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Monday, November 22, 2010

Christian Fashion Trends

by Dina Sleiman

With Christmas shopping just around the corner, let’s talk about Christian fashion trends. Look back just fifty years and the Christian church attire was pretty standard. Long dresses with heels and hose for women. Suits, preferably three piece, and ties for men. But we’ve come a long way baby. It’s not that young people today desire to be sloppy or lazy about church. It’s just that they desire authenticity in their Christianity. They don’t want to feel like they’re putting on a costume for church when they dress differently 6 ½ days of the week. In fact, even the concept of “dressing up” has changed with this generation. Business casual of nice jeans and collared shirts has replaced the suit and tie. Women often wear jeans with blouses and fancy shoes to “dress up.”

So what does Christian attire look like these days? I’m going to take you for a peek at a Christian Clothing retailer called C28 in order to answer this question. You might not have a C28 in your area, but anyone can order online at http://www.c28.com/ .

First of all, contemporary Christian fashion seeks to be a light in a dark world. The clothing features Christian messages, scriptures, and scripture references. This is a great way to reach out to non-Christian friends. Whether you choose a t-shirt with a bold message, a dress shirt with subtle Christian symbolism, or jeans with a scripture reference on the waistband, you will be making a statement about what you feel is important in life. Their store brand, “NOTW,” stands for “Not of this world,” and proclaims that there is something more important than what we can perceive with our five senses. This sort of message is important to our culture seeking supernatural experiences and spiritual realities.

In their stores, C28 goes even farther in ministering to the world. They reach out to teens and young adults in malls across the nation through Christian music, prayer, and in store evangelism. Over 16,000 people have come to faith in Jesus in C28 stores, and a portion of all their proceeds go to ministry.

Second, contemporary Christian clothing is modest, within our cultural context. It is important to remember that while modesty is a Biblical concept, modesty is largely defined by culture. Trust me, as someone who has traveled to the Middle East multiple times, I am well aware of this fact. At it’s heart, modesty is not about covering up or hiding. If it was, we would all be wearing long blue burqas with mesh eye holes like Afghani women. Modesty means not drawing undue attention to yourself. Personally, I am not a fan of certain Mennonite and Amish dress that causes everyone to stop and stare.

I've noticed that women of my mother's generation often consider skirts modest because they hide the leg line. However, my generation and my daughter's generation feel more modest in pants because the legs are covered and the fabric won't blow in the wind. In my personal opinion, modest clothing should not be skin tight, reveal cleavage of the northern or southern variety, or expose areas that are best kept private. As you can see in this tank top, C28 offers clothing that covers all the important areas while not drawing undue attention.

But that’s still hard to define and depends on culture and setting. If a girl wore a tankini to the beach, she would look modest in that context. But, if she wore the same tankini to the mall, church, or the office, she would be perceived as immodest, even downright scandalous. I encourage my children to take an additional step towards modesty for church, not because I want them to be phony, but because I want them to be extra careful not to distract anyone from God.

Finally, as I mentioned in the beginning, contemporary Christian fashion is authentic, just as contemporary Christians are. Don’t be surprised if you walk into C28 and have a body-pierced or tattooed sales clerk come and tell you about Jesus and offer to pray for you. The clothing at C28 is culturally relevant so that others will find Christians approachable, and so that young people can feel comfortable and real. This store carries clothing that is geared toward a number of youth subcultures including skater/surfer, hip hop, and preppy.

And yes, the clothing is “cool.”

The mission statement of C28 is: TO GLORIFY GOD BY SHARING THE LIFE CHANGING GOSPEL MESSAGE OF GRACE, TRUTH AND LOVE FOUND ONLY IN JESUS CHRIST THROUGH PRAYER, EVENGELISM AND GOD'S WRITTEN WORD ON APPAREL.

What a great idea. All that we say and do should glorify God, including our clothing. And the great news is that this does not have to mean dressing in outdated fashions, covering to our wrists and ankles, or “dressing up” in skirts and suits.

Let’s stop dividing the secular and sacred. Life should be worship and worship should be life. Instead of putting on a costume to visit God once a week, how about we invite him into every single second of our lives!

There's still plenty of time to order your Christmas presents from C28 this year. Check their clearance page for great deals. If the clothing seems a little expensive, just remember in addition to being clothing, it is also an investment into minsitry and evangelism. Could there be a more worthy cause? And visit your local Christian bookstore or shop online for great Kerusso t-shirts as well.

How do you think Christians should dress? How do you define modesty? Have you seen any great Christian t-shirts that tickled or blessed you? What's your current favorite outfit?

11 comments:

  1. Think I'll wear my c28 hoodie today to celebrate the post :)

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  2. Dina, thanks for sharing the site! I'll be passing it on.
    IMHO, modesty has more to do with heart humility than square inches of exposed skin or style of clothing.
    When what we wear, whether it's the ankle-length denim skirt uniform that's popular at one of our more conservative churches or a Christian T-shirt and baggy jeans, when our wardrobe becomes a source of pride - causing us to believe we are better than someone else - we've become immodest.
    Funny story: When oldest son was in 2nd grade he was worried about his friend failing a test, so he "shared" his answers. Got caught, sent to the principal's office for cheating wearing his "Nothing but the Blood" T-shirt. Eek.

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  3. I agree about the modesty and the clothing with inscriptions.

    We had such a hard time find similar clothing up here, that I even printed my own t-shirts with a small Print Gocco 'silk screen' machine. I'd take a variety of sizes and set up a table at my local farmers market. Over the 3 yrs of doing this every summer, I think I only sold 1 or 2 t-shirts though. Which kind of explains why I wanted to do them in the first place. :/

    My daughter in college has been a joy to us in her pursuit of Jesus. As a teen, she led worship and was/is in demand as a counsellor. She always dressed modestly (as per your idea of the word) except in one facet which I couldn't seem to get through... She allowed her navel to show when that was the style and her pants have always been too tight. I won't tell you her reasons because I don't agree with them. And although I didn't like it, I allowed it because in the big picture, it was a small thing compared to all the things she could have been involved with. She'll be 20 in 2 months and still hasn't dated because she's waiting for the right guy. She's never smoked or toked or drank or anything like that. She completed high school with the highest grade average and is receiving high marks now in college. I think she still may wear her pants too tight for my taste but her navel's been covered since the trend ended. Overall, I'm so proud of her.

    No, we don't have a C28 near here, but I'll be checking out the site and passing this on as well. Great post, Dina.

    Anita Mae.

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  4. Niki, your son's t-shirt reminds me of when people have Christian bumper stickers and then drive rude. Uh oh. But it's kind of funny too :) Guess he needed the blood of Jesus that day.

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  5. Anita, on the navel issue, I actually didn't bring it up because I think that's one of those issues that sort of depends on context. Like in the summer at a park when its hot, a little midriff doesn't bother me a bit, but I also know others feel differently. I encourage my daughter to be careful not to offend. And as for me, after three kids there's nothing around the middle that should be shown off anyway. LOL.

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  6. I am still chuckling at the remark about cleavage "of the northern or southern variety." LOL

    Also about the bumper stickers. We don't have a fish on our car for that very reason. The day I was confirmed, a long time ago, we left church and drove to brunch. Got stuck behind two cars whose drivers were obviously displeased with each other. They blocked both lanes, trying to keep pace with each other so they could yell obsenities and flip each other off. Then one car peeled off to turn into a church parking lot and the other car eventually turned into another church parking lot. Ugh. What a witness. I cringe whenever someone tears through a stop sign or flips somebody off and they've got a NOTW sticker or a fish on their car.

    We don't have one of those stores out here, so thanks for the link. I have a few Christian sweatshirts and t-shirts, mostly concert tees. My husband has a shirt I like which just has a cross on it and it says, "This t-shirt is illegal in 51 countries."

    Thanks, Dina!

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  7. Dina, that's one of the reasons I didn't make a big deal about it. She showed it in school and shopping, etc where others her own age dressed the same, but she never showed it in church or to church events, bible camp, etc.

    Also, I'd like to mention that since we're talking about clothes, christianbook.com has a huge assortment of t-shirts, hoodies and caps. I bought some last year and they went over so well, I've already ordered half a dozen for this year. My hubby and son particularly like the music ones which proclaim a joy of worship music, etc.

    Anita Mae.

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  8. Susanne, I was one of the first in my area to have NOTW stickers on my car. I love them because they're artsy and subtle, and I'm a fairly polite driver, so I think I can pull them off. But, so many people have them now, they aren't quite as fun.

    My husband has a NOTW dressy casual shirt which he loves and wears often. But he also likes his cheesy Christian t-shirts too. And he has one that says "Infidel" which is pretty much an inside joke for those who do ministry in the Middle East. I'm sure he'd love the one you mentioned.

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  9. Showing the midriff is actually against the rules in Virginia Beach public schools, which I appreciate. They have a pretty strict dress code.

    By the way, my favorite outfit this season is stretchy skinny jeans with long shirts and slouchy boots, as my facebook page will attest.

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  10. Thanks Dina. I had no idea about this store. Nice looking stuff!

    I live in an area with a lot of Amish and Mennonites and I think they dress that way to not stand out among themselves, (much like school uniforms) but yes, they obviously draw attention to themselves 'out in the world'! Espesh for tourists.

    I'd like to see a lot less cleavage--hey, maybe those calico dresses aren't so bad.

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  11. Deb,, I grew up not far from Amish country. In my current area, there is only a small Mennonite community that dresses that way, and I can't help but wonder why they can't just wear jumpers or something a little less obvious.

    I did see one of the ACFW German reformed ladies rockin' an awesome peacock blue printed silk dress this year at the conference. I really enjoyed seeing her in that. It had so much flair, although it was cut in the Mennonite style.

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