Proper Dress Code Attire For Mass

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Modern culture has done a lot to erode away many of our traditions as well as decency and reverence.

Although the Catholic Church has no real dress code for proper attire when attending Mass, there IS an unwritten dress code that demands we are properly dressed out of respect, honour and reverence for the Real Presence of Our Lord.

Unfortunately, today a lot of people seem to forget they are attending church for the Sacred and Solemn Celebration of the Mass, and they seem to think that they are going to a fashion show, with the church aisle as their own personal catwalk.

When you dress for Mass, you are not dressing to impress others, you are dressing for God.

In addition, just the very act of dressing up nicely and modestly for Mass makes children more inclined to behave better during Mass.

I believe that there are TWO main reasons one should dress modestly and decently for Mass:

  1. Out of respect and reverence for God
  2. In order not to be a distraction or stumbling block to our fellow parishioners


Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about dressing properly for Mass:

To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. Bodily demeanour (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest – CCC 1387

Clement of Alexandria c. 195 AD says:  Let a woman wear a plain and becoming dress, but softer than what is suitable for a man. Yet, it should not be immodest or entirely steeped in luxury. And let the garments be suited to age, person, figure, nature, and pursuits.”

Ministers including, cantors, instrumentalists, choristers, lectors and extraordinary ministers should be particularly mindful of how they dress for Mass.  They should be setting an example for the parishioners.  It is highly disrespectful to administer Holy Communion to the faithful while dressed, say, in shorts and spaghetti strap tops.

According to Catholic Christian tradition (found in 1st Corinthians 11) the head covering requirement falls equally upon both men and women. According to the custom, men are to take their hats off during religious ceremonies, while women are to put a covering on. This is for two reasons. The first is just like the manner of dress described above — which is to excuse one’s self. Saint Paul points out to us that a woman’s glory is the beauty of mankind, and that is manifested in her hair. Women go to great lengths to make their hair beautiful, regardless of the style or trend, and that’s a good thing. But during the mass, the focus is to always be on the Eucharist, and as a sign of modesty and respect, the woman excuses her beautiful hair (by covering it) to call more attention to the greater beauty of God’s presence in the Eucharist. – SOURCE

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Generally, we should be guided by a combination of virtue, common sense and piety when deciding what to wear to Mass.

Below are some guidelines to follow when deciding how to dress for Mass.

Do Not Wear The Following:

  • Any dress or skirt that does not completely cover the knees when sitting or standing
  • Skimpy shorts, in fact, shorts of any kind
  • Beachwear
  • Dresses and tops that are tight-fitting, provocative, low-cut, bare midriff or sleeveless
  • Dresses or tops with spaghetti straps, with plunging necklines, that expose the bare shoulders or bare back,  or that are see-through
  • Dresses or skirts with high slits
  • Flashy clothing
  • Jeans
  • Leggings
  • T shirts
  • Any outfits with large logos or distracting messages
  • Flip flops, sneakers or beach sandals


Do wear:

  • Modest tops, dresses or skirts
  • Any pants should be avoided for traditional Catholic ladies; and if YOU MUST, wear dress pants, NOT jeans.
  • Chapel veils – covering of the hair for women in the presence of the Eucharist is done out of respect for Our Lord.  You see my veil recommendations HERE




My Veil Recommendations

10 Beautiful and Biblical Reasons To Wear The Veil

Dressing With Dignity


ad Jesum per Mariam



35 thoughts on “Proper Dress Code Attire For Mass

  1. Your comment of only wearing one piece bathing suits. I will say that there are companies that make 2 piece suits that are modest. Not bakkinis but two piece. The top covers the bottoms. The advatantage is fit. Not everyone is size 8 on top and bottom. Some are 8 on top and 14 on bottom. yah less then perfect shapped. Ok is it modest ot have a suit fit on top but very tight on the bottom. nope. Answer, get the right sized pieces. Also you can mix and match colors/paterns. Also far as not sunbathing, consider getting a rashguard top to go over it. Not just for you but for any other family members to keep from getting a nasty sunburn. I wear on when at the gym swiming in the indoor pool. Life guard who was taking a swim break asked as she shivered in the water. I said it helps to keep warm when going from hot pool to cool pool.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been studying about wearing veils and so far can find only two scripture references; although this is enough for me not to mention that we traditionally wore veils for two thousand years, it doesn’t seem adequate to convince others. One person thinks that wearing a veil to mass is just a “fashion statement”. Also, some people say they don’t have to wear a veil because they have short hair. I think they are referring to the “shorn” passage that says if a woman’s hair is shorn she doesn’t have to wear one. What do you think?


      1. A wonderful article. I’m afraid that the idea that women should attend Mass not wearing a veil owes more to feminism than it does to scripture and tradition.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Do you believe a chapel veil or mantilla should completely cover your hair ?

    What is your veiw on head covering more generally ?


      1. I will be write a few blogs on the topic at some point in the near future.
        However, on the Facebook page, I actively engage with the TCF Facebook members on the topic of veiling.


      2. I don’t sun-bathe on the beach, but when I go swimming, either in the sea or in the pool, I wear a one-piece


  4. We need these guidelines to be taught in Catholic schools and to appear in our parish bulletins. Our Parish priests no longer point out the irreverence of not adhering to conservative clothing at Mass. We need to bring back this reverent tradition to our churches.


    1. I think the priests are being bullied into silence by their own parishioners.

      Please feel free to share the article. When more people begin to see the beauty in Tradition and modesty, they will start to embrace it in their lives.


    2. I agree that they should be taught in schools but first and foremost parents should teach their daughters, priests should speak out and (dare I say it) husbands should guide their wives.


      1. Priest seem scared to speak out as their own parishioners turn on them; husbands are scared to speak out thanks to the rise of so-called female empowerment and feminism.

        Once we as women embrace femininity, receptive and docility, perhaps the men will feel more confident in stepping into their roles as guides and leaders.


  5. Dunno what you have against pants/jeans. Many older ladies in my parish wear them at mass, i assume because they’re comfortable and warm.


      1. Yes. I get surprised when people still excuse this. I even had a so-called non-liberal Catholic on the Facebook page today say that it is the woman’s choice.

        Like, what??! By that reasoning then, I guess if a woman wants to wear a bikini to Mass, she should. 🙄


    1. I wear them because I keep getting skirts caught on stuff and stepping on them or gettign them caught beween my legs as I walk. (bow legged) and falling. As I get older not safe to be falling all the time. I step up on side walk from parking lot and step up hight and step on skirt and fall. I shut the truck door on my skirt as I get out and rip it it. and fall. I genulect and step on skirt and fall on my face. People wonder why I fall all the time. I am a total clutz in a skirt or dress.


  6. I completely agree. I wear simple dresses, long sleeves and mid calf length and a veil. My daughter also always wears a dress.

    Our family rule is to veil for Church and private prayer but I think as a mimimum women and older girls should always veil for Mass.

    It is also important for men to look smart, not necessarily a tie but a proper shirt and usually a jacket.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am particularly pleased that both my mother and mother in law now veil and all the girls in our extended family have started doing so entirely voluntarily, they like the way it separates them from the boys.


  7. There is THE Marylike Standards for Modesty in Dress. Although it says, “as set down by the Vatican”, this is the Vatican of yesteryears before the changes were brought in by Vatican II, after which proper dress was not anymore a big thing. First the veil was done away with, and then things became casual, and now up to the point of disrespectful when women attending would wear indecent clothes to church (low cut/cleavage baring; exposed shoulders, mini-skirts, open backs; especially during weddings, Baptisms and Confirmations.

    The more conservative dress and veiling would be seen at Traditional/Tridentine Masses and other Traditional Sacraments. It’s a beautiful thing to go back to Tradition.


      1. Sadly yes, strapless and often backless dresses which show far to much (full stop) let alone for a Christian service. And in Catholic weddings I personally believe that the bridesmaids (and all women guests) should veil as they would for Mass.


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