In the late ’70s. our son John earned his way through college by working in the auto repair shop of a large retail chain. He was given a bulletin from the store manager that said:
Subject: Current Dress Code
Since fashion is constantly changing and there is more and more variety of clothes for both men and women, hard-and-fast rules or codes for dress are difficult to develop, and sometimes the “right” clothes can be a matter of an individual’s taste.
The best way to describe our “code” is that extremes in anything are generally out, as well as any clothes. hair, shoes, or accessories that would make our store look like a scene from the beach, a resort, a ballroom, or a dude ranch.
Those things would include hot pants, culottes, jeans, slacks and sweaters, gauchos and knickers, floor-length skirts, jump-suits, bare midriffs, string-straps or bra dresses; and jeans, turtlenecks, and other sport apparel for men. Anything else extreme, like extremely long hair or unkempt beards for men or hats or elaborate accessories for women, detract from a store’s professional appearance.
Someone once said, “It’s easier to get where you’d like to be if you dress like you’re already there.” People tend to present a total image, not only by how they act and what they do, but how they look. Dressing with dignity as well as style and flair just may hasten your trip to success.
(Signed) The Store Manager
Perhaps some of the styles mentioned would now be accepted in that same chain, but the manager’s principle of moderation is a good biblical principle.
Moderation in clothing is taught especially in I Timothy 2:9 and 15. Verse 9 says. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety.” Verse 15 says, “Continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” The word “sobriety” in these two verses is the Greek word sophrosune. It means “prudence” or “moderation.” Women are to clothe themselves in modest apparel with moderation.
The English word moderation is used in Philippians 4:5: “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” Here the Greek word gives the idea of gentleness and patience rather than an aggressive attitude.
Why ought we to let our moderation be known to all? Because “the Lord is at hand,” or “nigh.” The presence of the Lord Jesus pressures us to keep important things important and unimportant things in their place.
Jesus is coming back for His redeemed. When we face Him, we’ll be ashamed if we have let a temporal thing like clothing control our lives. So a woman ought to dress with moderation.
In I Corinthians 9:19, Paul says that though he is “free from all men,” he made himself servant to all so he could win as many as possible. His whole aim in life was to get as many people to Heaven as possible. In verse 25 he says, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.”
One who has the supreme goal of reaching people for Christ will be temperate in everything, including the place of clothing in his life. The word “temperate” means to exercise self-restraint, to put curbs on one’s self.
This temperance is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23). You don’t “work it up.” It comes with letting the Holy Spirit control your heart and actions. God expects us to develop it (II Pet. 1:5), so hard self-discipline is required.
Paul said in I Corinthians 9:27, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
An earnest Christian woman will keep her body. the external, subject to the Spirit and make it her servant rather than letting it master her.
Elizabeth Rice Handford is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. John R. Rice. She has written numerous books for Christian women and young adults.