You can often tell early, even from their toddler days, if a child is going to care about what they wear, or if clothes are just an afterthought.
Our son often put his clothes on backwards and only cared about what he put on if it had a logo or name of a sports team he favored. He is still pretty much that way, although I haven’t noticed that his clothes are ever on backwards. What he wears is still not a priority.
Our middle daughter cared about the color and style of her clothing as soon as she was able to see -in other words – right from birth. She would remove any clothing that did not meet her approval, which often delayed our departure for the library, church, pretty much anywhere we went. She would cry if her tights were wrinkled and if her socks didn’t match her outfit. Now she has her own style and always looks “well put together”. I haven’t heard her cry about clothes in years.
Clothes don’t make a person, but they certainly convey information about personality and prefrences. My mother let me pick out my clothes and I developed a taste for bright colors and “interesting” fabrics at an early age. (Need I say that our third daughter does NOT want me to pick out her clothes?)
In college – as an art major – my dress was considered…well..different. But artists have always dressed “differently”, ok, oddly. To compound matters, it was the early 1970’s and young people who WEREN’T art majors dressed expressively. I made long dresses out of bedspreads from India, patched my jeans with scraps of calico prints, wore tie dye when you had to make it yourself, and wore blue suede boots. I did not look as cool as I thought I did.
The Bible tells us that what we wear on the outside is not as important as what is on the inside.
1 Peter 3:3-5 (NLT)
3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 5 This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands.
I think it is good to allow our children to wear what they want at times, yet let them know that there are other times they must wear certain things. Just as baseball players wear uniforms that identify them with their team, certain situations call for certain attire.
We also want our children to know that MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than the clothes they wear is the condition of their hearts – what’s inside. When conversations about clothes come up – use it as an opportunity to talk to them about the fact that what is in their hearts will show on their faces and in their words. If there is selfishness and impatience in our hearts – it will come out in our facial expressions and what we say.
Our challenge is to let God change us from the inside out.
Then it really doesn’t matter what we wear.