I’ll make another suggestion about why people don’t “dress up” for church. I think it has to do with our own personal perception of what “dressed up” is.
I personally don’t even notice. It simply doesn’t matter. Unless someone is actually nude, I really, truly have no opinion one way or another. A man in a business suit looks no different than a man in jeans and a sweater to me. A woman in a dress looks no different than a woman in shorts and a tank top to me. A teenager in a soccer uniform looks no different than a teenager in a long dress and saddle shoes to me.
Many of us who were raised in the 60s and 70s were taught that everyone should “do their own thing.” Women were taught that “natural” is the best way–no makeup, no bras, no nylons, etc. Comfortable shoes (remember “earth shoes?”) or sandles.
The moniker was, “As long as it’s clean.”
When I look in my high school yearbook, in almost every picture all of us are wearing jeans and a t-shirt or sweatshirt. It was a great (and inexpensive!) time to be a teenager. I pity the teenagers of today, who have to spend a fortune to get just the right “look.” Heck, we didn’t get pierced ears as teenagers! Now many teenagers have multiple piercings! Expensive!
And then in the 1980s, an author named Ron Sider ushered in the “Simple Lifestyle Movement” among evangelical Christians. I still have several books by various “Simple Lifestyle” advocates (including the Mennonites), who advised us to wear sandles make out of old tires and clothing from the thrift stores so that we would reduce our “personal clothing and cosmetics” budget and give the money saved to the poor.
So for approximately twenty years, many of us never “dressed up,” and in fact, we received a negative impression of “the Establishment” and “suits” from both the secular and the Christian world.
So I think a lot of us have been heavily influenced by this “natural” look and simple lifetstyle upbringing and truly don’t pay much attention to how we dress. We are very happy to allow everyone to “do their own thing.”
So I will make a very “1960s” statement, and also a very “Simple Lifestyle” statement and say that I think we should all forget about what others wear. Big deal. As long as it’s clean. Naked we came from our mother’s womb and naked we shall return.