By popular demand, here is the first installment of the Sacrament Meeting-Men’s edition of “What Not to Wear”
I need to start off with a few disclaimers about my perspective on what is and is not appropriate for church:
1. I attend a small ward in Queens, NY. I am just happy that people actually show up at church and personally could not care less about what they are wearing.
2. I believe appropriateness is relative. It is based on, among other factors, age, geographic location, body type, and personality.
3. To me, appropriateness doesn’t necessarily come down to the appropriateness of each piece in the outfit, it comes from the sum of all the parts, including overall grooming.
4. I have a hard time with the white shirt/suit thing for men. My husband never wore a white shirt or suit to church until he was made part of the Bishopric.
5. Based on the comments to the welcome post, many people visiting this site might find what I choose to wear to church completely inappropriate. I’ll address this more in my “What Not to Wear” part 2.
Now with all that said, I did try to come up with some pointers on how to develop your own “church style”. Please note that they are in no particular order and while admitting #4 above, most of my comments are directed towards the suit/white shirt look. I can answer any other questions in the comments.
– If you are not a deacon and are not proselyting in a South American mission, you should not be wearing short sleeve, button-up shirts–especially with a suit – UGH!
– Never underestimate the power of shoes. It can make or break your entire ensemble. So, break out the polish and shine away.
– If you feel like you must wear a white shirt to church, invest in some new white shirts with texture or patterns in the weave. You might think that a white button-up shirt is just a white button up shirt, but there are small style variations that occur not only in the fabrics, but also in the in the cuffs and more noticeably in the collar shape. These small variations can make a big difference in your overall look.
– Which brings me to my next point, if you have any white shirts left over from the “mish”–get rid of ‘em.
-Again, if you are a white shirt/suit kind of guy, the best way for you to add interest to a church outfit is with your tie and socks. Now don’t go crazy. I am NOT advocating anything with character, car, or sport motifs (these are what I call “novelties” and should be purged from your closet). It means choose something with a pop of color or an interesting pattern.
-No matter what you choose to wear, make sure that it is well pressed. I like the look of light starch for dress shirts.
Every man should have: at least one nice tie clip (but I would stay away from the kistchy mormon “hold to the rod” ones or any that might fall into the “novelty” category mentioned above) and a nice dress belt that is sans cracks, rips and tears. Watches are also a great men’s accessory. Take off the sporty G-shock for church and opt for a more clean, chic style with a leather band perhaps. Or if you think you can pull it off, sport an “antique” pocket watch.
If anyone has ever had the opportunity to see what a suit looks like when the top layer of fabric is removed or been lucky enough to watch a skilled tailor fit a suit, you will begin to understand why suits are so expensive. I believe a suit is one of the few items of clothing that when you pay more, you actually get more (of course there are always exceptions). The difference in quality comes in the workmanship and the fabric, which translates into how it will wear (meaning fit and durability). So just remember, a cheap suit will usually look like a cheap suit and will most likely have to be replaced (or should be replaced) a lot sooner.
Slacks: To cuff or not to cuff? Right now, I would not buy any pants that had a cuff, but it is fine to wear the ones you have. The cuff thing comes and goes as quickly as women’s skirts rise and fall. And similarly, you are okay either way. I think the same thing goes for pleats except the pleat issue also has an affect on the look of your body. They are not slimming. So, if this is something you worry about as a man, go with a pair of flat front slacks that FIT RIGHT.
Suit Coats: How many buttons? Two-button: conservative. Three-Button: nice and not too trendy. Four (or more) buttons – young, trendy and going out. Double-breasted: old, conservative and frankly, I would stay away.
My final advice to you men is: clothes wear out, go out of style and need to be replaced. So, you need to go shopping each season. This doesn’t mean you have to buy a whole new church wardrobe every six months, but you should pick up some new socks, a couple ties, a new pair of slacks and one or two new dress shirts (this especially holds true if you wear “church clothes” to work everyday). You probably don’t need a new suit every season, but depending on how often you wear them, you should probably get a new one every year or so just to keep a good rotation going. For each new item you buy, immediately go home and swap it out for the oldest, most out of style, or most worn out piece in that same category so you are not tempted to wear the old items when nothing else is clean.
That’s all for now. I will try to post part 2 — Sacrament Meeting-Women’s edition of “What Not to Wear” soon.