Many who profess to be Christians spend so much on dress that they have nothing to spare for the needs of others. Costly ornaments and expensive clothing they think they must have, regardless of the needs of those who can with difficulty provide themselves with even the plainest clothing. . . .
“My sisters, if you would bring your manner of dressing into conformity with the rules given in the Bible, you would have an abundance with which to help your poorer sisters. You would have not only means, but time. Often this is most needed. There are many whom you might help with your suggestions, your tact and skill. Show them how to dress simply and yet tastefully. Many a woman remains away from the house of God because her shabby, ill-fitting garments are in such striking contrast to the dress of others. Many a sensitive spirit cherishes a sense of bitter humiliation and injustice because of this contrast. And because of it many are led to doubt the reality of religion and to harden their hearts against the gospel.” The Ministry of Healing, 207.
“In the professed Christian world enough is expended for jewels and needlessly expensive dress to feed all the hungry and to clothe the naked. Fashion and display absorb the means that might comfort the poor and the suffering.” Ibid., 287.
“Our clothing, while modest and simple, should be of good quality, of becoming colors, and suited for service. It should be chosen for durability rather than display. It should provide warmth and proper protection. . . .
“Our dress should be cleanly. Uncleanliness in dress is unhealthful, and thus defiling to the body and to the soul. . . .
“In all respects the dress should be healthful. ‘Above all things,’ God desires us to ‘be in health’—health of body and of soul. [111 John 2.] And we are to be workers together with Him for the health of both soul and body. Both are promoted by healthful dress.” Ibid., 288.
Contrary to Scripture
“How contrary to the principles given in the Scriptures are many of the modes of dress that fashion prescribes! Think of the styles that have prevailed for the last few hundreds of years or even for the last few decades. How many of them, when not in fashion, would be declared immodest; how many would be pronounced inappropriate for a refined, God-fearing, self-respecting woman.
“The making of changes in apparel for the sake of fashion merely is not sanctioned by the word of God. Changing styles and elaborate, costly ornamentation squander the time and means of the rich, and lay waste the energies of mind and soul. They impose a heavy burden on the middle and poorer classes. Many who can hardly earn a livelihood, and who with simple modes might make their own clothing, are compelled to resort to the dressmaker in order to be in fashion. Many a poor girl, for the sake of a stylish gown, has deprived herself of warm underwear, and paid the penalty with her life. Many another, coveting the display and elegance of the rich, has been enticed into paths of dishonesty and shame. Many a home is deprived of comforts, many a man is driven to embezzlement or bankruptcy, to satisfy the extravagant demands of the wife or children.
“Many a woman, forced to prepare for herself or her children the stylish costumes demanded by fashion, is doomed to ceaseless drudgery. Many a mother with throbbing nerves and trembling fingers toils far into the night to add to her children’s clothing ornamentation that contributes nothing to healthfulness, comfort, or real beauty. For the sake of fashion she sacrifices health and that calmness of spirit so essential to the right guidance of her children. The culture of mind and heart is neglected.” Ibid., 290.
“Almost as soon as they come into the world the children are subjected to fashion’s influence. They hear more of dress than of their Saviour. They see their mothers consulting the fashion plates more earnestly than the Bible. The display of dress is treated as of greater importance than the development of character. Parents and children are robbed of that which is best and sweetest and truest in life. For fashion’s sake they are cheated out of a preparation for the life to come.
“It was the adversary of all good who instigated the invention of the ever-changing fashions. He desires nothing so much as to bring grief and dishonor to God by working the misery and ruin of human beings. One of the means by which he most effectually accomplishes this is the devices of fashion that weaken the body as well as enfeeble the mind and belittle the soul.” Ibid., 291.
Evils of Fashion
“[A] serious evil is the wearing of skirts so that their weight must be sustained by the hips. This heavy weight, pressing upon the internal organs, drags them downward and causes weakness of the stomach and a feeling of lassitude [fatigue], inclining the wearer to stoop, which further cramps the lungs, making correct breathing more difficult.” Ibid., 292.
“Another evil which custom fosters is the unequal distribution of the clothing, so that while some parts of the body have more than is required, others are insufficiently clad. The feet and limbs, being remote from the vital organs, should be especially guarded from cold by abundant clothing. It is impossible to have health when the extremities are habitually cold; for if there is too little blood in them there will be too much in other portions of the body. Perfect health requires a perfect circulation; but this cannot be had while three or four times as much clothing is worn upon the body, where the vital organs are situated, as upon the feet and limbs. . . .
“Many women have become confirmed invalids when they might have enjoyed health, and many have died of consumption [tuberculosis] and other diseases when they might have lived their allotted term of life had they dressed in accordance with health principles and exercised freely in the open air.
“In order to secure the most healthful clothing, the needs of every part of the body must be carefully studied. The character of the climate, the surroundings, the condition of health, the age, and the occupation must all be considered. Every article of dress should fit easily, obstructing neither the circulation of the blood nor a free, full, natural respiration. Everything worn should be so loose that when the arms are raised the clothing will be correspondingly lifted.” Ibid., 293.
Grace and Natural Beauty
“[Dress] should have the grace, the beauty, the appropriateness of natural simplicity. Christ has warned us against the pride of life, but not against its grace and natural beauty. He pointed to the flowers of the field, to the lily unfolding in its purity, and said, ‘Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.’ Matthew 6:29. Thus by the things of nature Christ illustrates the beauty that heaven values, the modest grace, the simplicity, the purity, the appropriateness, that would make our attire pleasing to Him.” Ibid., 289.
Ellen G. White (1827–1915) wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books during her lifetime. Today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English.