Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

November 17, 1904

Simplicity in Dress

Mrs. E. G. White

Fashion rules the world. She is a tyrannical mistress, often compelling her devotees to the greatest inconvenience and discomfort. Fashion taxes without reason and collects without mercy. She has a fascinating power, and stands ready to criticize and ridicule the poor, if they do not follow in her wake at any cost, even at the sacrifice of life itself. Satan triumphs that his devices succeed so well, and Death laughs at the health-destroying folly and blind zeal of the worshipers at Fashion's shrine.

Not a few of our people are backsliding. They are imitating the fashions of the world. Their spirituality is dying. Step by step they are approaching world-loving. Selfishness and pride are taking possession of them, and the love of God finds little room in their hearts. Some who were once zealous reformers are now indifferent. Sisters who were once plain in dress are now conforming to fashion. God expects his commandment-keeping people to be distinct from worldlings, but in many instances the line of demarcation is hardly discernible.

As I have seen those of our faith becoming worldly, my heart has been saddened. Some of those who profess to believe that they have the last message of mercy to give to the world, follow the fashions as far as they think their profession of faith will allow them to do. And their influence leads others astray. Their lack of Christlikeness is apparent to all. The Lord is dishonored by their conformity to the fashions of this degenerate age. Outward display is contradictory to our profession of faith. I entreat my sisters to guard against the tendency to dress in accordance with the demands of fashion.

Many of the mother's burdens are the result of her effort to keep pace with the fashions of the day. Terrible is the effect of these fashions on the physical, mental, and moral health. Lacking the courage to stand firm for the right, women allow the current of popular feeling to draw them on in its wake. Much precious time is devoted to needless stitching and ruffling, to add to the outward adorning. Children are robbed of the time that should be devoted to gaining for them the beauty of holiness,—the inward adorning, which, in the sight of God, is of great price.

In order to follow fashion, many of our youth incur expenses that are out of proportion to their condition in life. Children of poor parents endeavor to dress as do those who are wealthy. Parents tax their purses and their God-given time and strength in making and remodeling clothing to satisfy their children's vanity. If our sisters who have an abundance of means would regulate their expenditures by their responsibility to God, as wise stewards of the means entrusted to them; their example would do much to stay this evil now existing among us. Souls whom they might have helped by letting their light shine in good works, are strengthened in unbelief by their inconsistent course.

Mothers can not be slaves to fashion and at the same time exert a sanctifying influence in the home. Too often professedly Christian mothers sacrifice principle to their desire to follow the multitude who make fashion their god. Conscience protests, but they are not brave enough to take a decided stand against the wrong.

Many of our sisters willingly bear the unnecessary burden of conformity to worldly dress. Attempting to follow the fashions, their burdens are greatly increased, yet they willingly bear the yoke, because they worship the goddess of fashion.

It is not only the privilege, but the duty of every one to increase daily in the knowledge of God and the truth. Satan's object is gained if he can invent something that will so attract the mind that God will be forgotten, and he uses fashion with great success to do this. He knows that women who constantly have a feverish desire to follow the fashions, have benumbed their moral sensibilities, and do not realize their real spiritual condition. Worldly minded, they are without God, without hope. They take no time to pray, or to search the Scriptures in order that they may understand the truth, and teach it to their children.

When I have seen Christian women leading out in temperance campaigns, presenting to liquor inebriates a pledge to abstain from all intoxicating drinks, I have thought that it would also be well for them to present to every Christian woman a pledge to abstain from all needless display and extravagance in dress. By dressing simply, thus saving time and means, Christian women can do much to help the temperance cause. The means thus saved will clothe the destitute, feed the hungry, and will help to close the door against liquor drinking. Those who are simple in dress have time to visit the afflicted, and to pray with and for them. On all Christians rests a solemn duty to economize, that they may be better able to help those in need.

We do not discourage neatness in dress. Correct taste is not to be despised nor condemned. Our faith, if carried out, will lead us to be so plain in dress, and zealous of good works, that we shall be marked as peculiar. But when we lose taste for order and neatness in dress, we virtually leave the truth; for the truth never degrades, but elevates. When believers are neglectful of their dress, and are coarse and rough in their manners, their influence hurts the truth. “We are,” said the inspired apostle, “made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” All heaven is marking the daily influence that the professed followers of Christ exert upon the world. My sisters, your dress is telling either in favor of Christ and the sacred truth or in favor of the world. Which is it? Remember that we must all answer to God for the influence we exert.

Simplicity of dress will make a sensible woman appear to the best advantage. We judge of a person's character by the style of dress worn. A modest, godly woman will dress modestly. A refined taste, a cultivated mind, will be revealed in the choice of a simple, appropriate attire. The young women who break away from the slavery of fashion will be ornaments to society. The one who is simple and unpretending in her dress and in her manners shows that she understands that a true woman is characterized by moral worth. How charming, how interesting, is simplicity in dress, which in comeliness can be compared with the flowers of the field.

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