Every group has a dress code in some form or another. There is inevitably some standard by which "in code" and "out of code" is determined. Even those who dwell in nudist colonies have a code of dress that involves no clothes. One can find out a tremendous amount about a school, company, association, organization, church, and family by observing its dress code. By observing what is allowed and what is discouraged, the moral premises and ideology will become apparent. Despite the old adage that one cannot judge a book by its cover, one can learn an awful lot by noticing how people dress.
There is another way that the idea of a dress code can be viewed. This nuanced definition involves the idea of speaking in code -- using some form of encryption to transmit a message that is hidden or not so obvious. When used from this perspective, the manner in which a person dresses is sending an encrypted message to others.
For example, an attorney showing up to court wearing shorts, sandals, and a beach hat would be showing contempt for his position as an officer of the court. Likewise, a woman showing up to her wedding in a nightgown and curlers would be communicating that this event was unimportant in her life. So a good question to ask ourselves and our children each and every time we leave the confines of our homes is what message is being communicated?
The "fashion" today for females is to advertise lots of cleavage along with a bare, exposed midriff. Sometimes clothing has words written across various body parts that are meant to draw attention to those specific locations. For young males the trend is to have oversized trousers that keep onlookers in suspense as to whether or not they will fall down after two or three steps. In all too many "professional" settings, pop culture has invaded business culture so that making a deposit at a local bank can be a source and circumstance of temptation and/or inadvertant voyeurism.
Christian parents (whether homeschooling their children or sending them to Christian day schools) should consider what message they and their children are communicating when interacting with the culture. If we are to let our light so shine among men, it follows that what we say, how we say it, and how we appear as we say it will be enhanced by this focused light. How counter-productive to have the attention drawn to us with provocative or overly fashion-conscious dress, rather than on the giving of glory to our Father in heaven.
We’re always speaking in code!!
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].