What I Put On is Not Me

Today, I was asked, “as a favor”, to change out of the cute little capri pants I had on and into my jean skirt. To clarify, nothing was showing. I had a Peter Pan collar top that left covered my bust, decolletage, and shoulders and came down over the waistband of my pants. The capris were dark denim and came down past my knees. The reason I was asked to change? So I could meet the current principal of my old school–where I will be giving the commencement address on Friday evening–and “avoid any conflict” that might come from me being seen in pants. I did it; I changed. I did it because I don’t live here anymore. I don’t have to live with these people and their talk and their (more-than-sometimes vicious) gossip. She (the person who asked me) does and I want her life to be as easy as I can help to make it. But, honestly, I’m angry. I am angry and disappointed.  Not at the person who asked me but at the fact that she felt like I had to be asked to do this. I am insulted by the very idea that my worth or the validity of my faith or my respectability could be compromised by an article of clothing. Could be questionable in the eyes of someone who has never even met me, simply because I showed up in their presence wearing pants instead of a skirt. The idea that anyone’s clothes determine their worth or respectability, especially when you don’t know them. This, frankly, angers me to a degree that I cannot quantify.

What I put on, what I wear, is not me. Now, I know all about first impressions so don’t feed me that line. This isn’t about first impressions. This is about me not being Christian enough when I wear pants for people who have known me all my life but obviously know nothing about me or who I am at all. It makes me angry and makes me sad that this has Not changed in thirty-plus years, and I refuse to be that kind of Christian! I refuse to deny someone’s worth or faith or right to be respected because she wears pants or he wears a skirt or they wear whatever they choose to wear. What I put on is not me. What I do, how I speak, how I act, how I live out what I believe. That is me.  A woman came to Jesus with her head uncovered and used her hair to dry his feet after she anointed them with the dearest and most expensive thing she owned. Did he scold her for coming to him dressed immodestly? No! In fact, he told the others with him, who started berating her for “wasting” the perfume, to leave her alone because her sacrifice was heartfelt and true and made out of love for him. Somewhere, somehow, I think that woman knew in her soul that Jesus was going to go through something terrible, and she refused to let him experience pain without knowing that he was loved. Her lack of hair covering didn’t matter; her actions did and still do.

You cannot judge someone heart and soul by their clothing. You cannot judge their intelligence, their gentleness, their faith, their belief, their convictions, their journey, or their capacity for kindness and love based on what they wear next to their skin. What clothes our outside does not matter. In fact, in the New Testament, Colossian 3:12-15 says:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”

I believe that we are all holy and dearly loved. We are all beloved of God. What makes a person important, what makes them indispensable, what makes who they are valuable and valid is how they have clothed their spirit, not how they have clothed their body. How that person over there dresses doesn’t make them any less of a person, any less capable of kindness and compassion and love and care, of courage  and determination and strength. You haven’t seen how they live their life. Don’t judge them in this one snapshot moment because of what you haven’t seen. Please! The fact that I wear pants on a regular basis as well as skirts and dresses doesn’t make what I will have to say to these graduating students any less true. It doesn’t make my testimony any less powerful. And it doesn’t make me any less respectable, any less worthy, of a person. And it definitely does not make me any less of a Christian.

If you judge me unworthy or less than just by looking at me, then I would dare say that it’s possible that you might have a much bigger and more serious issue than a 33-year-old woman in pedal-pushers. 


NaBloPoMo Day 22: Dressing for Success

I take great pride in how I dress; just about anyone who knows me will tell you this. I agonize over outfits and am rarely happier than when an outfit comes together just the way I envisioned it. I would like to say that my style is equal parts cute, vintage-lovely, elegant, and feel-good. Today, however, I questioned my choices as I rushed out the door, late as we were for getting on our way to church. I felt a little odd, almost frumpy, though I know I probably looked anything but that.

My choice this morning was a dress that I bought at least a year ago but had never worn before today. A lovely, lacy, little fit-and-flare dress by Xhilaration in a bright cream and then covered that with a cream and gold striped waterfall cardigan by Mossimo, one of my new favorite comfort pieces to just wear all the time. Beneath those, I pulled on a pair of black ribbed tights (I still call them stockings) and, though I wished I had brown ones to keep with the color palette, I found that that black made the cream of my dress and the cappuccino of my shoes really pop. Yes, I have these lovely, coffee-and-cream colored, Fioni leather booties that are probably my favorite shoes ever.  In my hair was a faux pheasant-feather fascinator headband, another one of my favorite accessories.

As I finally came home four and a half hours later and spied myself in the mirror, I decided that, even if I wasn’t happy with the outfit as a whole, I was extremely happy with how fan-frickin’-tastic my legs looked in those tights and heels.

Sunday's Outfit 11-22-15

NaBloPoMo 2014 Day 24: My ByGone Wardrobe

The Tudors, 15th-16th Century Elizabethan

The Borgias, 16th Century Italian

I have dreams of dresses, of pinafores, bustles, shifts, shirtwaists, kirtles, and overskirts. I muse of miles of sumptuous fabrics, satin cool as milk against my skin. I visualize gowns of delicate brocades and silken underclothes, the shimmery gossamer of my chemise drawn through the gaps of my sleeves like the intimation of butterfly wings beneath my skin. I fantasize of heavy damask frocks and furred sleeves trailing along my hips, thread-of-gold embroidery crowning the front of my corseted bodice, holding me in tight and blossoming. I have daydreams of panniers and petticoats and lace, flowered hats perched at impossible angles, and curls brushing my shoulders. I imagine silken snoods and delicate French hoods to cover my hair. I seek to imitate the fit-and-flare femininity or the sultry hourglass silhouettes of the Fifties. These dresses and gowns and the beauty inherent in each style of habiliment, are elevated to an absolute divine elegance in my imagination, in these dreams.

Mad Men, 1950s-60s

I would find myself happily-placed to be a dress-up doll for those whose skilled hands create these textile works of art. I have no such talent and so admire and exult in the artistic, wearable beauties that those who do create. I am here and willing, dear artists. Dress me!

NaBloPoMo Day 1: Dress Fantasies

Dresses from Modcloth.com

Stolen from OpusElenae. Every November, she does something called NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month. It came about as a spin-off of National Novel Writing Month, which also takes place in November. The goal is to write a blog post a day, all month. I have decided to follow my wifey-friend’s suit and try to post every day in November.

So, for today, here is this probably-not-so-surprising declaration.

I love dresses. Absolutely love dresses.

I love feminine fashion and being girly. I am a huge fan of feminine fashion, loving the fit-and-flare, 50s and 60s style dresses, sweaters, skirts, and open-toed shoes that resurfaced this past spring and summer. I bellydance, love to clean and cook when I’m in the mood (and, yes, I have done so in heels and pearls before). I also wear jeans, shovel snow, deal with all the technology in our house, and shoot archery. Yes, I still consider myself feminine. I expect my 4-and-a-half-month-old daughter to one day run around in a tutu and rain galoshes, to put on camo and go hunting with her grandfather, and to love the pretty dresses that her grandmothers buy for her.

But, as for me, I would fill my closet with dresses if I could. Dresses that flatter, satin that feels like cool milk against my skin, lace that froths in the light, chiffon that flows and clings in all the right places and ripples like water when I walk. I love it all. It makes me feel beautiful and graceful and it’s one of the few things that I do for myself that makes me feel so. So no matter how old I get. You’ll never get me to give up my dresses.