What Happened to ‘Class’?

Lightweight wrap cardigan

Have you ever heard someone referred to as a “classy woman”?  Surely not much anymore.  Many don’t even know what it means!

What is “class”?  Using good old Webster again, we find that “class” is “excellence; exceptional merit”; “elegance, grace, or dignity, as in dress and behavior” and being “the best or among the best of its kind”.  Whew!  What a listing!  The term class is what I have used and will use in the future to describe the kind of woman of God I want to be.  I first heard this term when it was applied to my mother by my dad.  He said that when he first met my mother, at college, the first thing he noticed was her class.  These days you don’t hear that very much.  Dad was so impressed with my mom’s carriage, dress, manners and pleasant personality that he married her — and now, he’s working on his four daughters to excel in this same area. 

There are several aspects of the classy woman I am going to explore in this post.  While my last post focused on the fashion aspect of the godly woman (combining modesty with a lovely appearance), there are a few other characteristics that are necessary to make a godly woman complete. 

Posture is going to be first on the list because I believe it is a lost art.  A girl can wear anything she wants to, but if she slouches or scuffs her feet, rounds her shoulders and hangs her head, nothing will look nice on her.  It also gives her an appearance of self-consciousness and anti-social behavior.  Stand tall with your shoulders back — as the mother of one of my friends said, “Pretend there is a string attached to the top of your head, and walk like you are suspended from it.” 

Speech and posture go hand in hand.  If you are slouching and sloppy, what you say may not be taken as seriously as you wish.  And if you slur your words, talk loudly and abrasively, or speak in a monotone, uninterested voice, your physical presentation will go out the window as well.  Some of the most important virtues of the classy woman are her abilities to enunciate her words clearly, speak slowly but with a pleasant tone, and consciously watch what she is saying. 

Dress has several aspects I will explore.  We already talked about fashion, Pencil skirtbut for a quick recap, a godly woman is careful to use discretion while shopping, so that modesty is the main influence over her choices.  There are several clothing manufacturers that are known for their quality and modest styles (for the most part).  These are Lands End, Talbots, JC Penney and Coldwater Creek (my personal favorite).  I personally do a lot of resale shopping to save money, but I look for these brands because I know the quality they produce. 

5-row Beaded Illusion NecklaceJewelry can either be overdone or be the perfect accent to an outfit.  These days, too often it is overdone.  Usually, I just wear earrings, a ring and a necklace to work.  These I try to pick to complement what I am wearing.  Though this may surprise some, there is such a thing as immodest jewlery.  The girls in my family call it the “ghetto rat” look — big hoops, many necklaces, three or four rings.  If you’re a designer, maybe you can pull it off, but otherwise, it just looks like you are trying too hard. 

Makeup is a topic of great debate in homeschool circles, and I don’t portend to change anyone’s standards.  My mother went to cosmotology school before she married my dad, so in my family, we have an expert for referral!  At thirteen we were allowed to wear foundation and some mascara.  From then on it was on an “ask” basis, and now at eighteen I pretty much choose for myself, and my mom tells me if I look “muddy” or overdone.  In my family, makeup is a choice, but it is preferred because it brings life to your face.  Even if my mom hadn’t worn makeup before she met my dad, he would ask her to wear it because he likes it on her — and on us. 

Character, the final aspect, is the most important of all.  This is what motivates the classy woman to dress, speak, walk and look the way she does.  She is seeking God in her life and letting Him guide her choices.  Through Him she becomes all she can be.  If we focus on Christ, these other aspects will all fall into place. 

A classy woman is rarely found today.  Keep an eye out for them, and watch what makes them what they are.  And while you are at it, become one yourself — bringing honor to Christ by representing Him so well.


Victoria’s Unkept Secret

In Traverse City, which is about an hour from my house, there is a mall that I make sure I go to every time I am in the vicinity.  I love shopping, and this mall has every store you can possibly imagine!  It is an absolute blast… in more ways than one.  While it’s lots of fun to walk through the mall with my sisters and friends, it seems we can never escape the bombardment of provocative music, pictures and models on all sides.  It is almost appalling to walk past the Abercrombie outlet, to glance into Express, or to catch a glimpse of a Limited poster on the wall — and we’re girls.  Imagine the struggle for our brothers in Christ.

I wrote an post a few days back on “If You’ve Got it, Flaunt It”.  In it I detailed the opinions of our brothers on modesty, and the importance thereof.  But it seems like we are in the minority, and that our concept of dress will never make any difference.  It seems that you can’t find clothes anywhere that are just simple and lovely — no, they have to be “sexy”, or made into some strange, souped-up form of femininity that isn’t feminine at all. 

I found an interesting article on MSN that illustrates what has happened to fashion in the past twenty years.  Many of you may be familiar with Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie line that has rapidly disentegrated from gently feminine to unabashedly trashy.  The article linked above contains an interesting assessment made by Victoria’s Secret’s CEO — that the company has become “too sexy”.  With an air of utter surprise, the $10 billion line has decided that the overly provocative music, merchandise, commercials and even decoration of stores has actually brought about a drop in sales, as older women who still retain a sense of modest femininity are turned away by the company’s prostitutionary style. 

Even those of the world, with what little conscience they yet retain, can see when a woman’s greatest secret is being thrown away.  It is no longer a special thing when the models in the window make a woman’s beauty so easy to gain.  There is no longer any reason for a man to pursue a woman for it, because it is ever before him in a thousand different venues. And for the man who chooses to look for a women’s inner beauty rather than her outward appearance, he must also endure the barrage of temptation that he meets with every day.

So when Victoria’s Secret suggests a modesty remodel, perhaps we should make an assessment of ourselves as well!

If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It!

Did that title get your attention? 

Well, behold the motto of the modern woman!  Today it’s all about flaunting what you’ve got in material, money and — most important — physical appearance.  Modesty is a word of the 19th century, associated with such phrases as “fancy that” and “have a cup of tea?” (which I wouldn’t actually mind having now…).  It seems that if you don’t show off “whatcha got”, everyone thinks you have something to hide.  Which, in essence, we do.

Every woman’s body is creation of God, and as such, it is beautiful to Him.  Certainly we need to keep up on ourselves and be healthy and hygenic.  Yet no matter what the world has to say, we are still God’s creation and are beautiful in His eyes.  But there is another facet too: someday each of us will most likely marry, and there will be one man who is allowed to appreciate our beauty — the beauty God created in us.  This beauty belongs to that man long before we meet him.  So is it right to share it with other men before the Prince comes riding in? 

Now I am not talking whole-hog immorality here.  I’m talking about immodesty.  Did you ever stop to think that by dressing in a way that bares skin, fits the figure to a T,  or leaves your legs as the feature presentation you are cheating your husband?  To many girls and women this comes as an utter shock.  How could fashion equal adultery?  The truth is — very easily.  Fashion today is designed to encourage lust, and here is what our Lord has to say about that:

“You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.”  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt. 5:27-28

Uh-oh.  Lust = Adultery.  Encourage lust… and you encourage adultery.  The weight of our responsibility is heavy.  Modesty really is an important issue.  But the problem comes up when we realize that there is no set standard for modesty — no Ten Commandments of Feminine Attire.  So what to do? 

I write a quarterly column for TEACH magazine on modesty, and for the article I am currently writing I interviewed 13 men aged 15 to 40 on their opinion of modesty. Following the research I did for the article, I gave a PowerPoint presentation  for a group of girls based on my findings.  Now I am going to share a little of it with you.  The entire purpose for dressing modestly is to first, obey and glorify God, and second, help our brothers to keep from stumbling.  Thus, I thought it best to speak to the very ones we are dressing to honor and respect — the men. 

Following are a few eyeopening comments made by some of the young men I interviewed.  The full list of interviews made for an hour long presentation, so if there is any more interest in this topic I can be contacted for the full interview results at phyliciadelta@hotmail.com

“I believe modesty goes far beyond clothing choices. It is part of defining your character. A modest woman is one who is secure in who she is in Christ, and doesn’t need to dress in ways that attract attention. Honestly, it isn’t so much what you are wearing, but the attitude with it.”  (age 19)

“[Modesty is important for women] because I would say that the more modest the woman the more attractive they actually are to men. Contrary to what most people think short clingy clothes do not make men attracted to them. It arises feelings that aren’t just primarily attraction… but lust. And if I was a woman, I would want people attracted to me for not only my looks but primarily my personality.” (age 15)

“I would want my wife to dress in such a way that she presented herself to be well kept and attractive. I wouldn’t want her to put on clothes that were too provocative and encouraged a barrage of male advancements, but I wouldn’t want her to wear a snowsuit either.” (age 24)

“You are what you eat” is not nearly as accurate as “you are what you wear.”  A person who just throws on clothes willy-nilly is likely to exhibit those same sloppy characteristic in other areas of their life.  Likewise, a girl that dresses with the intent to have boys look at her is probably (not absolutely) just that shallow.  My experience has led me to believe that females with a healthy level of self esteem do not need to draw unnecessary attention to their bodies.  If they dress to show off skin, it may be because their skin is the only part of them worth showing off.” (age 26)

“[An immodest woman] is probably not someone I am interested in.  She is probably high maintenance; most likely insecure and a handful.” (age 27)

What a perspective!  To see what these Christian — and non-Christian! — men had to say about the importance of modesty is astounding.  However, what it all came back to for them was respect.  Men think in terms of respect — that is the highest compliment they can think to pay.  Women think in terms of love.  However, all the men I interviewed immediately commented that a modest woman is worthy of their respect, while an immodest one is not. 

For a Christian woman, we may have it, but we are not to flaunt it. We’re to keep it — and hide it — for one man.  In the meantime, we are beautiful in God’s eyes, and that should be enough.