Latter-day Saint Life

What does ‘Sunday best’ mean? This comforting, uniting explanation can deepen your worship

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“Think anyone will notice?” my husband mused, wearing Chacos as we strode together into the church building.

“How could they not?” I laughed. “Worst case, they assume you’re new to church and don’t know any better. Then they’ll be extra nice to you!”

In true newlywed fashion, we’d haphazardly thrown our things into the car and left town to visit my parents for the weekend. Among the things we’d forgotten were my husband’s dress shoes. We wanted to go to church with my family, so he wore the only shoes he had—hiking sandals.

His unorthodox footwear inevitably drew double-takes. But I chose to hope that our onlookers gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, anyone who knew the context of the situation would simply be glad we’d still chosen to come to church, wearing the best we had.

Whether it’s your three-year-old with a missing shoe, a teenager’s rumpled shirt, or a dress with a stain, many situations could make our worship experience feel less than adequate, if we let them. Our Sunday meetings are meant to be joyful and restful. But perhaps some people are so daunted by the cultural connotations of “Sunday best” that they feel too uncomfortable to attend church.

From the Church Handbook to the Savior’s own words, however, the actual guidance we’ve been given is encouraging and may help elevate our worship experience.

What Does the Church Handbook Say?

Regarding Sunday attire, the Church Handbook emphasizes the purpose behind our meetings:

“All are welcome to attend sacrament meeting, other Sunday meetings, and social events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The presiding officer is responsible for ensuring that all who attend are respectful of the sacred setting.

“Those who attend should avoid disruptions or distractions contrary to worship or other purposes of the meeting. [This includes] dress or grooming that causes distraction.”

In whatever ways possible, our attire and behavior should “[help] maintain a sacred space for everyone present, with a special emphasis on worshipping Heavenly Father and the Savior.”

All are welcome, and clothing should be conducive to the spirit of the meeting. Pretty simple!

► You may also like: The 2 Nephi verses Pres. Holland loves—and that explain why we put ‘Visitors Welcome’ on every church

What Does the Prophet Say?

While prophets and leaders may have more explicitly outlined the details of dress and grooming guidelines in the past, our current prophet has shifted our attention to an even higher, holier focus:

“The Lord needs you to look like, sound like, act like, and dress like a true disciple of Jesus Christ,” President Russell M. Nelson told the youth.

In a general conference talk, he observed, “When your greatest desire is to let God prevail, to be part of Israel, so many decisions become easier. So many issues become nonissues! You know how best to groom yourself.”

The updated For the Strength of Youth booklet similarly focuses on the principles behind dress and grooming. It emphasizes two simple truths:

Your body is a sacred gift from God.

Bodies should be treated with respect.

These guidelines elevate the meaning of “Sunday best” beyond fashion to focus. It’s about your intention—not the budget or brand—of what you wear. We’re approaching an altar, not walking a runway.

What Does Jesus Christ Say?

The Savior taught that Church members are not to “cast any one out from … public meetings, which are held before the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:3).

“All are alike unto God,” and He invites all “to come unto him and partake of his goodness” (2 Nephi 26:33).

“And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see” (Nephi 18:25).

Looking at what inspired Church leaders and the Lord Himself have said, we see only loving invitations to come, worship, and help each other remember the Savior. Dress your best, with the sacrament in mind. That’s it. If you’re looking for a detailed list of dos and don’ts, you won’t find it.

Yes, my husband’s Chacos weren’t ideal. We knew that. But they were the only option, and by default, the best option. The reality of Jesus Christ’s ever-welcoming gospel is that, put into practice, there’s room for circumstantial nuance. Everyone’s best looks different.

If the best thing in your wardrobe is a pair of jeans or a pair of hiking sandals—wear them. Come on Sunday.

We’re excited to see you there.

▶ You may also like: ‘My Jesus’: 1 simple way to feel closer to Him (that’s hinted at all over the scriptures)

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