Dress shoes or Vans? Slacks or skinny jeans? Long sleeves or sleeveless? Dresses or skirts?
Does anyone know what’s actually allowed to wear in church?
I remember as a kid when I would watch my grandpa speak he would always, without fail, be on stage in a full suit. It didn’t matter if it was a Sunday morning or Wednesday night, the outfit was always the same: a suit. It didn’t end there though, because I also remember as I started growing up, I would watch my dad preach. He would always be in a cleanly pressed button-down shirt and a nice pair of dress pants. Ironically, as I buy my own clothes and get to choose what I wear on a Sunday now that I’m an adult that works at a church, I naturally default to jeans with holes and a shirt that displays my tattoos.
Marks and Spencer conducted a study of 2,000 men and women about the length of time it takes to choose an outfit, and found that it takes women 17 minutes each morning to settle on an outfit for the day. That adds up to 4 full days in a year on deciding what to wear. Men weren’t much better at an average of 13 minutes.
Not to play into gender-norms, but if you’re anything like my wife, it takes her much longer than just 17 minutes. Now including the fact that most people don’t know what’s considered allowed or not allowed on a Sunday, think of how much more time it would take to decide those outfits. Then the thought process after choosing the outfit of wondering if the right decision was made or if anyone is going to say anything judgmental or critical towards you.
Come As You Are
Every church seems to say “come as you are” but do they really mean that and if so is what you wear included in that?
I went to Wikihow and searched “What should I wear to church?” and the results were incredibly interesting. They heavily played into gender stereotyping and stated that for women they should try to lean modest and conservative when picking their outfit for church. Then with regards to men, they should choose their “best clothes” and make sure they are clean. Now, of course, you won’t find me complaining or disagreeing with wanting someone’s clothes to be clean, but it’s just interesting they felt the need to note it.
I’ve had conversations with people in generations before me and a common consensus was that they desired to dress like someone with a “6 figure income”. Which speaks heavily to what they value in that generation as a whole. In the back of my head, depending on who you’re talking to, that 6 figure income “outfit” can look extremely different. I can easily put together an outfit that costs quite a bit of money, if not more so than a suit, and it would quickly be looked over by someone in the older generation bracket.
Chad Veach and Rich Wilkerson Jr. (of Zoe and Vous Church respectively) are popular Pastors among the Millenial and Gen Z community that you will find wearing a hoodie that has a yellow smiley face on the front from Justin Biebers clothing brand “drew” paired with black skinny jeans with holes in the knees on a Sunday. These Pastors are highly regarded, influential people, that speak in front of thousands of people on a regular basis. So understand that the standard isn’t necessarily the amount of cashmere or suede that your clothes are made of, but the meaning behind it.
What To Wear To Church
Now, not every person can fit into a very limited category that I can provide in a short blog post, but I do believe that at least the majority will be able to follow what I’m about to say. For the men out there, maybe try a little harder to ramp up your style and truly care about how you look. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be a 3-piece suit but just something that says, “Hey, I thought about this before I put it on!” For the ladies, remember that you’re beautiful, so BE beautiful and don’t be afraid of that or shy away from expressing yourself through your clothing.
I think that when you go to church, it’s meant to be a time to receive and learn from your heavenly Father. Picture it like this: if God, as your Father, was going to pick you up for dinner and came over to greet you at your house instead of a church building, what would you wear? You’re obviously going to wear something that you feel like is you looking your best, which could involve anything. Treat it the same way at church. Be intentional and expressive, but also don’t let yourself feel judged by others around you. It’s a place to God, not walk a runway.
Written by Chase Freeman and Brittany Taylor