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Respectfully Yours: Sunday-best

Dear Jacquelyn, I’ve noticed for years now that people don’t bother to get dressed up to attend church services anymore. When I was a child, putting on nice Sunday clothing was expected. I know that I am not alone when I say that I grow weary of seeing people come to church in clothes that they would wear to clean out the garage. Why don’t people wear their Sunday-best to church anymore?

Dear Reader,

This is one of those old-fashioned practices that I believe deserves a comeback. Today when you scan the pews of churches, you are likely to sees rows of people dressed in their Sunday worst.

The “come as you are” approach to dressing down for Sunday service has gotten sloppy. Some saunter into church in baggy shorts, sweats and tennis shoes. Clothing like this isn’t inappropriate in itself, but too often it can be worn in the wrong context.

If you had the opportunity to meet the Queen of England, you wouldn’t show up in at Windsor Castle dressed in your sweatpants. Another example is: We honor the dead and show respect by dressing nicely for funeral and viewing services. But, today it’s not typical on Sundays in God’s house. Going to church should not be a lax process of picking the wrinkled shirt and worn jeans randomly grabbed off the floor. Dressing nicely for church has nothing to do with putting up fronts or appeasing people. It’s a personal decision to be made that states our intention.

I agree that more time and thought should be given to Sunday service attire. The question that needs to be asked is: “Why walk into God’s house with dirty sneakers when there’s a pair of clean shoes sitting at home?”

Part of the divide in this is mainly generational. Over the last several generations, attire in general has swayed toward the informal. There’s an older generation that has been taught that one of the ways we show honor and respect is to dress up. Then there’s a whole generation of people who either haven’t been taught that, or just disagree with that whole notion. Keep in mind that church attire is a preference formed by culture and tradition. Abiding by the silent code that when you dress up for something, you reveal the importance you attach to an occasion. I think it is wise to show respect, and wear your best when going to church.

Respectfully Yours, Jacquelyn

Have a question? Email: jacquelyn@ptd.net. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation. All Rights Reserved &Copy; 2018 Jacquelyn Youst