The Church and Women's Attire, Then and Now

Salvete, omnes!

I have been thinking about a few biblical passages addressing women’s attire and have a number of questions regarding them:

  1. Did the Church ever prohibit women from wearing jewelry, styling their hair, etc.? The blblical passages on which I have been thinking would seem to suggest that it did. In a few of the epistles, it seems that the inspired writer says that women should not wear gold/silver or even braid their hair. However, these passages also state tha they should not “put on garments”. What exactly does this mean? Ar these passages talking about not wearing jewelry/styling your hair at all or are they simply telling women not to wear elaborate/showy/expensive jewelry/hairstyles/clothing? I have heard it suggested that women not wearing jewelry/styling hair was an early disciplinary issue but does not apply today. So, if this is the case (is it?), why is such permitted today? What changed from then to now? I mean, I have never seen anything, then or now, inherently sinful about wearing even the most elaborate of hairstyle/jewelry so long as it is done with proper motives (not simply to show off wealth, for instance, but, rather, just to be pretty, for instance).

Instead of saying that women should not wear jewelry/hairstyles, elaborate or not, are these passages really saying that, instead of putting one’s central focus on this, they should, rather, put their focus on, as it were, “inner beauty”? Is this a valid interpretations of the passages I’m thinking of or is it not? Why or why not?

Also, if the issue of hair styling and wearing jewelry was a matter of discipline, since it was included in a divinely-inspired letter, would it have then been considered binding on believers as a divinely authoritative statement? But, again, I don’t see what has changed from then to now, so, if it was a divinely-established discipline then, why would it not still be one now? Are even decisions on disciplinary matters, when contained in inspired letters, also to be considered as binding as, say, teaching on faith and morals, at least during the time they are written?

Indeed, disciplinary or not, why were such rules imposed on early Christians (if rules were indeed imposed on them regarding jewelry/hairstyles)? What was the motivation behind these? Again, I don’t see anything inherently sinful in wearing even elaborate jewelry/hairstyles. And, again, what has changed now so that we can now wear such things? Was then issue then perhaps a matter of causing scandal in making those watching those who would wear hairstyles/jewelry (especially elaborate) that these people were being too show/arrogant? Again, then, couldn’t the same be the case today? Was this “discipline” applied, say, only in a church setting so that, for instance, other members wouldn’t be distracted in the church setting by these clothes/hairstyles as they were worshipping?

Are there any good commentaries on these passages? Has there been any good teaching on them? Any teaching considered infallible? Any opinions/facts/observations from folks here on them?


I did see a booklet in our Adoration chapel about women dressing modestly. I am not sure who published it.

I saw a young woman at church in line to receive from the chalice a month or so ago with short shorts on and tatoos coming down under the hem of the shorts shorts halfway to the knee. That was a first.

I think we should give women’s clothing a pass - it’s been talked to death - and focus on men’s clothing. I’d really like to see the long ago fashion of tights and codpieces return. It can’t be any worse than the shorts too many men wear! :eek:

Is it all right for Roman Catholics to tatoo their body?

Tattoos are OK.

However Sunni’s and religious Jews don’t

the topic is women’s attire and the Church.

I commented on one young woman’s attire.

I thought you mentioned tatoos?

I understand the OP, but why limit it to women? I’ve seen men at my church with less-than-churchly attire (basketball or cargo shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts from bars, etc.) Altho they may still be considered “modest.” :shrug:

LOL! I had the same thought, wrote a reply, but deleted it - I realized I was being snarky. You said it better than I did.

The t-shirts that advertise booze & cigarettes (Joe Camel - why haven’t they gotten rid of him!!!) are 2 that really fry me.

Once while in RCIA one of the rites was coming up and one gal in our class asked about appropriate attire for this rite. The deacon teaching that day gave the best answer to this question. You are going to God’s house, you should wear attire pleasing to God.

I may be a little old fashion, but I wear a dress or skirt to Mass every Sunday. I don’t judge others for what they wear for a Sunday Mass, but I do believe those who dress extremely casual, tend to be a little more casual in their Catholicism. I’m not talking about folks with little financial means or other issues that may restrict dressing appropriately. Making a choice to put food on the table rather than buying a dress to wear to church makes perfect sense to me.

Regardless of dress or jeans, women & men should be dressed modestly and pleasing to God.

^^ Amen!

Of course, the focus should be on inner beauty.

Since our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, it is fitting to dress modestly. I don’t see anything wrong with jewelry in good taste. Clothing and hair styles are nice when they enhance the appearance, and they don’t have to be overdone so as to totally call attention to the clothes and jewelry being worn.

As a humorous aside, I wear make-up out of charity for those who have to look at me.

yes I did mention the tatoos running down both upper legs under her short shorts and you asked if Catholics were not allowed to get tatoos.
For one thing, I don’t think short shorts are proper attire for church and I think it would be respectful to have large tstoos covered. that is just my opinion. we are in line to receive the body and blood of Jesus. I realize it is summer and we have many tourists, but can’t you change into your short shorts after church to go hiking.

In many churches in Europe, dress code is strictly enforced - no bare shoulders, no bare knees. To help tourists (mainly female tourists - we men have to make sure we’re wearing pants), there are vendors who sell wraps that can be used either as make-shift shawls or make-shift skirts (and can be taken off immediately after leaving the church building).

It’s the inner beauty that should be infasised , but jewelry and hairstyles are not prohibited by those texts.

that is a good idea. I know the Vatican has a strict dress code.

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