We stepped into a popular board store that’s well known for its gear and clothing. Almost immediately, my eyes were drawn to the two employees managing the front desk. They were both young men who looked to be between the ages of 17 and 19. Barely perched on their heads were matching, gray, Smurf-like beanies that bobbed as they walked. Both were wearing dark jeans, and the seats of their pants were low enough to make me awkwardly squirm as I walked. They also had on electric blue shirts that were at least two sizes too big and fell to mid-thigh, which I guess was supposed to make up for the lost length in their pants.
Thinking back on that experience causes me to consider how I dress and why I dress the way that I do. It’s a pretty popular question these days. These days, it’s easy to get caught up in the societal drama and blame games surrounding clothing. Some say they dress the way they do for themselves only. Others say they dress modestly because they don’t want others to have bad thoughts.
But why do I dress the way that I do? I’ve wondered.
When I think about it, I realize that I don’t dress modestly because it’s convenient or even because I necessarily want to at times. I don’t dress modestly simply because my Sunday School class a few months ago was entirely focused on calling attention to how girls need to shape up when it comes to their dress standards. While I respect the views and struggles of the men I associate with, rarely do I think before I walk out the door, “I’m going to dress modestly for the boys today.” I guess that those things are a part of it, but the truth is that I dress the way that I do to please.
I, like those board shop boys, dress the way I do because I’m trying to please the two men that I have promised to represent: my Savior, Jesus Christ, and my Heavenly Father.
Every week in Sacrament Meeting, I take upon myself the name of Christ and covenant that I will remember him by representing him well. This is his church, he is CEO, and I am, to an extent, his employee. As an “employee,” I have been asked to follow the managers he’s selected to lead his church. I know, through them, that the Lord does not want himself or his church to be represented by a relaxed dress code. It doesn’t matter that I want to look cool, it doesn’t matter when I feel the desire to wear shorter skirts or sleeves. As a member of his church, I have committed myself to representing him, and that means that I must sacrifice my wants to dress the way he as asked me to.
Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him.
Prophets of God have continually counseled His children to dress modestly. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act. Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval.
Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance. Young men and young women should be neat and clean and avoid being extreme or inappropriately casual in clothing, hairstyle, and behavior. They should choose appropriately modest apparel when participating in sports. The fashions of the world will change, but the Lord’s standards will not change.
Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. Young women, if you desire to have your ears pierced, wear only one pair of earrings.
Show respect for the Lord and yourself by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities. This is especially important when attending sacrament services. Young men should dress with dignity when officiating in the ordinance of the sacrament.
If you are not sure what is appropriate to wear, study the words of the prophets, pray for guidance, and ask your parents or leaders for help. Your dress and appearance now will help you prepare for the time when you will go to the temple to make sacred covenants with God. Ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?”
Working in a bakery, I have learned the concept of representation well. Every day, I wear a hat, a black collared shirt, a name tag, work shoes, black pants, and an apron. There are practical reasons for this ensemble — the hat’s to keep my hair out of food and the apron’s to keep food off of me — but they aren’t the only reasons. The collared shirt, name tag, black pants, and work shoes are worn so that there’s no question that I am an employee. How are unsuspecting shoppers supposed to know that I can help and serve them if I just dress like everybody else? How might I act if I could wear whatever I wanted to work?
The minute I put my collared shirt and my apron on, I recognize that I am my store and should be and act my very best. The thing with Christ’s church is that we are always asked to be in the proper attire, every second of every day. The Lord has a higher standard for us and wants us to be distinguished disciples.
Think, for a second, about Adam and Eve. Ashamed, they made clothing for themselves, but their fig leaf aprons were not enough, and so the Lord gave them coats of skin, despite the fact that they were all alone in the world. The only person they could really dress to please was the Lord, and even in their isolation, they were expected to represent Him with a higher standard of modesty.
That’s why I don’t dress for me. I dress for them.