For the past year, I often can’t be fussed to take off the T-shirt I’ve worn during the day when I go to bed, and then the next morning I’m likely to keep the same shirt on again. I may go through two or three days like this, changing out my shirt only after I’d gotten a good whiff of myself. Thank God Zoom never lets them smell you sweat.
My goal was to inspire, encourage and keep the faith that this is something we can overcome.
But at least one woman has taken an entirely different tack, showing much more discipline and pride than me. She’s actually put on her Sunday best once a week for the entire year, and documented her outfits for Facebook. These aren’t your average “I’m still hot” influencer looks either; these are proper go-to-meeting clothes with all the trimmings, including lace, brooches and fabulous hats, some of which would make the Queen drool.
La Verne Ford Wimberly of Tulsa, OK, hasn’t let the pandemic cramp her style. Even though she’s been attending the Metropolitan Baptist Chuch online instead of in person, she still puts together something special. For 53 Sundays, the retired educator has come up with perfectly coordinating outfits in jewel green or lavender or royal blue. Through the year, She noted each outfit on her calendar so she wouldn’t repeat, and as someone who has loved fashion since she was a teacher in the 1960s, she had enough in her closet to avoid any double duty.
“My goal was to inspire, encourage and keep the faith that this is something we can overcome and get through it,” she told the Washington Post. “But we had to keep the faith.”
Keeping Up Appearances..and Spirits
The tradition of dressing up for church began in Europe and in the U.S. in the mid-19th century as the middle class began to emerge, according to the website Truth According to the Scriptures. In 1846, a North Carolina Presbyterian pastor wrote that “a church-going people are a dress-loving people.” The custom has held strong up until recently.
My mother always made us dress up for Catholic services when I was growing up, but now at the Presbyterian church I attend in Texas, even the pastor wears jeans. With the pandemic, all notions of putting on items that have to be coordinated—much less buttoned—seem to have gone out the (stained-glass) window.
Wimberly is with-it enough to know if you’re all dressed up with no place to go, the best thing to do is post a selfie.
Wimberly seems to have never let go of the idea that making an effort shows respect—for God and for herself. “I believe in self-care,” she told the Tulsa World. “I wanted to make sure that I was not going to get into a state of mind that I felt lonely or sad or anything. So I thought, well, I’ll just dress up today because I was accustomed to doing that anyway every Sunday.”
But Wimberly is with-it enough to know if you’re all dressed up with no place to go, the best thing to do is post a selfie. She began putting up photos along with her thoughts on scripture or her faith.
“After a time or two, the responses from the church members and other people who had seen the posts were so favorable, I thought, well, I’ll just keep it up because it gave me something favorable to do and it gave them something to read—some message that maybe would serve as a motivating force for them or inspire them,” Wimberly said.
Her efforts have drawn wider praise than she could ever have imagined. Her story has been published internationally, which is a wonderful reminder that we shouldn’t underestimate the difference one person can make.