Bible Pathways in Picture and Word

Dress Reform - What Sign are we Hanging Out for the World?

This page is unfinished, there is still more to come!

This research is not to condemn anyone, but merely to share the truth

There is a medium position in these things. Oh, that we might all wisely find that position and keep it. In this solemn time let us all search our own hearts, repent of our sins, and humble ourselves before God. The work is between God and our souls. It is an individual work, and all will have enough to do without criticizing the dress, and motives of their brethren and sisters. Testimonies Vol. 1 p. 425,426

Is what we wear important?

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. I Cor. 10:31

John separated himself from friends and from the luxuries of life. The simplicity of his dress, a garment woven of camel's hair, was a standing rebuke to the extravagance and display of the Jewish priests, and of the people generally. His diet, purely vegetable, of locusts and wild honey, was a rebuke to the indulgence of appetite and the gluttony that everywhere prevailed…. Those who are to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Christ's first advent. The great subject of reform is to be agitated, and the public mind is to be stirred. Temperance in all things is to be connected with the message, to turn the people of God from their idolatry, their gluttony, and their extravagance in dress and other things. Testimonies Vol.3 p. 62

Eating, drinking, and dressing all have a direct bearing upon our spiritual advancement.  Counsels on Diet and Foods pg. 57

Those who, having had the light upon the subject of eating and dressing with simplicity, in obedience to moral and physical laws, still turn from the light which points out their duty, will shun duty in other things. By shunning the cross which they would have to take up in order to be in harmony with the natural law, they blunt their conscience; and they will, to avoid reproach, violate the ten commandments. There is with some a decided unwillingness to endure the cross and despise the shame. CD p 49

Adam and Eve both ate of the fruit, and obtained a knowledge which, had they obeyed God, they would never have had,--an experience in disobedience and disloyalty to God,--the knowledge that they were naked. The garment of innocence, a covering from God, which surrounded them, departed; and they supplied the place of this heavenly garment by sewing together fig-leaves for aprons. This is the covering that the transgressors of the law of God have used since the days of Adam and Eve's disobedience. They have sewed together fig-leaves to cover their nakedness, caused by transgression. The fig-leaves represent the arguments used to cover disobedience. When the Lord calls the attention of men and women to the truth, the making of fig-leaves into aprons will be begun, to hide the nakedness of the soul. But the nakedness of the sinner is not covered. All the arguments pieced together by all who have interested themselves in this flimsy work will come to naught. Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 11-15-98

Do we need change?

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1Peter 2:9

The idolatry of dress is a moral disease. It must not be taken over into the new life. In most cases submission to the gospel requirements will demand a decided change in the dress. Testimonies Vol. 6 p. 96

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

Self-denial in dress is part of our Christian duty. Testimonies Vol. 3 p. 366

Were it not for fashion, those who thus expose themselves would be hissed at; but modesty and decency must be sacrificed to the god of fashion… Let the fashion change and convenience will no longer be mentioned. It is the duty of every child of God to inquire: "Wherein am I separate from the world?" Let us suffer a little inconvience and be on the safe side.          Testimonies Vol. 1 p. 278

The outside appearance is frequently an index to the mind, and we should be careful what signs we hang out for the world to judge our faith. Messages to Young People p. 347

The 10 commandments - Thou shalt not commit idolatry, adultery or covet. Exodus 20 2

 Biblical Guidelines

The following scriptures furnish clear and unmistakable directions for those who would learn God's will.

In like manner also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shame-facedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 1 Timothy 2:9,10.

Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time, the holy women also who trusted in God, adorned themselves. 1 Peter 3:3-5

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment for all that do so are an abomination unto the Lord thy God. Deuteronomy 22:5

In the earth made new, only righteousness shall dwell. "There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie." Revelation 21:27

I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart. Psalm 40:8.

Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:  
And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:  
 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.  Numbers 15:38-40

Guidelines from the Pen of Inspiration

The dress reform is treated by some with great indifference and by others with contempt, because there is a cross attached to it. For this cross I thank God. It is just what we need to distinguish and separate God's commandment-keeping people from the world. The dress reform answers to us as did the ribbon of blue to ancient Israel.  Testimonies to the Church Vol. 3 pg. 171

Christians should not take pains to make themselves gazing stocks by dressing different from the world. But if, in accordance with their faith and duty in respect to their dressing modestly and healthfully, they find themselves out of fashion, they should not change their dress in order to be like the world. But they should manifest a noble independence, and moral courage to be right, if all the world differs from them. If the world introduces a modest, convenient, and healthful mode of dress, which is in accordance with the Bible, it will not change our relation to God or to the world to adopt such a style of dress. Christians should follow Christ, and conform their dress to God's word. They should shun extremes. They should humbly pursue a straightforward course, irrespective of applause or of censure, and should cling to the right because of its own merits. Testimonies Vol. 1 pg. 458,459

I saw that God's order has been reversed, and His special directions disregarded, by those who adopt the American costume (see the following photos). I was referred to Deuteronomy 22:5: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God." God would not have His people adopt the so-called reform dress. It is immodest apparel, wholly unfitted for the modest, humble followers of Christ. There is an increasing tendency to have women in their dress and appearance as near like the other sex as possible, and to fashion their dress very much like that of men, but God pronounces it abomination. Testimonies Vo1. 1 pg. 457

In regard to my wearing the short dress, I would say, I have but one short dress, which is not more than a finger's length shorter than the dresses I usually wear. I have worn this short dress occasionally. In the winter I rose early, and putting on my short dress, which did not require to be raised by my hands to keep it from draggling in the snow, I walked briskly from one to two miles before breakfast. I have worn it several times to the office, when obliged to walk through light snow, or when it was very wet or muddy. Four or five sisters of the Battle Creek church have prepared for themselves a short dress to wear while doing their washing and house cleaning. A short dress has not been worn in the streets of the city of Battle Creek, and has never been worn to meeting. My views were calculated to correct the present fashion, the extreme long dress, trailing upon the ground, and also to correct the extreme short dress, reaching about to the knees, which is worn by a certain class. I was shown that we should shun both extremes. By wearing the dress reaching about to the top of a woman's gaiter boot we shall escape the evils of the extreme long dress, and shall also shun the evils and notoriety of the extreme short dress. Testimonies Vol. 1 pg. 464 

These American Costumes are a little longer than what is described, but they can give you a visual of what she is describing.   The photograph on the right is Dr. Harriet N. Austin.  "We shall never imitate Miss Dr. Austin or Mrs. Dr. York.  They dress very much like men.  We shall institute a fashion which will be both economical and healthy".  (Review and Herald, May 1944)

 

1863 vision on Dress/Health Reform

The proper distance from the bottom of the dress to the floor was not given to me in inches . . .

But three companies of females passed before me, with their dresses as follows with respect to length: The first were of fashionable length, burdening the limbs, impeding the step, and sweeping the street and gathering its filth; the evil results of which I have fully stated. This class, who were slaves to fashion, appeared feeble and languid.

The dress of the second class which passed before me was in many respects as it should be. The limbs were well clad. They were free from the burdens which the tyrant, Fashion, had imposed upon the first class; but had gone to that extreme in the short dress as to disgust and prejudice good people, and destroy in a great measure their own influence. This is the style and influence of the "American Costume," taught and worn by many at "Our Home," Dansville, N.Y. It does not reach to the knee. I need not say that this style of dress was shown me to be too short. A third class passed before me with cheerful countenances, and free, elastic step. Their dress was the length I have described as proper, modest, and healthful. It cleared the filth of the street and sidewalk a few inches under all circumstances, such as ascending and descending steps, etcetera. Selected Messages Vol.3 pg. 278

I put on the dress, in length as near as I had seen and described as I could judge. My sisters in Northern Michigan also adopted it. And when the subject of inches came up in order to secure uniformity as to length everywhere, a rule was brought and it was found that the length of our dresses ranged from eight to ten inches from the floor. Some of these were a little longer than the sample shown me, while others were a little shorter. Selected Messages Vol. 3 Pg. 279

The above-described dress we believe to be worthy of the name of the reform short dress. It is being adopted at the Western Health Reform Institute and by some of the sisters at Battle Creek and other places where the matter is properly set before the people. In wide contrast with this modest dress is the so-called American costume, resembling very nearly the dress worn by men. It consists of a vest, pants, and a dress resembling a coat and reaching about halfway from the hip to the knee. This dress I have opposed, from what has been shown me as in harmony with the word of God; while the other I have recommended as modest, comfortable, convenient, and healthful. Testimonies Vol. 1 pg. 465

Those who feel called out to join the movement in favor of woman's rights and the so-called dress reform [American Costume] might as well sever all connection with the third angel's message. The spirit which attends the one cannot be in harmony with the other. The Scriptures are plain upon the relations and rights of men and women. Spiritualists have, to quite an extent, adopted this singular mode of dress. Testimonies Vol. 1 pg. 421

We are nearing the close of this world's history. A plain, direct testimony is now needed, as given in the Word of God, in regard to plainness of dress. This should be our burden. But it is too late now to become enthusiastic in making a test of this matter. The dress of our people should be made most simply. . . No one precise style has been given me as the exact rule to guide all in their dress . . . Evangelism pg. 272

There is still another style of dress which will be adopted by a class of so-called dress reformers. They will imitate the opposite sex, as nearly as possible. They will wear the cap, pants, vest, coat, and boots, the last of which is the most sensible part of the costume. Those who adopt and advocate this style of dress, are carrying the so-called dress reform to very objectionable lengths. Confusion will be the result. Some who adopt this costume may be correct in their views in general upon the health question, and they could be instrumental in accomplishing vastly more good if they did not carry the matter of dress to such extremes. In this style of dress God's order has been reversed, and his special directions disregarded. Deut. 22:5. "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God." This style of dress, God would not have his people adopt. It is not modest apparel, and is not at all fitting for modest, humble females who profess to be Christ's followers. God's prohibitions are lightly regarded by all who would advocate the doing away of the distinction of dress between males and females. The extreme positions taken by some dress-reformers upon this subject cripple their influence.

God designed there should be a plain distinction between male and female dress, and has considered the matter of sufficient importance to give explicit directions in regard to it; for the same dress worn by both sexes would cause confusion, and great increase of crime. St. Paul would utter a rebuke, were he alive, and should behold females professing Godliness with this style of dress. "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing Godliness) with good works." The mass of professed Christians utterly disregard the teachings of the Apostles, and wear gold, pearls and costly array. 1 Testimonies Vol. 1 pg. 460

Blessings from dress reform

A person's character is judged by his style of dress. A refined taste, a cultivated mind, will be revealed in the choice of simple and appropriate attire. Chaste simplicity in dress, when united with modesty of demeanor, will go far toward surrounding a young woman with that atmosphere of sacred reserve which will be to her a shield from a thousand perils. Education, p. 248 (1903)

Perhaps no question has ever come up among us which has caused such development of character as has the dress reform. Testimonies Vol. 4 pg. 636

Parents who would teach their children the evil of following the fashions of the world, have a hard battle. They are met with, "Why, mother, sisters A.,B., and C., wear hoops; if it is wicked for me, it is for them." What can the parents say? They should set a right example before their children, and although the example of professed followers of Christ causes the children to think that their parents are too careful and severe in their restrictions, yet God will bless the efforts of these conscientious parents.    Testimonies Vol. 1 pg. 278,279

My Own Story

 It all began soon after moving to North Idaho. My neighbor, who is not a Seventh-day Adventist, asked why I was passing on a box full of dresses to his wife. He then went on and began to brag on his wife and talk about how she wore dresses even "haying". About the same time my daughter also started wearing dresses most of the time. I began telling everyone I talked to what my neighbor had said, and defending feminine pants, (which by my husband’s description, by the way, are not baggy). What my neighbor said bothered me so much I decided maybe it was my conscience bothering me. But I was sure I needed to wear pants, for my children? No, they liked dresses better. For my husband? No, he had said in marriage counseling, one thing that attracted him to me was that I wore dresses a lot. For the glory of God? No, not really. I was stuck, I wore pants because I wanted to. About that time when discussing it with a friend, (who quietly wore dresses but had never condemned my pants), told me that Ellen White had been given a vision on the subject. I decided to study it out for myself, and you have read a brief synapses of what I found.

Even though convinced pants were an idol to me, I still came up with reasons not to wear dresses all the time. Excuse: It snows here, the dress can be too long or it gets wet. Answer: Wear dresses that clear the snow or mud. Excuse: I refuse to freeze my legs. This is a health issue. Answer: Wear pants or long johns and stockings under your dress. Excuse: I can’t do all the work I do in a dress. To this I decided to wear a dress whenever I was doing something I could do in a dress. Pretty soon I realized other than maybe walking rafters, this was just an excuse too. Excuse: All I have is pants and straight skirts (which are an invention of the devil to make women believe they can’t do anything in a skirt, not to mention possible modesty issues and health issues) I’m not spending money for a whole new wardrobe. I actually finally turned this one over to God. I prayed if He wanted me to wear dresses He would send them. That same day my husband brought home a box with dresses in it

The first two times all the girls in our family went into town all wearing dress I had strangers come up and speak to me. As soon as we had walked through the door of a thrift store, a woman came up and asked me what religion we were before she had time to do anything but see us,(not to watch how we acted). The other time, the moment I walked into Wal-Mart, a man came up and said what a nice home schooling family we were, and went on to tell me what a good mother I was, again even before he had anytime to observe our actions. I was shocked and began to realize we are putting out a sign for the world. What does yours say?

 The 3 1/2 cent skirts God will bless even in the economy of dress. We had gone into town to look for a town skirt for Rachel, even though I had no idea how we could afford it. Finally, after a long search we found four suitable skirts on clearance. Still depending upon God to supply our wardrobes if this was his will, even I was amazed at his goodness when the total purchase of four skirts came to only 14 cents. There shall be showers of blessings! 

Tricks of the trade

 Wear pants (stirrup pants or exercise wear work great) to keep warm. I’ve had people come up and asked me if I was cold wearing a dress and showed them my pants. They had no idea I was wearing them. It helps to disguise them if they show if they are the same color as the dress or skirt. Snow pants can be worn under the skirt. (I had friend who would ski this way with a fleece skirt over the top. She said she never had any trouble.)

 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: 
And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy [place]; that they bear not iniquity, and die: [it shall be] a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him
. Exodus 28:42,43

  Wear capris or long shorts for comfort and modesty. When it gets really hot cotton shorts or capris will keep your skin from sticking together if you’re not as thin as you’d like to be. They also avoid embarrassment if you fall or are hiking, etc. The truth never degrades, only elevates. At no time should you actually be less modest than others. Capris are probably more appropriate if you are in the company of men other than your husband. Avoid skin colored capris if you are climbing, etc.

Check for Modesty-As Ellen White suggested shorter skirts (still below the knee) may be worn for work around the home and longer dresses into town and to meetings. If you are going to wear short sleeves make sure they are not too baggy. My husband finds it amusing to watch me try on a new outfit. I try to see up the sleeves, I bend over and check the neckline (even high necklines can be immodest when bending over if they are too baggy), and I pull back my arms and check the buttons on the front of a blouse to make sure they don’t gape. Try to see yourself from the perspective that others see you from. Some things go without saying, like making sure you shirt is long enough to cover you if you bend over and your skirt comes below the knees at all times, standing, sitting, and again bending over (this is important for women who teach Sabbath School or have children or grandchildren). One other point, that is often missed is skirts with a split, again look in the mirror the split should not come above the knee. My husband says "there’s no point in wearing a skirt that long if it has a split in it".

Learn to sew. Dresses/Skirts that are durable and full enough for work are increasingly hard to find. Skirts are much easier to sew if your skill is limited.

We do not discourage taste and neatness in dress. Correct taste in dress is not to be despised or condemned. While needless ruffles, trimmings, and ornaments should be left off, we encourage our sisters to obtain good, durable material. Nothing is gained in trying to save means by purchasing cheap fabrics. Let the clothing be plain and neat, without extravagance of display. Selected Messages Vol. 3 pg 245

Remember the other important issues; cleanliness, economy, modesty, healthfulness, and even appearance (though simple it should not disgust people) and kindness to others whom God may be leading slower than you.

Dress for those who are most important-Your family:I love this quote!Sisters, when about their work, should not put on clothing which would make them look like images to frighten the crows from the corn. It is more gratifying to their husbands and children to see them in a becoming, well-fitting attire than it can be to mere visitors or strangers. Some wives and mothers seem to think it is no matter how they look when about their work and when they are seen only by their husbands and children, but they are very particular to dress in taste for the eyes of those who have no special claims upon them. Is not the esteem and love of husband and children more to be prized than that of strangers or common friends? The happiness of husband and children should be more sacred to every wife and mother than that of all others. The Adventist Home pg. 252,253

Don’t take my word for it. Study it out for yourselves. I’ve added some pictures for visual learners. I hope that one day men at church won’t have to confess that they have no where to lay their eyes, because of the way women are dressed. Let’s not cause our brothers to stumble.

It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Romans 14;21

In Closing Our words, our actions, and our dress are daily, living preachers, gathering with Christ, or scattering abroad. This is no trivial matter, to be passed off with a jest. The subject of dress demands serious reflection and much prayer. Many unbelievers have felt that they were not doing right in permitting themselves to be slaves of fashion; but when they see some who make a high profession of godliness dressing as worldlings dress, enjoying frivolous society, they decide that there can be no wrong in such a course.-- "We are," said the inspired apostle, "made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." All heaven is marking the daily influence which the professed followers of Christ exert upon the world. My sisters, your dress is telling either in favor of Christ and the sacred truth or in favor of the world. Which is it? Remember we must all answer to God for the influence we exert.               Testimonies, Vol. 4, p. 641 (1881 )

 Don’t take my word for it. Study it out for yourselves. I’ve added some pictures for visual learners. I hope that one day men at church won’t have to confess that they have no where to lay their eyes, because of the way women are dressed. Let’s not cause our brothers to stumble.

It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Romans 14;21

In Closing Our words, our actions, and our dress are daily, living preachers, gathering with Christ, or scattering abroad. This is no trivial matter, to be passed off with a jest. The subject of dress demands serious reflection and much prayer. Many unbelievers have felt that they were not doing right in permitting themselves to be slaves of fashion; but when they see some who make a high profession of godliness dressing as worldlings dress, enjoying frivolous society, they decide that there can be no wrong in such a course.-- "We are," said the inspired apostle, "made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." All heaven is marking the daily influence which the professed followers of Christ exert upon the world. My sisters, your dress is telling either in favor of Christ and the sacred truth or in favor of the world. Which is it? Remember we must all answer to God for the influence we exert.               Testimonies, Vol. 4, p641 (1881 )

Swim Wear Ideas

Our experiences swimming in modest swim wear have been equally rewarding for witnessing techniques.  Once at a hotel after careful checking of the pool to see if anyone else was there we ventured to go swimming.  A little while later a woman in a full piece suit and shorts showed up to go swimming with her son.  He wanted to know, "What religion are you guys?"  The way we dress has an almost unconscious impact on the way people see our religion. It reminds me of the story I heard once.
A  young Christian woman was on he way to Kansas.  One day the conductor of the train sat down opposite her, and politely asked why she was dressed so plainly.  She inquired what his motive was in asking the question.  He replied that his wife talked much about the necessity of women's dressing plainly, while he did not see any reason for doing so.  The young woman looked at him and said " Why do you wear the special uniform you now have on?" He replied, " Because I serve the Rock Island company and comply with its orders in wearing it."  "My reason's are similar to yours, " was the quick reply, " I have joined the church of Christ, and am in the service of my Master, whose orders I obey in dress, according to 1 Timothy 2:9 where it stated that women are to adorn themselves in modest apparel."   Do you wear the uniform of your commander?

   Ever wonder what to wear when you are swimming? After some trial and error this is the design that we came up with for a a modest yet user friendly swimming suit.  These designs were pieced together from  Walmart and Goodwill.  The boys were also able to find swim shirts at Walmart. Here is someone else that came up with, and is marketing a similar idea.

   Thought some of you might enjoy this link and seeing how others have combined modesty and swimming. Their website is simply-modest.com 

Here is the U-tube commercial