Monday, March 11, 2013

Thankful for the Older Men

Difficult Decision
by Louis Charles Moeller , American 1856-1930

Today I was noticing the older men in the church and how dignified they are. They all wear suits and ties, which after all these decades, look nearly identical to the ones in the painting  you see by Charles Moeller. They probably paid a lot for those suits many years ago, and they wear them every Lord's Day. What is nice about this, is how it separates this day from other days, for them, at least.  It may also help the people to see that some men regard the Lord's Day important enough to wear their suits. These men are now over the age of 75 and they faithfully freshen up, shave and put on their suit early on the day they are going to meet with the church.

It is reassuring to see them in their suits, as if to say that in all the worlds' turmoil, there is something stable and normal. No matter what is happening in their lives or in the news, these men will wear their suits on Sunday.

While women's clothing has radically changed styles over the centuries, I can see by paintings like the one at the head of this post, that the men's clothing has not varied much. The men's suits still cover them from their neck to their feet. I always wonder why that is: men are so much more modest in these suits than women are in their clothing.

The men wearing the suits have a bearing about them that is gentle, proper and masculine. I appreciate it more as the years go by and the modern styles emphasize casual sloppiness. We are wordlessly told that dressing up is a sign of conceit or over-emphasis on the appearance, or even making a big deal about nothing. Sometimes we are made to feel self conscious about our attention to earthly things like clothing, but it is not "nothing" to dress up. There are many more things that are involved when someone dresses up. The old men in their suits are showing respect for a special day of the week. They are showing courtesy to the women. They are behaving with personal dignity, as the sons of God that they are.  When we dress up, we set an order in our minds. Dressing up can put us in the spiritual mood to worship.

We are in a little country congregation where I suppose no one would expect anyone to dress up, and yet these men dress up in their suits for worship services. These men dress respectfully each Lord's Day not just for the members of our little gathering, but for the Lord.

It is a great example and it encourages me to put a little more effort into dressing up; to dress in a special way that is different from the other days of the week. Because I wear dresses at home each day, it can be easy to just put on a clean house dress and go to church. No one would object to that, but it would not separate that day and set it apart the way the men's suits do. So with the rest of the years of my service here I hope to dress up more than I would at home, for the first day of the week.

Tea Party 1905 by Louis Charles Moeller 


Finding Joy said...

I attended a family meeting growing up, my dad, uncles and brothers always wore their suits. My dad still does today at 80 years old. It's important to him as it separates Sunday from the working week and to put on his best clothes for the Lord. As he says to me, if a person can put effort into dressing for a party, why not for The Lord. I have to agree with him and find it very sad about the modern day dress at church.

Sarah R said...

I wear skirts and dresses every day, but I always wear something "special" on Sundays. Even though I work in children's ministry and spend a lot of time on the floor, it means a lot to me to show respect to the Lord and to my fellow church goers. I get plenty of comments about how dressed up I am. The little girls definitely notice! It's amazing how 5 and 6 year old girls want to dress up for church. They want to be pretty, wear pink dresses, have ribbons and bows and carry little pink purses. By high school, these same girls wear ripped jeans, tee shirts and can barely run a brush through their hair before services.

Honestly, I'm always astounded by what people wear to church. I know you are into the Victorian dress, Lady Lydia. I am not but that is just a difference of opinion. However, I know respect and disrespect when I see it, as I'm sure you do as well. One woman I know wears spandex bike shorts and Bike Week tees to church, and she's in her 50s. I'm happy to see her at church, but I wouldn't wear that to dig ditches. Even if a woman is not into wearing skirts and dresses, a nice pair of pants and a blouse will at least cover you! And also, may I suggest to the ladies: wearing pants that are too tight? Everyone behind you can tell. A lovely full a-line skirt can hide all those lumps and bumps. And I say this as a plus sized woman. I wear my skirts with a nice top and a cardigan in case it gets cold inside church. It's very simple to put together and it's respectful to everyone else.

sunnyskiesandsweettea said...

Oh, I completely agree! I love to see the older men in their suits...and the ladies in their dresses...although more and more that is a site rarely seen.

Amy Jo

Lydia said...

There is a solution for feeling uncomfortable in dresses. A long coat or cape ( for example, some of the ones I have been sewing) can cover your clothes so well as to make it look like you are wearing long, feminine clothing even if you still have jeans on.

I wonder if the little girls who wear the pretty dresses that have all the layers (one layer of chiffon over a solid layer, over a silk slip, etc) noticed that the style is not worn by any other age group. I feel sorry that they do not see the older girls and women in similar, lovely dresses at church. But it seems they arent making those pretty dresess for anyone outside the children's age group. At least you can't find them on the rack as easily as you can the little girls dresses. I do see dresses for ladies in catalogs like the Paragon and Chadwicks and I'll add some of them to the pictures in the post.

Lydia said...

The little girls must think it is strange that no one of any other age is wearing dresses that pretty.

Lydia said...

You are right about digging ditches: women dress like they are going to do road work or construction. Prior to the 1970's even men wore shirts, vests and ties to common labour jobs!!! Just look at some of the old movies produced in England in the 1950's and see the clothing in the scenes of men going to work in mines, on railroads, or building houses. Those were their casual clothes. At church they wore better suits!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

thank you for your effort in uplifting articles. I so much like ot read them, they are a real treat to read, especially when one is sometimes overloaded with work.
Kind regards,

Brenda said...

Our church members (in rural WV) also dress up for church, women and girls in dresses and men in suits, little boys usually in dress pants (and sometimes suits).
We feel that we are becoming before our almighty God, and should attempt to dress in the best you can afford.
Thank you for this post; it's nice to hear from people of like-mind.
Have a blessed day.

Lydia said...

Brenda I have observed that the rural churches dress up more. I don't know why that is. I do it because it is the one thing I participate in that is more "formal" than other types of events or outings. Church attendance gives country people a chance to dress up, and when they do, it is really nice. I went to one of the little countries in the Carribean once, and noticed they were all dressed up on Sundays.

Lydia said...

Joluise--good point about dressing for a party. Church has become casual because members and ministers want so badly to "relate" to everyone and draw a crowd. They fear people are "uncomfortable" with the formality of worship or with just the dignity and quietness and solemnity of the services, so they seek to make them more at ease by going casual in dress.

Anonymous said...

such a fine observation of the older gentlemen have a fine congregation, it seems. I want to attend it....
Very good you gained insight into what you could wear on the Lord's day is the right thing to do.
Love all your writings here!

Anonymous said...

You know, I was recently watching a TV show that was originally from the mid to late 1980's and one of the scenes was in a grocery store. It just really stood out to me how nice everyone was dressed even just to go to the grocery store. They were dressed nicer for the store than a lot of people are for church these days.

And with thrift stores and the discount stores that are around today, most people can afford to dress up for church.

It's sad really....

Anonymous said...

Oh!--Lady Lydia, I also wanted to make you aware of a new blog I've just discovered that I think you would enjoy.

Lydia said...

I think I have that on my blog roll already.

Mrs. White said...

This is absolutely wonderful, and so true!

Mrs. White
The Legacy of Home

Anonymous said...

Remember the days when people also dressed for shopping and travel? You can see it in older movies. It is so different these days; I saw a woman in a grocery store who was dressed in pajamas and slippers.

Anonymous said...


What a wonderful post!! If we were to meet the Queen, how would we comport ourselves, not merely out of a sense of 'duty', but to give her honour and show genuine respect? How much more when meeting in congregation before our heavenly King, to honour Him and His incredible gift of sacrifice He gave to us.

This is a fantastic post and much needed reminder. the ever-relentless push for 'casualisation' is not a matter of relating better to our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, but an all out embrace of the Slobocracy!! Look at the men and women in Africa, the Subcontinent and Asia. Even if they don't have two red cents to rub together, they always comport themselves with dignity in both deportment and dress!! Even indigenous Australian ladies still wear lovely skirts and dresses, even if their lives are otherwise full of privation.

for those of us that wear dresses/skirts most or all of the time, a particular outfit especially worn for Church can help create a sense of greater dignity and propriety before our Lord; I have two lovely purple floral dresses and matching waistcoat for summer-wear and a skirt in same for winter-wear with pettiblouse of my choice and matching lace kerchief. These are church-wear only and help foster such a mindset and behaviour. And women are not the only ones behaving badly in the Lord's church; scruffy, even literally odious men at church who have Mercedes or jaguar in the church carpark and DO know better turn up in need of a few lessons in personal hygene , wearing slopy slogan-riddled t-shirts, tracksuits and worse. Indeed, the poor homeless man comports himself in the assembly with a thousand times more dignity than these rich, spoilled, brattish slobs old enough and educated enough to know better. However, there are enough of us scattered to bear silent witness and pray for the rest. Might I suggest pastors could do well by saying a word or two in the sermon about the actions of said spoilled-brat brothers and sons in christ, to the lads and men alike...

Thank you for speaking and teaching the truth, dear Lydia.

Anonymous said...

My father stopped attending church in the late 1970s. He said the last time he went to a regular mass, he wore a suit, because he was raised to dress up for church. Everyone else wore jeans and stared at him, even the pastor. I think that experience was the last straw for him. He put the suit away and I never saw him in it again. I also never saw him go to church again, except things like weddings. I know the situation is much deeper than just clothing, but I got the sense he was terribly discouraged. The way the parishioners dressed and the way they snickered at his suit just deepened his disillusionment.

These are not trivial matters, as you clearly realize. When my father stopped attending church, he also took his little children out of religious education and we had no more religion in our home. Twenty eight years went by before I found my way back to church, after many (some serious) mistakes that I might not have made with a more solid sense of right and wrong, that religion could have given me.

Anonymous said...

I see this every Easter. Moms dressed in jeans and their little girls in lace and bows. What message does this send about growing up? I just don't get it.

Anonymous said...

My husband always wears a suit (he is an old-fashioned preacher) and so does a 90 year old man in our church. It does look so nice. It is appalling what people wear to church/weddings/funerals/parties/fancy restaurants/important meetings. Dressing nicely for these things is so good for morale and shows respect. I know it is better to show up in anything than not at all, and some don't have any nice clothes, but couldn't people who have nicer clothes at least make the effort?

Anonymous said...

The spirit of slobocracy has very little to do with one's actual wealth or ability to get their hands on a suit or dress. it is however, a direct symptom of hyper-egalitarianism that reared its ugly head in public for the first time in the 1920's and truly took off with the trend of 'California casual' in the late 1950's-early 1960's, but deeper than a mere fashion trend, it is at its heart anti-respect and anti-intellectural (true intellectualism as opposed to the rot the hollywood and sophisto NY-LA set ram down our throats). it is also anti-godly, in anyone's language and hypocritical. they acuse all who comport themselves decently with the charge of hypocracy, but cannot see the rank hypocracy in their own actions - a mix of 'peter-pan syndrome', disrespect of their fellow human beings, a badge of rampant individualism (that leads to a group-think type of comformity of the worst variety) not to mention negativity and hate. Rather than elevating themselves, they long to tear down. Rather than bettering themselves, they seek to destroy and lay waste.

What we need is genuine 'revolution', a revolution of decency and civility that is born of care, regard and love for our fellows. the devil would have God's creation dressed in rags, it would seem, and it would also seem that he has virtually won. But we serve the Lord, our Saviour jesus Christ who crushed satan when He hung upon the cross for us, died for us, and praise be to God, rose from the dead! .

Love and God's blessings to you and all your readers.

Lydia said...

I am really sick of that excuse that we should not have to dress up, or that people can't afford to dress nicely. These days with Walmarts and discount stores, people can afford it . It is the choices that are the problem. It is the mind-set of people. The attitude prevails that dressy clothes are "uncomfortable" and that we should bow to the god of comfort and convenience.

living from glory to glory said...

We are a very poor picture of proper respect and honor to our Lord. To represent our families and our Nation to show we care!
We need to be a standard, even when the world has none.
I also will be diligent in being mindful to dress with extra special Sunday dresses.
I will now be on the hunt for a few more.
May we take this post to heart!
Blessings, Roxy
PS. I am using my cracked tea pot on my dresser as a ornament and I put a few pearl necklaces in it and they look very pretty draped over the sides.

Lydia said...

Certainly no one would fault a country person of low income for not dressing up for church. However I have noticed that the poorer the people, such as those in some of the poor countries where my family and I have gone to church, the more dignified in dress they are! They may have only one hook on the door for clothes storage and one church outfit, but it is the top of the line, the best, often a name brand. they value that day so much they deem it worthy enough to buy the best outfit.

Anonymous said...

In our women's bible study this week we are reading in Ephesians about living in moral unresponsiveness as the Gentiles did at that time, and how we are to put off the old self and be mature imitators of Christ.

I mentioned in class that I'd not seen the pastor mention anything about the immodest way some of the women and teen girls dress.

In a blog written by Christian young men it was written that many guys feel it was dangerous to go to church because they were being tempted by the sisters whether intentionally or unintentionally.
They wanted to engage in conversation with the sisters, but it was hard to keep their minds on conversation or even look at the ladies without their minds being assaulted by the way the females were dressed.
Apparently when a guy (any age) sees a woman or girl dressed immodestly, their mind finishes the picture in sex, and they stop seeing the girl as a person and more of a sex object.

The pastor's wife told us that her husband has in the past gone to the offender or the parent of an offender and asked them to be more appropriate. However she also said it wasn't his job to do that, it was the women of the church's job to speak truth in love to the female offenders and to use wisdom when new women came into the church dressed so, that they may not be familiar with the scriptures or about being modest.
It requires great tact to talk to someone about such matters. You don't want to drive them off, but they need to be aware that they are dressing in a way that is rude, offensive or tempting to others.

Lydia said...

I was always the one assigned to go to the young women or girls and ask them to cover up a bit more in church. I found in almost all, if not all, cases, they get more militant with their immodesty after anyone even hints that they might not show so much flesh. It is a rebellion that is in them and it takes hold of their minds. The problem then becomes political.They can get on facebook or they can gossip with their friends and ruin the reputation of the older women who tried to do their duty, and then the older women find themselves blocked from further influence. These girls know how to render people ineffective by their talk. Sometimes the parents would ask the older women or a minister's wife to talk to their teen girls and then when the girls got offended the parents would take the side of the girls against the teacher. Its all really a mess the way they operate. That is one good reason for a blog. You can teach without anyone thinking you are picking on them in particular. Even better the girls should read the Bible for themselves and see what Christ's standard is.

Anonymous said...

All these wonderful comments from fine ladies are such food for thought for those who may want to think a bit more about how they dress for their church services. It may take a while, but if their hearts are right, they will be drawn to becoming more modest, especially if other ladies are good examples. Frankly, when seeing Lady Lydia in her beautiful creations, looking so sweet, I wonder how anyone could NOT want to dress as she. Pretty color, pretty prints, pretty styling....I am an older woman and wish I could wee more ladies dressed as she dresses for us. I think one must learn to sew to get those effects...I feel blessed that I can do that and started at a very young age, making clothes for my Madame Alexander dolls....fabric stores were my favorites!
Attitude, as some have mentioned here, is a huge factor...I think girls and ladies feel life a burden and it shows in their attire...what do you think?

Anonymous said...

Nothing more masculine than a man in a three-piece suit....other than a military uniform. But how many are left who wear suits today?

Linda said...

Dressy hats, but not the ones with huge brims or a florist's shop of trim, and dress gloves would not be amiss with a Sunday ensemble.