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Why are we so badly dressed at church?

Our society pays great attention to appearances. That’s why your Sunday best can be a subtle form of evangelisation, says Ryan Service

By on Thursday, 9 August 2012

Catholics in Spain go to elaborate lengths to look their best on Sundays. in the US and Britain, however, informality is often the order of the day (Photo: CNS)

Catholics in Spain go to elaborate lengths to look their best on Sundays. in the US and Britain, however, informality is often the order of the day (Photo: CNS)

From Trinny and Susannah to Ten Years Younger what we wear has become a subject that defines the “subject”: the person. Just as you are what you eat, apparently you are also what you wear. Fashions come and go and it is a strange fact that in our culture cast-off clothes to some are regarded as highly collectable to others.

Living in Valladolid, just north of Madrid, this last year has been an eye-opener for me with regard to fashion. One aspect that struck me most particularly was the way that locals dress more formally on a Sunday. There was a kind of Sunday revolution. That is, a change of habit and a change of dress, that made Sunday distinctive. Sunday simply had a different feel to the other days of the week and this was largely marked by the locals’ choice of dress. Sundays stood out there and the wearing of more formal clothing did not, like in other areas of society, relate to status or jobs, but rather carried a visible sense of dignity and respect for their religious practice. Sunday looked different and in dressing more formally these people were telling society that Sunday mattered. This was an attractive and appealing aspect of their culture.

In our own nations the concept of “Sunday best” is a part of cultural memory. Few practise it today. Seeing those streets on a Sunday afternoon in Valladolid seemed rather nostalgic. It was there that I recognised a particular loss in our culture. For a moment it was as though I was looking at a Sunday with the eyes of my grandparents. Today, if you are wearing smarter clothes on a Sunday people innocently assume that you are spending yet another day in the office rather than preparing to greet Our Lord in the Eucharist. So much for those well-polished Sunday shoes that fail to make an impact and could now be worn any day of the week. The days of the week are, therefore, largely indistinguishable and I think it is our mission to “win back Sundays”. While I am not advocating coattails at Sunday Mass there is a lot to be said for making Sunday our best, not “because you’re worth it” – in the famous words of the L’Oréal advertisement – but because Sunday is worth it.

I am a recent convert to the idea of Sunday dress. I vaguely remember making more effort in terms of dress and appearance on a Sunday while growing up in having to choose a newly ironed shirt and tie, especially at Christmas and Easter. There was never any pressure, but there was a sure sense that Sunday required physical as well as spiritual preparation. From ironing to polishing there was work to be done and we prepared as a family.

An incident at a local theatre company, however, marked a turning point in my understanding of Sunday wear. During a weekend rehearsal for a show I was involved in, some of the production team arrived in remarkably smart and dazzling suits. Walking through make-shift scenery and skirting around props lying on the stage floor their shimmering black-and-grey suits stood out of place in this theatrical setting. Someone asked where the couple had been dressed so smartly and I was shocked at their answer.

“We’ve been to Sunday service,” they said, “where we make an effort in what we wear unlike those Catholics who wear whatever they like.”

I was stunned. Although I had not experienced that kind of social prejudice before, there was something in their message that has remained with me.

There has never been a dress code or refusal of entry in my experience of the Church. Indeed, the idea of Sunday formal wear simply does not apply to many nations where the national dress is different, and this difference is carried into their attendance at church. In our culture, though, Sunday wear has been an integral part of our nation’s appearance and it is our link across the denominational divide. Sundays were an effort, and this extended to dress. In 2012, a year in which our country has been under the eye of many around the world, in a hyper-visual age, we should not underestimate the witness our approach to Sunday wear can provide.

We will perhaps never reclaim Sunday as it once was and wearing a suit will not necessarily draw more people to Christ. But our effort, our approach, our work and our dignity in preparing for Sunday will.

Ryan Service is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Birmingham

  • Hilary Jane Margaret White

    I remember being horrified at the state of dress of people going to Mass when I first arrived in England. But what was worse was the cacophany of chattering that went on, as if it were nothing more than a party or a social in the village institute. And it carried on right up to the moment the priest entered. He actually encouraged it! 

  • Ghengis

    People dress badly on occasions that they consider casual or not very serious, which is precisely what you get when you have priests that  celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass in a causal and not very serious manner. If you want people to take the Mass seriously it must begin with the priests celebrating it seriously.

  • teigitur

    I too am a recent convert to a better dressed Sunday. Everything is dummed down now including the Mass. Time for a change!!

  • Michael Moran

    I noticed that at St Pauls Cathedral in a service that the holy ones wore black dresses like nuns and they were Protestants in life but how they waited on Jesus and Jesus waited on the woman priest conducting the service before giving them the signal to deliver their mission which was to deliver the verdict of the heavenly court. So dressing gives a certain identity to a person and why not look your smartest for Christ because he doesn’t miss a thing does he.Hope this note is not to supernatural for you,but I am now a knower not just a believer in Heaven,seeing is believing although the world and his dog thinks I’m mad,could be right though,but death will prove me right or wrong.Peace in Jesus.

  • Mary

    “…wearing a suit will not necessarily draw more people to Christ.” Maybe not, but it may help those in the pews around you contemplate the reason for your attire, leading them to grasp the magnitude of the Mass, and, thus draw them closer to Christ. Many of the people in the pews are in need of evangelization, and dressing appropriately for Mass (in addition to being appropriate and reverent) is one silent way to offer them a little of what they need.

  • Rachel

    Apparently “Sunday Best” at my parish includes strapless, mini, spaghetti straps, one shoulder etc. for girls and women of all ages (even Eucharistic Ministers). Not to mention, the super low jeans to better show off the **amp **amp tattoo.The men do much better except for the occasional cargo shorts. How do you change the youth when their parents don’t see a problem or are guilty of the same? Please pray for me as I feel called to start a ministry to address this issue.

  • Adam

    This needs to apply to priests too when they celebrate the Holy Mass. Far too many wear what can only be described as horse blankets.

  • john654

    Not being Fathered from the pulpit!

  • Barbara Benoit

    I believe you should show respect for Our Lord Jesus when you attend Mass, people will dress up to go out to dinner, a club, a birthday party, a wedding.  Why not go to Mass dressed properly to show respect to Our Lord and Savior.  Our priests need to talk about this at mass.

  • Dmikem

    It a gross loss of reverence for the mass and the Eucharist…people dress better to go out to dinner than to mass…very sad.

  • Robert A Rowland

    Thanks primarily to the wave of chaos and dissidence that followed in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, only an estimated 25 percent of Catholics still believe in the Real Presence. The way people now dress at Mass tends to confirm indifference at best and contempt at worst of the presence of God.  This is the most tragic result of VCII caused I believe by corrupting the Eucharist and sacred vessels that were handled only by consecrated hands before the council. I don’t think that was the renewal that Pope John XXIII really had in mind.

  • Scott

    I think a good starting point would simply to impose the same dress code standards that Saint Peter’s Basilica requires for entrants into the Basilica – namely, covered shoulders, skirts at least to the knee, and no shorts (for men or women).  This will have to come from the hierarchy but we laity can do our part through example.  From there, we can then start to lean forward with “Sunday Best”.

  • Serena

     That makes me sick. How come people who want to chat with you where it’s not appropriate don’t take a hint when you give them a pained smile and nod and return to praying? Do they just have no idea where they are, or do they have no experience with not chatting? Or is Mass the only time they see anyone?

  • Martha R.

    I admit I was one of those “nice top & jeans” kind of girl. But lately I wear skirts, dresses, and even stockings. And my goddaughter is learning what “Sunday best” means. ^_^

    I don’t know exactly when I made the switch. After attending Catholic high school I wanted to escape the uniform and formality. I guess I just grew up….

    We can only expect change by leading with example.

  • Sylvia Hebel

    I grew up in the age of white gloves, skirts and good shoes, good hose. I am appalled at how some others do not dress for Mass. I am guilty, too, of slacks, casual shoes, casual shirt. I have started to dress in long dresses because I realize that knobby knees,  and wavy upper arms are not attractive to anyone and why should I inflict these things on Our Lord, much less the congregation. In a poem by Robert Burns: “To a Louse.” the last line goes something like this. “Would the Lord the gift to gi’ us, to see ourselves as others see us.” Nuff said!

  • Jh1908

    What a defeatist attitude! Of course we can reclaim Sunday best dress. All it takes is some leadership from the pulpit. I am offended by the dress I see at Mass. I wear a suit and tie every Sunday to Mass and enjoy it! 

  • Proteios1

    Th casual clothes drives me up a wall. Last week, I say an alter boyin a t shirt with some slogan on it. Women who seem to have gotten off at the wrong stop on the way to the club and guys who didn’t change when they got home from the bar the prior night. It’s eider to ignore when they are in other pews, but when reading, Eucharistic ministers or alter boys, it’s just not right. Adults…don’t know what to say here, but kids. That is the parents responsibility…must be the same adults wearing the jeans and Packer shirt (not that the GB isn’t awesome, but …put the jersey on AFTER mass.

  • Cestius

    Not sure about the sentiments of the article. Yes I think we are expected to be tidy and groomed, but surely dress must be modest in all respects in order to focus attention on the altar and the mass.  So I think Sunday best can in its own way become immodest, especially if it becomes a dress or suit wearing competition as apparently happens in some types of Protestant church. I would hate to see everybody puffed up like peacocks which is where I think it could go if people start on about being smart for mass. And St. Paul had plenty of warnings about being puffed up. The emphasis must be on modesty in all respects. So I try to dress sensibly, but discreetly for mass, plain shirt and trousers, sensible shoes, nothing flashy or expensive.

  • fourthofeleven

    I agree, but keep in mind we are invited to the Lord’s banquet!  Modesty, humility, simplicity, not a fashion show or competition.  Balance in all things, in true Catholic manner, but to the heavenly banquet nonetheless.

  • fourthofeleven

    That’s the case with most churches in Rome, and makes good sense.  Come on, folks!  Let’s lead the way!

  • Ania

    Funny because I just had an argument with a few friends of mine about what is appropriate for church. I was on the side of looking presentable to church not like you have rolled out of bed, yet unfortunatley a few friends of mine think you should be “comfortable” since your going to praise God not to a fashion show. Which is also agreable, though I am not for this, wear my pjs, ripped shirts, tank tops, short skirts, cargo shorts type of parishoner… My grandfather to this day rain or shine wears a suit, every sunday! What have we come to?! WE as Parents should set the right example for our children and NOT let them go to church dressed like they are going out to a club.

  • JTLiuzza

     There’s so much else about the Novus Ordo Missae that is protestant, why not add attire competition?

    Seriously though, you must be a woman.  I don’t think the vast majority of men even think in terms of dressing competitively.  I know I don’t.

    But if the only two options are t shirts, flip flops, immodest dress, etc. on the one hand, and a suit competition on the other hand.  I say, let the games begin!

  • JTLiuzza

    “I wear a suit and tie every Sunday to Mass and enjoy it!”

    Me too.  I also picked up a nice fedora and wear that as well (outside only, of course).

  • Carriekwi

    I agree but caution us all to be careful not to judge. When I was young, my parents divorced and my dad left the church. One Sunday he picked us up for a spontaneous visit. We did not have appropriate church clothes with us, shorts and tank tops. My dad used this as an excuse to skip Mass. I insisted to the point of tears, having learning from my mom that Mass attendance is a must. He finally took us, and I sat down, embarrassed because I knew I was not wearing what I ought to but happy to just be there.  That Sunday, the priest chose to deliver a homily about the inappropriateness of wearing summer wear to Mass. I was devastated.

    As an adult, I know that he was doing his job. I also dress each of my seven children appropriately. However, I will always remember that day, a mortified teen squirming in the pew, feeling everyone’s eyes on me.

    Let’s teach modesty and appropriate clothing, but be careful not to judge those who, for whatever reason, fail to make the mark.

  • Guest

    What are you talking (ranting) about–women priests, service, “the world and his dog”?

  • Jon

    Just been checking the dress code at the Last Supper.  Mmm, don’t like the look of those sandals…

  • Rob.IHS

    I have to say, respectfully:  It’s more than the Lord’s banquet.  It is also the sacrifice on Calvary we are witnessing. Fashion show and competition aside, remember we aren’t dressing nor are we participating in this Holy Sacrifice for anyone’s eyes.  Moreover, we are (or, we should be) dressing our best to show how much we love, adore and honor our God; who is truly present in this Great Sacrament.  Not for others’ benefit.  If one “dresses up” for a secular or social occasion more so than for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that might, indeed, be saying something (albeit without words) how one views or esteems the Mass, maybe.  (…and yes, I know that “Jesus doesn’t care…”  but, we should!).. 

  • RJK

    Bravo!  Couldn’t agree more.  Our family gets so many questions and positive comments while out and about after Mass in our Sunday best.  Kinda sad though.  Would anyone consider wearing anything but their best if they were going to be meeting the President, the Pope, a famous celeb…?  

  • teigitur

    Of course there are exceptions. The London Oratory srings to mind. Exceptional in so many ways.

  • Churchill4President

    In my church people seem to wear whatever they want. Shorts, muscle shirts, sandals. I even saw a teenager wearing an Obama t-shirt back in 2008. I was shocked and disgusted. I saw an usher in the “life teen” mass wearing skulls on her belt. 

    We also have children running up and down the isles and all over the pews. It’s like a day care center while the mass is going on at times. It was never like that when I was a child. Where is the sense of solemnity and respect for our Lord? I’ve told the priest about it but nothing seems to change. 

    Catholic churches are becoming country clubs.

    Perhaps it’s time for a letter to the Bishop.

  • Trish Crew57

    I go to Mass at a monastery. Only one or two people wear dresses and I am one of them. The rest of the women dress in pants, sometimes dressy looking, good jeans. There is one man from France who sometimes in shorts and young girls have bra straps showing under their thin summer dresses and they wear flip flops on their feet The only time I see a tie or a coat and tie on a man is when he is to lector.
    Even some of the nuns don’t look like they pressed their habits. One nun still wears a modified veil and genuflects the first time she passes the Blessed Sacrament. Most simply nod as they walk by.
    I compare this to the Pentecostal and Holiness church women I know. they are in very formal dress with elaborate hats and their shoes match their dresses. I can always pick them out.
    I heard a sermon once, long ago, about dress for Mass. This Monsignor did not want men in shorts. I forget the rest of what he said, but it boiled down to remembering we are coming in to the Presence of Christ the King and we should dress for the occasion.

  • lroy77

     If you wear flannel pajamas (not the ones you slept in), at least you’re covered up! In the winter, just wear it under your street clothes and no one will be the wiser. I have a couple of floor length long sleeved velvet bath robe. And though it’s usually covered with cat hair, it is most appropriate for mass especially I don’t take my poncho off. It simply looks like I have a floor length skirt.

  • Robert A Rowland

     What else did you expect from a social community Mass?

  • Robert A Rowland

    Too bad they didn’t bring the modern world into the Church, instead of bringing the Church into the modern world.  That would have made a world of difference.

  • NewFranciman

    In the part o France where I live the concept of Sunday best disappeared a long time ago.  I did bring shirts, ties and a few jackets with me but they are gathering moth unused.  In the North of France, particularly towns in Normandy or Picardie you may occasionally find the old Sunday best but ingeneral that way or ordering society has gone.  In towns thgat are half protestant and half catholics the protestants tend to wear a bit more bling and the children are by our standards a bit overdressed.  I would be reluctant to draw any conclusions about spirituality.  Although both the catholic and protestant churches are more than half empty I doubt if it has anything to do with dress or dress sense.

  • Iréne

    Good message! One could sum up the long article and the sad state of dressing in the Church in these  words: First: why do westerners, in general, fight fgor the “right” to “dress” in worn out jeans, sweeping the floors, washed out t-shirts, etc etc, EVEN during week days?! Why this morbid desire to look as unattractive as possible- whether in or outside the Church? In India, even the very poor women have made a great effort to dress beautifully, in their lovely saris, as well as the men, ALWAYS wearing decent trousers-NEVER jeans, in the Church! I have noticed that even a whispering of jeans, or shorts, being unattractive, in general, especially in the Church, is always met with some hostility or dead silence. Jeans have become the “Mao-Tse- Tung” uniform, especially in the Western world, lifted up to something is does not deserve to be.  A holy cow, never to be critisised. I have noticed that all too often, priests are wearing jeans under their vestments, as well as gym shoes. Jeans has become THE norm, everywhere in our society, so much that anyone who refuses to bow down to this unquestioned status of jeans is considered almost a bit weird, or not “belonging”. Originally, jeans were worn by cowboys and being used  for hard, dirty work and that´s where they belong. Usually and interestingly enough, whenever the issue of dressing comes up in the Church, most people, especially women, unhesitatingly and with unconcealed joy, attack so called “inmodest” dress. I have noticed that these women themselves do not exactly fit into the category of looking very attractive and, sadly, seem to have a craving for attacking women who are both more attractive AND more well dressed. While God loves eeverybody, whether attractive or not, many women obviously have a huge problem with accepting and loving themselves. Sorry, but sometimes one has to call things by their true name. ENVY (ever heard of it??) does destroy realations and causes divisions and suffering, especially for the one who is targeted.
    Far too many women (unsuccessfully) conceal their envy through critisising so called “inmodest dress”; interestingly enough the word “inmodesty” NEVER seems to refer to not even the sloppiest mode of “dressing”, among men, for example. Their sharp eyes always focus on other women, usually attractive women, who are seen as a general threat , whose attractiv looks, given by God himself as a gift, ought to be concealed altogether, preferably under so called “modest” dress, which usually is synonomous to extremely unattractice, grey and dull dressing, rather, something that is there not to “dress”, only to cover the body. Women, on the other hand, as well as men, looking sloppy in general, and, sometimes not even sharing the very nicest odours around them, are usually safe from any kind of attacks or criticism.
    Take a good look at the sisters of Mother Theresa; they are very simly dressed, BUT,their dress is also very, very beautiful, with the lovely blue colour, together with the white. Another example is the benedictine habit, which i just love! A sari is simple-AND beautiful. Moreover; many, many jeans are far more expensive than an ordinary, nice dress or skirt.
    Finally, I would like to recommend a trip to Lebanon, where you will see many women dressed in beautiful dresses, their hair wonderfully done, the men looking very dignified in white shirts and dark trousers, t Mass. Are beautiful women, beautifully dressed, trying to take their faith seriously- yes,  actuallyknow some!- less worthy of our love and understanding, than women (and men) dressing sloppily?
    Personally, while always preferring dressing nicely, I NEVER attack, or criticize those who don´t. I can discuss it with a few close friends, but never confront badly dressed people with my views. 
    Finally, only the attitude of priests and bishops can result in a change for the better, getting rid of flip flops, shorts, that is, beach wear, in the church. And jeans!(??)! I totally agree that a certain amount of decency sholuld be respected, absolutely; however, the above mentioned, overall unattractiveness and sloppiness constitutes a far more serious problem than one or two ladies/young girls in the Church presenting a neck line which, at a closer look, might be a bit over the top, a mini skirt, or high heels, make up, jewelry etc. During the last 40 years, or so, a new form of FARISEISM has been allowed to form, quickly judging and associating well dressed people with a number of less flattering attributes, somehow taking for granted that this category of people have to be less good, less holy, more selfish, etc etc etc. In that case, a quick look at the “dressing” of any ordinary congregation at Mass, anywhere in Britain, for ex, could convince us that it must be filled with 99 % of extremely holy, good and righteous citizens.

    All my love

  • MaryKay

    Modesty, people, we need modesty!  Galatians 5:19-21
    5:19. Now the works of the flesh are manifest: which are fornication,
    uncleanness,++++ immodesty,++++++ luxury,
    5:20. Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths,
    quarrels, dissensions, sects,
    5:21. Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the
    which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such
    things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.

  • James H

    I agree that there should be a dress code; but  fallen human nature being what it is, there are other problems associated with dressing up, especially for women. For the ladies, it can become a fashion show, or still worse, an opportunity for sniping, cattiness and one-upping-your-neighbour.

    I second the notion that there should be a dress code about hemlines, sleeves and necklines, and jeans/work-soiled clothing for men. Anything more is inviting other problems. Women are perfectly modest in long trousers, for example, and ties are possibly the most useless garment ever invented, and we’re well rid of them (they’re no longer essential in many workplaces, for example). I don’t think wearing a noose around your neck is appropriate for a church.

    I’m going to be encouraging my girls to dress modestly. Given they’re 9 and 7, I hope I can keep them at it.

  • Bomaria

    …..remember ages ago….a Sunday dress ?…I think this problems with modesty and Reverance everywhere…
    Imagine, You are invited for Banquet/ diner with Queen of England ?..woman will shop for dress ,shoes,purse, why is less when we are going to Church for Holy Mass…it is House of GOD, His Temple, His banquet…doesn’t He deserve the Best ?…
    ….one time man told me that God does not look what is outside ,but in his heart..true,true….but He knows us better…..,that when we are going for “special” event -like wedding,party, etc,…..we dress ,we respect..
    …and when comes to church or God…we “know” what He think !??

  • Cor_ad_cor_loquitur

    Living in Spain, the climate in summer rather precludes suit and tie.  But my wife insists on long trousers despite my protestations.  Now I kind of agree with her particularly seeing how older Spaniards make such an effort.  However, I hope we don´t go down the road of a Cathedral in Africa where I was working for a few years.  A large lady was stationed at the head of the communion line checking the appearance of female communicants.  Bare shoulds, short skirt – no communion.  My wife always carried a spare cardigan to lend to the unfortunates.

  • Charlie Angel

    I can see both sides of this argument but always return to the memory of a young homeless man sitting outside a London church one Easter. A friend of mine had built up a good connection with the man and was helping him with various issues and problems in his life. And although at the beginning, he had only chosen that spot because he knew he could rely upon the kindness of Mass going strangers, with time he was drawn to a relationship – through my friend – with God.

    He would often pop into the church for prayer and as he would say, ‘a chat with the Big Man’. And with Easter approaching, she encouraged him to attend the Great Feast and see the ultimate in Catholic Christian experience.

    So when she asked him the following week why he hadn’t come after all, he replied “I got as far as the door but then saw all the beautifully dressed people going in and knew that I didn’t belong there. I wasn’t one of them so I went and sat outside  where I belong instead…”

    My friend insisted that from that day on she would never judge again the way anybody at Mass dressed.

  • Stephen

    An Anglican Priest was overheard telling a Catholic Priest that, “Protestants know Catholics don’t actually believe Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist.  If so, everyone would see Catholics crawling and kneeling before Almighty God in the Blessed Sacrament.”  1.) All Catholics must return to a firm belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  Early Christians actually took the Real Presence for granted.  2.) Catholics must reflect that belief in their behavior starting first with our Catholic priests (i.e. Deep interior communion with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  Love the Real Presence, approach with deep respect and awe. No more immodest dress, laughing, joking, gossiping, looking at/focused on everything and everyone but Jesus. No longer preventing others from deep, quiet interior communion with their Creator with incessant chatter and irreverent behavior.  3. When Catholics do this Protestants will no longer waste time looking down on Catholic dress and appearance and will envy our deep intimacy with the Real Presence of God in the Eucharist and will zealously pursue it themselves.

  • Believer

     Modesty is what it’s about, regardless of style.

  • zoe

    I would not think Sunday best is a must, however I do have a problem with old women who go to church as if they are going to walk their dog, or a woman who is supposed to be reading wearing tight pants that show a camel tow, how are we supposed to listen to the word of God when a camel tow is starring at us, also women who wear the spagheti dresses and mini dresses, i mean women older than 40 who are supposed to lead by example, as for children. children are children i do not have a problem with their dress sense as long as we do not have to see a tattoo above their bum area and also as long as the skirt is not too short it is fine, the boys, can wear jeans and a tshirt or what ever as long as they feel proud of who they are because at the end of the day you are what you wear, and you must always look your best because if you look good, you feel good and if you feel good you do good, its so simple, when going to church I am still one of those old school ladies, I do wear my clothes very well, I will never go to mass wearing jeans as I think those are for going out on a date with a boy friend                                     , but then again its up to the people themselves, if they feel good wearing  shabby clothes then so be it 

  • Zoe

    I wish that large lady would come to my parish in SA to tell all these old woman with exposed   shoulders to get dressed properly 

  • Kevin

    There is a big difference between men and women as far as the effect of dressing inappropriately for Church is concerned.  A woman would never think of coming dressed slovenly or in a careless manner as would a man.  The effect of such inappropriate dress by a man on a woman may be discust or repulsion.  One glance at such a man would be enough to turn away one’s eyes and pity the poor soul.
    Truly the man is not dressed with dignity and certainly may even be a distraction to others.

    As we all know, some women can and do dress immosestly for Church. Only God can judge weather they have full knowledge of what they are doing.  First by offending God and second by perhaps being an occasion to sin for a man who does not keep custody of his eyes.  Heaven forbid a sin commited in Church!  You would not think it would be necessary for a man to have to keep custody of his eyes while he is attending mass, but I for one can vouch for the fact that on many occasions this exactly what I have had to do.  A pity indeed. 

    I applaud the older woman in church wearing an appropriate dress whcih drapes her form not accentuates it and who wears a chapel veil.  Would that all women would follow their example. I think St. Padre Pio had the right idea about what constitutes modesty in dress. 

    For a good book on dressing modestly I would recommend Collen Hammond’s book “Dressing With Dignity” published by Tan Books; Rockford, Illinois.  

  • Saunders9

    I think we need to be careful here about how we dress in church. For men it would be preferable to wear a suit, however, a cheap suit or worn out sort would be worse than a new pair of jeans. I would prefer a woman to wear a mantilla and a dress but as long as she is covered is the most important thing. However, the most important thing is our Bishop/ Priest gives us clear guidelines and to be honest it doesn’t come. Why that is I really don’t know. I’ve seen eucharistic minsters, to be honest wear one gets a full shot of their cleavage and mini skirts. But nothing is said. As for myself – I never wear shorts. I have worn jeans but they are top of the range levi jeans which I only dry clean and if I didn’t wear them, which i do on a saturday I wouldn’t go to church which would be a shame. However, if a priest told me it was undignified I would wear one of my suits. It is very confusing.

  • Mccarthy19

    I think Roman Catholics are called to give of their best to God. So I think a return to Sunday Best clothing is appropriate.

  • Ronk

    A simple solution to immodest dress is for Catholic churches to do what is done at a mosque I visited. There are gowns and skirts offered free to borrow at the entrance portico. An attendant offers them to anyone with bare legs, arms/shoulders/midriff, clothes so tight they show every single contour of the body, and other immodest dress. i.e. the way almost every westerner usually dresses in summer.

    If people don’t want to have to borrow something to cover up, they will start dressing appropriately.

    And please enough of this silly exzcuse ‘people can’t adfford to dress any better”. Unlike ancient times, clothing today is cheap and plentiful. Even a homeless person can pick up a perfectly acceptable, clean, virtually as-new and not noticeably unfashionable suit of clothes for nothing or next to nothing at a charity shop. 99% of the people you see wearing torn dirty dishevelled cxlothes wear them because it’s fashionable and they paid big bucks for them which they can easily afford.

  • Venita Ernest

    Going to church on the week-end is actually a “fashion parade”, girls competing with each other, with their skinny hipster jeans, whose belly ring looks better etc… guys who shirt tails are always on show, who has the best Nike, Addidas, or how much of gel is on their hair.  Parents must take responsibility for their offsprings attire.  Here I blame the parish priests/pastoral councils, who allow this sort of ‘dress code’ in their parishes.  Priests turn a blind eye, pastoral councils don’t want to offend any parishioner, in case they don’t come to church – most of their kids are the culprits.  Also many young unmarried young girls, flaunting their bellies with jeans & tank tops, half their tummies exposed – how disgusting, and of course, they look so cute (sic).   Some of the youngster doing the readings, to me are the absolute pitts, standing up front with half their boobs hanging out and still the priest will not say a word…  Makes me wonder what is taught at Catechism?…….Venita