Why do non-Catholics dress so nicely for their Sunday services?


I got the idea for this thread reading another in regard to a Catholic dress code. I’ve read stats saying Catholics dress worse going to Mass than Protestants do going to their Sunday services. Based on what I see in my town and especially my parish, I would tend to agree.

I’ve heard many reasons why from Catholics on why they dress so sloppily or shamefully in some cases - God doesn’t care what I wear, at least I’m going, etc.

Non-Catholics - why do you dress so nicely for your Sunday services?


Oh boy, do you know what you’ve just started?:eek:


They dont dress any better than Catholics do.


Well…having sampled many denominations they do. It is probably one of culture. In the LCMS (Lutheran) church I attended men wore suits to church as they did in the Southern Baptist church. Catholics in general are much more casual. I don’t know that it is good or bad. I think as long as you are not dressed in a lewd manner, God loves you whether you are in a clean pair of jeans or a nice business suit.

Rev North


Maybe they love God more than we poorly dressed folks. We all know appearances are everything.
Just look at Hollywood… actor and actresses wearing $40,000 Armani dresses and suits, and it’s obvious how sane and lovable they all are. They’d make some top notch Christians, they would.

“Dress fine, you’re in Heavens line, dress just well, that roads to hell.”


No they dont. At least bit what I have observed. But of course you really cant have much of a discussion that is based soely on ancedotal evidence


I think the general feeling is that we come to worship and offer God our best.

Having said that, I serve a congregation that is about half casual and half dress. the staff wear church logo shirts on most Sundays. I vest at both services.



I understand the “God loves me however I am dressed point of view” and, since I live in a California beach town, I have seen that point of view in action!

What about the “I love God” view? Where does our respect and reverence for God enter into the question, or does it enter in at all?

Because, if we were invited to some Earthly event of great importance (the wedding of a family member comes to mind) I suspect most, if not all, of us would dress very nicely. We wouldn’t wear shorts, flip-flops, etc. We would no doubt pay close attention to our appearance in all respects.

Yet when we are invited every Sunday to a Mass celebrating the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, many of us seem to think that “anything goes” when it comes to our dress and our appearance in general. I will concede that God loves us regardless of how we are dressed, at any time. The question is, are we showing proper reverence, respect and love for God when we don’t do our best for Him?


Actually, I like what the Jewish wear when they go to their temple.

Wearing any dress - not much skin shown - is ok.

For lady - covered from neck to knee.
For man - no holes on your dress. :smiley:


If I may, I am catholic and I’d like to respond with this comment: In a conversation I once had with a traditional and devout priest, he told that it was a shame that so many of our brothers and sisters do show up in less than their Sunday best. He pointed out that we are all eager to dress to the “t” when it involves celebreties; concerts; dates; otherwise self described important events. However, when it comes to visiting our Lord in His home, we come in less than that. He went on to say that we often fail to recognize, remember, or pay attention to the fact that he is king of all kings. As such, we should want to dress our absolute best no matter what income level we have when assisting at mass. I’m not judging anyone in any way but I feel such a love that I want to take the time to look nice for Him (not others in attendance.) It makes me feel beautiful in my heart when I think that anytime I enter The Church, that I am in His Presence. Wow! What a privilege!!


I’ve heard the same thing, and therefore I try to always dress nicely for Mass.


I think dress styles in Catholic churches probably vary more than most churches.

Based on my experience, a typical large parish will have quite an array of dress styles. You will see men and woman in formal attire. Most people tend to be middle of the road in the nice-casual category. However, you will sometimes see people wearing shorts, t-shirts, jeans, and young woman wearing…

…Well, you get the point.

Generally, main line denominations retain better dressers ranging from formal to casual. If you go to more “clappy-happy” and many Evangelical churches, they tend to be more casual than Catholic churches. I’m afraid, some have little sense of modesty.

Come to think of it, it seems the Catholic Church’s dress diversity is also a reflection of the diversity of parishoners. The Church tends to attract many different races, social classes, education levels, and many different types of Catholic spirituality within our glorious religion.

Generally speaking, the Protestant churches tend to be more linear based on each local church. Sometimes this is a strength. Likeminded individuals tend to congregate in one spot. However, there are probably plenty of exceptions.


Although I tend to agree with you, I have a hard time buying into this perspective on some level…

For starters, more than anything, the disposition of one’s heart far outweights any externals. I think most of us can agree with that.

Now, we know that Jesus’ disciples believed He was the Son of God; yet are we left with the impression that they traveled with Him in the ancients world’s equivolent of a three-piece suit? Hardly…

Now, I do buy into encouraging a sense of reverence and honor. Foremost, this includes every woman (and man) wearing something modest. However, when it comes to wearing a suit and tie, perhaps this is going too far. Hey, if you want to do it our of love and reverence for God, go for it! I just don’t think the faithful should be obliged.

(Not to mention this overly formal approach could be a stumbling block for people to join the church. Immodesty could do the same thing.)

Many of these issues are cultural and subjective to begin with.

I believe God is more pleased with the poorly dressed pauper possessing a humble spirit than the well-dressed tycoon who marches to Mass with his head plump full of pride.

One’s clothing is not necessarily a reflection of their love and reverence for God. Certainly there is a healthy balance.


Baptists tend to be snazzy dressers, as do some of the more conservative Methodists and Episcopalians.

And then there’s the racial factor in all this too. Most Black Christians dress very well for church – but there are few Black Catholics compared to Black Protestants, in the U.S.

Then you get to the ‘seeker-friendly’ Mega-Churches, who consciously encourage casual dress on Sunday, so that non-Christians won’t feel ‘overwhelmed’.

Many of these Mega-Churches have cosmically transcended any sort of casualness you will ever see in a Catholic parish, to the point of having a cafe in the lobby, and allowing – nay, inviting – parishioners to sip their espressos and capucchinos, and eat their bon-bons and Snickers inside the sanctuary.


The former pastor at my parish who is now retired said that when he was the assistant priest at another parish, there was an African-American Baptist church a couple blocks away from the Catholic church he was at. The neighbourhood was poor, but all of the people going to the Baptist church on Sunday were wearing suits or dresses, including the little children. The people going to the Catholic church did not dress up as nicely.


I notice that the JW’s around the corner from me even in their mid week meeting dress in suits and dresses, keep the grounds very tidy on the hall etc. And the Mormans dress well too.

I think its just what the “style” is where you are, what part of the country, and denomination determines too.

The Mennonites dress particularly, some of the younger teens dont.

And while were on about “dressing best” It used to be you dressed up for a fancy dinner, or funeral and while people do its still not like it used to be. Im not sure its just church.

Point in case I go to the Ballet, used to be one would only wear dresses or dress pants, now its a mix. Ive even worn jeans.

However, I do think there is something with what you said Lak. I went to the Bahamas couple yrs ago, and the ladies there put us tourists to shame. Us in jeans and shorts, and sarongs, and them in skirts, jackets, hand held purses and pill box hats. I felt like a muffin. :smiley: Maybe dressing in style just comes easy for some of us.


As an ex-evangelical Protestant, I would say that dressing well for church is all about appearances.

Many evangelical churches have an unwritten list of “rules” that a Christian must follow to be accepted as a true “Christian.” This list includes such rules as “No movies,” or “No R-rated movies.” “Don’t watch TV.” “Read the Bible daily.” “No smoking.” “No drinking.” “Homeschool your kids.” “Only listen to contemporary Christian music.”

And of course, “dress modestly” and “dress well.”

These churches would deny that this list is really a “requirement” for salvation, which is strictly by faith alone.

But if anyone attending that church doesn’t obey these rules, they are on a “Suspect List” and may be shunned by other members as possibly “not truly saved.”


Usually I go out in a good pair of jeans. :smiley:

The Church has a dress code but many Catholics around the world seem to come from poorer nations. What you are wearing shouldn’t really matter as long as it is something proper, modest, and something that isn’t offensive (ie foul text).


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.


Methodists, [most] Episcopalians, and Catholics were hit the hardest by the 60’s Revolution, that’s why today you see them today dressing like homeless people in church.

The Baptists, and the people that gravitated towards the more conservative forms of evangelical/Protestant Christianity were, well, conservative - the same can’t be said for much of the Methodists, Episcopalians, and Catholics.

American Catholics sided with the “liberals” on more issues than the conservatives (remember, this was the time before abortion on demand), so American Catholics were more influenced by the liberals/progressives than the conservatives. The same can be said for some parts of Europe, although there is a much stronger tradition of conservative Catholics in many parts of Europe than America.

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