What is the proper attire for mass?

Schools that require students to wear uniforms know that we take things more seriously when we are dressed for the occasion. Our dress communicates a great deal about who we are and what is important to us. When you dress for mass, you are telling yourself – and others around you – how much you care about what is taking place. Celebrating the Eucharist is the high point of our lives as Catholic Christians – isn’t that worth showing attention and respect?

Acceptable attire at mass varies from culture to culture, place to place and occasion to occasion. In the United States, extremely casual dress has become the norm in almost all public places. But going to mass is different from going to the mall, and it calls for different dress and different behavior. Your attire should show that you believe going to mass is important enough to take time to make yourself ready. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go to mass if you don’t have time to go home and change first. It’s always better to be there than to be absent; God and your community want to see you, no matter how you look! But it is worth making the effort to clean up a bit. You may even find – like those students who behave better and learn more when they wear uniforms – that you pay more attention and are able to participate more deeply in the mass when you dress for the occasion.

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.