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Monday, August 15, 2005 

The Sad Story of a Wanna-be Fashion Icon

Well, this will be personal. And I acknowledge that as I honestly share these personal foibles, I am laying myself wide open to your scorn and judgment. Judge away…I’m not scared. I’m not proud either. But I will answer the question honestly, and I hope that you will share your experiences, too…

I worship fashion.

Tweed

I worship Chanel. More pointedly, I worship Carl Lagerfeld, the strange little man that he is.

Carl you genious you

Valentino coat

I worship colored satin, beads, sequins, and fringe. I covet Valentino dresses, and by association, I covet Alec Wek’s shining ebony skin and her long… impossibly long… legs.

Alec Wek

I love clothes. I love Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Delia’s, Deseret Industries, the Salvation Army, Nordstrom, and hot jeans. I really love clothes. They don’t have to be expensive, but it’s OK if they are. I will pay a lot for a little cotton, a little sparkle, and a good drape.

When I was in junior high, I worshiped labels: guess, Outback Red, Forenza, Limited, and other crap like that. I couldn’t help it. My dad works in retail and we got a huge discount at the department stores, so the only clothes my family of 9 could actually afford were the nice department store brands.

I have judged people by their clothes. WAIT!!! Let me explain! It’s probably not what you think! I didn’t think less of anyone for wearing what I considered un-stylish, neither did I think more of someone for wearing something I liked. Rather, it’s been a life long guessing game. “Why those shoes? Did they make a conscious decision to pay money for those particular pants? Why did they choose the cut of that shirt?” I would put together a story.

Clothes tell a story. Sometimes it’s a good story; sometimes it’s a sad story. People choose their clothes to say something about themselves. To the vast majority of people, they WANT their clothes to say something about themselves, even if it’s “I don’t want my clothes to say much about me.”

There are problems with worshiping fashion:

1. It’s pretty much totally unimportant in the grand scheme of things…especially in things eternal (although I will point out that clothing has a VERY important role in temple worship.)

2. What I consider beautiful is not always what I consider modest.

3. A lot of clothes look best on small (thin) people…this creates a whole lot of problems that we needn’t go into right now…OK we will a little, false sense of reality, distorted sense of beauty, eating disorders, disappointment, etc…

4. Then there’s Isaiah 3: 16-26 Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

“Moreover the Lord saith, Because they daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet;…” (doesn’t this sound EXACTLY like the catwalk?)

“And it shall come to pass, that instead of a sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and a burning instead of beauty.”

I really do love the last half of that chapter. It puts me in my place every time. It’s like when you have a tooth ache and you can’t stop touching it with your tongue… I know it’s my weakness so I like to read it again and again.

I have to work hard to not spend money on clothes. I know that it’s not important. I get queasy when I think that the only reason the Mia Maids think I’m cool is because I wear nice clothes. I have a testimony, too. And I worked hard to make sure the Activity Day girls knew that. It’s OK to dress nice, and stylish, and modest, but it’s not OK to be obsessed, unless it’s my job. So maybe I need a new career and then my obsession will be justified?

Here's another from the D&C you can cross reference to your Isaiah toothache:

D&C 42:40 And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands;

Thanks, rob, I'll add that to my "sore tooth" anti-fashion regimen...

Criminy, you crack me up CA.

Call it justification...but I'm sure Heavenly Father doesn't mind us being "interested" in fashion so long as it isn't our main focus in life. If we are truly doing what we need to be doing, being fashionable while doing it is just a plus :)

Get off the guilt trip and smell the flowers, Carrie Ann. It is more vain than the content of your closet. :)

I honestly don't think there is anything wrong with being interested in fashion. Is there anything wrong with being interested in art? No! I believe fashion is a very artistic endevor and the people who design the fashions you gave us as examples are artists in their own right. I don't think Heavenly Father would be all that ticked off at you CA. And I REALLY don't think you should feel the slightest bit guilty about it.

I am a fashion misfit of many years. As I sit here and type, I am wearing a vaguely plaid green shirt with a differently vaguely plaid pair of green shorts. I know that it is bad, but it is clean (that I say this as a married man speaks loads for my wive's level of tolerance).

That said, what I have come to realize is that fashion speaks mostly to what people think about themselves. CA is right to question why people pick those shoes, etc. I had this lesson drilled into me by a roommate who had seen Joe vs. the Volcano too many times, but I firmly believe it to be true.

Oh, and by this I do not mean to imply with the commonly heard LDS cultural statement, "So-and-so dresses like that because she has no respect for her body." I think that so-and-so dresses thusly because she likes the way it makes her feel and speculation beyond that (regarding eternal consequences, etc.) is beyond the ability of normal mortal intuition.

I like fashion. I'm actually okay at it, when it comes to other people. I give great fashion advice to VL. Oh, and I became so mad recently, we were out shopping and I found the most excellent cocktail dress for her, but being a cocktail dress it was strapless, bare shoulders and all that--Argh, foiled by the garments again--that dress was superb.

My problem is, I can't use my fashion powers for my own good. I need my own personal fashion consultant.

Perhaps you could go shoping with me next time. I think I need a change.

Are banana clips and hawiann floral cotton capri's out?

*chuckle*

Great post CA.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

JLS...I own many a strapless dress that can be complimented (and be made Mormon-modest) by many a cardigan. Think retro...not grandma.

And thanks for your support on this, everyone. I'm sure I have other false idols in my life; this one haunts me because it can be expensive (has anyone else out there made a $275 silk mistake?..I thought not...)...It's not that juicy, but I've led a pretty benign life...by choice, I guess.

Oh, and rob...I DO make my own clothes...I hope that counts.

CA-

I'm not judging you, I am just pointing out a relevant scripture. Sorry if it seemed like a criticism, wasn't meant to be.

No, I was serious, rob...thanks. I rarely feel judged anyway. Or I should say I don't mind if I feel that people are judging me. I'm not scared of the "j" word because people are either right or wrong. If they're right, then I look stupid trying to defend myself, if they're wrong, then they're wrong. No big whoop. Your opinion is welcome here no matter where it falls on the scale. I took your comment with a smile, and I WILL add that to the lineup. I should tab all these fashion related scriptures so that they are more easily accessible.

By the way CA, what did you think of this post or this one?

Carrie--God gave you a talent--especially in the "how to fix a strapless dress that is too tight on the bust that NOW easily adjusts with a "KA" ribbon accent in the back that I GLORIOUSLY wore to CHURCH on Sunday?!" Your fashion...My SHOES...Aaaagh...

Rob--is there any more to you than "relevent" references to how everyone else "should be" doing things? How about for each "reference" you give, you give us a piece of your own character, without the quotes. (Although I do enjoy your knowledge of scripture and GA talks...)

Serioiusly CA, you could have a business making over people's closets (I would hire you). Remember the story of the talents? Magnify baby, don't bury them.

I think that many of us have a sense of what is fashionable in our youth, I did. As I got a little bit older, gained a little bit of weight, shifted in to a new phase (I can't wear the same clothes to my law firm that I wore in college, etc. Don't want to wear lawyer clothes as a mom.) I still have the DESIRE to be fashionable, I just don't know where to start. I feel like I am so far behind I don't think I can catch up. I also need a confidence boost.

Someone like you can do essentially the same thing as the What Not To Wear gals do ( I have only seen the BBC one..). It is often safer to keep the un-cool clothes and frumpy hair cut because change is scary. If you had the ability to show people what looks good on them and boost that confidence...bravo. You clearly have a flair for fashion, you love it and you always look nice, modest and cutting edge in the pix I have seen of you.

There is nothing wrong with helping people feel good about themselves. Couldn't we all use a bit more of that? I like myself, my kids and other people more when I feel good about myself. I imagine most people do. You could call yourself a "personal satisfaction fortifier.." I will be your first client.

By the way--my dad always told us when we were in school that if we chose to do what we love, it doesn't feel like work and to use school as a time to find what we love. I studied history in school, I worked the majority of my carrer in finance. I love to cook. I am always reading cooking magazines, cookbooks and thowing dinner parties. I became a caterer-I LOVE MY JOB, most of the time it doesn't feel like work. My friend studied to be an engineer. She loves to garden and is always reading books about grass. She got laid off a few years ago. Now she is a landscape designer. Most of us don't ever find what we truly love to do OR get the chace to do it b/c it is inconsistnat w/ other needs that we have like feeding our families....

I say dive into fashion, give us ways to translate that into our lives and use your gift....:-)

Rob--is there any more to you than "relevent" references to how everyone else "should be" doing things? How about for each "reference" you give, you give us a piece of your own character, without the quotes. (Although I do enjoy your knowledge of scripture and GA talks...)

Hmmm... well i guess i feel that when i share GA quotes with you, i AM sharing a part of my character. But i figure if i express it in my own words, then it would be easy to blow off, saying "he's just some right wing wacko". But if i express the same idea in the words of the prophets, it has a little more authority.

My goal is to adjust my life so that it follows the counsel of God and His prophets in all particulars, a goal from which i fall woefully short. This week's topic is about other people sharing ways they fall short, too. I guess i just figured people would be more interested in what the Lord had to say than what i did.

If i'm way off base in some area of my life (not that any of you are), I don't want people to tell me, "oh don't worry about it, it's not that important"... I want someone to stand up and say "hey rob, you're headed down the wrong track there, better back up and try again." And if they can show me through the Scriptures and the prophets how i have been misguided, so much the better.

It's very difficult to refute wrong ideas without making people feel personally attacked. I apologize (again) if that's how it comes off. As i stated above, i'm not in the business of judging anybody.

"I guess i just figured people would be more interested in what the Lord had to say than what i did."

Always a mistake. I try to live my life according to a sure knowledge that everyone is interested in my opinion.

Rob-
Thanks for the response! It just boils down to this... I always prefer one's own life experiences/words to that of someone else's...and I appreciated your words where the only quote was me! A few weeks ago I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament meeting...Next time I will DEFINITLEY use you as a resource ;)

I think as long as you are trying to do good things in your life like feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and be charitable than wear those duds with confidence.

My biggest problem with fashion right now is finding clothes that work for me. It seems like they are either pretty hoochy or pretty frumpy, not in betweens. I don't want to be either one of those things, does any one know where to find the in-between clothes?

Lala-

I'm not sure if you're male or female, but here's something i've noticed: Men seem to prefer to discuss abstract situations, whereas women prefer actual real-life examples. Am I off on this?

I much prefer to discuss these things on the level of ideas than on the level of actual people and experiences, for the simple reason that it seems to involve judging people. I mean, no one can get inside someone else's head (except God) and REALLY know what their situation is, so any judgment made would be made on limited information, and likely wrong.

Anyway, that's why I don't use too many personal experiences.

I think presenting abstract situations often involves more judging. On the internet, discussions of abastract situations usually boil down to, "I am right, you are wrong." Those words aren't the exact words used, but that's how they are taken.

I have the impression that most members of the church know what the prophet said, they know the dogma. The real question in life is not knowing those things, but how do you live them? And it's impossible to live them all prefectly. I prefer to hear examples because they are real. They are the reality of living the gospel, of living life. Examples provide clues on how to live gospel.

The Prophet dispenses commandments, but he doesn't tell us how to live them. We are all going to go about understanding them and living them differently. One thing I really appreaciate about Various Stages of Mormondom is that it gets to the real meat and bones of being Mormon, of living the gospel.

Jls You were able to write what I have been failing at trying to describe...Very well put.
Carrie: Again, forgive me!

... so what you're saying is, the purpose of this forum is not to establish what the doctrine is, but instead how to implement it into our daily lives.

All right, I can buy that. However, I'm not sure that everyone has as clear a grasp of the doctrine as you think they do, from some of the comments. Of course, others simply may not care what the doctrine is.

In that case, on the topic of how to overcome "fashion idolatry" in one's personal life, I have nothing to say, for, as my brother can testify, i am not in the least fashionable. No personal experience to share there.

I think we all need to remember that VSofM is a forum for DISCUSSION...that's what it's all about. I am not active in the church but that does not exclude me from these discussions...I like that I bring that aspect to the table. I LOVE vsofm for its discussions. I don't agree with everyone and I don't have to...that's part of what was created here.

Exactly-- sorry if I made it sound like this was just for jolly active mormons. I'm trying to be jolly about being an active mormon, and VSoM really helps.

Rob,

this may help clear some things up...

As the Monday writer, I try to briefly establish what the official church doctrine is on the matter and still leave room for my own personal take/view/experience. I sometimes give quotes and scriptures, but mostly I try and stay brief. Some weekly topics are personal questions, and not matters of pure doctrine such as this week (but the doctrine is welcome).

Of course I cannot/do not include a full lesson's worth of material in my Monday post. I hope it is enough so that our readers who are not LDS will at least have a starting place on the subject, so that we are basically on the same page.

By virtue of this being read by people who have at least SOME experience with the Church, a lot of the comments are personal and not general to Mormon doctrine and practices, however, comments are an appropriate place to shed further light upon the doctrine.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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