When I was a young girl, most everyone I knew had 3 sets of clothing. There were the outfits we wore to school, clothes for playing and separate attire for church. Boys wore suits just like adult men, while girls had frilly dresses and patent leather shoes. Women and girls at that time did not wear pants to the house of the Lord.
Today much has changed regarding what is worn inside of church buildings. In traditionally African American congregations, men continue to wear suits, and women still dress up. In certain denominations females wear expensive two piece suits, with matching hats, shoes and pocket books.
In one church I attended, women could wear pants, but not in the pulpit or if they sang on the choir. Men and women in leadership positions were not allowed to wear jeans, except on come as you are Sunday. The church where my daughter now attends is very casual. Parishioners wear whatever they choose, and even the pastor occasionally wears jeans.
My husband and I simply do not feel comfortable wearing casual clothing in the sanctuary. We have been dressing up for church our entire lives. An occasional dress down Sunday we can handle but we are from a culture that believes in wearing your Sunday best.
When we visited the church our daughter attends, we did not desire to stand out like a sore thumbs, so we. dressed down a bit, for us. He wrote a dark suit without a tie, and I wore a dark blue dress. We saw only a few people dressed similar to us, and the majority of attendees were very casual. A number of the adults as well as children were wearing shorts.
In this setting we may have appeared over dressed to some, but a few weeks prior,my husband was dressed in a snow white suit with blue shirt and blue dress shoes, and I had on a white dress suit and heels. We wore this attire to two different churches that day, and we were within the norm of others in the building.
Two ministers I spoke with have different views on the subject. Overseer Gary Kasey says he believes looking your best in church services shows respect and reverence for the house of the Lord. Evangelist Kiesha Bowles points out that the bible tells the New testament church, that our bodies, not buildings are the temples of the Holy Spirit, therefore if dressing up were important to the Lr, should we not be dressed up at all times?
My concern with relaxed attitudes regarding church attire, is young women who show off cleavage and wear short dresses. How can young men keep their minds on the spiritual, when you are showing them all your flesh? This is definitely is not doing all things decently and in order.
There are those who believe pastors are held to a higher accountability and should .not dress down. In I Corinthians 14:40, Paul says he desires women to not dress elaborately, with braiding of the hair and lots of jewelry. This however is exactly what is expected in some church fellowships.
Duane Lifton says that our clothing is a non verbal expression, and because society judges based on the external, it does matter what wear in church. There is a saying that when in Rome, you do as the Romans do. When it comes to church attire however, it is my opinion that, age, denomination, and tradition will more than likely prevent this from being carried out.