about how I look, but I do care. I am a representation of my family, of Christianity, and of Jesus Christ everywhere I go. I should care about how I look to others, I may not be what they are used to seeing, but I’ll get asked more often why I wear a tie and nice shirt then you’ll get asked why you wear a t-shirt and shorts. Every conversation is a chance to talk about Jesus and that leads me to why I wear nice clothes every day.
I’m a human, I’m a sinner, and if for no other reason, I wear nice clothes for myself. I find that the way I dress influences the way I act and the way I live, (that’s where the title comes from). If I dress like a gentleman I find it easier to act like one. Also, having committed my standard of dress to God, (whom to date hasn’t disagreed with it), my clothing is a constant reminder to be a better person. I’m trying harder to be more like Christ… Though he wore clothes relatable to the people He met with, there was something different about Him that set Him apart and caused people to wonder. I want people to wonder why I do what I do, I want them to ask me, then I can explain why and also who I do it for.
Ultimately everything done in my life is for Christ. I wear a nice clothes because the modesty standards in the world are horrid and if I should slip from my own standards, I’d still be dressed modestly. I don’t want to be relatable, I wasn’t called to be and haven’t the shared experience to be so. I’d rather be the Christian others can point to and say “that’s one of ours, that one’s representing Christ well”. I’d love to set the standard for what a Christian should live like, but I know I’ll fall short of it. However, my attire is one of the ways I strive to be better than who I am and I believe it helps, (otherwise I wouldn’t do it).
Purity in all things. I’ve set the bar so high that to slip and fall I wouldn’t reach the bottom, I would hit the top and get back up. Even if I let my standards slide my witness wouldn’t be ruined. Why do I live like I live? In part, it’s because I dress the way I dress.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist