We value beauty in all areas of life, because we serve a God who has taken the time to create a wonderful world for us to enjoy. We are blessed with students who cultivate loveliness in their hearts and take the time to create order (“cosmos”) through dressing attractively. It is pleasing to God for us to order our hearts and to steward our appearance. Being attractive is a good thing! We know that young men and women will struggle with their hearts in the midst of this, but that is a good struggle.
Ultimately, modesty is a heart issue. Our desire is that our students treat those of the opposite sex as friends who want the best for each other. There is always the possibility that you will marry a GBT friend some day,(it has been known to happen!) and friendship is an excellent basis for marriage.
“Modesty” is a word that we often hear in Christian circles, but what about “beauty”? The world around us displays the joy that God took in creating it, and we should participate in that. Every flower of the field is clothed beautifully and differently, and the Lord of the universe took the time to do this. We know that He cares for us more than He cares for the lilies, so we should glorify Him by dressing in a lovely manner that illustrates who God made us to be as individuals.
This means that it is appropriate (and wonderful!) to dress differently from each other. Our society is full of people wearing the modern “uniform” of blue jeans and t-shirts. Personally, we find nothing wrong with jeans and t-shirts—they are comfortable and versatile—but think about how much more interesting it would be to see more people thinking creatively about clothing.
When we designed our home, we thought that beauty was an important element to incorporate. As we teach our children and your children, we talk philosophically about great ideas: love, truth, justice, mercy, and beauty. Surrounding them with a beautiful building as a tangible picture of a great idea nourishes the soul. Dressing in a beautiful fashion adds to the Great Conversation in a physical manner. We were created by a Lover of beauty who meant for us to find comfort in His creation and to participate in creation in our own small way.
As you dress for ETS events, think about how you can glorify God by being creative in your choice of clothing. How can you express to the world that you are loved by Him in how you care for your appearance? Clearly, the Bible talks about women focusing too much on outward adornment, which can be a stumbling block, but not caring for your appearance at all is not being a good steward. The Proverbs 31 woman clothed her family in scarlet, which was considered a fine type of fabric. So, work on finding that balance and enjoy the colors, textures and designs available.
General: “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised.” A girl can be dressed modestly but have wrong motives in her heart. We encourage all of you to dress so as to enhance your beauty without resorting to the sleight-of-hand commonly used by vulgar fashion. In Platonic terms, we desire you to inspire golden and not bronze love. In biblical terms, though you may ornament your beauty, it is ultimately only on loan to you and you are to use it in a manner that honors the humility and meekness commanded by its Creator.
*Tank tops should cover bra straps.
*Shorts should be halfway down the thigh.
*Pants should not be so tight you cannot put your palm against your leg and using your middle and ring finger pinch a sufficient amount of fabric between them to raise above your fingernail.
*Skirts should be no shorter than a hand's width above the knee.
*Your feminine form should not be clearly defined by what you wear. Do not wear tight or transparent shirts. A good guideline for tightness is whether you can hide a ping-pong ball under your shirt.
*Bellies are for digesting food, not displaying in public. Please wear shirts that have at least two inches of clearance over shorts or jeans. If you plan to do a lot of vigorous activity, i.e. playing volleyball etc.. Please make sure that your shirt is up to its task under such conditions. You should not spend most of your time pulling your shirt down to cover exposed skin. If you cannot comfortably tuck the shirt in without it popping out if you barely move, then it's probably not appropriate.
For formal gowns:
In general, think about the fact that you will be moving quite a bit as you dance and you need a gown that is up to the task. We want you to be beautiful, but also comfortable enough to swing and waltz and Virginia Reel with the best of them. Most modern formalwear seems to be designed with the idea that you will be standing perfectly still in the corner most of the night rather than actually dancing. Our boys are required to make sure that you are well-danced, so wear something lovely that can keep up with you.
*No strapless gowns—they can make for uncomfortable situations on the dance floor.
*Straps on ball gowns may be of the “spaghetti” variety, but please do not wear spaghetti strap tank tops to non-formal events. OK, so we are splitting some hairs here, but some hairs do need to be split on occasion.
*You should be able to wear proper undergarments with any gown you choose without the aforementioned garments making a public appearance.
*No two piece gowns, unless you can raise your arms well above your head without skin showing on your back or midriff.
*No backless gowns or gowns that show a good majority of your spine. You should wear a bra with your gown, and a backless gown makes this quite difficult, not to mention that you are showing a great deal of skin.
*Before purchasing a gown, you should move around as you will when dancing to ensure that the dress will stay in place and not be revealing. Remember that many boys may be (well, hopefully) taller than you—make sure to check and see what the dress looks like from above.
*Shorter dresses can make active dancing uncomfortable. See how long your dress is when you raise your arms over your head and consider that you will be doing this fairly often as you dance.
**Note: If you have already purchased your gown and find that it does not fit some of the above requirements, there are many things that can be done to alter the dress. We have seen many lovely ball gowns modified for modesty’s sake by thoughtful ETS belles.
For formal gowns:
Remember that you will (hopefully!) be doing lots of dancing in this gown. It would be wise to choose a gown that suits the task. It will be challenging to dance in a strapless gown, or a gown with a low neckline, or a gown that reveals most of your back (which will have many sweaty hands on it), or a skirt so short that spinning in it will result in possible embarrassment, so please keep these things in mind as you shop.
While you may have a shorter list of dress code requirements, you also have the responsibility of guarding your hearts and your relationships with the young ladies. It is important that you develop the habit of taking every thought captive—this habit will help you throughout life. Being surrounded by lovely ladies with good minds may be a stumbling block to you, but be man enough to choose to fight the good fight and maintain honorable friendships. Realize that young ladies are not visual objects but fellow human beings created by God with thoughts and ideas that need to be valued. It does not honor God to treat girls as objects, but it is also not God-honoring to ignore female students because you find them attractive. Learn how to interact with them respectfully and enjoyably.
*Your underwear should not show above or below your pants/shorts.
*When you enter a building, hats come off.
*A tie, slacks, button-down shirt and jacket are in order.
*Please, no SCUBA equipment or WMD protection gear. It is very difficult to find these in colors that complement the usual fare worn by the ETS ladies and such outfits are usually quite unflattering to your figure.
*Yellow cross-gartered stockings are absolutely unacceptable. (See Shakespeare's Twelfth Night to find out why)