How Should We Dress For Mass?


After giving some thought to this matter, it’s becoming clear to me that jeans, shorts, printed t-shirts, immodest clothing, etc. are simply unacceptable to wear to Mass.


I thought your categories were a bit narrow, but I voted as to how I personally dress (semi-formal). I was reading the Caelum et Terra archives the other day and there was a thread about dressing for Mass and how our class or station in society comes into this. What I consider dressy someone else considers too casual and another considers ridiculously formal. But everyone should normatively try to dress “nice” and modest too! I also try to incorporate the liturgical color (see Regina Doman’s articles on although not from head to foot! That would be a bit distracting on Pentecost!

The Hidden Wife


I think we should dress very nicely. However, I don’t think it should be a fashion show or a time to show “some skin” as some would say. After all, we are entering into the presence of God. Also I think we should keep in mind the temperature of where the mass is being attended. Personally, in Orlando I would be sweating buckets if I were a tux during the summer. Nonetheless, it isn’t an excuse to wear jeans and a t-shirt. Perhaps some dress paints and a polo. Or maybe some DRESS shorts (non athletic pants).


I always wear a dress, and I always wear a mantilla. I’m not an old lady, either. Muslim women have the right idea when they wear the veil. They are protecting their modesty, yet they are projecting their faith.

As far as guys go, my kids (young men) don’t wear suits to church, but they wear what would have been acceptable in their Catholic high school. No jeans. No Tshirts. Shirts with collars and khaki pants are ok.


I heard my Gramma say once that one should dress for Mass as one would dress to attend a church wedding.

I am often a little stunned that people who come in for regular Mass are wearing a tank top and shorts or jeans and a tee shirt- when I see them at other events- funerals, weddings, school events etc. And they have other clothes available.

She always advised for women and girls, a nice dress or pressed slacks and blouse. Men, a suit is fine but not necessary if all you had was pressed pants and shirt with a tie.

I often hear the argument- Jesus doesn’t care what we’re wearing!

Well, that’s obviously true, but I think it goes a LONG way in determining **your own ** frame of mind when you are wearing your nice clothes.

Also taking some time to prepare yourself for Mass gives a little more weight to attending Mass vs. jumping in the car like you’re running to the market.

I guess basically dressing decently for Mass goes to our own appreciation and reverence of the Mass and what it means- rather than what God might think of what we are wearing.

My Granny is a very smart woman! :wink:


Thank God for GREAT examples!!


You know, I have a hard time making a decision to say there should be a universal “how to dress for mass” rule. By making such a statement, one would be delving into the realm of ethnocentrism, saying that a norm accross cultures on how to dress for mass should be followed. The church, everywhere she goes, does not eliminate the culture of a society. What happens when you don’t have a society that can afford clothing “worthy” of mass. In my hometown at Mt. Angel Abbey, there was an ordination of 2 or 3 deacons which involved a Samoan. Now there dress was very much different from my black and white suit!
Here is the important thing when going to mass: to be sure that our souls are best prepared to celebrate the mysteries of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Our clothing should never be such that would cause others to make sins of thought, even outside of the mass! It is our Christian duty to always dress with modesty according to our culture, that the minds of everyone around us may be as pure as possible. In mass: know the occasion. If we go to an ordination in America dressed in a tank top and shorts, there is probably something wrong with how we are dressing! On the other hand, a youth mass doesn’t seem to be an occasion that requires a coat and tie. Here is what I say: Know where you are going, that your attire may be appropriate, and cause little distraction to others in mass.


My general rule of thumb is this: Never wear anything that would draw more attention to yourself than God. I think it’s a pretty good application of modesty in dress.


I voted for the way I choose to dress (coat and tie). I also went to Mass in shorts once when I was on vacation and traveling. It was shorts or miss Mass. I will never judge any one on their level of dress.


Men - the way you dress will show your children how serious you take your faith. Most children look to their father to determine what he takes seriously. Consider how we dress for a wedding. Suits and ties… Now, when I child is looking at this scenario and sees a father wearing jeans or shorts ( or worse) to Mass he may well conclude that a wedding is much more important and taken more serious than Mass. How will this affect his faith? More positive or negative?


As the imperfect creature that I am, it is VERY hard to focus on the liturgy when the young woman in front of me has low-cut jeans, a short t-shirt and a tattoo right about you-know-where. This happens more often than you might think here in Southern California. I really think they need to at least require decency – maybe people could donate old dresses and suits that the ushers could lend to people who come inappropriately attired.


[quote=bquinnan]As the imperfect creature that I am, it is VERY hard to focus on the liturgy when the young woman in front of me has low-cut jeans, a short t-shirt and a tattoo right about you-know-where. This happens more often than you might think here in Southern California. I really think they need to at least require decency – maybe people could donate old dresses and suits that the ushers could lend to people who come inappropriately attired.

See comments on my previous post.
Perhpas a way to rectify the situation with people dressing in a way which causes you to sin or draws your attention from God is to do what the Vatican does: If you aren’t dressed up to their standard of dress, you wear black, plastic garbage bag!



[quote=bquinnan]As the imperfect creature that I am, it is VERY hard to focus on the liturgy when the young woman in front of me has low-cut jeans, a short t-shirt and a tattoo right about you-know-where. .

My dh says the same thing; we’re in FL - maybe it’s the heat? No excuse though. We go to early 7:30 am Mass, and the a/c is really blowing, because they need to cool the church down for the later, more crowded Masses. I’m always freezing in there; I don’t know how those girls do it with hardly any clothes on :eek:

My 16yo ds has recently taken to wearing dress shirt w/tie (no coat) & dress pants to Mass, and has been encouraging his little brothers to do the same. My dh usually wears a suit because he’s an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and wants to be properly dressed in case he is needed.

However, we don’t spend a fortune on clothing. Remember the “Beverly Hillbillies” and their “Sunday-Go-to-Meetin’-Clothes?” Just one set of fancy clothes for church and special company! Okay, we have more than one set, but probably not more than 3 for the guys. My dd & I probably have more dresses because we wear them to daily Mass as well, but they are not fancy or expensive. DD had 3 or 4 homemade skirts that she can pair with different blouses, and about 3-4 dresses for Sundays. I get $15.00 Bobbie Brooks dresses from Wal-Mart, or sew my own. I probably have more than I need - time to clean out my closet again!

I remember reading an article someone sent me (sorry - don’t have it anymore) talking about how you’ll see rap stars in court and you can barely recognize them because they are neatly dressed with suit & tie. In fact, some judges will throw you out of court if you are not properly dressed. (Check your jury summons orders sometime!) Yet, we fail to give Our Lord the same respect at Mass. Go figure!



I saw the same article too, perhaps it was This Rock. They dress up for the judge because the judge is holding their future in his hands. How much more should our attire show respect for the Man who holds our eternity in His hands?


I suppose what I wear is ‘nice casual’. I do not have pleasant memories of being made to dress up for the Protestant Fundamentalist churches I attended as a child. Perhaps I was scarred for life or something… :stuck_out_tongue: I rarely ‘dress up’ for anything.

I think clothes should be clean, modest and not distracting. That goes either way…it shouldn’t show too much but at the same time it shouldn’t be so showy that we see nothing else. I remember once at a Protestant church a lady sat down in front of us wearing a fox stole that still had the head on it…freaked my kids out!

I personally and I have no idea why this is…am more distracted by jewlery than I am clothes! Fancy flashy watches or dangly ear rings, over large rings and bracelets. I have no idea why. I wear jewlery but its usually a watch and very small ear rings…but that’s about it.

dream wanderer


Considering the climate where I live (tropics) and the lack of air conditioning where I attend Mass, I tend to wear dress pant with a good short-sleeve shirt during the Summer and with a long sleeve shirt during the “Winter”. If I wore a jacket or a tie, I would probably faint before the end of Mass. (Oh, Mass with me is a 2 - 2 1/2 hour time slot - 10:00 AM - 12:00 (or even 12:45) PM.)



I didn’t answer the poll as there is no “one size fits all” answer. My former pastor once put a little blurb in the parish bulletin about a hypothetical gentleman who wanted to know if it was OK to wear shorts to Mass. His response was “yes” as long as they were at least Bermuda length. :frowning:

I wrote to him to object. My basic point was that not everyone has the same wardrobe: for those who where a suit and tie to work, then your best suit would be appropriate; if dress at work was casual, then your best slacks and dress shirt; if you don’t have even that, then wear your best clothes that are clean and not torn. (Adjust as necessary for ladies’ attire.) The key is modesty.


This is completely cultural: in my community, no one wears a suit to work, very few wear ties, almost none of the men own suits: in fact, at a recent funeral, I was the only person in a jacket except for one of the deceased’s sons.

In these parts, to wear a coat and tie to mass would be to call undue attention to yourself. In the summer we have a large percentage of tourists, including some who are traveling by bicycle, and I’d hate for any of them to feel they were ‘unworthy’ of attending mass due to their dress…

So long as modest, reasonably clean, and not intended to offend or titilate, I see no excuse to critisize how people dress.



This describes my feeling as well. I fall into the “more relaxed” group: a clean pair of cotton paints and a button-down shirt. The problem with getting too dressed up is that you start to become a distraction to others. Having said that, I would take a fashion plate any day over the hip-hugger-wearing teen who was in front of me last Sunday.


If everyone dressed up and that is the standard then there is no distraction. It’s only a distraction relative to the norm of your church.

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