Does anyone even use the expression “Sunday best” anymore? Each week as I attend Mass, I wonder what ever happened to the idea of wearing one’s Sunday best to church. Maybe this is something peculiar to Catholics, which would be sad indeed. It has become less the exception and more the norm to see the congregation decked out in jeans, shorts, sports jerseys, sneakers, and flip-flops. This is practically the universal church dress code for kids aged 10 and up. Sadly, though, adults often dress in the same way.
The arguments people propose for not dressing up for church are basically twofold:
- God doesn’t / shouldn’t care what I wear. Isn’t it enough that I go to church?
- Nobody dresses up for anything anymore. Why should I dress for Church?
Both of those typical arguments make me sad. In the first case, people trying to get away with the least amount of effort possible sort of miss the whole point. Why do we bother dressing up for work, a date, or a wedding or funeral? In all of these cases, we do it out of respect for someone else. Spending time on our appearance indicates that the event we’re attending or the job we’re going to means something to us; it’s important enough to put more effort into it than you would for, say, a trip to the grocery store.
In the second case, I get discouraged by the casual-ization of American culture. If everything is “come as you are,” what is special anymore? One year my husband and I went out to dinner for our anniversary to a certain expensive steak restaurant. OK, it was Ruth’s Chris–definitely a special occasion place for us. Darling husband wore a suit, and I wore a little black cocktail dress. Even the wait-staff at the restaurant were all dressed in white shirts and black ties. Unfortunately, we were sorely overdressed. Golf shirts and jeans on the men and capri pants on the women were the nearly unanimous choice of apparel. Well, there was a teenage couple obviously on their way to prom after dinner. I can’t imagine how out-of-place they must have felt in their evening attire. The crowd at this higher-end restaurant looked almost exactly like Outback Steakhouse diners. So much for marking a special occasion.
In my humble opinion, there is a link between our dress and our behavior. (Incidently, this is a big argument in favor of uniforms in schools.) When we are dressed up, we act with better manners, we stand up straighter, we aren’t as loud and boisterous. When we change into our jeans, we immediately want to spread out on a couch somewhere, put our feet up, and yap away on our cell phones. It’s no wonder then that Americans are seen as loud and obnoxious by most of the rest of the world.
Do you dress up for church–or anything–anymore?