Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)


The Inroads of Prevailing Fashion

Five years before, in May, 1856, in a vision given at the close of a conference in Battle Creek, she was shown “the conformity of some professed Sabbathkeepers to the world.... They think they are not like the world, but they are so near like them in dress, in conversation, and actions, that there is no distinction.”—Testimonies for the Church, 1:131. The message of counsel based on this vision is titled “Conformity to the World.” Now in mid-1861, prevailing fashions were again making their inroads in the church. She hinted of this in the testimony to the church in Caledonia and in other letters written in succeeding weeks. Then in June she prepared a six-column article for the Review entitled “Power of Example,” which was published on June 25. It is found today in Testimonies for the Church, 1:274-287. She took as her theme Titus 2:13 and 14, that Christ would “purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Early in the article she stated: 1BIO 466.7

I have frequently received letters of inquiry in regard to dress, and some have not rightly understood what I have written. The very class which have been presented before me, who are imitating the fashions of the world, have been very slow, and the last to be affected or reformed. 1BIO 467.1

There is another class who lacked taste and order in dress, who have taken advantage of what I have written, and taken the opposite extreme, and considered that they were free from pride, and have looked upon those who dress orderly and neat as being proud. Oddity and careless dress have been considered by some a special virtue. Such take a course which destroys their influence over unbelievers. They disgust those who might be benefited. 1BIO 467.2

While the visions have reproved pride and imitating the fashions of the world, they have reproved those who are careless of their apparel and lacked cleanliness of person and dress.—The Review and Herald, June 25, 1861. 1BIO 467.3

In this article Ellen White came to grips with the wearing of hoop skirts, then becoming popular. She took up the subject first from the standpoint of example, and then she disclosed what she had been shown in vision in regard to the matter. 1BIO 467.4

I was shown that hoops were a shame, and that we should not give the least countenance to a fashion carried to such ridiculous lengths.—Ibid. 1BIO 467.5

Four of the six columns of the article were given over to scriptural counsel, introduced with the request: 1BIO 468.1

Please read 1 Timothy 2:9, 10. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”—Ibid. 1BIO 468.2