Church attire for the weekly Sunday service has changed over time. From the mid 1800s and ranging across religions, understanding what a church outfit is has differed greatly, and even today it constantly changes. In history, clergymen have been depicted in special robes and a church outfit for men and women of different classes wearing from standard clothing and casual clothes to the most ornate outfits.
Today, the church dress code for men varies across denomination, occasion, and traditions but most of it is pretty simple and universal: a well fitted buttoned shirt and pressed pants, often described as wearing your Sunday best.
Throughout the decades, church wear for men has been simplified and become more lax with the right cultural restrictions in place to make sure attendees of weekly service and events at church are still in the most appropriate church wear attire. We dress up for church to show up in a respectable and modest way and to celebrate or worship with a church community, hence the name "Sunday best", since many church congregations meet on Sunday.
In this article, we’ll answer all your questions for what men should wear to church from the church dress code to our top three tips on wearing acceptable clothing - for example, we'll address one of the most commonly asked questions - are jeans appropriate for church wear.
Does the Church have a Dress Code?
The short answer is: technically, no. Most churches do not have a strict dress code. Church etiquette has laxed in recent decades across various cultural groups. Church wear for men has transitioned from formal suits and special clothing like robes for clergymen to smart business or business casual attire. Some churches have even allowed casual wear for service. We’ll go a little bit into jeans and how to wear jeans in church for men later in this article.
However, even with a lax dress code, men should still be dressed modestly and presentable in church especially for weekly service or events like baptisms and weddings. Some churches and cultural groups have social expectations of their attendees and what men should wear to church. There is an unwritten rule when it comes to dress code in church--many of which we’ll cover. Men should wear clean, pressed shirts with dark pants and comfortable shoes when attending service or events at a church. Follow our tips to make sure your church wear is appropriate.
3 Tips for What to Wear to Church
Choose clean, pressed, and well-fitted clothes for church wear.
Avoid pulling clothes from the bottom of the hamper or closet to wear to church. Guys should be dressed with a clean church outfit to be taken seriously in a house of worship no matter what the occasion. By pressed, we just mean wrinkle-free clothes. Wearing a wrinkled shirt to church may give off the wrong impression. Many shirts are designed non-iron and wrinkle-free already and can be thrown on with a nice pair of slacks and pants. Wear a crisp and freshly steamed shirt to be presentable and taken seriously within the church community.
A great fit on clothes is hard to come by. Look for brands that carry your size and fit your body type best. Sometimes you can find a great shirt just off-the-rack without a tailor for the perfect church wear. We have a list of 18 best slim fit dress shirts that have trimmed measurements all around to provide the perfect tapered look. Baggy clothes and shirts give off a sloppy impression and finding a good fit shows that you can dress yourself well for important events like weekly services at church. Wear a well-fitted and light colored shirt that’s been recently steamed and you’re guaranteed to pass the test. The same rule applies to pants, cardigans, jackets you may be complementing your outfit with.
Avoid statement pieces and bright colors in church.
Wearing bright colors or statement pieces to church is distracting for those around you and probably for yourself as well. Avoid drawing attention to yourself in the modest church environment and dress in neutral colors, solids or minimal patterns. When in doubt, go for a white or light blue shirt and dark pants for what to wear to church as a man. Bright colors or patterns can be noisy in an environment that is dedicated to worship and being a modest attendee. Make sure to avoid the neon shirt next Sunday.
Go with a smart casual church wear with coordinated colors and separates to stand out in a modest way.
Accessorize appropriately for church wear.If you’re looking for ways to bring personality to your church clothes beyond neutral colors, feel free to dress up with the right accessories. From shoes to belts to socks to a nice jacket, there are many options to accessorize what you wear to church as a guy. For men, match your belt to the color of your shoes. Try loafers, boat shoes, or dress shoes if you want to go the extra mile in your church attire. Dress socks come in many colors and patterns and can be one element where guys can embellish a bit. Since men's dress socks are hidden by slacks and shoes, they make the perfect accessory for men’s church wear attire. Socks is a great place to show a bit of personality without using too much real estate in your church outfit.
Accessories that are not as appropriate for church wear include hats and sneakers. Depending on the tradition or custom in specific faiths, wearing a hat can be a sign of disrespect and are often asked to be removed in church. As for sneakers, you may get by with a pair of minimalist black sneakers but err on the side of caution and go with nicer loafers, boat shoes or dress shoes for church wear.
Are Jeans Appropriate for Church?
Living in modern times, there are more and more churches that have relaxed their dress codes, allowing casual attire like jeans to be permissible during service. Nowadays, jeans are appropriate for church. Here are some tips on how to wear a dress shirt with jeans.
If you’re wearing jeans to church, make sure the rest of your outfit is dressed appropriately. Because jeans are a fairly casual pant to wear, pair it with a crisp dress shirt and some nice shoes with a belt to match. Avoid any ripped pants or light blue jeans as those skew even more casual and are less appropriate for church wear. It is considered rude to wear very old and torn up jeans to Sunday service as you want to be dressed the most presentable for church. Aim for a darker jean pant or, even better, black pants.
Since most men have blue denim jeans, we recommend to pair those with a well-fitted dress shirt for church clothes. A crisp, wrinkle free dress shirt in light colors like white, blue or gray will be the best option for what to wear to church for men. A few options we like that work well for church wear for men:
A grey dress shirt:
Still Not Sure What to Wear to Church?
When in doubt, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Go for a smart casual look that is modern and sleek, using neutral colors like a white crisp buttoned dress shirt with dark pants and brown dress shoes. If you’re feeling fancy, throw on a suit jacket that’s been pressed and delinted and you’re looking good for what to wear to church. Ties are hardly seen in weekly services but are more popular in bigger events like weddings at churches.
Do a quick search of photos from your church’s website or on Google to see what other guys have worn to previous events or services there. Ask within your community to see what’s appropriate and not appropriate. If you’re in the area, feel free to walk by at the end of a service to see what other guys are wearing to church. In general, being safe is always better and aiming for those neutral colors in clean and pressed clothes will do the trick.
In short, there are so many nuances between formal and casual and possibilities for what church wear can look like for men these days. It’s always best to be safer in your choices and go for a clean, white buttoned shirt with dark slacks or pants that have been pressed. Pair that with a pair of nicer loafers or boat shoes and accessories accordingly with navy socks or a jacket if it’s chillier. Aim for a smart casual look for what to wear to church and adjust after you’ve attended a service or event and have seen what other men wear. Make sure to avoid bright colors and noisy patterns as they can be often distracting during service and take into consideration what might be no-no’s in specific customs like wearing hats in church.