Guests and new members are often nervous about what they should wear when they come to church. This is especially true if they are not currently active in another church. If you are not already active in another church then you may not have a set of clothing that is specifically worn as “Sunday Best.” For many people these days Sunday is the day to dress down, not up.
Is there a dress standard? Yes, and no. Rather than link you to the manual we give to the youth about how to dress themselves, I will include a long passage here, but include the link. The link is to the publication called For the Strength of Youth. Here is the passage. I’ll talk about it after you have read through to the bottom.
Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him.
Prophets of God have continually counseled His children to dress modestly. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act.
Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval.
Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance. Young men and young women should be neat and clean and avoid being extreme or inappropriately casual in clothing, hairstyle, and behavior. They should choose appropriately modest apparel when participating in sports. The fashions of the world will change, but the Lord’s standards will not change.
Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. Young women, if you desire to have your ears pierced, wear only one pair of earrings.
Show respect for the Lord and yourself by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities. This is especially important when attending sacrament services. Young men should dress with dignity when officiating in the ordinance of the sacrament.
If you are not sure what is appropriate to wear, study the words of the prophets, pray for guidance, and ask your parents or leaders for help. Your dress and appearance now will help you prepare for the time when you will go to the temple to make sacred covenants with God. Ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?”
So, what did you learn? It doesn’t say what to wear on Sunday, but it does give some good clues as to what would make you feel uncomfortable if you did wear certain things. As a guest in our meetings we want you to feel comfortable. Hopefully you have something clean (washed) and neat to wear. If not, then wear your best, whatever it is.
Why nice clothes? As mentioned in the long quote up there, we consider our bodies temples that should be taken care of and not immodestly attired. When we go to church we go to worship. Showing respect to God, our Father is not something that we generally do by stripping down, but by dressing up. I’m not talking formal wear, just nice, clean modest, “worshiping” clothes.
Points to Remember Members of the Mormon or Latter-day Saint church are just like any other group of worshipers. We have those who are gracious, kind, and would literally give you the clothing off their back if the need arose, and we have those who are snobbish and exclusive. Remember that religion is not for the well, but for the sick among us. We all have things to learn.
Some people come to church and have holes in their jeans, and only a t-shirt to wear. That is what they have or that is what they are comfortable in. That is fine. They are welcome to attend. It has been my experience that over time, even those who initially are very comfortable wearing jeans and a t-shirt to start with will, on their own, eventually start to wear nicer clothes as they acquire them. We need to allow the Spirit of god to work with each person individually to help them come to a place where they feel they are appropriately dressed to worship their God. Even for me, as a life-long member of the Church, that definition has changed from time to time. I used to be very strict about what was appropriate and what was not, but now I am far more understanding and relaxed about my views.
Final Word on Dress and Grooming Come to church and enjoy yourself. Learn all that you can while in the meetings, and just try to feel the Spirit that accompanies the saints. You will feel great. Try not to get too hung up over the exact specifics about dress. There are many limitations on what we can afford to wear, feel comfortable wearing, or even have the ability to get to wear. I am sure the Lord is far more concerned that you show up than he is about whether you are wearing Prada or Gucci.
Note on Mormon Modesty What the rest of the world considers to be modest is generally not modest enough for the Mormon community. There is a good reason for that. We are taught from infancy that going into our temples to be endowed or receive gifts from God and be married in His Holy House is the goal of every worthy member of the Church. When we go to the temple we receive special under garments that we promise to wear for the rest of our lives as a symbol of our commitment to the covenants we make with the Lord in His House. These garments take the place of men’s briefs, t-shirts, and women’s underwear. They are modestly cut, and hence require that we wear more modest clothing on the outside to cover them up so they aren’t hanging out. That would be both very immodest and irreverent.
This makes shopping for things like wedding dresses, prom dresses, even work clothes often problematic, especially for the women. There are some companies that cater to the Mormon crowd, because we need to be able to wear modest clothing, and we have to get our clothing from somewhere. If you know of such a clothing manufacturer, please include a link to their website in the comments. I know my daughters would like to know where to get modest clothes for themselves and their children.