Updated COVID-19 Policies

Our blessed hierarchs have asked that we cancel all non-liturgical, in-person activities at our parish and limit attendance at all services to no more than 5 people. For those unable to attend services in person due to these restrictions, you can listen to services over the phone at (617) 941-8945 or watch our livestream. Please see our service schedule for times of livestreams and calls.

Dressing for an Orthodox church service

Often, newcomers to the Orthodox Church have no idea what dress code to follow when they visit a local parish or monastery. Depending on the parish, acceptable attire varies a bit, but as a Faith we do share many of the same guidelines for proper dress when attending services. In this post, we outline some of these basic rules for modest and respectful dress in an Orthodox Church.

Dressing for God

Every Christian (and non-Christian) should use good judgment when entering the church. The church is the House of God. It’s not just any ordinary place. When we enter, we do so humbly, with a sense of unworthiness. We dress as modestly and respectfully as we can, because we are in the presence of God Himself. If invited by any earthly king or queen, we would dress in our finest clothes. Therefore, we should dress similarly when accepting an invitation from the Lord of Heaven.

The way Orthodox Christians dress, both in and outside the temple, reflects their way of life and dedication to and fear of God. We dress modestly at all times, not in a flashy or provocative way that brings attention to ourselves. We go to church to worship God, not to make a fashion statement. Below are some general guidelines for dress. Keep in mind these vary from parish to parish, depending on the archdiocese (Greek, Russian, Serbian, etc.).

Gentlemen

The dress code for men attending an Orthodox church is rather simple. Here is a quick list of acceptable attire for gentlemen:

  • Collared, button-up shirts
  • Clean dress pants
  • Sweaters or vests
  • Ties and coats (not required, but always appropriate)



Shirts should be buttoned to the collar. (You can leave the collar button itself undone, but generally, leaving two or three buttons undone is inappropriate.) Jeans do not qualify as “dress pants,” as they are too casual, especially when they have patches or holes. Men should never wear shorts, even in the summer months.

Ladies

Ladies, our dress code is a bit more detailed, and harder to follow. The main reason for this is overabundance of immodest clothing we can buy these days. Here are items acceptable for a woman to wear in the House of God:

  • Modest dresses and blouses (no low-cut necklines or open backs)
  • Sleeves (no tank tops or sleeveless tops – unless you wear a sweater to cover the shoulders)
  • Knee-length skirts or longer
  • Clean dress pants



As with the gentlemen, ladies should refrain from wearing jeans or shorts to services. Ladies, we must also avoid short skirts, skin-tight clothing, and strapless or sleeveless tops. When it comes to footwear, so long as your dress shoes or sandals are clean and have backs, they are generally acceptable.


Dress and veil required?

Some parishes follow the old custom requiring women to wear skirts or dresses only and cover their heads in the temple. While we do not observe this in our parish, women may wear skirts and head coverings if they wish to do so. Be sure to check with the parish you plan to visit before deciding on what to wear.

Read More >> The Ultimate Guide to Christian Head Coverings

Examples of proper dress for women in an Orthodox church.
Dresses and skirts should reach the knee, cover the shoulders, and have a higher neckline. The neckline of the red dress is okay, but anything lower would not be acceptable.



Piper and Scoot, Modli, SweetSalt Clothing, and Inherit Clothing Co. are just a few among many online shops that have amazing selections of modest women’s clothing for reasonable prices.

Children

The dress code for children in church is the same as that for ladies and gentlemen. As with adults, children should have clean, tied shoes or sandals.

After Church

If you must go somewhere after church where you need to dress casually, you can always bring a change of clothing with you and change after the service. In most church halls, you can access a restroom and change there, if necessary.

Dress responsibly

Orthodox Christians must take responsibility for the way we dress and the way people perceive us because of it. Our goal in following these guidelines is not to oppress anyone’s individuality. Rather, it is to remain modest in the presence of our God and focus on prayer, worship, repentance, and communion with our God. If anything, freeing yourself from worry of how people perceive you is liberating. You can be your true self and focus on that which is important: worshiping God.

Dressing appropriately for service means giving God your absolute best. You wouldn’t go to a lovely dinner party in jeans and a t-shirt; why would you go to God’s house that way?

Read More >> Church Etiquette: The Ultimate Guide

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4 Responses

  1. My wife and I were invited to a church celebration but we don’t know what to wear. I like how you said that ladies should refrain from wearing jeans or shorts to services. I will share this article with my wife so that she can know what to wear.

    1. Derek,

      Christ is in our midst! We are so glad this content was helpful for you and your wife. Ultimately, do the best you can to be presentable when worshiping the Lord. Our best is all anyone can expect, and it is what God deserves!

  2. What about black sandals with black socks for men? I say black for both because I assume this would not stand out. I ask because I have foot/ankle problems and wear specific sandals with socks for comfort and pain control. Any thoughts?

    1. Douglas,

      Christ is in our midst! Thank you for your question. You are absolutely correct; black socks with black sandals would be the least noticeable combination. No parish should have a problem with this, because you chose that footwear to manage your pain, not to make a fashion statement. If you worry that this may distract others during worship, an alternative would be to sit off to the sides of the church or near the back. Ultimately, your intent is what matters. The Lord will not turn you away because you wear a particular shoe to manage chronic pain. He loves you and will accept you, so long as you come to Him in repentance, follow His commandments, and love others.

      God bless you!

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