December 18, 2017

What Do Your Clothes Say About You?

Dr. David C. Innes

Dr. Innes published this article in 1993. He has allowed us to republish it here. We think he espouses principles that Christian men and women ought to seriously consider applying to their lives in order to become the best possible testimony for Christ.


In a most unique experiment, John T. Malloy, author of Dress for Success, panhandled money around the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Grand Central Station in New York City. His approach was to stop people and say that he was terribly embarrassed, but he had left his wallet at home and needed 75 cents to get home. He did this for two hours during the rush hour. During the first hour he wore a suit, but no tie; for the second hour he wore the same suit, but added a necktie. In the first hour he made $7.23, but in the second, with his tie on he made $26.00, and one man even gave him extra money to buy a newspaper.

His conclusion: “No question then: The tie is a symbol of respectability and responsibility; it communicates to other people who you are, or reinforces or detracts from their conception of who you should be.”

After conducting literally thousands of studies, experiments, and tests over a period of years, Mr. Molloy concludes that what a person wears is directly related to the success he will have in life. Of clothing in general he concludes: “We all wear uniforms and our uniforms are clear and distinct signs of class.  We react to them accordingly.

Clothes do say something about you! They openly reveal your attitudes — toward yourself (self-esteem), toward others (relationships), toward your work (its importance), and toward your God (reverence or lack of reverence toward Him). Immodest clothing is a dead giveaway of a person with loose morals. What you wear indicates the importance you attach to that which you are doing.

Feature a young lady at a Christian wedding ceremony coming before the marriage altar in blue jeans. This young lady obviously doesn’t consider her wedding to be very significant. Your concepts of your role as a man or woman are inseparably tied to your preference in clothing designs. Your philosophy of life will always be carried out, in part, by the clothing in which you present yourself to your world.

Your clothing as a Christian will identify you either as a part of, or as separated from the perverted movements of the feminists, those who would break down all sexual distinctions, or those who would reverse the roles and identities of men and women.

We need to seriously ponder the questions: What does my clothing say to those around me? What is the message they are receiving? Does it reveal an attitude of indifference or a sense of responsibility, of modesty or of lust, of respect or of disrespect, of separation from the world or of conformity to it, of carelessness (sloppy dress advertises a careless person) or of dependability, of honesty or of dishonesty?

Though God looks at our heart, man can only judge us by what he sees. Our outward conduct and appearance are the only proof to our fellowman of what we really believe. We who name the name of Christ are responsible to let our light so shine before men that they will see our good works, and glorify our Father in heaven. Matt. 5:16

Every Christian lives in a “show window” before the world and is responsible to properly represent the principle set forth in the Scriptures.


A man’s clothing must be masculine without question.

The command is clear: …neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. Deut. 22:5 A man’s clothing should never compromise his identity as a man in any way.

A man’s clothing and deportment must indicate an unmistakable submission to God’s authority. 1 Corinthians 11 teaches that long hair on the woman is a symbol of her submission to the authority of the man, and short hair on the man is the symbol of his submission to the authority of God. Paul roots his teaching on this matter, not in cultural conditions of the day, but in the design and order of creation. He concludes in verse 14, …if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him. Please note the word shame is a very strong word used to describe the vile affections of homosexuals and lesbians in Romans 1:26. The answer to the question, “how long is long, and how short is short?” is very simple:

A man ought to wear his hair short enough so that there is absolutely no question in the mind of believers or unbelievers as to what he believes and where he stands.

A man’s clothing must be modest.

His body ought to be properly covered in the presence of both men and women (in Gen. 3:21 coat means that which covers). His clothing should not be suggestive or revealing to either men or women. In the prevailing moral climate of our day, we must be aware that the homosexual world thrives on tight-fitting and suggestive men’s clothing.

A man’s clothing must meet the test of separation from the world. Romans 12:2, 2 Cor. 6:17

Fads, trends and styles that do not conform to the principles revealed in the Scriptures must be avoided if we are to maintain our identity as a separated Christian.

A man’s clothing and deportment must delight the heart of God. Col. 1:10

This should be the primary consideration in every area of our lives. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor. 10:13 That which is an abomination (Deut. 22:5) or shame (1 Cor. 11:14) in the eyes of God ought to be avoided at all costs. The smile and blessing of God upon our lives should be valued more highly than all the world.


The woman’s clothing must be modest 1 Tim. 2:9.

The word modest means having a sense of shame or reverence and indicates soberness and soundness of mind — that of down-to-earth, sensible, considerate persons. Modesty refers primarily to a genuine personal concern about the response which my dress and deportment produces in the heart and mind of another person. The woman’s clothing should properly cover her body (Gen. 3:21) in such a way (fashion) as to cause no problems in the thought life of the men around her.

Tight-fitting, revealing, or suggestive clothing on a woman advertises loose morals and sends the wrong message to the opposite sex. Such ought never to be in the life of one who names the name of Christ.

The woman’s clothing must be unmistakably feminine.

She cannot otherwise be in conformity with Biblical teaching. The injunction is very clear: The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man . . . for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. Deut. 22:5 One of the many tragedies of our time is that many Christian women feel perfectly at home in men’s clothing or clothing identical to it. God says that He utterly abhors this breakdown of the distinction between the sexes.

To affirm that the penalties for the serious sins and crimes listed in the context of Deuteronomy 22, have been changed under a new dispensation does not in any way make these sins and crimes any less abhorrent and unacceptable to God today. Men’s and women’s clothing must not be so similar that it fails to present a noticeable and defined distinction between the sexes.

Also, we need to be reminded of the dangers of a double standard. The same principles that govern our dress and deportment in the church must also govern our dress and deportment in the world.

The importance of maintaining these distinctions in dress is further emphasized by contrasting the divinely ordained role of the woman with that of the man. The phrase that which pertaineth to a man means literally, the apparatus of a man. There are certain tasks, functions and roles that God designed uniquely for men. God’s Divine displeasure is expressed against those who would break down the distinctive roles He established by His counsel and wisdom in creation.

The woman’s clothing must meet the test of separation from the world. 2 Cor. 6:17

The injunction in Romans 12:2 is this: Do not allow yourself to be poured into the mold of this world. The line of demarcation must be drawn. All that the fashion designers foist upon the world of women, as popular as it may be, is not appropriate for the Christian woman. Our dress and appearance should say loudly and clearly that we are not identified with that which the Bible condemns. Identity with the feminist or unisex movements of our day is totally inappropriate for the Christian woman.

As to those styles and fashions that are questionable, the scriptural principle whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23) should be applied. If it is doubtful, it is wrong!

The woman’s clothing and deportment should give outward indication of submission to the authority of the man.

The Apostle Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 11 that long hair on the woman signifies that she is under authority. It is incumbent on those women who desire to live a godly life that their outward appearance somehow clearly conveys this message and testimony to a society that has repudiated Biblical standards and morals.

The woman’s clothing and deportment must delight the heart of God. Col. 1:10, 1 Cor. 10:13

There should be nothing that concerns us more than being pleasing to God. Those who profess Christ should abhor that which God abhors and delight in that which pleases Him. We can get along without the approval of the world, but we cannot get along without the blessing of God.


Does my clothing say loudly and clearly that I greatly value my Christian testimony — that I am a person with convictions based upon God’s Word? Christians should never get lost in the crowd. Our unique identity is our testimony.

Is my clothing neat, clean, and not overly expensive or calling attention to itself? 1 Tim. 2:9 One does not need costly clothing to maintain a testimony before the world. The truth of the matter is that most of those who are financially responsible in the support of their local church cannot afford such. It is not so much what you have, but what you do with what you have that makes the difference.

Is my clothing consistent with the importance I attach to my life (God’s creation) and my body (God’s dwelling place)? We are God’s ambassadors. 2 Cor. 5:20 Our worship of our God and our service for our God are of infinitely greater importance than that of our nation’s ambassadors. Do I give others that distinct impression by the clothing I wear to church? All of life is sacred to us. Our clothing ought to say so!

On what do I base my personal opinion of what is or what is not appropriate for me? Who do I imitate? Who really sets the fashions for me — the world around me or a careful study of the Scriptures? Do I justify my dress and deportment on the basis of what I have always thought to be right, or on the basis of a firm conviction derived from God’s Word?


Someone has said, “What you do speaks so loud that I can’t hear what you say.” The standard for the Christian life is nothing less than that of excellence. Phil. 1:10 We must give God the very best that we have. Let’s tell the world without apology Whose we are and what we believe.

By the way, what DO your clothes say about you?

Dr. David Innes is the pastor of Hamilton Square Baptist Church, San Francisco, CA.

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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