Daily Outfit: Wear Pants to Church Day

Earrings – made by me | Cheong sam shirt – thrifted | Black pants – Kohl’s (?) | Feather bracelet – Francesca’s | Shoes – thrifted

December 16th marked a special day for Mormon feminists around the world. Today was Wear Pants to Church Day where women wore pants and men wore purple to show how women of our faith desire greater gender equality. While there are many women that have never felt unequal as a woman, this doesn’t negate the experiences of those of us who do.

Women traditionally wear skirts and dresses to church and while there is nowhere in any official church manual that precludes women from wearing pants, people were up in arms about women wearing pants to church. They felt like it was a political protest and that church was not the place for it.

C. Jane Kendrick said it beautifully: “It’s not a protest, it’s an outreach.” Today I wore pants in solidarity to stand with women who feel alone, out of place, and misunderstood. Today was an opportunity for us to bear one another’s burdens, to mourn with those that mourn, that comfort those that stand in need of comfort.

While I was the only woman who wore pants to church today in my ward, I didn’t feel alone — I could feel the sisterhood. Today I was part of something bigger. And I haven’t felt that excited to go to church in a long time.

And yay for my husband who wore purple (a color associated with women’s suffrage) to church today as well!

Did you wear pants to church today? I want to hear all about it!

Linking up with: Visible MondayWatch What I’m Wearing | Lily Among Thorns

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24 Responses to Daily Outfit: Wear Pants to Church Day

  1. vanessa says:

    Now All Enlisted that put together this movement want changes to the church done. Culturally I believe that changes do need to occur and that we need to talk about them! But doctorinal…no. So that part scared me–scared me from being involved and also scared me for others. What changes do you want to be made in the church? Do you agree with the whole of All Enlisted movement? I agreed with Courtney's post and found it beautiful. But I just worried that for *ME* jumping on this train started by All Enlisted…that I couldn't because a lot of what was being said I could not get behind. I would love to hear more about your thought process. So many women have been nasty in their back and forth. I am honestly just trying to understand and open myself up to other's viewpoints.

  2. Lindsay says:

    We are asked to wear our Sunday best (whatever that may be depending on your personal circumstances) to show our utmost respect to our Heavenly Father in His house. No one would ever be turned away for wearing pants if their personal circumstances forced them to do so. I hesitate to even make a comment and give attention to this ridiculous stunt. This is merely attention seeking behavior from people who would rather turn the attention from The Lord to themselves. Me, me, me, me! That’s all I hear in this prideful, childish argument. I still can’t fathom faithful members of the Church who truly understand the Gospel openly criticizing the Church all over social media to gain more attention for themselvesand simultaneously making a mockery of their own Church. I continuously hear the argument that the Church needs to be more progressive and get with the times. The It’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not man. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You sound like a petulant little child. To all the drama mamas wearing pants to church, get over yourself. It’s not about you. It’s about The Lord. Grow up.

  3. kari says:

    Skirts and dresses might be considered "Sunday Best" for some, but it's a cultural construct. There are many cultures throughout the US (and certainly in other nations) where slacks, pants, and other pieces of clothing are considered very much a dressy outfit and would fit into the "Sunday Best" category. I personally don't understand how a skirt is considered dressier than a pants suit or gauchos, culottes, or any number of clothing choices. The culture I grew up in (Missouri Synod Lutheran) in the 1970's and 1980's didn't have that dictate that our Sunday Best was only dresses or skirts.

    When I converted to the LDS Church about 5 years ago I donned the uniform that I was told was appropriate. Even though I wear a skirt or dress every Sunday I was still criticized for wardrobe choices I made. I was wearing a skirt or a dress, but it still didn't meet the cultural fashion standards. I was uncomfortable in a very real physical sense – the shoes, pantyhose, etc. that come with the Mormon Sunday Best Uniform are uncomfortable and distracting for me. They aren't a sign of respect or reverence as much as a straight jacket for many women who wear them.

    The Lord knows my heart and my spirit. He knows why I've decided to abandon the Mormon Sunday Best Uniform and he's also instructed the Brethren of the Church. They've never taught us that we must wear dresses and skirts. Even our sacred temples have no restrictions upon us entering them wearing something different than dresses or skirts. To claim that we are breaking with Church doctrine or wearing slacks to bring attention to ourselves couldn't be farther from the truth. Women making these choices are doing so in order to help them feel the Spirit even more and bring peace to their hearts.

    My wish is that we all would look beyond the physical and simply emulate Christ's teachings.

    3 Nephi 12:10 -16

    10 And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    11 And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake;

    12 For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.

    13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the salt of the earth; but if the salt shall lose its savor wherewith shall the earth be salted? The salt shall be thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men.

    14 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

    15 Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;

    16 Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

    We are shining not to draw attention to ourselves, but to the teachings of Christ who taught us to love and show charity and kindness to all.

  4. Zara says:

    Lindsay, you may want to 1) calm down and 2) do a little research before calling people childish, petulant and prideful. The Lord may be the same yesterday, today and forever, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints changes constantly. Joseph Smith was fine with black men having the Priesthood, then racism won the day and Brigham Young started the nasty rhetoric that led to blacks being banned from the Priesthood until 1978. If there hadn't been clamoring, and factors like Brazilian members leaving the church in droves and people refusing to play BYU's athletic teams because of the ban, we'd probably be still insisting the ban was doctrinal and mysterious. But it was an outside force that sparked the need to pray about it and change the policy.

    Likewise, the Word of Wisdom was a mere suggestion (sparked by Emma's disgust at having to clean up after the menfolk and their nasty tobacco habits), until Heber J Grant decided it needed to become a larger part of Mormon doctrine and culture, essential to salvation, etc. His motivation, however, was probably less inspiration and more trauma from having been raised by an alcoholic father.

    Things change all the time in the church. Garment lengths changed as a result of modern clothing. Temple ceremonies changed because members were bothered by parts of them. The Proclamation on the Family was given because the church was keeping tabs on same-sex marriage voting in Hawaii, long before the debate reached the mainland.

    Tithing used to be on increase, not on the full income. Women used to be fully in charge of Relief Society , and they used to be able to give blessings.

    The church is not the same yesterday, today and forever. The church's gender roles are largely in place due to its continuing romance with the 1950s ideal. Hence the June Cleaver ideal, which wouldn't have ever worked if America hadn't experienced an economic boom after WWII. Women would have had to work out of necessity. The 1950s idea continues to hound the men, too; we're afraid of beards and tattoos, because they remind old men of the hippie movement. The "company man" aesthetic has followed us for half a century now. This will eventually change, too, as the old guard dies off, and as women in pants and the "I'm a Mormon" campaign gain more exposure. And members, years from now, will insist that no one ever thought differently. How quickly we forget.

  5. Liffey Banks says:

    1) This is merely attention seeking behavior from people who would rather turn the attention from The Lord to themselves. Me, me, me, me!" …. The pants movement wasn't about drawing attention from the Lord, but to obey the counsel of the Lord, to mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. Maybe you have never felt disenfranchised, but many have, due to the cultural and gendered norms in the church. I covenanted to bear their burdens when I was baptized. The pants day was a small way of doing just that. It said, "I hear you, I validate your pain, and I want to serve and love you in the Lord's church."

    2) "I continuously hear the argument that the Church needs to be more progressive and get with the times. It's the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not man. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever." I agree that the Gospel is perfect and doesn't need to change. But the church has undergone radical changes since it was first restored; obvious changes like the priesthood being extended to Blacks, to changes less talked about like the Temple Endowment ceremony and changes to the Garment. Doctrines, like polygamy and the Adam God Theory, have been rejected. Counsels have changed, the church no longer condemns interracial marriage and no longer encourages heterosexual marriage for gay members. These changes indicate to me, that the church is constantly needing to change in order to become "more perfect," just like we, as human beings, do. Indeed, the church is made up of people, and people are flawed. If the prophet knew everything, he wouldn't be a person, he'd be God. And he's not.

    3) "You sound like a petulant little child." I would encourage you to examine your language and tone, because frankly, you sound like a bully.

  6. Diane says:

    Thank you Sarah! and those organizers who thought up this wonderful event. Those of us older ladies with a hereditary disposition towards "cankles" are thrilled to see dress pants normalized as acceptable Sunday attire for all women regardless of income level.

    And although I am way past wearing clothing as fashionable as your beautiful church outfit, I will be recommending your website/posts to my daughter. You have a fantastic sense of style that she would love.

  7. Seth says:

    "We are asked to wear our Sunday best (whatever that may be depending on your personal circumstances) to show our utmost respect to our Heavenly Father in His house."

    Really? Several of the brothers in our ward own tuxedos (including our Bishop), but they never wear them on Sunday. Why do you think that is?

    "I continuously hear the argument that the Church needs to be more progressive and get with the times. The It's the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not man. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

    Yes, this is the same argument made by those who were upset that some church members were speaking out about black church members being allowed to hold the priesthood again (as was authorized by Joseph Smith) and attend the temple. A short time later, the "revelation" was received allowing that very thing.

    Do you realize that you are equivocating wearing a dress to obeying Jesus Christ? Jesus never said that women should wear dresses to church.Cultural practices get so ingrained in our psyche that we actually begin to discuss the assumed "dress code" in terms of salvation. Obedience to gospel principles is one thing. You, on the other hand, are speaking of conformity to social norms within the church and that does NOT make one more spiritual, more obedient, or closer to Jesus!

    "You sound like a petulant little child. To all the drama mamas wearing pants to church, get over yourself. It's not about you. It's about The Lord. Grow up."

    I'm pretty sure Jesus said this very thing! It's sounds just like him, right? Hang on, let me try to find a reference for you…

    Sorry. I tried. Couldn't find anything like that. If you feel more dressed up or more comfortable in a dress or skirt, then by all means wear that! But if a woman feels comfortable in a nice pair of dress slacks, she should not be shamed, ridiculed, or judged as less-spiritual for doing so.

    There are older women in our churches who feel that our generation of women is less-obedient and less-spiritual because LDS women today wear open-toed shoes to church on occasion and don't wear nylons every week. The generation before them criticized them for not wearing pioneer dresses that fell all the way to the ankles and fastened at the wrists. In the same way, I expect that many Mormon women of our generation will ridicule the next for wearing pants. Notions of modesty and fashion are cultural phenomenons, not spiritual or religious ones.

    The scriptures speak of us having different spiritual gifts. One person is filled with a spiritual sensitivity to the plight of the poor while another is filled with a spiritual desire to fight for the rights of the unborn. Though they may register with opposing political parties and vote for opposite candidates, is either an enemy to God? Not so long as they follow the light of those spiritual promptings within them. I know many women who wore pants to Mormon services this Sunday because they were acting on the spiritual stirrings that they felt. I believe that many (probably including yourself) oppose this action under the presumption that these people have malicious intent or are being provoked by the devil. This is like a Democrat judging a Republican (or vice versa) for being un-Christlike merely because their political affiliation. The presumption is unsound. Most of the people who will wear pants to church this Sunday love the church and are merely acting on the promptings they have received. So, if you don't feel those same stirrings, don't wear pants to church, but don't disparage others for doing so! And don't judge them unrighteously, especially when the pants they wear conform to the statement put out by the church last week! If the church doesn't have a problem with it, why do you?

  8. Zara says:

    Lindsay, you may want to 1) calm down and 2) do a little research before calling people childish, petulant and prideful. The Lord may be the same yesterday, today and forever, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints changes constantly. Joseph Smith was fine with black men having the Priesthood, then racism won the day and Brigham Young started the nasty rhetoric that led to blacks being banned from the Priesthood until 1978. If there hadn't been clamoring, and factors like Brazilian members leaving the church in droves and people refusing to play BYU's athletic teams because of the ban, we'd probably be still insisting the ban was doctrinal and mysterious. But it was an outside force that sparked the need to pray about it and change the policy.

  9. Moss says:

    I enjoyed this post, you look awesome and appropriate for church! I appreciate all the women who wore pants to church and stand in solidarity with those who don't fit in, who feel like outsiders. You gave everyone a little more courage to be themselves and be loved for it.

  10. Catherine says:

    I love your outfit! It's nice to run across a style blog that's modest and fashionable (personally I don't go for the typical modest [Utah] fashion).

    I also wore pants on Sunday, although as far as I could tell I was the only woman who did. I'm grateful to all those who did, or who supported.

  11. Lovely outfit, and quite a spirited discussion! I belong to no church, but I do appreciate your thoughtful post about this issue. And thanks for sharing it with Visible Monday.

  12. Rubi says:

    Hi Sarah! Although I am not a Mormon, I've enjoyed reading your post and the discussion happening in the comment.s Pretty interesting stuff! Way to go, standing up for women's rights! I've felt like this in my own church where "wearing pants to church" was looked down upon. It's silly, really. I appreciate the way you're politely starting a conversation of how women can be treated equally in your congregation. Thanks for linking up with Lily Among Thorns!

    Blessings,

    Rubi http://www.lilyamongthornsblog.blogspot.com

  13. Iva says:

    I have to commend you on your courage to take on such a hot topic issue! I think you look great. There is a lot of people who shy away from writing things that are meaningful and important. You didn't, that says a lot about your character. I am not a Mormon, however, as a woman I understand the need to let others hear our voices. No matter how unpopular.

    One Chic Mom http://fabmom12.blogspot.ca/

  14. Diane, you are so kind, thank you! I am so glad to hear that it's not just women of a certain age who are behind the pants! So refreshing. Thank you also for sharing my blog with your daughter. Hope you have a Merry Christmas! -Sarah

  15. Seth, I can't tell you how refreshing it is to have a man add his two cents. Thank you for sharing. You have some excellent and valid points. We believe in continuing revelation and that means that the church is going to change. I actually reached out to my Stake President to see what his thoughts were on the matter and his response was this:

    “Anyone in the Seattle Stake is welcome to wear whatever they feel is consistent with the spirit of the sacrament on Sundays including pants for sisters. I can find no where in the General Handbook of instructions that advises otherwise. I have certainly never as a bishop or stake leader ever received council delineating what someone should wear to our meetings. We seek to be inclusive and invite all to come unto Christ.”

    "The Book of Mormon warns us that when we start to judge one another by our outward appearance, we are in fact, the ones who need to repent." http://bit.ly/SwhwLI

    Once I heard his response, I no longer was so affected by naysaying words of others because I knew that their opinions weren't the ones that matter. -Sarah

  16. Zara, thank you. It's absolutely true. Joseph Smith ordained two blacks to the Priesthood and yet it took 100+ years for things to come full circle. Heartbreaking. Thoughtful prayers often result in changed policy. -Sarah

  17. Moss, thank you for your kind comment! I was so blessed in the process to feel support coming in from all over the world. This was an exercise that really gave me hope to see women pulling together in unity and love. -Sarah

  18. Catherine, thank you! You and me both — I lived in Utah for six years but always stayed on the sidelines of the typical Utah fashion.

    Good for you — it took courage to don the pants. Did you have a good experience? -Sarah

  19. Patti, thank you for your comment and kind words! Yes, a spirited discussion indeed! I've come to recognize that speaking up for things that are important empower others to stand up for things they believe in as well. Have a wonderful holiday! -Sarah

  20. Hi Rubi, thank you for stopping by and your kind comment! It IS silly, isn't it? People are really attached to their culture and change is difficult. There are lots of ways that we can encourage equality in our faiths that doesn't threaten anyone.

    Blessings,
    Sarah

  21. Iva, I really appreciate your comment. This post feels like one of the first times I've ever spoken out about something that is deeply meaningful to me. Since this is a style blog, I didn't know if it was the place. But I'm glad I did and that it has resonated with women of many faiths. Have a wonderful Christmas!

    Sarah

  22. Vanessa, thank you for your thoughtful, inquisitive way of asking questions. It is so appreciated! I can completely understand your apprehension about standing behind the pants movement. For me, I have felt the heartbreak of feeling unequal and I saw this as an opportunity to unite with my fellow feminist sisters who have felt that same heartache. Like you, I believe there are a lot of small things that can be done to our culture that wouldn't require great changes to the doctrine. Women being able to serve in positions like Sunday School President or Ward Mission Leader, or even just more women's voices being heard in General Conference. I want to hear more women's voices in the church. I know that All Enlisted is for female ordination and that this is what so many of the conversations and concerns have been based around. While I am not opposed to women having the Priesthood, I recognize that this is something that would happen through God and his prophets, and cannot be changed by petitions or votes. Personally, I am pleased to see these types of spirited discussions where people are able to share their concerns and listen to those whose hearts hurt. This truly has been an opportunity for us to learn about living our religion and mourning with those that mourn. Even if the only changes that come through this is a groundswelling of support and change in culture from the bottom up, it would have been worth it. -Sarah

  23. Liffey, thank you for your thoughtful, cool-headed response. "Maybe you have never felt disenfranchised, but many have, due to the cultural and gendered norms in the church. I covenanted to bear their burdens when I was baptized. The pants day was a small way of doing just that. It said, "I hear you, I validate your pain, and I want to serve and love you in the Lord's church."" 100% yes.

    Thank you for sharing all of these ways that the church has changed over the last several hundred years — it's amazing to see it all laid out like that. -Sarah

  24. Kari, thank you for sharing your personal experiences. It's absolutely true — the brethren do not require women to wear skirts and dresses, or even nylons for that matter (thank heaven!). It is purely cultural. In fact, I personally reached out to my stake leadership last week and my Stake President responded:

    "“Anyone in the Seattle Stake is welcome to wear whatever they feel is consistent with the spirit of the sacrament on Sundays including pants for sisters. I can find no where in the General Handbook of instructions that advises otherwise. I have certainly never as a bishop or stake leader ever received council delineating what someone should wear to our meetings. We seek to be inclusive and invite all to come unto Christ.”

    "The Book of Mormon warns us that when we start to judge one another by our outward appearance, we are in fact, the ones who need to repent." http://bit.ly/SwhwLI

    I have never appreciated the 11th Article of Faith so much as this week:
    "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

    To each their own. -Sarah

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