He [God] takes away
anxious care for clothes, food, and all luxuries as being
unnecessary. What are we to imagine, then, should be said about love
of embellishments, the dyeing of wool, and the variety of colors?
What should be said about the love of gems, exquisite working of
gold, and still more, of artificial hair and wreathed curls?
Furthermore, what should be said about staining the eyes, plucking
out hairs, painting with rouge and white lead, dyeing of the hair,
and the wicked arts that are employed in such deceptions? Clement
of Alexandria (circa 195 AD), 2.264.
Those women who wear
gold imitate the Egyptians. They occupy themselves with curling
their locks. They are busy anointing their cheeks, painting their
eyes, dyeing their hair, and practicing the other pernicious arts of
luxury. The truth is that they deck the covering of their flesh in
order to attract their infatuated lovers. Clement of Alexandria
(circa 195 AD), 2.272.
What does God think
of spurious beauty, rejecting utterly as He does all falsehood? Clement
of Alexandria (circa 195 AD), 2.274.
But there are
circumstances in which this strictness may be relaxed. For allowance
must sometimes be made in favor of those women who have not been
fortunate in falling in with chaste husbands, and so they adorn
themselves in order to please their husbands. But let desire for the
admiration of their husbands alone be proposed as their objective. Clement
of Alexandria (circa 195 AD), 2.285.
Nor are the women to
smear their faces with the ensnaring devices of wily cunning. But
let us show to them the decoration of sobriety. Clement of
Alexandria (circa 195 AD), 2.286.
No wife is ugly to
her own husband. She pleased him enough when she was selected [to be
his wife]. Let none of you think that, if she abstains from
beautifying herself, she will incur the hatred and aversion of her
husband. Every husband is the exacter of chastity. But a
believing husband does not require beauty. For we are not
captivated by the same graces that the Gentiles think are graces. Tertullian
(circa 198 AD), 4.20.
[against cosmetics] are not made to you, of course, to be developed
into an entire crudity and wildness of appearance. Nor am I seeking
to persuade you that squalor and slovenliness are good. Rather, I am
seeking to persuade you of the limit, norm, and just measure of
cultivation of the person. Tertullian (circa 198 AD), 4.20.
For those women sin
against God when they rub their skin with ointments, stain their
cheeks with rouge, and make their eyes prominent with antimony. To
them, I suppose, the artistic skill of God is displeasing! Tertullian
(circa 198 AD), 4.20.
Whatever is born is
the work of God. So whatever is plastered on, is the devil's
work.... How unworthy of the Christian name it is to wear a
fictitious face — you on whom simplicity in every form is
enjoined! You, to whom lying with the tongue is not lawful,
are lying in appearance. Tertullian (circa 198 AD), 4.21.
What purpose, again,
does all the labor spent in arranging the hair render to
salvation? Why is no rest allowed to your hair? First,
it must be bound, then loosed, then cultivated, then thinned out?
Some are anxious to force their hair into curls. Tertullian
(circa 198 AD), 4.21.
I will then see
whether you will rise [at the resurrection] with your ceruse and
rouge and saffron — and in all that parade of headgear. I will
then see whether it will be women thus decked out whom the angels
carry up to meet Christ in the air! If these things are now
good, and of God, they will then also present themselves to the
rising bodies. Tertullian (circa 198 AD), 4.22.
By no means are women
to be allowed to uncover and exhibit any part of their bodies, lest
both fall — the men by being incited to look, and the women by
attracting to themselves the eyes of the men. Clement of
Alexandria (circa. 195 AD), 2.246.
Neither are we to
provide for ourselves costly clothing. Clement of Alexandria
(circa 195 AD), 2.263.
I say, then, that man
requires clothes for nothing else than the covering of the body, for
defense against excess of cold and intensity, lest the inclemency of
the air injure us. And if this is the purpose of clothing, see that
one kind is not assigned to men and another to women. For it is
common to both to be covered, as it is to eat and drink. . . . And
if some accommodation is to be made, women may be permitted to use
softer clothes, provided they avoid fabrics that are foolishly thin
and of curious texture in weaving. They should also bid farewell to
embroidery of gold and Indian silks. Clement of Alexandria (circa
195 AD), 2.265.
that cannot conceal the shape of the body is no more a covering. For
such clothing, falling close to the body, takes its form more
easily. Clinging to the body as though it were the flesh, it
receives its shape and outlines the woman's figure. As a result, the
whole make of the body is visible to spectators, although they
cannot see the body itself. Clement of Alexandria (circa
195 AD), 2.265.
Neither is it seemly
for the clothes to be above the knee. Clement of Alexandria
(circa 195 AD), 2.266.
Buying, as they do, a
single dress at the price of ten thousand talents, they prove
themselves to be of less use and less value than cloth. Clement
of Alexandria (circa 195 AD), 2.267.
Those who glory in
their looks — not in their hearts — dress to please others. Clement
of Alexandria (circa 195 AD), 2.273.
Let a woman wear a
plain and becoming dress, but softer than what is suitable for a
man. "Yet, it should not be immodest or entirely steeped in
luxury. And let the garments be suited to age, person, figure,
nature, and pursuits. Clement of Alexandria (circa 195 AD),
Woman and man are to
go to church decently attired, with natural step, embracing silence.
. .. Let the woman observe this, further: Let her be entirely
covered, unless she happens to be at home. For that style of dress
is serious and protects from being gazed at. And she will never
fall, who puts before her eyes modesty and her veil. Nor will she
invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is
the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled. Clement
of Alexandria (circa 195 AD), 2.290.
What reason is there
in the Law's prohibition against a man wearing woman's clothing? Is
it not that it would have us to be masculine and not to be
effeminate in either person or actions? Clement of Alexandria
(circa 195 AD), 2.365.
Concerning modesty of
dress and embellishments, indeed, the commandment of Peter is
likewise plain, restraining as he does with the same mouth . . . the
glory of garments, the pride of gold, and the showy elaboration of
(circa 198 AD), 3.687.
First, then, blessed
sisters, take heed that you do not admit to your use flashy and
sluttish garbs and clothing. Tertullian
(circa 198 AD), 4.22.
The dress of a modest
woman should be modest. Novatian (circa 235 AD), 5.591, formerly
attributed to Cyprian.
But self-control and
modesty do not consist only in purity of the flesh, but also in
seemliness and in modesty of dress and adornment. Cyprian (circa
250 AD), 5.431; extended discussion: 5.430-5.436.
Let the head of men
be clipped, unless they have curly hair. But let the chin have the
hair. ... Cutting is to be used, not for the sake of elegance, but
on account of the necessity of the case ... so that it may not grow
so long as to come down and interfere with the eyes. Clement of
Alexandria (circa 195 AD), 2.286.
It is enough for
women to protect their locks, and bind up their hair simply along
the neck with a plain hair-pin, nourishing chaste locks with simple
care to true beauty. Clement of Alexandria (circa 195 AD), 2.286.
This [male] sex of
ours acknowledges to itself deceptive trickeries of form peculiarly
its own. I am referring to things such as . . . arranging the hair,
and disguising its hoariness by dyes. Tertullian (circa 198 AD),
A woman should not be
adorned in a worldly fashion. . .. "Let your women be such as
adorn themselves with shamefacedness and modesty, not with twisted
hair, nor with gold, nor with pearls, or precious garments." Cyprian
(circa 250 AD), 5.544.
Christian Servants of Caesar:] All of you should also be
elegant and tidy in person and dress. At the same time, your dress
should not in any way attract attention because of extravagance or
artificiality. Otherwise, Christian modesty may be scandalized. Theonas
of Alexandria (circa 300 AD ), 6.160.
Though in the form of
men, they . . . curl their hair with curling pins, make the skin of
the body smooth, and they walk with bare knees. In every other type
of wantonness, they lay aside the strength of their masculinity and
grow effeminate in women's habits and luxury. Arnobius (circa 305
[To the men...] Do
not adorn yourself in such a manner that you might entice another
woman to you.... Do not further enhance the beauty that God and
nature has bestowed on you. Rather, modestly diminish
it before others. Therefore, do not permit the hair of your head to
grow too long. Rather, cut it short.... Do not wear overly fine
garments, either.... Nor should you put a gold ring on your fingers.
Apostolic Constitutions (compiled circa 390 AD), 7.392.
If you desire to be
one of the faithful and to please the Lord, O wife, do not add
adornments to your beauty, in order to please other men. Do not wear
fine embroidery, garments, or shoes, to entice those who are allured
by such things. It may be that you do not do these wicked things for
the purpose of sinning yourself — but only for the sake of
adornment and beauty. Nevertheless, you still will not escape future
punishment for having compelled another to look so close at you as
to lust after you. Apostolic Constitutions (compiled circa. 390,
It was the fact that
Tamar had painted out and adorned herself that led Judah to regard
her as harlot. Tertullian (circa 198 AD), 4.24.
your whiteness from simplicity, your ruddy
hue from modesty. Paint your eyes with bashfulness, and your mouth
with silence. Implant in your ears the words of God and place around
your necks the yoke of Christ. Tertullian
(circa 198 AD), 4.25.
What will I say of
the fact that these [young women] of ours confess their change of
age even by their
garb! As soon as they have understood themselves to be women,...
they lay aside their former selves. They change their hair and
fasten their hair with more wanton pins,
professing obvious womanhood with their
hair parted from the front. The next thing, they consult the mirror
to aid their beauty. They thin down their over-exacting face with
washing. Perhaps they
even dress it up with cosmetics. They toss their mantle about them
with an air, fit tightly
into the multiform shoe, and carry down more ample appliances to the
baths. Tertullian (circa 207 AD), 4.35.
was a very delicate woman." This does not mean that she had
flashy adornments on herself or eyes painted with various colors —
as Jezebel had. Rather, it means she had the adornment of faith,
chastity, and sanctity. Hippolytus (circa 205 AD), 5.193.
She is not a modest
woman who strives to stir up the fancy of another — even though
her physical chastity is preserved. Away with those who do not
really adorn their beauty, but prostitute it instead. For
anxiety about beauty is not only the wisdom of an evil mind, but
belongs to deformity. . . . Why is the color of hair changed?
Why are the edges of the eyes darkened? Why is the face molded
by art into a different form? Novatian (circa 235 AD),
5.591, formerly attributed to Cyprian.
You wish, O Christian
woman, that the matrons should be as the ladies of the world. You
surround yourself with gold, or with the modest silken garment. . .
. You affect vanity with all the pomp of the devil. You are adorned
at the mirror, with your curled hair turned back from your
brow. Moreover, with evil purpose, you put on false
cosmetics. You put antimony on your pure eyes, with painted
beauty. Or you dye your hair, so that it will always be black. . . .
But these things are not necessary for modest women. Commodianus
(circa 240 AD), 4.214.
To a wife approved by
her husband, let it suffice that she is so, not by her dress, but by
her good disposition. . . . O good matrons, flee from the adornment
of vanity. Such attire is fitting for women who haunt the brothels.
Overcome the evil one, O modest women of Christ! Commodianus
(circa. 240 AD), 4.214.
It is not right
before God that a faithful Christian woman should be
adorned... God's heralds. . .condemn as being
unrighteous those women who adorn themselves in such a manner. You
stain your hair. You paint the opening of your eyes with black. You
lift up your hair, one by one, on your painted brow. You anoint your
cheeks with some sort of reddish color laid on. ... You are
rejecting the law when you wish to please the world. Commodianus
(circa 240 AD), 4.215.
Both sexes alike
should be admonished that the work of God and His fashioning and
formation should in no manner be adulterated — either with the
application of yellow color, black dust, rouge, or with any kind of
cosmetic.... God says, "Let us make man in our image and
likeness." Does anyone dare to alter and change what God has
made? Cyprian (circa 250 AD), 5.434.
In their manners,
there was no discipline.... In women, their complexion was dyed.
Their eyes were falsified from what God's hand had made them. Their
hair was stained with a falsehood. Cyprian (circa 250 AD), 5.438.
Do not paint your
face, which is God's workmanship. For there is no part of you that
lacks beauty. For God has made all things very good. But the wanton
extra adorning of what is already good is an affront to the
Creator's work. Apostolic Constitutions (compiled circa 390
AD), 7.395; extended discussion 5.432-5.436