What is considered proper and acceptable clothing to wear to church has undergone significant revision over the years. The overriding thing to know about etiquette for church attire is that you should always follow the prevailing wisdom of the congregation. While rebellion should be welcome anywhere, church is also be a place where you respect tradition. If someone asks you to come to his church, always inquire about dress code. If you are visiting a new church with no information about attire beforehand, dress in what is commonly called your Sunday Best.
More traditional churches still tend to require parishioners to show up in Sunday Best. This means nice trousers and a shirt for a man and a modest dress for a woman. Shoes should have hard soles and sneakers should be avoided. Some churches still prefer that men wear a suit and tie, though this rule may be relaxed during summer. The thing to keep foremost in mind at a Sunday Best traditional church is modesty. This means no shorts, no tight clothing and definitely no miniskirts.
During summer services, many churches relax their dress code to facilitate comfort. During the warmer periods, churches may allow short-sleeved shirts or even T-shirts. While jeans may also be allowed, wear jeans that are in good shape and darkly coloured rather than faded and torn. Some churches, based on region, even allow shorts as long as they are tasteful and not suggestive.
Pentecostal and Orthodox
At most Greek Orthodox and Pentecostal churches, church attire is still fairly strict. While jeans may be allowed in many Catholic churches, skip them inside Orthodox and Pentecostal churches. Even short-sleeved shirts are not traditionally welcomed inside Pentecostal churches and women should be prepared to wear dresses that comes down to their ankles. Modesty prevails and jewellery is discouraged.
The latest trend in churches has been toward a very casual approach overall. Rock music replaces traditional choirs and the location may be inside a cinema or shopping mall. Most of these churches are non-demoninational, and the dress code reflects their more universal approach. Inside these churches may be found men and women wearing relaxed, weekend attire. Not only are jeans allowed, but you can also wear shorts and even tank tops. Etiquette at these churches may be lax, but most still engage in rules of modesty. You may not see many suits and ties, that does not mean you should show up in immodestly short shorts or wear tight leather trousers.
When a church gives an outdoor service of some kind, rules for dress are generally relaxed significantly. Even traditional churches may allow tasteful shorts in this case. If not, then nice jeans may be acceptable. Just because regular etiquette is relaxed, however, does not mean that everything goes. Remember always that church, whether inside or outside, is intended to be a place to show respect to God and that includes appropriately respectful dress.