Debate: Fashion verses Faith

by Katy Walton, December 26th 2013

A while ago I was perusing stylechi.com, a website I found in the back of Look, when I found the below earrings. Now I really like the simplicity of the pewter crosses and the pink chain gives a great colour pop to it. (Despite being a non-pink girl I seem to be growing fond of chains in this bright colour.)
Friis & Company Bleba Earrings

Yet as a Christian I feel that I am somehow cheapening the most precious symbol within my faith, and with it the centre of Christianity. I even tweeted about it, voicing these hesitations. I even received a reply from @stylechi.

My conversation with StyleChi about faith and fashion

This all led me to asking the question ‘Can faith and fashion co-exisit?’ As this has been a recurring question in my mind, since the summer, I’ve decided now is the time to answer it. It was actually this question that led me to the style-blogosphere as I hunted out fellow Christians who also loved to be ‘stylish’. My favourite magazine, Look, also had a bit of involvement with their article on Muslim hipsters and fashion (it may have been the original trigger). The article showed that Muslims could both keep to the virtues of modesty in dress and be fashion-worthy. If Muslims can achieve this double-whammy then why not Christians (whole other rant story for another post)?

Yet over the summer at various Christian festivals, teenagers were so fully embracing of the SS13 trends that it became clear how little faith impacted how they dressed. Girls wandering round in tiny crop tops and hot pants shorts or leggings. Boys in clothes so tight you wonder if they were sprayed on.  Talk about leaving nothing to the imagination! And what a temptation to place in front of our brothers and sisters in Christ. How can Christians in the West be taken seriously when we parade around like everyone else, essentially with our wares on display? That was part of the reason for my blog. To have a visible presence on the internet showing that you can dress in line with your faith and the current styles.

But what happens when faith and fashion become entwined on the catwalk instead of the street. Faith and fashion on the street can be a statement. It can show that you care about how you appear before God as well as men. It can show that you are different from the other hundred people on the street. It can show who you are on the inside. Faith and fashion on the catwalk is still a statement. But a statement of glamour, beauty and luxury. A statement that stands out for its opulence. A statement that stands out for its cultural claims. These are not statements that truly reveal the nature of faith.

Cross earrings from the Dolce & Gabbana autumn/winter 2014 collection
Photo: Vladimir Potop  Source: Telegraph

Even the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been weighing in on this debate as it relates to the Christian faith. Quoted in an article by Olivia Bergin for The Telegraph, Welby claims that fashion has emptied the cross of all the power and meaning it has within the Christian faith. My favourite quote shares a sentiment I have believed to be true for those who wear the cross…

“you might as well hang a tiny gallows or an electric chair around your neck.”

He is absolutely correct. Any Roman historian will tell you that crucifixion was the cruelest form of capitol punishment. So why wear it round your neck? As a Christian, I wear my cross/crucifix as a reminder of who died for me and that He believed I was worth dying for. Such a symbol holds incredible power and meaning. So why turn it into a fashion trend?

That is one question I cannot answer. I can offer various possibilities, such as the stereotypical opulence of the Catholic Church lending itself to accessories well. However, I shall continue to search for that happy medium where I can love my wardrobe without compromising my relationship with God.
For more articles on fashion’s role in a life lived by faith (or so I hope), check out counter-cultural-counter-couture.blogspot.com
 
 

Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Hi Katy,

    Thank you for this really informative article. The Alpha course explores the crazy idea of wearing an item of capital punishment around your neck. But it’s more a message of love. Took that horrendous punishment, knowing what it would accomplish so selflessly for others. Now the cross, once seen as a terrifying force, now has been completely redefined thanks to our saviour.

    On a slightly unrelated note. Jessica Rey talks about how girls should be more thoughtful about how they adorn themselves. Great article.

    http://gnli.christianpost.com/video/the-godly-truth-about-bikinis-finally-someone-gets-it-17940

  2. […] may remember that back in December I posted Debate: Faith verses Fashion? Chris, the church’s youth worker, likes to leave controversial comments in the hope of […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *