Fashion & Style

Dressing appropriately for worship service

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Formal or casual ... dress code is dictated by the worship service
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Rules vary by church but tacky dressing for worship service is never appropriate

Determining what clothing is appropriate for church and worship service can be argued until the cows come home. Each church and its expectations are different, so the answers will vary depending on who you are talking to and what kind of church or worship service she attends.

Some churches are all about casual attire -- come as you are -- whereas other churches are steeped in tradition and expect the congregation to dress to the nines. Granted, the dress code for most churches has become considerably relaxed compared to how it used to be, when you were expected to wear your very best to worship service.

Dressing appropriately for church and worship service is a matter of determining what your peer group wears to church, and making certain that you do not draw undo attention to yourself. Casual business wear, jeans, or church suits ... the best rule of thumb is to adapt to your environment.

Catholic women were once required to cover their heads during worship service. They wore mantillas, chapel veils or hats. However, this rule was changed in 1983 and hats or head coverings are no longer required, although some Catholic women still opt to wear them.

Times have changed but that does not mean that anything goes. 

Suffice it to say, that even the most casual church environment probably has unwritten rules about what is expected from those attending. The rules will vary, of course, from casual to formal. Before going to a specific church, ask around regarding what is considered appropriate clothing for church.

Each culture also has it rules about appropriate church clothing so do as they do when you are in their country. In all cultures, modesty, the definition of which may vary, is considered a must. It is probably not in your best interest to burst into a church in a strapless mini dress.

In African American churches, it has always been the tradition to dress up. Celebration among African-Americans calls for ornateness and this is often expressed in the gorgeous and colorful suits and hats that the women wear to church. Dressing for the Lord is still important to the African-American culture and dressing informally would never be considered appropriate church wear.  

A good rule of thumb is to dress with respect for God, yourself and for others.

When you go for a job interview, you dress appropriately because you do not want to convey the wrong impression. You certainly do not want to appear slovenly and disheveled. You are dressing out of respect for the person who is interviewing and in hopes that you project the type of person the company would like to have on its team. Along those same lines, dress respectfully and appropriately for church. Only you can decide what that is. However, if you miss the mark you may hear about it from other members of the congregation.

Now on the other hand, there are men and women who would never consider stepping into a church in anything less than their best finery. If you fall into this category, there are gorgeous skirted suits and three-piece ensembles that you can purchase specifically to wear on Sundays at church but, which can be worn for other special occasions because they are exquisite.

If dressing to the nines is your cup of tea, consider wearing a three-piece set, consisting of jackets, blouses and feminine skirts that produce a completely pulled together look that is chic. Accessorize this ensemble with the right hat, gloves and a smart purse and you are good to go. You will wow the congregation (and maybe even God, who will probably appreciate your efforts!)

When purchasing appropriate church wear for the worship service your attend, consider the fit of your outfit, the length, the neckline (plunging necklines are not appropriate), the sheerness of the material and the color of your ensemble. You may or may not want to wear bright colored clothing. Some women do, some do not. If your favorite church get-up is a beautiful suit, wear it. You cannot go wrong with a suit.



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