Dressing For An Orthodox Church Service

Row of suit jackets, appropriate attire for men in an Orthodox Church

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.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Dressing for God

Every Christian (and non-Christians, too) should use their best judgment before 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.).


The dress code for men attending an Orthodox church is rather simple:

  • Collared, button-up shirts
  • Clean dress pants (no shorts, even in the summer, and no jeans)
  • Sweaters or vests
  • Ties and coats (not required, but always appropriate)

When wearing a button-up shirt, you can either button to the collar or leave the first button undone. Leaving more than one button undone is inappropriate for worship. Moreover, men should not wear tight-fitting dress shirts and pants, and instead opt for loose-fitting, modest clothes. (Modesty and humility aren’t just for the ladies; men can distract women, too!) Lastly, avoid wearing clothes with any words or logos on them.


Ladies, our dress code is a bit more detailed, and harder to follow. The main reason for this is the overabundance of immodest clothing we can buy in stores these days. Ladies, try to wear:

  • Modest dresses and blouses (avoid low-cut necklines or open backs)
  • Sleeves (no 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, strapless tops, and clothing with writing or logos on it. 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.


We welcome you to bring your children to church with you. The dress code for children is essentially the same as that for ladies and gentlemen. Avoid revealing tops, shorts, tennis shoes, and clothing with wording. +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 clothes with you and change after the service. In most church halls, you can access a restroom and change there, if necessary.

What to wear to church in the summer

Depending on where you live, summers can get brutal with the heat. Many men and women struggle to find clothing that is appropriate for church during these hotter months. However, regardless of the temperature, modesty in the house of God is still important. Therefore, all the other dress code guidelines we stressed above still apply in summer, too. Here are some helpful tips for finding modest clothing in the summer:

  • Wear breathable fabrics, like cotton, linen, or rayon
  • Choose lighter colors that reflect light instead of absorbing it
  • Ladies: wear long flowing skirts to allow your legs to breathe; modest maxi dresses are also a great option
  • Gentlemen: opt for khakis and a nice collared, button-up short sleeved shirt

What if I don’t have nice clothes?

We understand that not everyone has the financial means necessary to afford the kind of clothing that we’re describing in this post. And that is okay! The Lord expects our best in our present circumstances. Simply dress the best that you can afford to; no one will judge you for this.

If you would like to attend services at an Orthodox church, but feel you don’t have dress code appropriate clothes, reach out to the priest at that parish. He may know of some organizations that can help you find some nice clothing, either for free or for a great low price. Here at St. John’s, we actually have a clothing ministry that distributes clothing to those who needed it, whether it’s for their newborn baby, their next job interview, or for a visit to our church upstairs! Your local Orthodox parish might do something similar, so reach out and ask for help if you need it.

Dress responsibly

Orthodox Christians must take responsibility for the way we dress and the way people perceive us because of it. Our goal in asking our parishioners and visitors to follow 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 Him. 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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8 Responses

  1. 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!

    2. Many can’t read The Holy Bible only word for word only just his word only. Never changed pants on women. Read Matthew 22:11-13 clothing only keeps a man from Heaven. Ask God. Lord is it you in the dream? Lord am I eligible for Heaven?

      1. Rickey,

        Christ is in our midst! While you are correct in noting that there are indeed literal ways to interpret verses in the Scriptures, there are also other layers here that you seem to have overlooked. Keep in mind this is a parable the Lord is speaking, trying to illustrate a heavenly reality in a way people could understand and relate to. In other words, not all of this is meant to be taken literally, but instead symbolically and typologically. The wedding garment is not limited to the literal clothing we would wear. Here it refers to the garment we receive upon our baptism, and by extension, a life of faith, repentance, virtue, and charity. Without these, a person will ultimately be “cast into outer darkness”. Those who arrive “without a wedding garment” are those who think they can enter the Kingdom of God on their own terms, living life as they please. However, in other parables throughout the Scriptures, the Lord makes clear that there is a certain way of life that precludes eternal life. If we do not live a life of repentance, loving our neighbor as ourselves and worshiping the Lord, THAT is why He will turn us away. Not because we wore socks and sandals to church as a way to manage chronic pain, or whatever other circumstance you may want to insert here.

        Perhaps the perfect example of this is St. Mary of Egypt, who lived in the 4th century. After living a life of debauchery, St. Mary repented of her sins and went to live out in the desert beyond the River Jordan. She spent over 40 years in that desert before she saw another living person, and by then she wore nothing more than rags. The man she met was a priest, who gave her his tattered cloak to cover herself and administered Holy Communion to her. She passed away soon after that and entered in the joy of her Master. So you see, dear brother, it is not meant to be so literal. Clothing is a product of one’s circumstance. The Lord will not judge you for such things. He will, however, judge your heart and soul, according to your works.

        God bless!

    3. Dress pants and jackets were invented by western monarchs in modern history and have no basis in Christianity.

      They are nothing more than glorified gashion statements that outlived their time due to their high prices and unusability in day-to-day life.

      “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” – Lord Jesus Christ

  2. If I do not have any button up shirts other than my blue long sleeve school shirt and my long grey school pants, with my school socks and shoes, may I wear them (yes I also have a tie)

    1. Keanu,

      Christ is risen! We would encourage you to wear the best clothing you have in your closet. If that means wearing your school uniform for now, that is perfectly okay. Simply do your utmost to look presentable before God, and that is all anyone asks of you. God bless!

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