Church clothing used to mean the dressiest clothing that you had in your wardrobe. And in many areas, it still does. There are many places where your finest clothes are saved for church services and where wearing a pair of jeans would be frowned on or disallowed. But in the majority of cases, the dress code for church services is far more relaxed than it once was.
Dresses are always acceptable for church, even for a casual afternoon church service. A dress can be inappropriate, however, if it is too short or too low cut. Remember to be respectful of the church and its congregation by wearing something modest and appropriate. The skirt or dress you wear should come down at least to your knees. Remember that you will be sitting throughout much of the service in most cases.
In many churches, men are expected to wear suits to each service. This is particularly true in the South and in Orthodox churches. If you are expected to wear a suit, make sure it is one in good condition and that you have a tie that matches your color scheme. If you can’t stand the thought of wearing a suit, wear a nice pair of slacks, a dress shirt and a nice jacket or blazer.
In many churches, jeans are perfectly appropriate. This is especially true for morning or afternoon services where things may be more casual than an evening church service. If jeans are acceptable in your church, make sure your jeans have no holes in them. Even jeans can look nice if they are paired with a nice shirt in good condition and are clean and pressed. You may want to iron your jeans to make them look nicer.
Your footwear should both show respect to the church and it should coordinate well with your outfit. Wearing sexy, strappy heels in church is generally not considered acceptable. High-heeled pumps are usually acceptable, as are flats. If you are dressed casually, in jeans or khakis, you can usually wear a pair of clean tennis shoes. Just make sure they are in good condition and are not muddy or too worn.
Wearing sandals may be appropriate with a summer dress or with a nice pair of jeans. It would not be acceptable to wear flip-flops to most churches. There are some churches that have extremely casual dress codes however, but anyone wanting to wear flip-flops to a service should ask ahead of time to make sure it is permitted.
There are many older churches that have their own special dress codes. In Europe, it is not uncommon for well-known churches to require people to have on long sleeves and long pants. Greek Orthodox churches also have this requirement, no matter where they are located. If you are going to attend a church that you are completely unfamiliar with, call ahead of time to find out how to dress appropriately. If you are unsure, dress in business casual clothing to avoid embarrassment.