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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

If Ascot can have a dress code, why not Catholic churches?

I attended a wedding earlier this year in Ireland. The bridesmaids wore strapless dresses and no jackets. The bride, not a "small girl", wore a dress with straps, but the front was so low, I was embarrassed.

Nothing was said. There was no dress code for this parish.

Some of the female guests wore dresses only suitable for the club. Too tight, too low...

Famous English person....

On Easter Sunday, one Eucharistic Minister wore tight blue jeans. Another wore baggy blue jeans. On Easter Sunday morning!  Why do  parishes not have dress codes? I realize, and I have written about this before, that priests are shy about explaining to women that they are immodest or at least, dressing improperly for Mass or a sacrament.

If Ascot can have a dress code, why cannot Catholic churches? Here is the new Ascot dress code in brief.

What happened to the idea of being beautiful and not ugly? Why is ugly so popular? Why do women think they have to be sexy to be attractive? Notice in the dress code below that shorts are not allowed. A man wore shorts yesterday to Mass. I am amazed at this. Most women this morning at Mass were wearing very tight pants. Some only had tights on, stuck in boots, with shorts or a mini-skirt over the tights at Easter Mass.

Two young ladies were showing their midriffs. And, this is in England, in the countryside, not in New York!

I wear a hat to every Mass and I always wear dresses or skirts.

This is not hard to do and is not any more expensive and probably less expensive than buying jeans.


  • Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer
  • Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater
  • Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code
  • Trouser suits are welcome. They should be of full length and of matching material and colour
  • Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat
  • Strapless, off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch (2.5cm) are not permitted
  • Midriffs must be covered
  • Fascinators are no longer permitted in the Royal Enclosure; neither are headpieces which do not have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches / 10cm)


    • A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times
    • Strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops are not permitted
    • Trousers must be full length and worn with a top that adheres to the guidelines above (i.e. strapless or sheer strap tops are not permitted)
    • Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Grandstand Admission dress code
    • Midriffs must be covered
    • Shorts are not permitted

Read more:

Bring back the femininity of the 1950s

We have lost the idea of the feminine and modesty is not taught. Please, priests, help us with this. Women need to teach modesty and womanly dress to their girls. And, some of those ladies who are the most immodest now are the over-forties. Give it up, girls.....Look your age.


Anita Moore said...

Oh, so it's worship the Lord in holy attire, not "holey" attire! That makes a difference!

This does need to be preached about. Modesty is a must in our sex-saturated age. Happily, there is at least one priest publicly addressing the subject of holy attire at Mass. Here is a teriffic post by the Rev. Richard Simon of Skokie, Illinois:

gemoftheocean said...

Well, bully for you! You wear a hat to every Mass! That must make you better than the common herd! Well done, good and faithful servant.

While I would very much agree that some of your points are well taken regards too much boob, midriff or skin showing, it might behoove you to remember that the church is open for worship for ALL people. So don't automatically turn up your nose to someone who is wearing jeans, whatever. You can't possibly know everyone's circumstances, so it's very wrong of you to cast judgement.

Not sure who the 'famous' person is of the woman in jeans, but I don't have a problem with her. She's covered, and though the jeans are close fitting, they're not spray painted on, and there is ample give nor is she bulging flesh out over the waistband-so I'm not sure why the snarkiness extends to her.

As for the three girls at top -- I'd agree strapless isn't at all appropriate for a church service, particularly a wedding. HOWEVER -- be that as it may, the phenomenon seems fairly new. A priest is not, however, likely to upset bride/bridesmaids by saying 'unless you go home and change this wedding is off.' That's just not going to realistically happen. What would make more sense all around is for the priest, quite early in the game of preparing the couple LONG BEFORE the bride starts planning/buying expensive dresses etc. gives the couple some guidance.

God alone knows what possesses a certain subset of English women to dress in an exceedingly tacky manner -- particularly with the 'tights' look. Trust me, no where in America would you find a 40 year old woman with tights and just a sweater which barely covers the butt - and yet here I've seen it too often to be some poor deranged soul who forgot to put trousers or skirt on. On the train into Waterloo the other week I noticed a mum and her three year old. On a rather chilly day mum had dressed her 3 year old in thin white tights and a red dress which barely covered the kid's crotch, wellies, and a thin sweater. Then mum had to constantly keep tugging at lambkin's dress which kept riding up to her waist. So I guess there's your nascent to-be 16 year old who'll be dressed up in fishnet stockings, strappy high heels that she can't quite walk in, lacy peek-a-boo strumpet dress (tits flyin')with a knit scarf mit/plastic doo-dads hanging in 42F weather some 13 years hence.

I can't imagine anything more distasteful than Fr. So-and-so lecturing from the pulpit on such matters. He's likely to come off as some Mooslim-like perv who gets excited at the thought of a women's ankle, or sound like an old gay queen in the process. If there's no one ill dressed in the church, why lecture. If someone has got on long tailored shorts in hot weather in church in a tourist area, they'll think they are being singled out for persecution and they may never darken the church door again. Not a good thing.

Supertradmum said...

The people wearing jeans to my church live in million pound houses and buy their expensive clothes in expensive shops. Wearing jeans has nothing to do with being poor. It has to do with a liberal statement and I think, the denial of the belief in the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

I attended two events with royalty present. We have a dress code. Those people are human and not Divine. Why should we not have dress codes published in the bulletins, or in the papers given out at the marriage prep classes? This would be before anyone goes shopping, I would think.

As to ill dressed ladies and men, it is a weekly occurrence, not now and then. Eucharistic Ministers should never wear jeans. Nor should altar servers. Period.

Just another mad Catholic said...


Personally if I was a PP I wouldn't spend a sermon on the subject in isolation but I would include the subject (however briefly) in a sermon regarding chaste behaviour in general, I would not go into prurient details but simply remind ladies that acceptable clothing need not be expensive and that as a rule of thumb modest clothing should not be comprised of transparent material, should conceal rather than reveal the figure, should cover both elbows and knees that necklines should be roughly two fingers below the neck.

I would also place a polite notice (there are many available)in the Vestibule reminding visitors (men and women) of the necessity of respect due to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; followed by a brief description of what counts as modest.

Patricia Cecilia said...

I am totally with you in this respect! In our small TLM/NO country church in the southern US, the first announcement in every bulletin is a box that reads:
CHURCH. Please maintain reverence, silence and a prayerful
attitude at all times, especially before and after mass. In this
parish, individual communicants are welcomed to stand or
to kneel side by side at the altar rail.
Our full participation for the entire Mass is most important.
We are here to worship God for 1 hour a
week - therefore it is VERY IMPORTANT not to
leave Mass until the recessional hymn has been sung.
The way we dress for Mass shows our internal disposition
towards God. Be reminded that shorts and tank tops are
not appropriate attire for Church.

Our church is just off a major highway leading to the beach, so we regularly have visitors who stop for Mass (alleluia!) but whose attire is less than our normal, but we are still welcoming. And our parish secretary receives a call per week in the summers from someone who visited and appreciates the notice about the Presence of Our Lord and how we should behave and dress.

Most of us ladies in the parish veil; a few wear lovely hats. I love hats, but singing in a hat always reminds me of singing opera, and I just cannot conduct in a hat, so I have a knee-length veil that covers my long hair.

Last year I posted on Fr. Z's blog a funny announcement meant to remind people to dress modestly, and there were people who flamed it, thinking that our pastor was being 'unkind' or 'unwelcoming'. Nothing could be further from the truth.