Ted Cruz’s Fashion Statement
While no political pundits commented on it, I found myself fascinated with an unusual sight the day before Ted Cruz took first place in the Republican caucus vote in Iowa. At one of his final campaign stops, the senator from Texas was clad in blue jeans and a work-style shirt.
Though his front-runner status quickly fizzled in New Hampshire, it still made for a marked contrast with Donald Trump, who I had never seen sans coat and tie. Maybe Cruz’s attire helped swing the decision among laidback Midwesterners. Or maybe Trump skipping the last Fox debate before the caucuses hurt him worse than he expected.
While we’ll likely never know the answer, I can’t help applauding the decision by a presidential hopeful to wade into the thick of the fray without looking like a Wall Street banker.
The Button-Down Look
I have never been an admirer of the button-down look, ever since I worked in the corporate world many years ago. I still remember the co-worker who wore a big smile as he declared how good it felt to wear his best suit and tie.
“You’ve got be kidding,” I thought. “We aren’t in fourth grade any more, where getting dressed up was a big deal.”
Soon after that, I met with a custom-suit tailor who had gotten my name from a mutual friend. I nearly choked when he quoted a price for one suit—about quadruple what I paid for my off-the-rack wear.
He concluded his pitch by approvingly speaking of wearing a beautiful, custom-made gray suit with a white shirt and a burgundy tie, and concluded with the beaming endorsement: “That’s that corporate look.”
I wanted to wretch.
Never in Style
I’m not oblivious to the need for some kind of dress codes in the business world. After all, there appearance does matter. “Casual Fridays” can often degenerate into slovenly and downright obscene dress in an office atmosphere where expectations should aim a bit higher.
Still, I’ve never quite understood the fascination with being in style, particularly when it comes to the church world.
The scriptural admonition that sticks in my mind is what God tells Samuel when the prophet is searching for Israel’s first king: ““Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV).
Of course, the point here isn’t that we should all wear blue jeans all the time. Although I attend a church where that is common, our pastor pointed out once that jeans can be as much a “uniform” as a coat-and-tie. One we can use to brag how relevant and counter-cultural we are, when that can simply be another type of conformity.
I also know of churches where members consider dressing one’s best offering their best to God. If that is their custom, then I too would don a tie on a visit to such an environment, out of respect for them.
However, as I get older and find myself steadily less impressed with fashion, I can’t help looking forward to the day when the only thing I’ll need is a heavenly robe.