Formal Attire in Church

In October’s issue of New Era, the question is asked: “Some youth wear their formal outfits to church on the Sunday after a school’s formal dance. Is this OK for Sunday dress?”

As a fairly new Mormon convert, I had found the wearing your prom dress to church ritual fairly odd. Perhaps this stems from my grandmother. As a child, teenagers attending our Baptist church also wore their prom dances to church the following day. My grandmother shook her head in disapproval. “Prom dresses belong at the prom!” she’d say. “Not church.” It is no surprise I had already adapted the same opinion and found myself distracted whenever I’d see a teenager in their prom attire at church. I found the ritual mildly  inappropriate.

As a convert, I’m not fully engaged in the traditions of the church that are not doctrine so I figured this was one of those subjects it was best to keep to myself.

Elder Dallin H. Oakes of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is quoted as saying: “There should be nothing about [your] personal appearance or actions that would call special attention to [you] or distract anyone present from full attention to the worship and covenant making that are the purpose of this sacred service.” (“Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament,” Ensign, Nov. 2008, 20)

You can read the entire section on formal attire in church here.

What are your thoughts regarding wearing formal attire from school dances to Sunday Services?


5 thoughts on “Formal Attire in Church

  1. I feel that when you go to church to serve the Lord it shouldn’t matter how you’re dress. The Lord accepts you any which way. That’s why he is so awesome and perfect. Wearing a Prom dress to church depends on if the person is doing it because she feels happy to be at church to serve the Lord or if she’s doing it for other selfish reasons. God is the only one who can judge.

  2. I do believe everyone should pay special attention to what they are wearing to church, it is kind of a big deal for me to try to be at my best on sundays in every way possible but come on prom dresses are a little bit too much in my opinion. Those garments are made for parties and well, church should be treated with respect. I’m not trying tu be rude but I find it kind of odd. So I have to agree with your grandmother.

  3. I remember going to a church once in southern california when I went to college there in 1989/1990. A lot of the people there were in shorts and flip flops, and there were even several homeless people that attended and clearly weren’t in their “Sunday best” attire because, well, they just didn’t own any “Sunday best” clothes. After the service I had the chance to meet and talk with the pastor. I commented on how I’d never been to a church where people came dressed so casually. What he told me has forever changed my outlook on what to wear to church. He told me that God is not as concerned with what’s on your body, but rather what’s in your heart. He said that if they enforced a dress code, then many of these people wouldn’t hear the message of Salvation. He said that their church welcomes anyone, rich, poor, homeless etc. They had people wearing expensive suits and dresses as well as the college student in shorts and flip flops. It was eye opening to say the least. I now know not to judge someone when they come to church based on what they put on that morning. We don’t know their life or their “story” but that’s not important. What’s important is that they made it to church. I’ve also been to churches where it seems like a fashion show and people are so concerned about their dress code that that is all one can think about…which takes your mind off the message and service etc.

    • Totally agree Tamara and what one person’s Sunday Best may not be another’s.

      My point in writing this piece was asking the question if teenagers should wear their prom/school dance attire to church.

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