The correct clothing for church is a hotly debated issue. Many churchgoers believe that sober, formal dress helps to emphasise the solemnity of the occasion, while others believe that appearance is unimportant compared to the spiritual experience of worship. Different churches often have different expectations, although few British churches have explicit dress codes. The only universal rule for dress among British Christians is that men should go bareheaded in church.
Church of England
The Church of England has no formal dress code for worshipers. Opinions on the subject of dress vary greatly within the church. In 2002, the General Synod of the church considered, but ultimately rejected, a proposal that vicars should be allowed to conduct services in casual clothing rather than in ecclesiastical vestments. Proponents of the idea claimed that the formality of church clothing distanced the message of Christianity from the everyday life of Christians, while opponents argued that vestments marked church services out as special. With diversity of opinions on clerical dress, it's unsurprising that the Anglican church shows similar diversity in the clothing of its members.
Most churches in the United Kingdom have a similarly variable approach to what dress is considered appropriate in church. Some denominations, such as the Exclusive Brethren, have extremely strict dress codes. In most churches, however, dress codes tend to be relaxed and to vary from church to church. Even denominations many people think of as conservative, like Baptists, often include wearers of casual clothing in services. Individual churches often post dress codes -- or, more commonly, disclaimers about the lack of dress codes -- on their websites.
Dress codes at Church of Scotland services are often relaxed, in keeping with the church's belief in incorporating religion into the daily life of its adherents. Other Scottish denominations tend to encourage more formal dress. Most Free Kirk denominations, for example, tend to encourage male churchgoers to dress in sober, formal clothes. However, this is usually a tendency among church members rather than an enforced rule. The specifics of dress are less important than that clothing express a sense of dignity, sobriety and reverence.
Even churches with relaxed dress codes tend to encourage more formal attire on occasions such as weddings, funerals, and christenings. On these occasions, men typically wear suits, often of conservative cut. For funerals, dark colours are common, and tie patterns are typically dark and muted, in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion. For weddings and christenings, which are joyous occasions, ties or pocket squares can brighten the overall look. Light-coloured suits are often seen at weddings in spring and summer.
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