Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1


Chapter 78—Extremes in Dress

We do not think it in accordance with our faith to dress in the American costume, to wear hoops, or to go to an extreme in wearing long dresses which sweep the sidewalks and streets. If women would wear their dresses so as to clear the filth of the streets an inch or two, their dresses would be modest, and they could be kept clean much more easily, and would wear longer. Such a dress would be in accordance with our faith. I have received several letters from sisters inquiring my opinion in regard to wearing corded skirts. These questions were answered in a letter which I sent to a sister in Wisconsin. I will give the letter here for the benefit of others: 1T 424.1

“We as a people do not believe it our duty to go out of the world to be out of the fashion. If we have a neat, plain, modest, and comfortable plan of dress, and worldlings choose to dress as we do, shall we change this mode of dress in order to be different from the world? No, we should not be odd or singular in our dress for the sake of differing from the world, lest they despise us for so doing. Christians are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Their dress should be neat and modest, their conversation chaste and heavenly, and their deportment blameless. 1T 424.2

“How shall we dress? If any wore heavy quilts before the introduction of hoops, merely for show and not for comfort, they sinned against themselves by injuring their health, which it is their duty to preserve. If any wear them now merely to look like hoops, they commit sin; for they are seeking to imitate a fashion which is disgraceful. Corded skirts were worn before hoops were introduced. I have worn a light corded skirt since I was fourteen years of age, not for show but for comfort and decency. Because hoops were introduced I did not lay off my corded skirt for them. Shall I now throw it aside because the fashion of hoops is introduced? No; that would be carrying the matter to an extreme. 1T 425.1

“I should ever bear in mind that I must be an example and therefore must not run into this or that fashion, but pursue an even and independent course and not be driven to extremes in regard to dress. To throw off my corded skirt that was always modest and comfortable, and put on a thin cotton skirt, and thus appear ridiculous in the other extreme, would be wrong, for then I would not set a right example, but would put an argument into the mouths of hoop wearers. To justify themselves for wearing hoops they would point to me as one who does not wear them, and say that they would not disgrace themselves in that way. By going to such extremes we would destroy all the influence which we might otherwise have had, and lead the wearers of hoops to justify their course. We must dress modestly, without the least regard to the hoop fashion. 1T 425.2

“There is a medium position in these things. Oh, that we all might wisely find that position and keep it. In this solemn time let us all search our own hearts, repent of our sins, and humble ourselves before God. The work is between God and our own souls. It is an individual work, and all will have enough to do without criticizing the dress, actions, and motives of their brethren and sisters. ‘Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.’ Here is our work. It is not sinners who are here addressed, but all the meek of the earth, who have wrought His judgments or kept His commandments. There is work for everyone, and if all will obey, we shall see sweet union in the ranks of Sabbathkeepers.” 1T 425.3