“Lord, what fools these mortals be.”


ruff collar 1

To paraphrase Puck’s attitude in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I believe human beings, myself included, are often foolish, especially when it comes to a sense of fashion.

Take, for example, today’s “cold shoulder” tops. Since today is the first official day of fall, I hope cooler temperatures will urge women to place these garments into the backs of their closets—way back.

Let’s be honest. A “cold shoulder” blouse is an unwise fashion choice for some. It does not flatter all body types. Some people can pull it off, and some people can’t.

I understand that different cultures and different time periods have possessed a unique fashion claim-to-fame. Perhaps every generation has been destined to promote a particular trend that will give future generations cause to laugh at the absurdity of old yearbook pictures.

Many of these trends, however, have been downright foolish.

For example, the Elizabethan ruff emerged as a fashion icon around the middle of the 16th century. This status symbol began as a modest frill of fabric tied around the neck, but by 1580 many ruffs had grown to extend more than nine inches in diameter and had to be wired to the shoulders or head.

During this same time period men wore brightly colored hose, often sporting geometric designs intended to make their “bird-like” legs appear larger and more muscular. “Vanity, thy name is man”?

Other extreme examples of foolish fashion trends include foot binding, which began in Imperial China around the 10th century; and head flattening, or cranial deformation, practiced by the Chinook Indians in the early 19th century. In addition, the wearing of whale-bone corsets in medieval times often led to miscarriages when some pregnant women refused to remove these vanity garments.

Absurd trends such as farthingales and peascod bellies have not been limited to pre-enlightenment times. Beehive and mullet hairdos, 1980’s shoulder pads, hobble skirts, and Armadillo shoes are just a few examples of how people follow a crowd.

Consider lemmings. These small rodents are rumored to drown themselves simply because they foolishly follow the lead of another lemming.



We should not be so foolish.

Several years ago I learned a valuable lesson after wearing a fashionable, but nonsensible, pair of shoes as I walked down my icy driveway. I fell and broke my arm and paid the price for my foolishness.

Why do we tend to follow the crowd? Why do women who don’t possess “bird-like” legs or thighs insist on wearing leggings with geometric designs?

Why do we not see our own foolishness? Maybe we aren’t looking for it.

I am certainly not a fashionista, but I do want to avoid foolishness—whenever I can.

When Polonius gives his son advice in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, he urges Laertes not to wear gaudy habits. “For the apparel oft proclaims the man,” he says. He further admonishes him and us, “to thine own self be true.”

Philippians 4:8:  “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Proverbs 28:26; Colossians 3:12

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