If you’re a member of a religious order, getting dressed in the morning is fairly simple: You have the choice of one outfit—your habit. For the rest of us, choosing our clothing can be a bit more complicated.
While many men are not fashion inclined, like it or not, what we wear communicates something about us. We all know that. That’s why we wear shirts with our favorite brands on them or clothes that communicate our own personal sense of style, whatever that happens to be.
But as Catholic men, should we even care about our clothes? Does it really matter what we wear? Today, I’d like to share some fashion advice from a rather surprising source—the great saint and Doctor of the Church, St. Francis de Sales.
St. Francis de Sales was a gifted man. He not only boldly preached the Catholic faith during the difficult time of the Reformation, converting tens of thousands back to orthodoxy, but he was also a spiritual director to countless souls, many of them laymen living in the world. Can you imagine having a Doctor of the Church giving you guidance?
Fortunately for us, much of this saint’s wisdom was recorded in letters and summarized in his classic spiritual work, Introduction to the Devout Life. It is in the Introduction, Chapter 25 of Part III, that we find this saint’s advice on dressing well. Here it is, slightly edited to remove some of his advice for women:
St. Paul expresses his desire that all Christian women should wear “modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety;”—and for that matter he certainly meant that men should do so likewise.
Now, modesty in dress and its appearances depends upon the quality, the fashion and the cleanliness thereof. As to cleanliness, that should be uniform, and we should never, if possible, let any part of our dress be soiled