Chances are you’ve seen missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a faith often inadvertently referred to as the Mormon church) canvassing streets proselytizing. They’re most often men in their early 20s wearing dark suits, ties, and name tags. Sometimes they’re young women dressed in conservative skirts and dresses. Recently The Church of Jesus Christ updated the dress code for their missionaries, making them not only more current with the professional trends but also more relatable and approachable. 
Sister Missionary Dress Code
A few years before this newest addendum, the dress standards for sister missionaries were updated to include knee-length skirts, trendy blazers, and brighter colors. This move made sister missionaries able to wear trendy clothing that was still appropriate for their callings as missionaries. They can wear cardigans, belts, and dresses, as well as clothing with bright and vibrant patterns. Wearing makeup is permissible as long as it looks natural and conservative. The Church of Jesus Christ encourages sister missionaries to wear clothing that fits well and looks professional. The Mormon sister missionaries used to look a little frumpy, but since the update to the dress code, now look more professional and put together.
Dress Code for the Elders
Male missionaries are called elders (keeping in line with the priesthood office they hold). Their dress standards used to consist of dark pants and suit jackets with white shirts and conservative ties. With this update, elders are allowed to wear lighter-colored suits and khaki pants. The white shirt requirement stays in effect. Elders can also wear more colorful ties.
Both sisters and elders are permitted to bring a few items of casual clothing for their preparation days, but hoodies and extreme hairstyles are still not approved. Backpacks have been removed from the list of acceptable bags, which is a change from the previous standards. Instead missionaries are encouraged to “choose shoulder bags that are durable, professional, and business-like.”
All missionaries are supposed to keep their decorum and presentation clean, professional, and in line with the high purpose they serve.
What These Changes Mean
When The Church of Jesus Christ updates the missionary dress standards, it indicates that church leadership is aware of the world in which its missionaries proselytize. Dress standards that were professional fifteen years ago may seem frumpy and out-of-date now. The church wants its emissaries to be approachable, relatable, professional, and competent, and so much of that depends on their outward appearance. The Church of Jesus Christ certainly does not endorse superficial vanity or judgment, but it does recognize that how you present yourself indicates how you view yourself and your mission.
The Church of Jesus Christ wants its missionaries taken seriously by the people they serve. Gospel standards value a modest and put-together appearance. By updating missionary dress standards, the church is allowing its ambassadors to better connect with others and perhaps even gain access into homes that might have otherwise been put off by the previous dress code.
We can be grateful to know that Mormon leadership is aware of the world and knows how to best adapt to trends and styles. Mormons are real, normal people, and the new dress standards reflect that.
For the official missionary dress and conduct standards, visit here.
Charlotte graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in English, with an emphasis in editing. During her education she interned with the Neal A.Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, BYU Publications, and the New Era magazine. Charlotte currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and son. She's a stay-at-home-mom and has been able to keep up her writing through maintaining a personal blog (smallandtrivial.blogspot.com).