I hesitate to admit that I’ve put some thought into this question. This is not due to vanity — although, as you’ll see, I’m certainly not free of that unattractive quality — but due to my interest in mortifying the desires of the flesh and imitating Christ. Though my wife and friends might be surprised to hear it, I’ve actually given a lot of thought to what I ought to wear.
I first gave it serious reflection when, as a young teenager, I watched the movie Gandhi (starring Ben Kingsley in the title role) and became a big fan. Ultimately I spent many hours reading the memoirs and writings of Mohandas Gandhi and Mother Teresa, both of whom wore a plain Indian sari. By wearing plain and crude saris, they identified with the poor of their (adopted or native) homeland. It was a more political act for Gandhi than it was for Mother Teresa. By choosing the sari he was rejecting western clothing standards at a critical juncture in India’s struggle for independence from the British empire. For Mother Teresa, the sari was more spiritual. If she would share in the lives of the poorest of the poor, she should share in their circumstances and make herself at home in the trappings of their common lot. The sari is also practical, and by wearing the same thing daily one eludes the temptations of fashion and the distractions of daily sartorial decision-making.
The idea was deeply appealing to me. Even as late as my college years, I had visions (though, like most of my visions, I never mentioned these to anyone) of abandoning the consumeristic, materialistic concerns of fashion and donning something more like a sari or like a robe that Jesus might have worn in his time and place. I had, in fact, very little respect for people who dressed too fashionably. Why should they care so much about something so ephemeral, so superficial? Why should they try so hard to attract the eyes of others? Did it matter so much to be noticed?