Striking a Balance Between Fashion & Faith

I love my faith and, oh yes! I also love my fashion. My faith is a treasure because it is what gives me direction; it is what I stand for and stand by. Of course, you’ve got to stand for something, or you might as well just fall for anything. Fashion to me means a beautiful, tasteful and polite manner of appearance and this also counts a great deal for me. Now my challenge is that these two seem to clash most of the time and the question is how do I reconcile the conflict?

Over the years I have encountered a lot of relative conflicts about the issue of fashion and appearance. Divergent opinions, extreme principles and lack of sufficient insights make the topic a very dicey one. I have heard some religious teachings like “putting on make-up is ungodly”, “jewelry is sinful”, etc. Some women are still confused about how a Godly woman should appear. Now the question is ‘can fashion and faith meet somewhere?’ Or simply put ‘can Godly women be fashionable?’ You bet!
Naturally, women care about how they look, they by instinct love to always appear beautiful, they love to look and feel good. Why is that? Fundamentally, because God designed us that way. God loves beauty and He loves us women, exactly as we were created.

Here is how I reconcile the conflict between my faith and my fashion:
Firstly, by simply understanding that it is hundred percent ok to desire a bright and beautiful look because even God does.
Secondly, by being guided by my conscience and my conscience is constantly tuned by the principles of my faith. Principles like humility, love, meekness and peacefulness.
God would never want us to be frumpy while He calls us to modesty. We would best represent God here on earth if we appear as good as possible always. We can still be classy and fashionable while in line with God’s will for us. God’s will for us is to radiate and attract positively not provocatively, to shine as lights and not be dull as shadows, to season and preserve, not to pollute and destroy, to be unique, not to conform. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”- (Romans 12:2)- culled from the KJV of the Holy Bible.

I appreciate religions that encourage and promote a balanced view on the outward appearance. I totally agree with Christianity’s simple standard for appearance which is moderation and modesty. It simply means don’t be extreme or too rigid and don’t be provocative but be decent and orderly. I also concur with the Islamic guidelines for women’s dressing which focuses also on modesty and simplicity. Women ought to be presentable and fashionable but not overly concerned about their appearance that they forget the importance of inner beauty. Beauty however begins inside a person. A gentle, modest loving character gives a light to the face that cannot be duplicated by the best cosmetics and jewelry in the world. Striking a balance between your inner beauty and your carefully groomed outer self is very important. Ladies should pay attention to hygiene, neatness and personal grooming but more importantly to their attitude and spirit. There is a direct relationship between faith and fashion. Faith dwells on the inner beauty and fashion deals with the outer beauty. Beauty that springs from the inside out is what characterizes an ideal person.

Although most religious guidelines on physical appearance focus more on the female folks but in this age and time men are also becoming very fashion conscious and savvy. It is therefore of the essence that men identify with the religious principles for dressing and understand how to synchronize their fashion with their faith because as far as I am aware, no religion encourages anyone whether female or male to be indelicately dressed.

I look forward to when fashion will meet faith on our streets, when style and modesty will become good friends in our hearts, when some religious people will stop being exaggeratedly rigid and when some others will be cured of that mental state called ‘fashion craze’. ‘Fashion craze’ is a very wrong state of mind because though it is good to engage with global fashion trends, it is not advisable to be entirely carried away by it. I need not be easily defined by a type of fashion just because it is trending, I’d rather be defined by what is classy, stylish and still decent.

As much as I love to be fashionable, I am anti-extreme fashion. Extreme fashion like skimpy clothing, excessive make-up, extravagant ornamentation, tattoos and piercings, etc oppose my principles. Oozing loudness and provocation by appearance is unworthy and needless; in fact it is like a baggage of garbage and who really wants that? Is it imperative that we consciously strive to strike a balance between our inner and outer beauty while as well understanding that fashion is very relative.
On the note that fashion is relative, my question to you is:
1. When to you, is fashion extreme?
2. Care to share what trends you feel uncomfortable with?
3. Got any personal daunting feelings about fashion?

_______________________________________________________________________________
Jesmine Chinwe Onyeukwu is a Productivity/Simplicity Coach, Speaker, Writer, Trainer and the CEO of JessylsCharm, Nigeria’s first and leading Professional Organising/Productivity Company. JessylsCharm helps clients beautify their lives, reclaim their effectiveness and boost their productivity with her space, paper and time management solutions.

60 Comments on Striking a Balance Between Fashion & Faith
  • randommer November 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    i’m not sure i understand this article – what is inherently wrong with being fashionable? as long as shopping is not your idol/addiction, you are happy with you are wearing and the audiences you care about are also happy – where is the problem?

    Lastly modesty is extremely relative. I’m sure you are exposing your ankle today – but there was a time where it was considered scandalous. All this covering of breast sef, I’m sure men farmed and tapped wine when women were walking around with bare chest.

    • inosend November 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      if you are not sure you understand this article then you
      are just plain dumb or dont read well……how plain can english
      be? gosh

      • whocares November 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm

        I think she is referring to the “fashion craze” statement. I had some issues with that as well. what does she mean by fashion craze? dressing according to trends? not a crime especially if you pick the bits of the trends that suits you.. eventually fashion is subjective, and if you have to dress according to your faith, do so in a manner that is true to you and sensible. That doesn’t mean a person cannot be her definition of extreme and still dress ok. I have about 6 piercings (why? cos I like em) and enjoy wearing black lipstick (not to work though. lol) I like to think I dress well for each occasion. actually I wont lie, I enjoy dressing provocatively to some events (if my mama sees me and doesn’t pursue me with a broom, i know im good) I suppose for that I fit into her “extreme” category when really im not. fashion for me is about exploring. I like to try out different things and not feel like im stuck in some cliché of what people think I should look like. if sometimes I look mad, that’s ok. I embrace my madness and just not repeat it again.

      • randommer November 7, 2013 at 5:29 pm

        lol no comment as you clearly did not understand my own english.

      • Idak November 7, 2013 at 11:14 pm

        How does your rain of insults enlighten and help her understand the article better? In your mind you are proving intelligent,abi?

    • Ib November 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      My dear, I still dont see the problem.im with u on this
      one.

  • Damilola November 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    true,being fashionable and Godly clashes a lot for me ,but i think one should just be modest.

  • naana November 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    i love this article. very well elaborated.

  • Hurpeyeahmie November 7, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    I think she is talking about moderacy

  • Hurpeyeahmie November 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I think she is talking about moderacy and saying we should not be carried away by fashion thereby neglecting our spiritual life, we should pay more attention to our spiritual life than fashion

    • tish November 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      Is that even a word? MODERACY?

      • Hurpeyeahmie November 7, 2013 at 3:31 pm

        @ tish moderacy
        = moderacy, noun.
        the holding of moderate opinions, especially in politics; moderateness.
        Ex. [He] seems to think that moderacy is the only test to be applied to the candidates (London Times). Even if their wasn’t a word like that correcting with love would have been a better options

      • wee November 8, 2013 at 10:08 am

        Let Google be your best friend my dear when not sure it is a click away ROTFLOL

  • jucilicious… November 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    To sum it all up “Moderation”

  • Akua November 7, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Everything we do has to have a limit. There is nothing
    wrong with being fashionable and serving God, however, there has to
    be a limit. It becomes extreme when one wears short skirts and
    shorts or dresses to church. Or when one wears some really tight
    and almost half naked clothes to church or as a Christian. However,
    with an outfit like what the woman pictured is wearing, there is
    absolutely nothhing wrong with it. As children of God, we have to
    look nice, but at the same time, we have to make sure that we don’t
    let our wardrope define who wer are. We have to spend wisely and
    not become addicted to shopping or fashion where at some point in
    life, these things will rule over and define us. When that happens,
    then there is a problem. Beyond that, it is fine to look decently
    dressed and reasonably fashionable as Christians or children of
    God.

  • http://africansweetheart.blogspot.co.uk/ November 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    To be honest I think a lot of Christian girls need to read
    this and reflect. I personally have to check myself and make sure
    my outfit will not promote lusting by being too tight and
    inappropriate to the etent that I ask family and even my dad
    before. Just go on instagram to see that principles are dropped. I
    really shake my head at women who will read this article and not
    appreciate the message. Enough with nakedness in the name of
    fashion. http://africansweetheart.blogspot.co.uk/

    • randommer November 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      hmm I suspect men in Saudi Arabia and Yemen are free from lust!

    • Nene Morgan November 7, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      Before fashion became even remotely as risque as it has today, were men not lusting after women?
      And just so u know, some of the so called fashionable outfits u’re featuring on ur blog are very “lust-wothy” in the eyes of other poeple.
      Stop confusing urself.

  • Owgee November 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I think she should have backed this atricle with more
    pictures of her.

  • Queen of Everything November 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I think she confuses fashion and style – very different things. Fashion is what you wear, style is how you wear it. Then there are trends which are transient.
    What is moderate/appropriate/decent varies from individual to individual. Yes there is always a socially acceptable line – a time and place for certain outfits but people often have difficulty with this.
    I particularly have issues with those people who come to church in whatever they wore to the club the night before, at least that’s the only thing that makes sense to me when I see certain outfits at service.

  • lilz November 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    God bless you for this article

  • Deedee November 7, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Moderation is best

  • Hello November 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I’m sorry, I know you were talking about fashion et al but the most striking thing to me in this article was your writing. Amazing fluency, great read!

    I like the topic. It’s something I’ve been struggling with for some time. I am a Christian and I love certain styles but trying to figure out the balance between trendy and decent. For example, I never show cleavage or wear cut outs. But I do low backs, short hems and sheer. But, I’m beginning to think I need to lower my hem lines for some reason.

    Thanks for this anyway. Really got me thinking.

    • Hello November 7, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      Also, wish there were more photos of you. Would have loved to see what your style is like.

  • Buchi November 7, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    i don’t believe this article needs a debate, let your conscience be the judge. when you wear an item of clothing, ask yourself whats my motive?, is it to kill all the guys today? if thats it and you are a christian, then you must have a rethink. for a very longtime most churchgoers have made themselves feel good, by rationalizing that its the heart that counts. yes while God looks at the out but he also weighs our actions.

    • ada January 10, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      very correct! the life of a christian including his/her dressing should honour God at all times

  • Truthful November 7, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Good article. Sleeveless, sheer and low-cut clothing items are best avoided by women of faith. Knee length or lower is best because sitting or bending down tends to pull up the fabric. I don’t understand the trend of showing off cleavage these days. Honestly, modesty seems to be a lost art now. The stores don’t help either as it’s really difficult to find modest clothing to buy. May God help us all to be light in this dark and perverse world.

    • Mz Socially Awkward… November 7, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      “Sleeveless” clothes are to be avoided? Really? In our very tropical climate?

      • zsa zsa November 8, 2013 at 2:24 am

        look at me see trouble! Why exactly must sleeveless be avoided?

    • Idak November 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      How exactly does wearing sleeveless blouses and dresses stop you from being a light in a dark perverse world? Also, how does wearing long sleeve dresses make your light shine brighter?

    • B! November 7, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      This is probably the most unintelligent comment I have ever had the misfortune to read.

    • Preye November 8, 2013 at 9:37 am

      Hmmm. Question though, do you wear long sleeved swim suits? The best thing to do is dress appropriately for every occasion (and climate as someone pointed out) while keeping things modest. Your clothes shouldn’t draw inordinate attention to you and this isn’t necessarily a function of the length or amount of cleavage shown. I have seen people dressed in bright/blinding/clashing colors complete with matching colored hair and to me that’s more inappropriate. That been said, Well written article Jessy. I always admired your style and modesty back in Uni and am so pleased to see that this hasn’t changed about you.

  • Que November 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    For me looking good is second nature, and as i’ve evolved,
    i’ve become more aware of this topic’s issue raised. Firstly let me
    say modesty isnt just about what u wear to church as someone seemed
    to dwell on above, it shld be a daily principle. Personally with
    fashion I’ve just had an eye for certain things I like and will not
    touch anything that I’m not moved by. i loooove love any
    trouser-ish thing i.e. shorts, jumpsuits n trousers, leggins -no
    jeans… and i love fitted clothes cos of my short n curvy body
    type….. another aspect of my styling I can easily overdose on is
    wit jewellery ornamentation…. I don’t really care for shoes/bags
    except to pair em wit clothes but jewellery I hunt n find and
    collect a good variety so far. My dressing is mostly informed by my
    body type and budget, but it has been occassionally controversial
    to at least 2 of my friend’s I know- one of whom is very
    christianly…I am hardly body conscious, if it looks good to me n
    i’m comfy, then i’m good to go… so it was a genuine shock to me
    when my friend used ‘sexy’ amongst other words to describe my
    dressin a few yrs back, considerin that I have some tomboyish
    traits even in my dressing, after arguin n all it dawned on me dat
    dere was a gap btw my perception n d public perception of my
    dressing. Fast forward a few yrs n its still a balancing act for
    me, I take the observations on board and i’m generally more aware,
    but I still love my mid thigh shorts n occassionally clothing dat
    goes right up to the edge. If anything I’m more spiritual now than
    at anytime in my life, n though my dressin on a few days will
    inspire comments, I can honestly say I dont feel guilty about it
    nor do I defend it. I have my mirror n spirit to guide me n I’m ok
    with em both. I often laugh n tell God though that he purposely
    leaves just enuf fat on my body (despite my dedication to a healthy
    lifestyle), so dat I dont get carried away, cos if it was up to me
    alone I’d be clueless bout who’s looking; all i’d know is that bras
    are a mighty inconvenience, as r jeans n plenty clothes n fabrics
    especially in our climate… lol… I don’t see my excessive
    jewellery consumptn slowing down, so I resort to occassional
    purging to let others have bits dat I might not need. I understand
    now dat my idea of appropriateness will differ from some others and
    its ok cos I’m not in their minds to know wat informs their
    judgements, so as long as I’m convinced dat I’m not offendin God or
    myself in my dressin, I readily accept pple’s comments shld they
    have any. Cheers.

  • Anonymous 1 November 7, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Here’s another person who breaks down the issue of modesty
    with Knowledge and Research if Christianity & Modesty is
    not enough for you. The evolution of the swimsuit:
    http://www.qideas.org/video/the-evolution-of-the-swimsuit.aspx
    Enjoy.

  • I Rock November 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    If that’s the picture of the writer up there, then she sure is beautiful.

  • DJ November 7, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    @Que. Please what do you mean by ‘i’m more spiritual now than at anytime in my life’?

  • lol November 7, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    ok the one size fits all christians are here again, don’t show cleavage, show cleavage, wear knee length, don’t wear knee length. Definition of modesty/moderation differ from continent to continent, country to country, town to town, individual to individual at the end of the day it is really up to that inner mind i.e your conscience, there is a reason why God gave that to you. What is considered modesty in Saudi is different from what is modest in Nigeria, to the US to the Carribean, there is no one size fit all. I wear what looks good on me, with my conscience and my husband’s approval, my husband’s approval for me helps me take into consideration those around me i.e making sure my actions are not leading others into sin, if I have met all the aforementioned criteria then I leave the judgmental ones to contend with themselves.

  • Faith November 7, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Great article

    • Caribbean Babe November 8, 2013 at 3:53 am

      It is important as a woman of class to create the right balance between fashion and your faith. To lack modesty is to be tacky. One’s faith, when genuinely practiced influences every arena of your life, including your faith. It’s left to the individual’s conscience to be true to their faith and dress appropriately. For me, fashion should be trendy and attractive but modest.

  • Mz Socially Awkward… November 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    “Sleeveless” clothes are to be avoided? Really? In our very tropical climate?

    • Mz Socially Awkward… November 7, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      Darn it, BN, there’s something the matter wrong with the comment posting these days, mine keep showing up as responses and then individual comments :-)

      But I was going to post a comment of my own anyway, so here goes. I’ll keep it a 110% honest here and say that I’m a Christian who (like someone already stated above me) is understanding now more than any other time in my life what it means to really walk that path. And at the same time, I’m a hot woman who enjoys looking on point, at every moment. Amen, fellow sisters in the building?? Amen.

      I don’t like to call it vanity, I prefer to say I’m doing my utmost to work with the gifts that God gave me. My body looks way better in…. shall we say less frumpy clothes? Because I need to work these curves while I have them. Does that mean I’m all about baring my boobs and wearing belts disguised as skirts? No, that’s just unnecessarily hoochie behaviour, we don’t even need to go down the path of Christianity to explain why it offends normal rules of decency. But I have nice legs and will wear a knee length skirt to show them off, I like fitted clothes and will continue to buy them while I can get away with them. I also live by the rule of not causing others to sin with their eyes so don’t worry, it’s not a skintight fit I’m referring to here.

      What I’m saying here is simply that I like to look really nice and my measurement of “nice but Christian” dressing may not be the same as that of a fellow believer in the DeeperLife church, for instance. I also realise that even the sight of a baby in diapers might still be a turn on for some disgusting human beings, so it’s a battle you can’t always win.

      • whocares November 8, 2013 at 9:41 am

        AMEN!!!!!!

  • Idak November 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    In summary,any outfit worn with the clear intent of accentuating the female anatomy is akin to crossing the line. All these talk of long skirts,sleeveless and short skirts are complicating a simple matter.
    I have seen ladies in long skirts and well covered attires that were solely sewed to provoke specific organs of the male/female (i acknowledge varying sexual orientations) anatomy. Some tailors can make ‘Deeper life’ outfits with measurements that will send a rush of blood to nether regions of the Pope (or daddy G.O)’s body.

    • mrs dangote (nee anonymous) November 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      Too much information!

  • chioma ann November 7, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Amazing message….. A lot of women out there are more concerned about what they wear than who they really are, you are not what you wear! As beautiful as it is to look good, its amazing when this beauty comes from within. Thanks.

  • canadian igbo November 8, 2013 at 2:51 am

    have not read the article yet but as an avid reader of africanbutterfly, I was happy to read her comment. These days peoples’ standards have dropped drastically just to fit in with trends nawa. Sista na every trend you go follow? My principle is dress how you want to be addressed. Biko if you dress like a harlot (yes harlot) why would you be pissed if unserious human beings approach you. These days I can’t find anything meaningful in stores na so so hole hole dey all the cloth. AH AHN wetin! If I even find a meaningful skirt the slit go just depress me. Please respect your bodies. It is a temple. Make it presentable and acceptable to God. The thing is having a relationship, I mean a real relationship with God does actually help with this modesty palava because trust me the Holy spirit convicts big time.

  • Faith Kel. November 8, 2013 at 4:47 am

    #word.

  • just saying November 8, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Must you guys criticize everything? Lets be positive for once lol

  • ME November 8, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Church I go to here, most people were shorts to church
    especially during summer. In the beginning I raised an eyebrow but
    not ready to judge cos I wear shorts a lot (confirm Born-again and
    it pleases the husband). But as I kept going to this church despite
    the short wearing people, I was always filled with the word and
    guess what? Nobody cares about dressing here, Pastor is in jeans on
    Sundays, people just come as they are, no fuss. So, I agree that
    it’s all about your conscience. Do you have a nagging pull in your
    spirit when you wear some clothes? Do you feel confident as you
    step out of the door? Let your conscience/spirit guide
    you!

  • Cross November 8, 2013 at 11:45 am

    I know this girl. She was raised Deeper Life. I doubt she as any ear piercings till date. She uses clip-on and magnetic earrings though.

  • Chi November 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I did not read the article. I just saw a beautiful woman, admired her, and thanked God for creating her . I am a straight woman, no funny ideas.

  • Truthful November 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I am surprised that some are so shocked to hear that sleeveless outfits are not modest. Oh well, like I always say, the best way to know whether you are dressed modestly or not (or whether you live the true Christian life or not) is to carry your bible and go preach actively to those who are ungodly. They will surely let you know whether your swimsuit, cleavage and armpit-baring outfits represent Christ. I am not saying that us women have to look haggard but if you see a true Christian woman, the difference ought to be clear. Our inner character should show on the outside too. If you say that sleeve-less outfits are essential because the climate is so hot, then you might as well be naked like our ancestors were. I believe some of them even exposed their breasts in the villages, right? Equally the men should stop wearing shirts and wear loin cloths only too? I am talking about Christian standards of dressing here. It was hot in the bible days and people worked outdoors mostly but still managed to cover up. Even in Dubai with all the heat, do you see Muslim women in sleeveless tops and mini skirts? Oftentimes we are not the best judge of how we appear – especially when standards have gone way down in the Church.

    • Idak November 8, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      This comment of yours is very subjective on so many levels.

  • Tee Mama November 8, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Let’s just say, u can be very hawt, gorgeous and fashionable without making God (whose standard we are trying to adhere to) wonder if you’ve skipped to the other side. Decency I think, is a universal language.

    • Truthful November 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      God bless you for that comment. A lot of the western fashion of today was considered highly indecent just a few decades ago.

  • GFC November 9, 2013 at 12:48 am

    I remember a time when I couldn’t wear sleeveless because in my school it wasn’t allowed. I had a beautiful top that someone had given me and I wanted to wear it one day but it was sleeveless so I decided to wear a black sweater over it (that was all I had at the time). I was hot ehnn! But I couldn’t take it off because I was shy. Then my friend came to meet me and said aren’t you hot, I sighed and took it off then I remembered I hadn’t shaved my armpit so I put it back on :( Well lets just say I learnt my lesson. I think all you need is wisdom(cos a sleeveless top maybe appropriate for some but not for all) and the Holy Spirits guidance He will definitely convict you if what your wearing isn’t appropriate really He is the best person you could ask for advice any time your going out and you’ll never go wrong.

    godsfinestcreation.wordpress.com/

    • mrs dangote (nee anonymous) November 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Too much information!

  • molarah November 14, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Good one but my problem here is when broaching the issue of faith, your spirit/conscience/values etc is not the standard here. God’s Word must be the standard. Or how on earth are you trying to be ‘Godly’ using the guide of your own senses, which the Bible has clearly stated are natural and cannot know God (1 Corinthians 2:14)? And no, sometimes being a Christian for donkey years does not count because reality has shown us that many Christians of these times are more attuned to the spirit of the age than to the spirit of Christ. Have you started the Romans 12:2 walk? Have you begun the process of transformation by the renewal of your mind? Have you denied yourself, taken up your cross and begun to follow Christ? If you’ve not done these then your best stabs at discerning what is godly are just exercises in morality. My words may sound harsh but I beg you to see beyond them and look for truth: in these days I’ve come to realize that its necessary for truth to come out clear as a bell, no frills, no embellishment, no piping down. There is so much deception masquerading as Christianity these days, so when we come out on any forum speaking as oracles of God, declaring to be Christ’s ambassadors, we must know exactly what we know and not put out things that will increase the level of deception already out there. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this write-up but I find a problem here that you speak about finding a balance between faith and fashion and the only views expressed are those from yourself, and none from God’s word. Or have faith and God become mutually exclusive? Let’s not fall into the trap of equating morality and Godliness – God’s ways transcend all we know or think we know about morality.

  • ada January 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    May God bless you. God says His ways are higher than our ways. to be a christian indeed and eventually make heaven, we have to attain “his higher ways”

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