The Lady Who Wore Pants to Church

Once upon a time there was a ward in the middle of America. In this ward lived a new convert to the church. The first few times she came to church she wore pants. “We’re just glad she’s here!” said all the nice ward members. But after a few months she was still wearing pants. The new member had a good job and took care of herself; nobody could figure out why she wouldn’t wear a skirt. Over a year after her baptism the not-quite-as-new member finally wore a skirt. But from time to time she still wears pants. She lived happily every after anyway. The End.

I am the Relief Society President which means I have to sit up at the front of the room every Sunday. A few weeks ago one of the sweet older sisters came up to me after Relief Society and informed me that she could see straight up my thigh the entire time. I shrugged it off with a laugh because who cares, really. We’re all women. My skirt was below my knees standing up, so it’s not like I was being super immodest or anything.

That’s one of the reasons I don’t really get why we wear skirts. They’re not exactly modest, even though we are raised to think they are the most modest of clothing. Anyone who has sat in junior primary can attest to all the panty views. Between dresses lifted over the heads and girls sitting sprawled on the chair, there are plenty of opportunities to see underwear; these opportunities wouldn’t be there if girls wore pants.

I am left to think that our skirt and dress “regulation” is merely tradition and culture, much like the way men feel they have to wear white shirts even though there is really no rule, except a suggestion for boys who pass the Sacrament. You’ll find plenty of men who don’t have a problem wearing a colored shirt to church but you’ll almost never find a woman with pants on. I may have a rebellious streak but there is NO WAY I would ever wear pants to church. That is pushing the envelope way too much even for me. (Plus, I like to wear skirts.)

There is the argument that we want to look nice for church and for Heavenly Father and skirts are undoubtedly the nicest, most formal women’s wear. But for every sloppy skirt I see at church (ahem, Young Women), there is a much nicer pant option. We all know women at church who look like they rolled out of bed. And we all have seen women wearing pants who look like a million bucks.

I wonder if eventually our skirts-only church will change. Except for the most strict and orthodox of churches (those that require skirts all day, every day), ours is the only one that is 100% skirts at church. At every Christian church I’ve been to, skirts have been optional. I’m not saying this is good or bad or sexist or whatever. I just find it really curious. I wonder if, like other aspects of our church, it will change over time. Meeting times have changed (remember church that was spread into two meetings on Sundays and Relief Society during the weekday at lunch?), temple ceremonies have changed, missionary farewells have changed. Will our church dress be next?

About Hildie

(Blog Team) was born and raised in Detroit, but is happy to call Austin, TX home now. She majored in Art History and Geography at BYU and graduated a week before having her first baby. There have been five more babies since then. Hildie is an avid baker and tries to fatten up the people she loves. After years of "Mommy this", "Mommy that" Hildie is delighted to finally be waking her brain up for some other use.

50 thoughts on “The Lady Who Wore Pants to Church

  1. I wouldn’t care either way if more women wore pants to church. The principle is to wear you nicest clothes; in many cultures that includes a skirt for women, but it doesn’t have to. I’ve been in wards with women from Middle Eastern or Asian countries that wear tunics over pants (like a ao-dai from Vietnam or a shalwar kameez sp?) and no one cared. I’ve also known men who wear lava-lavas. As long as we are all trying to make church meetings a special occasion, I don’t think it matters. In the summer I like skirts just because they are cooler; I feel kind of bad for the men wearing suits.

  2. I’ve been in two back-to-back Orange County wards where more than one woman wore pants to church regularly. I like it. Definitely falls under “just like that you’re here” for me.

  3. There were a number of women in my stake in Los Angeles that wore very nice, tailored pantsuits to church. I know some of the older women found it scandalous. I thought it was pretty awesome, and wished I had been that brave. It’s much nicer than any dress/skirt/jumper thing made from denim, that’s for sure. I definitely think this is a cultural thing, and I expect it will die out over time–when my mom was young, she was not allowed to wear pants to school, and that’s gone now.

    Pantyhose are another of those things that are on their way out, I think. Although technically still in the mission rules, my mission president told us, for goodness sakes, not to wear them in the summer (I served in oh-so-hot-and-humid Brazil), lest we get all sorts of weird infections. I was surprised that during an interview with the temple president in preparation for a calling as an ordinance worker, he and the matron asked me to wear hosiery and closed-toed shoes when I came for my shift (I was wearing some really awesome dress sandals during that interview, and wanted to hide my feet!). I think it’s a generational thing.

  4. Yeah, I’m in the library and chase around an active toddler while making copies. Pants make *soooooo* much sense. The ward is already scandalized that I breastfeed my kid uncovered in the library when things aren’t busy, so why not add nice dress pants to the mix? The irony of being more covered up will probably escape most everyone.

  5. I’m probably closer to the “older sister” (we’ll pretend not to notice the “sweet” part, in my case) demographic than you are, so I’ll presume to read the older sister’s mind. She was not calling you out for deliberate immodesty, but trying to do you a favor that she expects from her peers. Women of our generation have been in league with each other to give friendly cautions, even to total strangers, when a slip is showing or a skirt is tucked into pantyhose, or there’s toilet paper stuck to a shoe. Warning a sister who may not be aware that she should be more cautious — and an older sister would assume that tou *would* want to be more cautious — when wearing a particular skirt that might be tighter or shorter than she usually wears, is meant in this supportive, we’re-all-women-together-helping-each-other-along mode. But just like the elderly home teacher who thinks he’s giving you a wanted compliment when he makes too extended, too public commentary on “your lovely hairdo and your beautiful dress — it really flatters your figure, my dear,” many older people don’t realize that what they were taught in their youth is no longer appreciated.

    Anyway, as you have pointed out, there’s no possible single definition of “church appropriate” that fits in all situations. The same women who wear sloppy skirts would probably wear sloppy pants, too — trousers by themselves give no guarantee of modesty or respect or suitability. I think it’s assumed, perhaps unrealistically, that men and women wearing more formal clothes will behave themselves accordingly — not with stiff formality, but with their best manners.

  6. It’s not about whether we are wearing dresses or skirts to church… it’s about wearing our nicest clothes to church. We act different in church when we don’t treat it casually. When we take the time to put on our best clothes, it helps us remember the importance of where we are going and why we there. We typically wear dresses or skirts to church because society views that as being more “dressed up.” I don’t think Heavenly Father cares what we wear, as long as He knows we’re treating it with the respect and reverence that our Sunday meetings deserve.

  7. I think there’s also a difference between a recent convert and a lifelong member – a lot less slack for the lifelong member “who should know better.” I’ve actually participated in a “pants-in” to support another sister who was criticized for not wearing a skirt/dress in her ward.

  8. There are still plenty of religions/churches throughout the country/world that require/expect their female members to wear dresses and skirts to services. The Duggars explained that, for them, it was because of some Bible excerpts that talk about women’s thighs and how seeing her thighs was immodest and inappropriate; my guess is that it is for similar reasons for many of those churches, plus the ideal of wearing your nicest clothing to worship. There’s a reason that the term “Sunday Best” has come to mean dresses or skirts for women and shirt and tie for men.

    While there is no edict requiring Mormon women to wear dresses/skirts to church, and while I, too, have seen plenty of appropriate dress pants worn to church, I still believe that the standard is nice dresses and skirts. This doesn’t mean your *nicest* dresses or skirts, as prom dresses and other such flashy formal wear is also inappropriate, generally. It means, appropriately reverent, don’t-call-attention-to-me, modest, not-going-to-the-beach dresses and skirts.

    The temple DOES have a dress code for women, and while you’d be hard-pressed to actually find it written anywhere (I’m sure it is, though), the temple does require white, ankle-length or longer dresses with sleeves to the wrist and a high neckline.

    Unlike other churches, our goal is not to make everyone feel comfortable; our attitude is not “come as you are” so much as encouraging members to come in a mindset and dressed in clothes that show that we are ready to worship God — not ourselves. Yes, we DO accept those who come as they are, but just like everything else at church, we accept people where they are and don’t stop teaching the ideal.

  9. I ascribe it to cultural standards of dress rather than what God wants me to wear. If it’s culturally appropriate for nice trousers in a church service setting, I’ll wear them. As it stands, where I live, that isn’t the case.

    Men in Sri Lanka wear nice button-down shirts with sarongs (they look like long skirts tied in a knot at the waist). I would imagine that men in branches there would wear their best sarong to church and nobody would care. I haven’t been to church there, but it doesn’t seem like a far stretch, since it is culturally appropriate attire for the men.

  10. Dani said: “We typically wear dresses or skirts to church because society views that as being more ‘dressed up.’”

    That’s not true, although it would have been true in the 1960s. Society today would say that a nice pantsuit (say, for example, what you might see a female CEO or VP wear to a board meeting) is far more “dressed up” than a denim jumper of the type you see in many LDS wards (at least mine).

    I think this has less to do with societal standards and more to do with the Mormon time warp I wrote about here.

  11. How we dress functions as a code system that reflects attitudes and affiliates to others, but it’s not a perfect 1:1 code. Wearing a hoodie doesn’t make you a criminal. Wearing a dress doesn’t make you a saint. Wearing a power suit doesn’t make you an executive. Wearing boots doesn’t make you a cowboy. If you know the code system of a subculture, you can guess how others will respond to these social signals. And you can choose to blend or to stand out a bit or to really, really, really stand out.

    Personally, I try to not judge people if they depart from the norm in their appearance. I try to listen to what they say and how they behave and bracket how they dress. An Laura Ashley dress does not a saint make. A biker jacket, tatoos and jeans does not make a sister a heathen.

    I had someone judge me by my church garb when I spent 4 years in Milwaukee. My hipster friend Fred from church got to know me after he converted to the church and attended for a year, seeing me only from across the chapel. After bumping into me on campus where we both attended school (UW Milwaukee) he said, “Why do you dress like a conservative–pastels, pearls, lace, etc.– when your ideas are actually very progressive?” He accused me of being a trojan horse of sorts. He actually felt betrayed by being miscued.

    I find the Apostle Paul interesting on this matter. In one cases, he wants Timothy a missionary companion to be circumcized in order to blend. In other writings, he thinks gentile converts can be excused from circumcision and explains that being circumcized of the heart is really the true issue. On another occasion he says that it’s no big deal to eat meat that has been offered by idols, but if it’s going to freak someone out, obstain in order to be considerate of their feelings. He focuses a lot on how these symbolic acts make others feel rather than pinning down absolutes.

    From all this, I conclude that if it’s going to be disruptive for me to dress in a certain way at church and I know that it will disrupt, maybe I should tone it down. If I see someone else dressed, “off code,” I should ignore it and focus on showing them compassion and seek to better connect with the person emotionally / spritually and not in rule-driven ways. Martin Buber talks about treating people in an I-Thou situation, and talking a lot about rules places people in an I-It situation. I’ve chastised others, citing the rules, and it was mean spirited of me. I’m trying to err in the other direction now.

  12. If it makes you feel any better, my mother required me to always wear a skirt or dress to (Methodist) church every Sunday. Not because there was any rule or even cultural heritage thing going on, but because “it [was] what [was] right”.

  13. When I see the General Relief Society President show up to the General Relief Society Conference session in a power pantsuit, I will follow…suit. And cry Hallelujah while doing it too!

    Can NOT stand dresses normally. HATE hosiery. BLAH!

  14. I think Ardis’s point about the generational well-meaningness of the woman who mentioned the amount of view of thigh is well taken.

    Far to often in my own life I have reacted defensively when a comment that was offered about clothing (or anything else for that matter) was being offered in a spirit of helpfulness.

    Developing an ability to have, as one’s first response, a willingness to assume that another sister means well and is doing the best she can is extremely liberating to my everyday life.

  15. I think KDA’s comment is interesting. If you add to that what the For the Strength of Youth says about clothing it puts more light on the situation. We don’t want to be known for what we wear, we want people to get to know us, as a unique individual, not assuming they know us because we dress a certain way. Dressing in a way that doesn’t draw attention can encourage others to find out who we really are beyond outward appearances. I’ve been in many wards where pants were worn, I never said anything because it’s not that big of a deal. But it did make it harder for me to get my children into their Sunday best every week.

    When a GA (Holland?) specifically mentioned not wearing beach footwear (flip flops) to the most sacred hour of our week it made perfect sense, but I had never thought of it that way before. Sometimes we do need a gut check- What are we thinking about? Why does clothing matter? How does the outward effect the inward?

    Often I hear people that want to throw standards of dress out the window because it’s “just culture.” Then start eating with your hands and never taking a bath because those are just cultural norms too. It’s a ridiculous argument. We are part of a culture, we’re part of a larger community, and as such we effect that culture. We can add to the greatness of our culture or we can tear it down for no reason but rebelliousness.

  16. Please don’t misunderstand my comment about the woman telling me she could see up my skirt. It’s nice that people will mention something like that. If I’m ever in front of a bunch of men you can be sure I’ll tuck the sides of my skirt in. I really didn’t care that a bunch of women saw up my skirt.

    KDA-I like your point although I disagree with your friend about looking the part of how you act. That’s what makes getting to know people so interesting; you never know if what’s on the outside is really telling you something about the inside.

    The pantyhose thing seems so weird and archaic; definitely a generational thing.

    Jendoop-Mormons are totally known for what we wear! You can always spot the mormon teenage girls and women: long shorts and shirts with sleeves.

  17. Eric says: That’s not true, although it would have been true in the 1960s. Society today would say that a nice pantsuit (say, for example, what you might see a female CEO or VP wear to a board meeting) is far more “dressed up” than a denim jumper of the type you see in many LDS wards (at least mine).

    Perhaps I should have clarified my personal stance. My 5 year old doesn’t like the way pants and shorts feel so her entire wardrobe consists of skirts and dresses. Yet, she has certain items that we call “church dresses” because they are a little bit nicer and even she takes better care of them. Like I said, it’s about putting on our best. Personally, we don’t wear denim to church, nor do we wear flip flops or t-shirts with our skirts. However, if a denim jumper is the best someone has, who am I to judge? And if a nice pantsuit makes someone feel dressed up, reverent and ready to participate in church ordinances, great!

  18. “Will our church dress be next?” Heavens I hope so.

    I don’t like wearing skirts–during my freshman year at BYU there was a time that I got so sick of being so mad about wearing one every week that I wore a nice pant suit for a while. I felt better about myself and I didn’t have a boiling rage in me every time I had to sit awkwardly to stay modest. What finally got me to start wearing a skirt again was going to the temple to do baptisms (I wasn’t endowed yet). I remembered how angelic my YW leaders looked in their temple dresses (which even came with pockets installed!) and I wanted to wear a dress in the temple.

    For the record: future husband asked me out on our first date while I was in my pants-to-church phase. RS councilor who wore a denim skirt and converse sneakers to church was my biggest critic.

  19. I love skirts personally, but I’m also a lazy feminist who hates following rules just because that’s what everyone else has done for years. Of course women should be “allowed” to wear pants, I have a friend who wears a nice pair of dress slacks to church on occasion and I think it’s absolutely appropriate. My mother would be horrified, but that’s her mother talking. I don’t feel pants are disrespectful one bit. Jesus wears a dress in the temple, why can’t women wear pants to church?

  20. I wonder how many people do not/cannot attend Church because of our outdated dress code. Surely, a comfortable pair of dress slacks are every bit as appropriate as a skirt, (of even more so than the the mini-skirts that so many are wearing.)

    The Pharisees were chided by Jesus for their costly attire and yet we as a Church demand that women dress in dresses, skirts and blouses that are often unaffordable.

    I feel sad that our Church places such a strong emphasis on the outward appearance and so little on matters of the heart. Surely, the Lord looks at the heart of a person and is happy when they attend Church, whether its denim jumpers or pants.

  21. It doesn’t matter what you wear, as long as it is fine twined linen.

    It seems as though when mentioning the pants suit, it’s always about how nice it is, or finely tailored. Strikes me as a little too Nephite Pride Cycle-ish.

  22. Maybe having a “dress code” for our Sunday services is as much about unity as it is about wearing our best. We worship as a group, and try to be of one heart and one mind. Being imperfect people, it’s easier to become that way on the inside when it’s reflected in some aspect of our outer lives, like how we dress. That’s why we always notice the lady with the pantsuit or the skirt that’s too short (or the couple with pink hair that lived in my ward for awhile). Not that that’s ideal, but like I said, we’re not perfect yet! There are specific reasons for the way we dress when we worship in the temple, and I’m pretty sure that unity is one of them. So it stands to reason those same ideals would extend to our Sunday meetings as well.

  23. From a linguistics class a long time ago, I remember learning about marked and unmarked words. Wikipedia defines it this way: “Markedness is a specific kind of asymmetry relationship between elements of linguistic or conceptual structure. In a marked/unmarked relation, one term of an opposition is the broader, dominant one. The dominant term is known as the ‘unmarked’ term and the other, secondary one is the ‘marked’ term.”

    As KDA says, clothing is a code system, a sign system. Skirts/dresses in Mormon culture are unmarked, and pants are marked. Is that bad? I don’t know; I feel like it’s not a bad thing to be dressed up a little for church, and our culture has defined “dressing up” as wearing a dress.

    So until you change the marked clothes to the unmarked, I don’t see this changing.

  24. Chris, your argument fails miserably. Skirts/dresses cost just as much (and come in as much of a price range) as do slacks. Thrift stores abound in either, as do Dillards or Nordstrom.

    Power suits worn by female CEOs are just as likely to be skirts as slacks.

  25. I guess it depends on where you work, but for years I was the only one in the room wearing a suit with a skirt when giving client presentations. When I switched to pants, people noticed and complimented me. In that context, a pantsuit was definitely deemed more appropriate. I think I only have one suit left with a skirt option.

    I ride a bicycle to church, so I am not going to wear a dress or skirt. I generally wear a split skirt or culotte, because pants run the risk of getting caught or soiled in the chain. But I can well imagine women who find that pants suit their lifestyle. For example, when weather turned cold, at our ward in Brasil half the women wore pants for their long walk to church.

  26. Touchy subject for sure. Something interesting was brought up in our SS class lately though. The question was asked if we spend as much as much time preparing our minds and spirits for our meetings as we do preparing our bodies, hair, clothes, etc. I had to do the Squirm.

  27. This reminds me of the cultural differences I saw on my mission to Korea. At first I thought the men must all be blind, since their shirts, ties, pants, and jackets rarely matched but were usually an assortment of colors and patterns. That all changed when I realized they were more concerned about wearing their “best”–best shirt, best tie, best jacket, best pants. Whether they matched was irrelevant. What was important was that they were wearing their best.

  28. Love this post. I am the current RS pres. in my ward. One of my counselors is in her mid 20′s and the other one is turning 80. I am 57. More than once I have had older sisters come to me to tell me that my younger counselor’s skirt was too short because when she sits one can see up her thigh…and yes I have told her later that someone mentioned this to me. I too have a few sisters wearing pants. Doesn’t matter to me.

  29. Being modest is to dress in a way that helps others pay attention to what you say, and less to how you look. Thus the joke: “What? I can’t hear you, your shirt is too loud!”
    Open-toed shoes are in general more distacting than a conservative closed toe shoe. A modest, LONG, skirt is less distracting than shorter, tighter, skirts. *At church* in general, a long, modest skirt is less distracting than pants. That said, I would try in every situation to make the best decision I can for myself and then not judge others for what they wear to church.

  30. I wore a pantsuit to church once — will NEVER do it again. No one said anything to me or anything, I just felt extremely uncomfortable the whole time :).

  31. I’m rooting for the day when a nice pantsuit will be just as acceptable as dresses and skirts as Sunday attire for several of the reasons mentioned, but one thing that hasn’t been brought up: I’m honestly jealous of how little my husband has to think about what he’s going to wear to church. For men, it’s easy… the most he has to decide is which tie he’s going to wear and whether or not he wants to bother wearing his suit jacket (our building has air circulation problems, so despite the AC running it gets really hot in the summer and pretty chilly during the winter). I have to not only decide exactly which dress or skirt/blouse combo I’m going to wear, but I have to try to remember whether or not I wore it last week- because I’ve learned by experience that women _will_ notice when you wear the same exact dress to church 3 weeks in a row. Which is a little silly. Sadly, I live in a very conservative small town Utah ward, so I could never get away with the pantsuit thing.

    Side Tangent: I’m currently very pregnant and my dress shoes don’t fit anymore, so I’ve been wearing flip-flops to church… not too many sideways glances, but then I’ve got a good excuse. I have to admit, though, that I’m not looking forward to having to switch back… :)

  32. A pantsuit?? Does that mean slacks with a jacket that matches?? I can’t imagine buying this. I’m much rather wear a skirt. Pantsuit==yuck. What year is it?!

  33. Great post. Good conversation too. I live in Utah. Summer is hot. Winter is cold. I wear dresses for the reasons mentioned here – cooler in summer, social norms and the current definition of “Sunday Best.”

    However, I have worn black velvet pants and blouse to church on Christmas because it was too darn cold and because it is the most beautiful and elegant outfit I own. I prefer pants in the winter and I’m surprised and delighted to learn that some women wear nice pants routinely. I may opt for pants more often in cold weather, having read this.

    I do hope the dress code changes unilaterally within the church at some point – especially for people who deal with seasonal temperature and climate changes. It is archaic and, frankly, sexist to expect a woman to wear a dress in the middle of winter. To ANY meeting or gathering. Unless, of course, she wants to.

  34. I have started wearing skirts everyday spring thru summer because I think they hide how fat my backside and thighs are.

    There is a gal in our ward who wears pants to church, and I am secretly jealous she feels brave/comfortable enough to do that.

  35. I believe it is a US cultural thing recommended by SLC that has carried over to some other cultures, but not all. A ward I lived in in Colorado had a Hmong Bramch that met in the same stake center we met in. Every single woman in that Branch wore pants every single Sunday and to every Stake function they attended. There was never any discussion about what those women should be wearing, only explaination to the American sisters who made comment, that Hmong women NEVER wore dresses. So culturally, they were wearing their best pants when they came to church.

    Likewise, I would never consider wearing a mumu to church either, but in Hawaii, your best mumu is considered not only appropriate Sunday attire, but appropriate temple dress as well.

    I lived in Indonesia for three years. Most were pioneer 1st generation Latter Day Saints. They looked to the American expatriates as the ones who had the knowledge of how the church was supposed to run. Some wore dresses, some didn’t own a dress or skirt. Some wore shoes, some wore their best flip flops.

    We do the best we can, assume they are doing the best they can, and remember we are there to worship our Heavenly Father and partake of the atonement. I try not to add judging someone in the meeting’s clothes, hair or tattoo to what I need to repent of while I’m taking the sacrament.

  36. I love wearing skirts in summer and trousers in winter for everyday life. I always wear skirts or dresses to church, and I would feel innapropriately dressed if I didn’t do this for the sacrament meeting. Saying this I teach primary to 4 year olds and often have the children on my knee in singing time and sharing time. It is also quite common for me to have at least one of my class sit on my knee in sacrament too. Little children wriggle, a lot, which means my skirt can end up anywhere. I also get on the floor with them for some of the activities we do. Quite honestly I would love to wear trousers for my primary time, as it is so much more practical. Our Bishop is VERY conservative and would have a fit if I turned up in trousers.It is hard enough to be Bishop without your wife flouting convention too. When a member of the General Relief Society presidency or General Primary preisdency starts to wear trousers then I will feel comfortable doing so, but otherwise it is trousers for me. Also I would feel very judged by several members in our ward if I wore trousers, they would have plenty to say and would not hold back in saying it. The ward has enough to say about our family already without giving them extra fuel for the fire.

  37. I’ve always hated nylons but felt duty-bound to wear them until the missionary code changed church-wide (not just in tropical countries.) It did–this year. Here’s what it says:

    “You are not required to wear nylons; however, you
    may wear nylons or tights, especially in colder weather. If you wear knee-highs, make sure the tops do not show, even when sitting. Do not wear patterned nylons.” This is from http://www.mtc.byu.edu/miss-dressguidelines.htm The MTC requires closed toe shoes, but states: “For safety purposes, wear closed-toe and closed-heel shoes. I

  38. I’ve worn pants before, and it caused such a stir that I never bothered with it again. It was making other people uncomfortable, and it wasn’t important enough to me to make a statement, so I stopped. I did have two very beautiful pant suits, however, that were by far the most expensive and best pieces of clothing that I owned. Still, it caused a mild uproar, and I figured I didn’t need to do that.

    That said, I do put a lot of thought into what I wear to church, and there is definitely a lot of vanity tied in with that. And I think that can get a little nuts, too. Which is worse, sloppy flip flops, or high heels that are specifically designed to make your legs look hot? In some ways, flip flops could cause far less consternation.

  39. I like having a day to “dress up.” We’ve become such a casual society, that for me wearing a skirt and heels and jewelry and such on Sunday is the only chance I ever get to dress up. Skirts definitely make me feel like I’m wearing my “best” to church, wearing my nicest clothes to worship God in. Of course, I’m not into buying $300 power suits, in which case those might BE my best, nicest, most expensive clothes. I will say that skirts are NOT the most modest thing. You’re right about that, Jennie. Many is the week that I see several ladies’ garments as they bend over to pick up kids or chase a baby down the hall or lean over to grab their scriptures or whatever. I kind of wish for that reason that either garments were shorter or pants were allowed at church. But for that reason only. Otherwise, skirts and dresses–as they currently stand as more “dressed up” clothing–are more appropriate for worshiping our Lord in.

  40. I think the wearing of skirts in church is more about encouraging an attitude of reverence that the actual look. Yes, there are some that throw on a rumpled skirt and come to church that may have looked better in a nice pair of slacks. If we okay slacks there will be some who will come in jeans. For most women Sunday and when they attend the temple are the only times they wear skirts so it is a special thing when they do. In my stake the youth dances were occasionally casual and some were Sunday dress. They started to allow only church dress at dances because the atmosphere and dance styles were overall more virtuous than when the people attending the dance wore street clothes.

  41. To the comment: “I can’t hear you, your shirt is too loud” I wonder aloud about the young man who only wears bow ties (some outlandishly loud) because he’s post-mission and “sick of ties.” Only one I know who wears ‘em and he sticks out like a sore thumb. Is he wearing a bow tie to feel comfortable, or so, when people comment on the bow tie of the hour, he can stand out and make himself loud.

  42. Many comments about how immodest skirts are—but if you wear a longer, fuller skirt, that is not a problem. With a knee-length skirt, you have only an inch or two of wiggle room. With a longer skirt, I have never had a problem getting down on the floor in nursery or having my kids squirm around on my lap. I find a long, full skirt nice and cool in summer, and with tights in winter, it’s quite comfortable. Pants are not the only answer. :)

  43. I read this a few days ago and just have to comment.

    I’m with #23. I think we’re solving the wrong problem here, folks.

    The problem isn’t pants; the problem is judging others based on what they’re wearing.

    Whether it’s because they’re in pants (fabulous and expensive as they may be) or a grubby denim jumper, it is still wrong to reduce other humans to the sum of what they’re wearing.

    The general impression I get from the comments is that so long as the individual we’re judging looks wonderful and/or spent a lot of money on their pantsuit/extra earrings/tattoo, then it’s all fine.

    Those who appear grubby or unattractive, however, are beyond the pale.

    This isn’t about modesty, it’s about snobbery.

  44. I live on a pretty strict budget as a single parent to three kids (full-time college student to boot). There’s not a ton of wiggle room for purchasing clothing that I’ll only wear once a week. So, rather than continue to rotate the three dresses and one skirt that I own, I opted to start wearing my nice pants on Sundays from time to time. When I shared that with a friend of mine, she laughed, half horrified, and said, “You can’t do that!” When I asked her why she replied, “You’ll look like an investigator!”

    In her defense, she called back later and apologized but I think her comment highlight the general snobbish attitude of some members. My bishop has gone so far as to tell me that I must “wear (my) very best” to services. Funny, but I fail to see why someone else gets a say in what my best is and is not.

    I get more compliments from other women in my ward when I wear pants…and a lot of sideways looks from the men.

  45. I wear pants to church. Every Sunday. I work in the nursery, and I really don’t care to worry about modesty as I’m keeping all the kiddie happy for 2 hours. I wore a dress on mothers day and people made a big deal (i fixed ma hair, too, lol) but that was only because I got the day off.

    I might not atop wearing pants. There needs to be someone who breaks the tradition. I don’t mind being one of the tradition breakers.

  46. I did not read all the posts so I hope this is not repetitive…

    Whether or not a person wears certain clothing does not determine their worthiness. Sometimes I wonder if the “traditions of our fathers” interfere with personal and church growth. I know that a GA spoke about this in conference in the last decade.

    I know of many young men throughout my life who stopped attending church because their appearance did not fit the norm. Later when I had children, my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s and Sensory Integration Disorder (most clothes were painful for him to wear). He could not wear the regular button-up shirts, but would wear nice clothing without buttons and tags. He was told that although he was worthy, that was one (of the many things all pertaining to his physiological disorder) that needed to change before he was given the Priesthood. Although the church offices in SLC have a disability section that can educate leaders (in place of laws like IDEA), those leaders have to be willing to contact them, not the other way around.

    I’ve known young women & women, that stopped attending church after experiencing sexual assault, because most of the cultural expectations in the ward required skirts or dresses, which they no longer felt safe wearing.

    Sometimes, I get concerned that the Pure Gospel is being displaced by traditional norms, and pushes away many wonderful people whom ALL would benefit from with church attendance.

    If we could all just develop the Pure Love of Christ…all of these trivial issues would disappear.

  47. I totally disagree with the skirt/dress thing. God does not look at our clothing when we go to the house of God. I am sooo tired of this tradition about how we women should wear long skirts and dresses. I wonder how many people have left the church or back slid because of this traition? I wonder how many people miss their opportunity to get saved because of this tradition? Oh people, When will we wake up form this mess? How long are gonna keep doing this. You know what I have dicovered? If a woman walks in with Jeans and a Tshirt on and tennis shoes and another woman walks in with a sharp suit on and a big gigantic hat I bet you that God is more likely to incline hiself to the woman with the jeans and tshirt on then the other one. Why? Because No matter how long our dress and skirt is, if we are still full of sin as a dog is fleas and dont repent we still going to hell! What we wear should be based on our personal convictions and not tradtion. For too long this has caused new born believers to leave the church. Of course I like skirts and dresses but I do not have to wear them every sunday that I go to church. I refuse to let anyone put their convictions on me! I am full persuaded that this demon of tradition has caused turmoil, confusion backsliding, and worst of all church hurt. We need to do better! BLESSINGS!

  48. I love wearing pants or dark tights under my skirts! Keeps me warm in winter and modest in windy weather and when sitting on the floor in Primary.

    As for what other people wear, well that’s up to them. Can’t say I’m totally non-judgmental because I’m human, but my heart completely wants to accept others where they are, whatever they feel comfortable wearing. Still working on that, and don’t intend to stop.

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