The Fine Line of Fashion – Sensuous or Virtuous

THE FINE LINE OF FASHION – SENSUOUS OR VIRTUOUS

By Leann Albrecht

We live at a time in history when our liberal society would like to accentuate the “sensuous” (a preoccupation with bodily or sexual pleasures) and annihilate the “virtuous” (general moral excellence; right actions and thinking; goodness; strength and courage with the power to choose right). It is a time when purity has little value and sex sells everything.  Our cultural obsession with “sex” preys on our homes and churches to paralyze our minds and harden our hearts. It seeks to steal the real beauty of sex that God intended for it.

As Christians, God has called us to be role models. (one who inspires others to good moral and ethical conduct), We have a responsibility to know what’s hip and what’s not in the “fashion world”. If the latest fashion “rage” is risquÈ, we don’t need to cause an outrage by wearing it. It’s imperative that we know the difference between a creative outfit that is beautiful and one that is creative but suggestive. I have no desire to be the “fashion police”, however, I have gained some wisdom from having lived a “colorful” life of various occupations.

My father was a minister ….and I was the prodigal teenager who lived the whispered gossip. Eventually I moved to New York as a flight attendant, followed by several years of print and runway modeling in the fashion industry. After moving back to St. Louis, Missouri, I worked as a sales representative in the business world of ad specialties. Now years later, I am a worship leader, writer and speaker… and married to the same man, Carl, for 27 years.

Not long ago at a conference, a senior pastor extended his hand to me and said, “I want to tell you how much I appreciate you dressing modestly as a worship leader. I wish everyone who is in leadership could somehow know the importance of that.” The definition of modesty is: Adequately clothed for propriety; the quality of being proper, fitting or suitable.

We live in Nashville, Tennessee which is a melting pot of creative colorful people – you can always pick them out. They are the artistic ones who wear funky clothes, striking hair colors and have multiple parts of their bodies tattooed or pierced. Personally, I find it fascinating. They are walking exhibits of art and many of them are beautiful.

Yes, I know, “It’s what’s on the inside that really counts.” However, what is conveyed on the outside can be a reflection of what is on the inside. If your fashion decisions are meant to gain the lustful eye of the opposite sex, it will only lead to a hollow thrill. Please take the advice from one who has walked down that path: the lustful responses you provoke are not the kind of attention you really want and it brings with it a cost you cannot afford to pay.

The dictionary defines lust as: the sexual desire to seek unrestrained gratification of the senses and bodily appetite. Matthew 5:27 says, You have heard the commandment, “Do not commit adultery”, but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman and cherishes lustful thoughts has already committed adultery with her in his own heart.

Men and women are different in many ways. Women are emotionally stimulated while men are visually stimulated. That’s the way God made us. Proverbs 27:20 says, The grave and destruction are never satisfied; so too the eyes of man.

Cultural dressing for the Islamic religion only allows a woman to expose her hands and face. “Waabiism”, a sub-sect of Islam, requires women to be totally covered in black with only a small slit for the eyes in the veil. This legalistic form of dressing is not the answer either. It merely deletes the beauty of a woman.

Recently, I was at a Christian Music Festival. One of the guys asked if I could spend some time with his teenage daughter since he was going to be busy setting up. I agreed to pick her up at the hotel entrance later that morning.

As she opened the car door to join me, I tried not to gasp. First of all, she was gorgeous! I had never seen a more perfect body. Then I realized…… I didn’t have to use much imagination ……. she had very little clothing on! Obviously, she had dressed for a “hot” summer day but we were not at the beach.

When we arrived at the park, we met up with her dad. Within a few minutes she whispered to him. “Dad, is this outfit scandalous?” He said, “Well, honey, I guess if you have to ask the question, then it is.” Quietly reaching into her backpack, she pulled out a full cut shirt to cover her bare midriff, skintight halter-top and very low- rise jeans.

Her dad commented to me later. “Her mother was just like her when we first started dating. She had no clue how others perceived her scanty clothing. I had to be the one to tell her.”

For the first time, I realized it was possible that inappropriate dressing could be something other than an intentional decision. Without a parent or mentor to help guide those decisions, people choose their trendy styles from movies, TV and fashion magazines. Again, I am not finding fault with fashion or fads. It’s fun to create but do it with discretion.

If you are a leader, this is extremely important. People are looking to you as an example. What standard do you want to set? When others look at you, what do they see? When you stand before the congregation, whether you are “the” leader or just a part of the band on the platform, you are a leader. People are “checking you out.”

Girls – when every curve or bulge can be seen, I promise you, there are people around you having to close their eyes to have a spiritual experience.……men and women alike. If a fabulous body is being flaunted,  other girls are caught up in a whirlwind of thoughts that range from envy, jealousy, criticism or self-degradation. And the guys…they are fighting their own battle of visually ignited desire .

So, girls…. let’s be kind to the guys. Don’t make it difficult for them. Think of them as a best friend who needs your help to keep a clean thought life. When they look at us, let their first thought be of Jesus…not a sexy body or lack of it. If you’re married, save those “sexy outfits” for a date with your spouse.

The same is true for the guys. Tight clothing is not only uncomfortable but distracting. Be kind to the ladies. Instead, let them see your gentleness, compassion and strength of character.

Not only do you want your appearance to be above criticism but your speech as well. Sexually suggestive conversations can lead down a road of ungoldy imagination. You know what I’m talking about…. the two possible comments that follow someone’s statement. One is the innocent comment and the other one has an “off color” sexual slant. You may be tempted to choose the sexual comment because you think it makes you look “clever” or a little “naughty”. My advice is, “Keep your mind out of the gutter.” Get a laugh from jokes that are witty and clean. Proverbs 27:11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for a friend. Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, those who make it a friend shall eats it’s fruit. Matthew 15:11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

We, as Christians, need to set a higher standard. A standard that is moral. One that promotes the attitude of Jesus and a lifestyle of purity; one that delights our soul instead of our “fleshly” senses.

Here are some clear fashion guidelines that have proven to work well in most church and social settings.

1. Necklines should not expose cleavage.

2. No tight fitting clothes or see through fabrics. Keep in mind that thin “clingy” fabrics are less “forgiving” than heavier ones . If you’re on the stage, remember physical shape is accentuated with bright lighting.

3. Also, for the platform – skirts should be to the knee.  Remember, most stages are elevated which makes the length of a skirt appear shorter from the audience level. If you are sitting on the platform, make sure when you are seated that the skirt is designed to give adequate coverage.

4. No exposed midriffs. Bare midriffs give the suggestion of nudity. If you are on a worship team or one who raises your hands in worship, give that outfit a trial run at home in front of the mirror before you leave for church.

5. Ladies, make sure if you get a “chill” or a “hormonal surge” you are the only one who knows it. Shirts that are dark in color or patterned fabrics make a great camouflage. Tip: Hanes – HG510

If you don’t have someone to help you with your fashion decisions, ask the Lord. He will tell you. I even take Him shopping with me. He’s a good shopper and He instructs me on what to buy.

To keep our hearts pure, we must choose our focus. When temptations come, will we discipline our eyes to look away or take the journey of unclean fantasy? Psalm 101:3 I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The definition of vile is: cheap, worthless, attributing no value to a person other than a fleeting moment of selfish pleasure.

As you desire to become more like Jesus, allow Him to complete the transformation. Let your heart, your tongue, your appearance and conduct reflect the beauty of Jesus. When others speak your name, may it be with honor and high regard. A respectful reputation will never be forgotten. It will be your crown and legacy. Proverbs 22:1 A good name is more to be desired than great wealth, and to be respected it better than silver or gold.

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Comments

  1. Alicia Cone says:

    Nice article…thanks for sharing!

    • You’re welcome. I hope you are doing well, Alicia.

    • Lisa Rich says:

      Leann,

      What I love most is you display beutiy modestly. God gave us our bodies not to flaunt, yet display His glory. You are a blessing girl! It makes me feel better that I do not have to show, or flaunt to get Man’s approval, just be who I am with respect to God.

    • Mike Farrar says:

      Excellent article and very much appreciated. I’m an elder at my church and we have had issues come up with our worship team in this area and this will help our worship leader instruct worship team members in proper attire, but also the spirit and truth behind why what we wear and how we wear it can reflect a holiness and purity which God wishes us to portray at all times. Thanks for the blessing in instruction!
      In Christ,
      Mike Farrar

    • Carol Rosser says:

      Hi Leann,

      Thank you for sharing this article. This is one of the best I’ve read about this issue. You’ve done a great job explaining the “why’s” of modest dressing, especially on the platform. I’m going to share this with the women on our Worship Team.

      • Hi Mike,
        I’m so happy to be able to say the things that are many times difficult or awkward to address on our worship teams. I hope that in someway it helps others see the reasoning behind appropriate attire.
        Thanks for your comment.
        Blessings to you.
        Leann

  2. A well written article in the midst of today’s culture of showing more and leaving less to privacy. Modesty has its own beauty.

  3. Karen Hohman says:

    Great article Leann! Thank you for sharing these God inspired thoughts with us all. Love your web-site. Keep writing!

  4. God bless you, Leeann, for your courage and conviction to shine light on this area of our lives!! and for doing it with sensitivity. I agree; I also came to the conclusion that not everyone is intentional or aware of the effect of the way they dress, and I want to think many would be grateful for some guidance. It is a subject that can so infringe on our sense of personal space and freedom of expression that it is hard, I think, for pastors and teachers or even just our friends to know how to touch it. You are so right about the role that love plays: if we know that those around us are engaged in a continual fight for purity and walking in the way of Christ, why would we want to add to their warfare rather than be a safe place of refreshment from the battle. It really does come down, not to grace and freedom to do whatever we like, but to LOVE. Thanks so much.

    • Mekena…..I too am so appreciative when others give thoughtfulness to this matter.
      You are sweet to write.
      Thank you for your note.

  5. Micki Ann Harris says:

    My favorite part:

    .” If your fashion decisions are meant to gain the lustful eye of the opposite sex, it will only lead to a hollow thrill. Please take the advice from one who has walked down that path: the lustful responses you provoke are not the kind of attention you really want and it brings with it a cost you cannot afford to pay.”

    Thank you so much for this, Leann…

    • Thanks for your comment, Micki Ann. I hope you and Chuck are doing well. BTW…I am still looking forward to talking to you about your book when you get a minute.
      Love you!

  6. LeAnn YOU ROCKED THIS! I love this article and think everyone in the “speaking/artist” role should read it! Love it Love it Love it!

    • Yes, I hope that this article is passed around to everyone. Christian men and women of all ages and occupations need to think about their fashion choices. Whether we are in school, church or the work place, what we wear affects those around us….positively or negatively. What is so awesome is that we have the power to make that choice. Choose well.
      Thanks for your note, Yvette.
      Blessings to you.

  7. Thanks Leann, Thoughtful and grace-and-truth filled!

  8. Maureen morris says:

    You’re an enjoyable n thought provoking writer. I like your photo accompanying
    the piece. I have 3 teen daughters and a 16/17yr old drummer son who
    All love the Lord:). Now how about some writing for the droopy pants
    band boy of mine?!lol

    • Thank you, Maureen. I know some styles make sense and others are goofy. The baggy pants thing…well that fad is a mystery to me too but I have to say, it’s better than no pants at all. LOL!
      Thanks for your note.
      Blessings to you!

  9. this Truth is one that Holy Spirit breaths His “AMEN” on….as a person on stage most of my life, Holy Spirit has been faithful EVERY time to speak to my motives of what I wear….even down to the jewelry……..we are His representative…..amen and amen……..
    If we offend a brother (or sister) with our outer wear, they will most likely not hear the message brought in the venue it is given…..
    We HAVE to listen……it’s ALWAYS all about souls…….always…….

    thank you, Leann

  10. Lydia Hendrickson says:

    Wow!!! That was great Aunt Leann!
    I love when you write and speak! I can’t wait to read your book when it comes out!!
    xoxoxo

    • Thanks, Lydia.
      I am sending you a book this week. Look for it!
      I love you, sweet girl.
      Miss you too.
      Aunt Leann

  11. Tammy Cason says:

    Leann,

    Some pre-teen girls learn from the media what to wear and they do not know it is inappropriate for them. They look to the media to tell them how to look beautiful. So, I absolutely agree that sometimes it is not an intentional decision to dress provocatively. If a young girl engages in sex, then the confusion is perpetuated. This is why I think that the pre-teen (perhaps earlier) generation needs to be “caught and taught” before the deception sinks in. This is why this teaching is so valuable. Preach on, and spread the word.

    • I agree totally, Tammy. I’m so glad we get the privilege of loving them and guiding the way.
      Blessings to you.

  12. Tazia McCracken says:

    Thank you for taking on this subject, Leann! Very well written and I agree with you totally! There are so many young ladies…and older ladies, that need guidance in this area. Now, how can we spread this article to a wider audience? Thank you for demonstrating true beauty as a leader!

    • Dear Tazia,
      I can hear your voice saying this….that’s a beautiful thing.
      Feel free to copy and post this article anywhere you want. I’m going to make it a hand out sheet when I speak at this upcoming conference in FL.. It needs to be shared.
      Thanks for your note.
      Love you!

  13. Catherine Coblentz says:

    Dear Leann,

    Thank you so much! omg – the timing on this is perfect.

    As our church grows and we introduce more of the arts, this is becoming an issue and we are just starting to have this conversation. It can however, be a challenge for the leaders that have not had any conversation with women and men presenting themselves in a way that is not tempting to our hard-wired heads! :-)

    Thank you so much Leann.

    Catherine

    • Dear Catherine,
      Yes, I too love all the arts including dance. And there is a way to display them in a wholesome way….which many times starts with how we dress. I plan to write an article soon about dancing. It’s a beautiful thing but the secular world has perverted it so much that it’s difficult to enjoy….but there is a way.
      In the meantime…..feel free to share this article with your leaders and pass it out in your congregation. We can usher in a new breed of men and women who truly have their minds on things above.
      Thanks for your note.

      • Catherine Coblentz says:

        Yes Leann, thank you! I did forward this link to a couple of our leaders – I’ve heard sensitive and positive replies. So well written; like David said, “grace.”

  14. Kent Dixon says:

    Hi Leann,

    Thank you for this article.

    I converted my humour to corny jokes many years ago.

    I love getting a smile from folks but not at the expense of being suggestive in any way.

    Corny jokes get a great big smile, a laugh and maybe a smirk.

    Except for Tara my wife, I usually just get a smirk.

    Clean corny jokes are the way to go.

    My fashion advise to the guys…if you go clothes shopping with your wife…be honest…if you don’t like the way it looks on her…please tell her when she trys it on at the store….later on…you may think its too revealing and YOU might be the one that gets “Smocked”.

    Sorry Leann…I just HAD to do that!

    Blessings,
    Kent

    • Thanks for your post, Kent. I love clean humor too! And yes….shopping with your spouse is a great idea!
      Blessings.
      Leann

  15. Paul Rogers says:

    Thank you, Leann, for addressing a subject that many Christians choose to ignore. Having spent years in the Christian music industry, I’ve seen extremes on both ends of the spectrum. Somewhere between burkas and bare midriffs there is a Scriptural balance that honors God and makes it much less difficult for males to avoid sinning with their eyes. I was also a youth pastor and encountered this issue daily, but as a male, was not in a position to address it directly. I love your suggestion to take Jesus with us when we go shopping. I say ‘us’ because male and female alike need to practice modesty and seek the Lord’s will in EVERY part of our lives.

    Paul

  16. Mike Walker says:

    Great article, Leann! I love how you put it! As a drummer on my church’s worship team in Bowling Green, KY (not too far up the road from you guys), I see some things that I am wondering if they knew what they put on that day or was it dark when they got dressed before church, even fellow team members. My wife and I always say that if you have to pull and tug at it when you sit down it’s probably too short when you stand up. I have had people come up to me and ask how I can play drums in a dress shirt and tie. My first response is it is the dress code and the second is I am up there to please the Lord and I believe that pleases Him. Keep up the good work!

  17. Cheryl Lynn says:

    Leann,
    Your article on dressing modestly is much needed in church’s today! Most women feel they need to gain attention to prove they are attractive by dressing suggestively or that they need to compete with the other women in the church.

    I have done makeup professionally, acted, modeled, and also done freelance image consulting. I do believe God wants us to feel beautiful on the outside as well as the inside! I, like you, do not have a problem with women dressing fashionably and having the latest hair style and makeup. BUT we do not have to dress sexy to achieve our healthy self-image (which actually doesn’t achieve a healthy self image but leaves us empty and striving with other women) but rather dress modestly and still fashionably. We are to be the TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST. So thank you so much for addressing this much needed (and not talked about) problem in the church today.

    Blessings,
    Cheryl Lynn

    • Thank you Cheryl………I appreciate you taking the time to write. Yes and Amen to all your thoughts. Keep being a great example of modesty…..it is a BEAUTIFUL thing!
      Many blessings to you.
      Leann

  18. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! My daughters and I have struggled so much to strike a balance between what is “fashionable” and modest. The sad part is how creative you have to get sometimes to buy clothes that cover you up! My teenage daughter has a great sense of fashion and a great sense of modesty. Not easy to shop that way! I even struggle buying clothes for my 9 year old that aren’t meant to be sexy! Keep on preachin it! We are shoutin AMEN with you!

  19. Barbara Depew says:

    Leann,

    Awesome and graciously worded is this article you wrote. Your modest, but beautiful spirit shows throughout the article. This past weekend I attended the WOL Ladies’ Conference that you were the Worship Leader at and I must say, it was one of the most peaceful, godly and inspiring concerts I’ve ever attended. Thank you for drawing me into the Lord’s presence and giving me the freedom to worship Him in my own way. I believe that I was fully able to do this, in part, because you were not in any way trying to draw attention to yourself. Your modest, yet very fashionable outfits and your soft, yet lovely makeup did not draw attention at all away from the Lord’s Spirit. Thank you for keeping Christ as King and for dressing as a King’s beloved daughter.

    For Christ Alone in everything,
    Barb Depew

    • Hi Barbara,
      Your kind words touched and blessed my day. Thank you for taking the time to write.
      It was such a pleasure to be a part of the Lord’s plan at Word of Life. We were greatly honored to be there….and meet all you wonderful girls!
      Many blessings to you.
      Leann

  20. Leann! You nailed it! A very timely & well-written article about a sensitive subject ~ you have spoken the truth in love. I so appreciate your honesty surrounded by the Word of God.
    You are a breath of fresh air!
    Tuning my heart to sing His praise,
    Kathy

  21. Thank you Leann! This article is much needed. May it circulate through the church. Such a reminder that we are made in HIS image…beautifully! (& thanks for the Hanes tip!)

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