Church Updates Dress Standards for Young Male Missionaries

Geoff Openshaw

Geoff Openshaw

Tie? What tie? Latter-day Saint missionaries in some areas will now be allowed to forgo white shirts and even ties.

We haven’t had a good Big Friday™ news dump in some time, so good on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for throwing us a bone as we grapple with COVID and mass protests, this time in the form of new dress standards for male missionaries!

Area Presidencies now have the authority to adjust expected missionary attire so that it is appropriate for the circumstances and climate, or as the press release puts it, “to improve and maintain missionary dignity, safety, effectiveness, approachability and cultural sensitivity while properly representing the Lord and His Church.”

According to the updated guidelines, which were approved the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, young men may be able to wear a white or plain blue dress shirt with or without a tie. Area Presidencies will make the call. Many missionaries serving in hotter climates, in particular, will welcome the news.

To be clear, these are being considered ­“exceptions” to the common dress standards—a white shirt and a tie—and are not to be considered a personal choice as when sister missionaries were given the option to wear pants in certain situations.

Eschewing a tie makes sense in many areas because of climate, cultural, or even economic reasons, but the decision to allow blue shirts seems less clear. What is the use case for that? What is the “cultural sensitivity” of wearing a blue shirt beyond, save perhaps that a steadfast commitment to white shirts and ties among the local members is more common in the Intermountain West and less so elsewhere, especially Europe? Interesting stuff.

Lest anyone think this means missionary outfits will become increasingly casual, with feet adorned with Crocs a mere revelation away, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf stressed that “Missionary attire will always be dignified, respectful and approachable as missionaries fulfill their purpose of teaching people about the gospel of Jesus Christ,” even if it “has regularly adapted over time according to location, style and custom.”

White shirts and ties remain a requirement for missionaries to attend the temple, Sunday worship services, leadership and zone conferences, missionary training centers, baptismal services, and other church meetings. Basically, missionaries packing for the field will need to purchase a number of white shirts and ties, and then potentially not wear those ties that often, and also pick up some blue shirts along the way.

We’re only a few years away from respectable patterns on our dress shirts. I can feel it. Gingham, here we come!

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