I love clothes. And purses. And shoes. Oh, and I really love bracelets. I could rival Jack Sparrow with the arm jewelry I don on a daily basis. Does Jack Sparrow even wear bracelets? With as many beads and twine he has covering him from head to toe, I figured bracelets were among them. But back to me. Call me materialistic, shallow, selfish, or any other colorful word you’d like, but I won’t deny my love of all things “appearance” related. I love a good bargain. Seventy dollars Gap pants for $12? Yes, please, and thank you. Get me on eBay and I will find deals that’ll blow your socks off. Clothes, shoes, scarves, and even hair products, I love all of them, especially if they are on sale. I know. I am ridiculous, but let me attempt to redeem myself here. While I love Anthropologie, The Gap, and American Eagle, I love Tom’s Shoes, Philanthropy, and Shoefly even more.

I have my own style. I don’t mean this in a conceited way whatsoever! It’s something I’ve developed over the years. In wise (and loosely quoted) words of Paula Abdul, “I am so me.” Even when my mother begs me to stop wearing skinny jeans, I continue to wear them because they are a small part of how I express myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going all pre-teen on you, saying I need to make a “statement” and “standout” for the sake of, well, making a statement and standing out. I have found my identity, and because I am confident in whom I am, I can allow my personality and confidence to manifest itself through my appearance.

Growing up, I was painfully shy. People would ask me questions and I would literally just smile in return. Once I got to the age where I started picking out my own clothes, it was basically t-shirts, hoodies, and jeans. I had this idea that because I lived in Huntsville, Alabama, I could not dress “better” because people would look at me funny, judge me, or tease me. Don’t you love the fear of man and how it stifles our personalities? Long story short, through a series of events, I found Christ. I grew up in a Christian home and was never unsure of God’s existence, but it took me until I was almost 16 to realize that I had the ability to begin a personal relationship with Him.

My personal relationship with Him has made all the difference. You’re probably wondering how in the world having a relationship with God could make someone a better dresser. It’s simple really. When you know who completes you, who you find your identity in, who is the source of your happiness, joy, and life, then you become you (as Paula Abdul would say). The more you know Him, the more you will know you. The more I grow in my relationship with Jesus, the more I become myself. I feel more and more comfortable in my own skin. People’s opinions don’t matter. Certain friendships become less relevant, as they were fillers for what I was really searching for.

What I find great about my passion for clothes (yes, I said passion) is that I can incorporate my passion for other things into my style. As I previously mentioned, I love Tom’s Shoes, Philanthropy, and Shoefly. I love them not because they have cute clothes or shoes, but because they help me support my other “love.” Helping causes around the world is something I feel very strongly about. I can also do this by buying from organizations like Love146, Abort73, and FashionABLE. Through customer purchases, all of these businesses give back to the communities and the world. If I’m going to buy a bracelet, why not buy one that helps a woman in Africa support her family? If I’m going to buy a pair of shoes, why not buy a pair from Tom’s, which gives a pair to a person in need with each purchase? Why not extend my passion for clothes to include my passion for fighting injustice and helping the less fortunate?

On the subject of dress almost no one, for one or another reason, feels truly indifferent:  if their own clothes do not concern them, somebody else’s do.  ~Elizabeth Bowen

When you cover your body in oversized ill-fitting clothes, you may be telling the world “I don’t like myself,” even if you don’t realize it. We need to embrace the body we have! When you cake makeup on your face because you can’t stand the thought of looking imperfect to anyone, this can show the same lack of self-worth. There is a happy medium that allows for self-worth without begging for acceptance from others. *Disclaimer: there is also confidence in going to the store in your sweatpants, a poncho, and crocs, all with green clay spotted on your face (true story — my sister was embarrassed). End disclaimer. When you find your identity in Christ, you then have the freedom to showcase who you really are; this inward change will manifest itself outwardly. And that isn’t shallow! It’s not about covering up or hiding. It’s quite the opposite. Watch the cable show What Not to Wear, they are preaching and they don’t even know it! Put a woman in a pair of jeans that actually fit and her whole demeanor changes. Don’t discount the power of a good pair of jeans.

This isn’t about putting on a face, being skinny or curvy, losing or gaining weight, what’s “in,” or trying to look aesthetically pleasing. Even if you put on all the right things, you may still have a root issue that you are covering up with another Coach bag, a pair of Jimmy Choo heels, or a quick stop at Sephora. Don’t let Satan convince you that you aren’t good enough. We are constantly growing and changing in our relationship with God; change doesn’t happen overnight. It all begins with a decision to know Him and to allow Him to show you who you are.