Friday, August 22, 2014

Dressing for Church–What Do You Wear and Why Do You Wear It?

In our culture, clothes are important. We use them to express our styles, to make a statement, to fit in or to stand out. We choose what we’ll wear based on what we’re going to do and who we’re going to see. Traditionally, clothing for attending church has always been more “dressy” than other clothing. In times past, people’s “Sunday clothes” were their best clothes. I see a shift in that mentality these days. At church, I see more people in jeans than slacks or skirts. I see t-shirts and hoodies and distressed denim. And sometimes I wonder exactly why that is. I’m not saying it’s wrong or right; I simply find it an interesting trend.

I’m one of those people who dresses nicely nearly all the time. Now I promise I’m not saying people who don’t are bad. Everyone has their own comfort level and style. Some people are always grungy, some are sporty, etc. My own style reflects my desire to always look nice.  Anyway, for church, I tend to dress up. I always have and that’s what I’m comfortable with. That doesn’t make me better or worse than anyone else; it’s just something that is. Still, I think there’s something to this whole idea of what we wear to church and why we wear it.

An incident a few weeks ago really got me thinking about this: I had no idea what to wear the next day for church, and a friend was looking in my closet for ideas. She pulled out my fanciest dress and said, “What about this?” And this a very nice dress, black and elegant; I wear it to weddings. But my reaction scared me. I said, “That’s too fancy for church.” Wait a minute! What? Too fancy for church? Or too fancy for God? What exactly was I saying?

When considering how to dress for church, there are some things to consider:

  • Precedent – What is the established pattern of dress at your church? Does everyone dress casually? Or do they all wear dresses and skirts? If you wear something completely opposite from the rest of your church, you can stand out like a sore thumb. And that’s not always a good thing. I don’t want to be distracting other people because I’m wearing something way different than all of them. At my church, there’s a mix of both casual and fancier styles, so I don’t have as much trouble with this. But, though it’s not the most important factor, precedent is definitely something to consider.
  • Other People - Dressing for church requires that you be aware of other people; church is not for showing off, as I’m prone to do. I love dressing up and showing off what I have and how I look. But that bumps into pride way too often. And pride has no place in a house of worship. Church is about God’s people coming together to worship Him and to support each other. If people think you’re judging them because of how you’re dressing, I promise they won’t see you supporting them. So remember other people when you’re choosing what to wear.
  • God – Ultimately, church is about God. And the question is: does God deserve our best? Is He the Creator and Lord of this universe, or isn’t He? Are you honoring Him with what you’re wearing? And remember this: God made you special; He’s steering you toward excellence. Let your outfit reflect that.

You can say that we should dress casually so we don’t offend other people who have only casual things to wear. This a valid point. Be aware that everyone may not have the same wardrobe you do and that’s okay. You may not have a wide variety of clothing choices. That’s fine.  But are you giving Him your best with what you do have? Remember the story of the widow’s might? She had nothing and she gave it anyway. Your best isn’t defined by others; it’s defined by you and God. As in all things, our heart attitude is the important part here. No, I don’t have to wear my fanciest dress to church every week. But I never want to have the mentality that something is “too fancy” for church. Yes, be aware of your brothers and sisters in Christ; don’t offend or distract them deliberately. But remember Who you’re shining for, and never be afraid to give Him the best you can offer in every area of your life.

What do you like to wear to church and why? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I usually wear just regular clothes to church--jeans, Converse, and a slightly nicer top than one I wear on weekdays. I'm not one to dress up too much; I honestly don't like taking the time. I think it's nice if we dress up a little more for church, just out of respect for God, just as long as we keep our sights on the real reason why we go to church.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Rcubed! And you're definitely right about remembering why we go to church. I know I easily get too wrapped up in my clothes, hair, and makeup sometimes, when none of that is the truly important part. :) And, of course, worship is for more than just Sunday, so there's that consideration. :)

  2. Interesting thoughts. Our church is more casual than some (very few wear suits), but there is still a definite 'church clothes' flavour for most people. I think it is good, and helps gives the formality of corporate worship a set apart/special feel.

    I also think that the level of what constitutes 'church clothes' could depend on what people wear through the week. For most of the blue collar people who attend our church, dressing up is to wear clean jeans and something other than work boots! :)

    I think we can all agree that the heart is the most important issue though...thanks for writing this!

    1. Very good thoughts, Liv! And I think you're right about our weekly clothing determining our normal level of dressing up. You can't compare your church clothes to someone else's when you wear skirts all week and they wear Carharrts. Not that we should be comparing, honestly, but it's definitely a human tendency. And, yes, the heart is certainly most important. Thanks for stopping by!


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