SUITED TO THE OCCASION

In every part of the world, in every culture, being dressed to suit the occasion is an accepted custom, an in-built trait and a common etiquette of even the most primitive tribes.

How we would dress to attend a wedding is different from dressing for a funeral. What we would wear for a party is not the same as what we would clothe ourselves for shopping or sightseeing. Hiking and trekking require special parnephelia that is not the same as when we swim or run or jog. Working at home means we must dress to enable chores such as cooking or washing or cleaning, while working from home, a recent development due to covid, needs other suitable attire. Business meetings and office space require appropriate appearance and outfits, not to mention sleep time which needs right clothes that would promote rest and repose.

Dress sense and fashion consciousness does not relate only to haute coutre designs but also to insight and acumen needed to know and note the occasion for which the apparel is being worn!

No one goes to visit the poor or does slum cleaning or other community work in their best clothes since it would hurt the cause and wound  the sensibilities of those we seek to serve. It is not good breeding to go to honor the dead in flashy clothes or gaudy show , but one must wear what fits the somber mood of the occasion and the sentiments of those around. We don’t go before a dignitary dressed in a way that would show disrespect to their persona nor attend a personal award function in rags. Again, no one dresses in wool in summer or thin cottons in winter, for that is foolishness to say the least!

Each and every season, occasion and focus demands suitable garments and appropriate or fitting apparel. So, fashion is stated as prevailing style (as in dress) during a particular time, custom, usage, or style as well as a form of self-expression and autonomy at a particular period and place and in a specific context, of clothing, footwear, lifestyle, accessories, makeup, hairstyle, and body posture. Being fashion conscious implies being able to match your tastes and interests to your personality and the occasion you dress for or being groomed for.

It is interesting to note that the Bible does talk about how one ought to dress and the manner to be suited for different occasions.

In the Old Testament, God instructed the people of Israel on different dress styles for the various people, according to gender, office, the task and the occasion.

The High Priest and other priests had definite robes and special garments made for use in ministering to God: “Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests. Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron to give him dignity and honor.” (Exo 28:1‭-‬2 NIV). They could not wear that would make them sweat as its smell was reminiscient of curse and therefore, repugnant to the Lord (Eze 44:18).

God also gave specific dress codes for men and women, as well as instructions on not to mix linen and wool, etc (Deut 22). He showed them what to wear to signify various expressions of solemnity such as repentance, sorrow and mourning (sackcloth and ashes). Teachers and other instructors of the law had a distinctive garment that made them conspicuous as to their vocation. Thus, God did indeed prescribe a particular fashion code for His people so as to distinguish them and set them apart as His particular followers from those around. I believe that His demands were also given keeping in mind for them to be in tune with the weather and their environment to preserve their health!

When you read the New Testament, the focus is more on the inward orientation and the clothing of the soul that is required as the followers of Christ. It was not enough to dress up the outward, but the inner being had to line up to the truth of what is being exhibited on the outer. Jesus very specifically condemned the Pharisees and Sadduccees, naming them white-washed sepulchers, for projecting a false picture of piety and sanctity, when in reality their inward was rotten.

The leaders and apostles of the early church, steadily and constantly taught the disciples of Christ the importance of being clothed with the right attitudes and intentions (Col 3:1-15). They also instructed on the right demeanor for each occasion and event. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep, says the Holy Book in Rom 12:15. In Jas 5:13-14 it says: Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master.

Being well-dressed or clothed tastefully is not about just buying the best available or the costliest you can afford or the brand on display. It is about being a wholistic human being, in and out, the outer coinciding with the inner. The way to dress to impress is to clothe the outer to adorn and exemplify the inner orientation. Good nature enhances and amplifies the outward adornment causing an aroma of innate fashion to be felt and smelt!

*Pic courtesy https://images.app.goo.gl/E7ZdrDymmGR7SZUr8  unsplash.com and Shutterstock

This is part 4 of a series of articles relating to fashion sense and dress code. You can read part 3 using this link https://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2022/09/07/fashion-sense-and-sensibility/

FASHION SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

According to Britannica, fashion is best defined simply as the style or styles of clothing and accessories worn at any given time by groups of people.

Fashion sense means having an instinct for how clothes look when worn together and how those clothes can make an outfit that both looks good and expresses something about you. Fashion sense is not about knowing any sort of formula or the absolute and only correct way to dress, but it is about knowing what suits you and fits you. The way you dress expresses who you are and in essence, contributes to your identity.

Shiona Turini, freelance stylist and consultant declares: Fashion is about storytelling through clothing; it’s about the stories behind them and the ones you create around them. It’s a cultural influence, backstory or intellectual touchpoint that you can trace back to what you’re wearing. We use it to escape the mundane, to embrace and celebrate tradition. It’s about a sense of history and pride and it embodies a greater sense of purpose than just a garment tossed on to cover bodies.

Fashion sense can be an inherent trait for some, an inherited skill for others, and an acquired learning for many. Fashion consciousness is not about adopting per se what you see or what goes on around you. It is about selectively identifying what enhances your personality and what strengthens your demeanor. Being fashionable does not mean you have to buy the best items or purchase only branded pieces, but it’s knowing what suits you and acquiring what is suitable for you. Fashion sense is not about conformity to the existing trend but an alignment of the inward and the outward to give a pleasing overall effect that impacts quietly.

For a Christian and a follower of Christ, fashion sensibility does not mean adhering just to the latest trends of clothing and makeup, but it involves an adorning that reflects the nature of Christ.

Apostle Peter well articulates this when he advises the women: Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

His advice is not confined to women alone but to the men too: In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered (1 Peter 3:3‭-‬7 NLT). Even though these passages seem to indicate the conduct of married folks, yet it is clear, that for a disciple of Christ the inward should be commiserate with the outward.

Jesus Christ’s warning about elevating the outward show over the inward condition should sensitize anyone to the standards expected: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matt 23:27‭-‬28 NIV).

He balances this instruction with another to the crowds that followed Him about on when, how, where and why you should strive to keep up appearances: “When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well (Matt 6:16‭-‬18 MSG).

The message is clear – a Christian’s inward orientation should add depth and character to their outward manifestation, but it is also important that their physical appearance should serve to conceal and dignify their inward sacrifices. Image is indeed important, especially when involved in the disciplines of faith, but it should augment and aid the internal rather than mask or cover up lack of reality.

Fashion acumen, thus, is not just about wearing costly dress or using brand items or being decked excessively. It is about garbing yourself in a way that unconsciously uplifts and upholds you to hold your own wherever you are. The right dress and accessories, not necessarily the costliest, will always polish and project you in a way that will make others take a second look or go wow. Real fashion sense will help you make a statement without meaning to or striving for, but naturally, in a matter-of-fact manner, especially when it is bolstered by a good sense and decent nature!

Fashion trends should not camouflage or inflate value, but fashion sensibility should serve to add value to deportment and dignity to comportment!

It is important to be a fashion trendsetter, not only in clothes, but also in conduct and conversation!

More importantly, as the expert pointed out, what is the story you are hoping to tell through your fashion statement?

What is the history and tradition you are seeking to illustrate through your fashion taste?

Finally, what is the sense of purpose you are modelling through your fashionable look?

Do find the answer to these and you then will be the epitome of class and couture!

*https://repeller.com/meaning-of-fashion/ https://artsandculture.google.com/story/why-fashion-matters/_QKS0J-OeT7HIA
*Pic courtesy Shutterstock & Unsplash

A similar subject: https://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2022/08/16/dress-code-manner-mode/

DRESS CODE & MANNER MODE

I lived for some years near an airforce training place and would often come across the recruits on the road on their days of leave. You could readily identify them by what they wore and how they looked – their own  special civvies, their cropped hair, fit bodies and lean, tanned faces. People would generally move to the side and give them space, in respect knowing they were being trained to guard the nation and perhaps, one day, lay down their lives.

My father was a police officer and I would watch the way he wore his uniform, with pride and dignity. He was always conscious of being part of the domestic protection force of the nation, and never did anything that would taint his uniform.

My husband and daughter are both law graduates and postgraduates, practicing advocates in our city’s courts. I have seen them use their black robes as the mark of their profession in the discharge of their duties within the court premises.

The Bible talks about God’s people being clothed with a particular and peculiar dress: Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful (Col 3:12‭-‬13‭, ‬15 NLT).

Israel, as God’s chosen people, were given a dress code that identified and set them apart as the nation belonging to Yahweh (Refer Deuteronomy). For that matter, every nation has its own ethnic attire which they flaunt in sports meets and other cultural events. Corporate companies and colleges have ethic outfit days or special days for such wear.

They do it only once in a while, but Christ’s disciples and followers are enjoined to wear their special wear, every minute and every hour of every day of every year.

In the city of Antioch so long go, something distinct happened when the good news of Christ reached the city.

According to the Relevant Magazine (link below), Antioch was referred to as “all the world in one city,” where you could see all the world’s richness and diversity in one place.

The Church came to Antioch and began breaking down the dividing barriers in a way that upset the society’s existing categories. People from all parts of the city – Jews and Gentiles alike – were suddenly coming together. This group of people was redefining community in a radical and unprecedented way, so much so, that a new word was needed to categorise what in the world was happening.The early church was called “Christians” by the powers-that-be for the first time in Antioch (Acts 11:26). It wasn’t a name Jesus’ disciples gave themselves—it was a name given to them by the society in Antioch.

Technically, the ending “-ian” means “belonging to the party of,” so the term “Christians” meant those of Jesus’ party.

It is often assumed that the name “Christian” was given somewhat flippantly or even derogatively by these powers-that-be—a sort of dismissive wave of the hand to those “little Christs.”  The emphasis, however, inherent in the original Greek, is on the fact that people from outside the faith recognised Christians as a distinct group.

Just as the dress code and dress culture of the uniformed forces, the judiciary, the office-bearers of the legislative, those serving in the hospitality industry and others, bear testimony to the nature of their call and work, Christians are meant to be identified by a natural code of nature. By their very demeanor and their behavior as well as attitude, they are to be spotted and singled out as followers of Christ.

A dress code is defined as a set of rules, often written, with regard to what clothing groups of people must wear. Dress codes are created out of social perceptions and norms, and vary based on purpose, circumstances, and occasions. When you are participating in certain functions, entering some fancy restaurants, recognised as one of a team (sports), part of a club, etc., a dress code is insisted upon for recognition and identification.

That God expects us to adopt a certain convention is evident in the Bible, as signifying that we belong to Him and bear His Name as His family.

The question is whether you are evident to all by the very manner you deal with people, circumstance, possessions, etc.

As the song by Peter Scholtes declares: And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love!

Are you clothed as God expects you to be that makes you significant in society as His adherent?

Or are you found to be unclothed, so to speak, even though you call yourself His!

*Song link https://youtu.be/xyHvO4xoEh4
*https://relevantmagazine.com/faith/where-christian-name-really-came/
*Pics courtesy Google images

A prequel to this: https://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2022/07/21/revamp-update-your-wardrobe/

REVAMP & UPDATE YOUR WARDROBE

During the pandemic, being stuck at home with no place to go, my wardrobe seemed useless and redundant. I became quite content with home clothes and nightwear and for 2 whole years made no purchase except to invest in some comfortable cotton dresses that wore well with home chores.

The covid season was freeing in one way in that I did not have to buy clothes for outside wear or break my head about using make-up or keeping up with appearances. The zoom mode needed only the upper torso, including the face, to be of acceptable standards and I guess, most of us made to do with what we had, seeing that was enough for the day. Moreover, with so many going through crises of health and loss of life, it made no sense to indulge in clothes and other stuff that is usually needed when there is a life outside the home!

With the renewal of social interaction, I needed to revamp my wardrobe having outgrown some and becoming tired of others! A change on the cards, with alacrity, I promptly but judiciously began investing in some good outside wear, making use of the flood of offers and bargains available online. I emptied half my cupboard to make way for the new, passing on to others my existing lot as they were in pretty good condition. It gave me such joy to step out of my home in my new outfits after being confined at home for 2 years!

It was marvelous to feel like a whole new creature, inside and out, and to step out into the open freely!

Apostle Paul when writing to the church at Colossae writes this: Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ. So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it (Col 3:9‭-‬14 MSG).

These lines show us that we were once clothed in a set of old, dirty clothes but have now been granted a set of new attire because we are part of His family. Unaware this, we walk around with orphan mentality and poverty spirit, clothed in rags and not in riches. Not understanding who we are and what we have been given, we live in shame and condemnation. It is important for us to grasp this in our spirit and comprehend our estate so that we daily divest ourselves of the old and adorn ourselves with the new, specially custom-made and hand-picked for us by God.

Oftentimes, in Korean movies, I have watched a rich young man fall in love with a poor girl, and then set out to beautify her with the best he is able to buy. He leads her to showrooms once inaccessible to her and proceeds to select attire suited for her, with great care and taste. After arraying and grooming her from top toe, he escorts her to places and parties he is privy to, proudly displaying her as his beloved. Those who neglected her are put to shame by the gesture of her beloved who is now her defender. Such a picture of what God has done, is doing and will do for us!

Yet, we live according to the old fashion, spend our lives dressed in outcasts and rejects, unaware of the new one ready for use hanging in our wardrobe. We rue that we can’t be different and look wistfully at some who seem to be royal in demeanor. We don’t seem to grasp that all they have done is to lay hold of what is theirs by right and use it appropriately.

Christian living is not so much striving as it is resting in Him and claiming what is our own!

All you have to do is not walk in your own old rags of self, but strip them off and reject them when they rise up, as they seem to do every moment. Then, put on the new nature of Christ and walk royally in them, with your head help up as His son or daughter, every minute of every day!

Begin to behave according to your noble lineage and refuse to do what this world forces you to do. Any part of the day, in every instance and circumstance, reach for the new and reject the old.

Often you will be attracted to the old, for they are familiar and comfortable attire you are used to, but reject the impulse and persist in putting on the new, even when it seems hard to do so. In due course and time they will become very appealing and easy to wear. Soon you will become so acquainted with this new that you will not miss your old. Even if you slide back to the old, just turn back to the new and persevere on. Learn to enjoy your different but fresh clothing and continue on until they become part of your new normal and you are truly a new creature, in and out!

When I began dressing in my new fashion, different from my old, eyebrows were lifted and questioning looks directed at me. Yet, in due time everyone accepted me and also began complimenting me on my new style, telling me it suited me.

Don’t let any criticism or ridicule or discouragement or rejection rob you of your royal robes!

Your wardrobe has been gifted by your dear Father in heaven. People will come to accept and respect your new fashion sense in due time. So, be joyous and thrilled in the clothes fashioned from heaven!

Be and become a trendsetter with designer wear from heaven!

*Pic courtesy unsplash.com

A sequel to this: https://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2022/07/21/revamp-update-your-wardrobe/