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What to Wear to a Greek Orthodox Church

Greek orthodox church

The exact dress code that any one Greek Orthodox Church has will vary from church to church. However, there are a few things to remember when visiting any Greek Orthodox Church. There are several standards of dress that should be met in order to show respect to the church and to its members.

Men’s Clothing

When attending a service in a Greek Orthodox Church, forget wearing shorts or flip-flops. Shorts are not considered to be respectful in these churches, and they should be left at home.

For men, a simple suit is generally the safest thing to wear. Many people wear a full suit, including a jacket and tie. Choose a neutral color to keep the suit looking businesslike and respectful.

In place of a business suit, many Greek Orthodox Churches will allow men to wear a dressy pair of tan or khaki pants with a button-up shirt and a simple tie. Keep the colors neutral and keep the tie pattern simple. Loud ties are generally not appropriate in a Greek Orthodox Church. Make sure the shirt has long sleeves and is in good condition.

Wear shoes that are dressy to match the outfit. Casual loafers may not be appropriate to wear in the church. A dark pair of leather shoes will work with any outfit and are easy to find. Tennis shoes are almost never appropriate for a church service.

Women’s Clothing

For women, there are many options that are appropriate for a Greek Orthodox Church service. The main idea for women’s dress is to keep it modest. Many Greek Orthodox Churches have dress codes that call for modest clothing. To achieve this, remember not to show too much skin. The shoulders cannot be shown in the church, so avoid anything strapless or with thin straps. Keep your tops and dresses high cut and with long sleeves.

Wearing a simple dress is a nice way to show respect to the church. The dress should not be too tight and it should not have a shirt hemline. Keep the dress long, coming to the ankle or to the lower calf.

Many Greek Orthodox Churches have a dress code that specifies that skirts and dresses must come below the knee. Others ask that no leg be shown. If you aren’t sure which is appropriate, it may be best to wear an ankle-length dress or skirt to avoid any embarrassment.

Tennis shoes, flip-flops and stiletto heels are all inappropriate footwear for a Greek Orthodox Church. The shoes should be appropriate to the outfit and should not be too sexy in style. High heels are generally acceptable, but they should be simple in style and not too strappy.

Keep your jewelry and makeup simple when going to a service. Some Greek Orthodox Churches frown upon lipstick being worn if communion is to be taken. Keep makeup simple and neutral and wear only small, understated jewelry. Long, dangly jewelry may bring unneeded attention to yourself. Keep necklaces and earrings small and tasteful in order to keep your look respectful.

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1 Comment

  1. Ad Orientem · July 8, 2009

    This is something where your mileage will vary greatly depending on the parish and jurisdiction (Greek Russian etc.) The basic rule of thumb is to dress modestly. Excessively casual dress is not appropriate. Thus one should not show up for church dressed like you were on your way to the beach, the gym or a night club and stopped off on a whim.

    Suits and ties although certainly always appropriate are not as de rigueur as they once were. But long pants and long sleeve shirts are really encouraged on men. Some of the more conservative parishes do indeed frown on women wearing slacks or skirts above the knees. It’s also not at all unusual (especially in the Russian Church) to see women with their heads covered.

    On a more a practical observation, wear sensible shoes. Orthodox services tend to be longer than those in the Western (Catholic/Protestant) traditions. It is customary in many Orthodox churches to stand through much of the service. In some more traditional parishes the only pews will be a few against the walls for the elderly and infirm. Finally… ladies go easy on the makeup, especially lipstick. In the Orthodox Church there is a lot of kissing that goes on (icons, crosses, the priests hands etc.). Lipstick is the bane of icons.

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