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Contextual Modesty

When people think of Christianity and fashion, the concept of modesty immediately comes to mind. For some, modesty is strictly defined and characterized by a definitive set of concerns. For others, the standards of modesty are entirely relative, seeing the Bible as almost silent on the issue. For the first two years, Christian Fashion Week existed as a forum for designers to explore the full spectrum of modesty from different perspectives. However, we found that no matter what we allowed or prohibited in our shows, someone was always offended. As we wrestled with and explored the scriptures deeper, we were convicted to define a position and stand for it. We call this position Contextual Modesty, and hold it as a cornerstone of the Christian Fashion Week ethos.

What Is Contextual Modesty?

Contextual modesty is the idea that the context in which fashion is applied defines whether or not it is appropriate or modest. For example, what one wears to a job interview should be different from what one wears to the beach. What a person wears to the gym or an anniversary dinner will look different than what he wears to a business meeting or family dinner. Blanket rules don't fit all cultures, traditions, and circumstances. So, we must look at the context in which we are in to determine what is appropriate and modest based on everything from venue dress codes to personal comfort.

Part of our mission is to promote the concept of contextual modesty and help those within the Christian church break free from legalism and imaginary dress codes while developing a more grounded and disciplined perspective of what modesty truly means.

Doesn't Christianity Require Women to Cover Up?

Traditionally, conservative Christianity attempts to impose specific rules for governing modesty, including prohibitions on such garments as miniskirts, low necklines, and sheer materials. In some churches, women are not permitted to wear pants and must cover their bodies with non-form-fitting clothing. Men, although less often than women, are also subjected to these types of arbitrary and culture-base dress codes. These prohibitions, restrictions, and rules have no basis in scripture. Instead, they are the result of interpretation issues and a basic lack of reading comprehension. Most of all, they result in the oppression and control of men and women, ignoring the freedom from such bondage afforded by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Apostles.

Unlike other religions that promote strict dress codes and garment guidelines, the Bible contains no mandate for men or women to hide any portion of their bodies in order to be righteous. Furthermore, it makes each individual responsible for de-objectifying the opposite sex. The few references that do discuss the way believers should dress condemn an overemphasis on class distiction and external beauty rather than how much skin is showing. Christian Fashion Week does not support views of modesty that reinterpret scriptures nor those that place the responsibility of one person's lust on the shoulders of the object of that lust.

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