Since the first Sunday of 2005 is almost upon us, letâ€™s take a good look at ourselves and consider our Sunday attire. More specifically, letâ€™s look at whoâ€™s wearing pants in your chapel. If you hadnâ€™t already noticed, itâ€™s mostly men.
Iâ€™ve always found this a rather odd practice in Mormon culture. If youâ€™ve ever attended Sunday services for other faiths, youâ€™ll find that itâ€™s not uncommon for women to wear pants to church. Of course, there are lots of congregations that have adopted a â€œCasual Sundayâ€? attitude when it comes to attire, and youâ€™ll find lots of women wearing pants in those chapels. But even in congregations that still â€œdress upâ€? on Sundays, youâ€™re likely to see just as many women in pantsuits and dress slacks as you will in skirts and dresses.
So why not in LDS chapels?
Members are instructed to dress for church respectfully, to don our nicest apparel as we prepare ourselves to worship God and partake of sacrament. But why does â€œSunday bestâ€? for women always mean skirts or dresses? If the instruction is to wear our best clothing, Iâ€™d venture that many LDS women own pantsuits and slacks that are more formal than their skirts. Why arenâ€™t they wearing them to church? Pantsuits are considered just as formal as skirts in the business world, academia, etc. A few years back Martha Stewart even wore a silk pantsuit to a formal White House dinner. Why does Mormon culture cling to antiquated notions of what is appropriate formal attire for women?
This may seem like a fairly obvious answer, but other than the fact that itâ€™s always been done that way, the only reason I can think of for the culturally prescribed skirt and dress uniform is that it is an outward manifestation of our very traditional views about gender roles. Perhaps itâ€™s more complicated than that, and Iâ€™d love to hear everyoneâ€™s theories on the subject.
Admittedly, there are exceptions. I generally find that there are three types of women who you might see sporting pants on Sundays at LDS meetings.
1) Babies: Nobody has any problem with baby girls, especially during winter months, being bundled up in pants.
2) Elderly Ladies: There is something about getting older that makes wearing a dress or skirt more uncomfortable and burdensome. Iâ€™m not sure what it is. . .maybe the nuisance of wearing nylons or stockings. Whatever the reason, you might see an elderly woman wear a smart pantsuit to church and nobody thinks anything of it.
3) Radicals. The only women over 12 months and under 82 that Iâ€™ve ever seen wearing pants are women who want to make a statement. They are progressive feminists, and they sacrifice themselves to the cold stares and foyer whispering that inevitably come with taking this bold gesture.
Take a look around your chapel this Sunday and see whoâ€™s wearing the pants. Do you see women in pants? Do they fall into these three categories?
And to all the women out thereâ€”have you ever worn pants to church? If you have, what was your experience like? And if you havenâ€™t, will you in 2005? If you wouldnâ€™t feel comfortable wearing pants to Sunday services, why not?
As for me, despite my feminist leanings, Iâ€™ve never worn pants to church. But Iâ€™ve hatched a plan to do so this Sunday, and you can bet Iâ€™ll follow up and write about how it went.
Brian, on the other hand, has refused to wear a dress this Sunday. Now is that any way to start off the new year?