Fashion as Expression

I came across this article (https://thecatholicwoman.co/interviews/ethical-fashion-in-light-of-theology-of-the-body) that talks about fashion and explains that it reflects the dignity of the human person and expresses the soul. It was interesting because I never thought of it in that way before, but I’m not sure if I agree with the article.

The article encourages freely expressing ourselves with our clothing, because the body expresses the soul. But if we’re focused on making ourselves look beautiful and unique, isn’t that not being humble? Shouldn’t we not want to look or think of ourselves as beautiful, except in the sense that God created us and loves us? Aren’t we supposed to deny ourselves? Isn’t it humbler not to strive for self-expression?

And I mean to certain degree it’s unavoidable, because we do have to fit in with society at least somewhat. We do have to choose which clothes we will wear, so our personal tastes do come into play. But shouldn’t we aim to dress low-key and ordinary, so we aren’t focusing on our own beauty?

I really don’t know though. What do you guys think?

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I’m fond of saying that the modesty movement can quickly get immodest. In other words, parading one’s modesty for others can easily become All About Me just as much as flashing one’s assets.

In the end, it’s not about clothes. It’s about what’s in our hearts.

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Hmmm. Since God knows our individuality, whom are we expressing ourselves to? And, for what purpose? Strikes me as being similar to the fine line between consuming alcohol and over-consuming. Our concupiscence ever threatens to lead us astray.

How about we use common sense and dress in a moderate manner that’s appropriate and practical for our station and profession in life. It really doesn’t require a lot of thought, and most women manage to do it just fine, especially when they reach a point where they are so overwhelmed with responsibilities for their family, their work, etc. that they don’t have time to dwell on whether their latest clothing purchase was humble or modest enough.

I tend to think a lot of the “modesty” blogs are just as vain as the “fashion” blogs because both are focused to an excessive degree on what one is putting on one’s back rather than what’s in one’s heart, as someone else said above. Either way it can add up to too much thinking about clothes.

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I’m 19 so fashion is definitely prevalent in my life. I like my clothes to reflect a bit about my personality. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being unique. We aren’t all the same so we don’t have to all dress the same! Just like artists don’t paint the same pictures, we can all have our unique “style.”

As long as the motivation isn’t to gain the most attention or to brag about riches, I don’t think there’s an issue with having self expression through clothes. And as long as we aren’t spending too much money on clothes that it takes away from spending on charity and necessities!

I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with thinking of yourself as attractive. Don’t become obsessed with your looks or think that you are better than others. But why not think of yourself as beautiful? God made you :slight_smile: I tell my family and friends they are beautiful and they truly are. I hope they believe it too!

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I love fashion and don’t think I have a problem that needs to be fixed for my salvation. God gave us a mind, some of those minds are creative, some of those creative minds use fashion as an art form. Are we all supposed to dress plainly? It is in our nature to be drawn towards beauty. People are uplifted to see someone dressed nice. Do you know how many compliments I get from people that are happy to see a young woman dress like a lady and be stylish? It also makes me happy. What’s wrong with that? I don’t understand this concept that to be a good Catholic you need to be plain and reserved.

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I tend to think a lot of the “modesty” blogs are just as vain as the “fashion” blogs because both are focused to an excessive degree on what one is putting on one’s back rather than what’s in one’s heart, as someone else said above. Either way it can add up to too much thinking about clothes.

To the OP, i definitely see where you’re coming from and can relate. I think to reiterate and add to what everyone’s said, I think there’s some room for self-expression as well as temperance and conscientiousness as long as it’s not too much either way. But to add to this, I think because everyone is different perhaps we all have different “goals” when it comes to this and self-expression may matter more or less to us. For example someone who is extremely artistic, creative, or “feminine” might appreciate and find it important to themselves to express beauty. Whereas someone who might not be as drawn to that and is more drawn to simplicity might choose to deemphasize their manner of dress. Neither is wrong as long as we’re not focused on it and are keeping our focus on Jesus.

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Yes I agree with you! Definitely more important to focus on what’s in the heart! And you’re also right about it being more important to creative people. As I am an artist that definitely contributes to my taste in clothing!

Everything in moderation

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Agree with you 100% :slight_smile:

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Thank you!

I also think it can be an act of charity if you want to call it that. okay, maybe that might be a bit far but what i mean is for those of us who aren’t particularly artistic or creative, we appreciate beauty too! we just can’t produce anything original! :stuck_out_tongue: So i definitely appreciate a well-dressed person who manages to do so modestly!

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:slight_smile: there’s beauty in creative expression AND simplicity! What’s the best is when people with all different forms of expression can support eachother. Thank you!

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This is so true. People are so casual today that many find it refreshing to see a classy look. I don’t look down on anyone who chooses to be casual because fashion is not a priority for everyone, and that’s ok, or maybe that is what they find fashionable, and that’s ok. Anyways, I work at a public library and at first I wasn’t sure if I should “dress down” because many of our patrons are low-income or homeless. I came from a different industry that is more style oriented so I was trying to fit in. But you know what, I did that and I didn’t feel right so I started dressing like me again, nothing over the top. And you know what, so many patrons smile and compliment me. Most like being served by someone who is well put together.

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Well said!

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Thank you!

I remember when I went to El Salvador a lot of women wearing the rosary as a necklace, and my female coworker remarked that it was only a fashion accessory to them. I told her no, I think they take it seriously and in any case it is between them and God, not for us to judge.

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I would also say it is charity toward God in the case of going to Mass for example. Not necessarily that you have to be “stylish” but we should probably put some effort into looking nicer. It can glorify God to present ourselves beautifully. Of course this is using a slightly different, nuanced definition of beauty than we might ordinarily associate the word with in our society. The word beautiful has been distorted by society and sometimes we forget how to see beauty when it doesn’t conform to how the world defines it.

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Agree mostly, though I will say it’s good that there‘s some promotion of modest dress in something as accessible as a blog. It’s hard to know how to dress smartly and modestly (easier as I get older—but I recall in my teens and 20’s sometimes modest clothes that didn’t look like glorified paper bags were hard to come by).

The reference to St. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, which was mentioned in the first interview, might be considered.

Fashion forward modest clothing has been a trend for at least a decade now. It is much easier to find midi and maxi length skirts and dresses and tops without cleavage, even in junior’s departments. The modesty movement in Christian, Orthodox Jewish, and Muslim circles has influenced retail. Designers are also looking to more ladylike vintage designs for inspiration. You may see provocative clothing also trending but it all depends on where one focuses. There are certain stores and designers I tune into and others I ignore and don’t really have difficulty shopping.

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