Please note: The Church announced on Dec 20, 2018 that sister missionaries in all missions around the world now have the option to wear dress slacks. I will update this article as soon as I can to reflect those changes.
In July 2013, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published a new, more up-to-date and modern, set of dress and grooming standards for missionaries. Most notable is the lighter colored suits and slacks allowed for the young men: light gray and tan suits, along with khaki dress pants, are now permissible for Elders. Some major changes also took place with the Sister missionary wardrobe with the last couple of years, with nylons becoming optional and the minimum dress length going from mid-calf to the knee. For both men and women, lighter, brighter colors are now allowed.
The official missionary dress and grooming standards are found on the Dress and Grooming section of the LDS.org page for missionaries. This Church website has volumes of very detailed information, including hundreds of pictures, describing appropriate dress and grooming of missionaries. When you are ready to buy clothes for you mission, review the Church site on missionary dress and grooming, following the missionary clothing list you’ll get in your call packet, also be aware of the area specific information you will get from your mission president.
Sister Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards
- Personal Grooming: “Be neat and clean. Keep your clothes clean, mended, and pressed. Bathe daily, use deodorant, and wash your hair frequently. If you choose to wear perfume or scented lotion, make sure it is not distracting or overpowering.”
- Hair: “The style, color, and length of your hair should be attractive and easy to manage and should not draw attention. The color of your hair should look natural and conservative.”
- Modesty: “Maintain a high standard of modesty…You should present a dignified, clean, well-groomed appearance and be feminine and professional in style.”
- Outfits: “Because of budget and luggage restrictions and limited closet space, you should plan and purchase your clothing carefully…Choose colors and patterns that you can mix and match with a variety of outfits.”
- Underclothing: “Choose bras that are white or cream colored, durable, comfortable, and modest. Make sure you have slips that coordinate with the color and length of your skirts…Patterned nylons or tights should be subtle and simple in design and should not be made of any kind of mesh, fishnet, or lace material.”
- Fabrics and Care: “Your clothing should be made of materials that are durable and easy to care for…A durable weave of cotton, wool, or polyester blends will wear well. Do not wear denim, corduroy, [or] leather.”
- Shoes: “Shoes and boots should be practical, comfortable, attractive, and appropriate for the climate…Shoes with low heels are preferred…You may use shoe inserts to increase comfort and support. Wear a dressy pair of shoes for Sunday meetings.”
- Accessories: “Handbags, jewelry, and other accessories should be simple and conservative…Earrings should not hang longer than approximately one inch below the earlobe. Do not wear more than one earring in each ear…Choose belts that are simple and conservative in color and design.”
- See Female Missionary Dress and Grooming Guidelines for more details.
Elder Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards
- Personal Grooming: “Be neat and clean. Keep your clothes clean, mended, and pressed. Do not wear clothing that is casual, wrinkled, or sloppy. Bathe, shave, and brush your teeth each day…Your appearance should never distract from your message.”
- Hair: “Always maintain a conservative hairstyle. Keep your hair relatively short and evenly tapered on the top, back, and sides…Unacceptable hairstyles include faux hawks, crew cuts, mullets, and styles that are spikey, messy, or permed.”
- Clothing: “In general, your missionary wardrobe will consist of business-style suits, white dress shirts, ties, slacks, shoes, socks, and belts…You are not required to wear a suit during regular everyday proselyting activities. On these occasions, wear a white shirt, tie, durable and comfortable dress shoes, and professional dress slacks.”
- Suits: “Wear business-style suits in conservative colors. If you wear lighter-colored suits, choose shades of grey or brown… Suits with pinstripes or patterns should be simple and subtle in design. Do not wear sports coats or slim-style suits.”
- Shirts and Ties: “Wear only white, conservative-style dress shirts…Ties should be simple in color and design and professional in style…String, bow, skinny, or wide ties are not acceptable.”
- Shoes: “Shoes should fit well and be comfortable, breathable, and durable. Choose polishable shoes in conservative colors. Do not wear casual or trendy shoes or shoes made of suede, canvas, or other soft materials… Do not wear cowboy boots or hiking boots.”
- Accessories and Belts: “Accessories should be simple and conservative and should not attract attention…You may wear one simple ring and an inexpensive, conservative-style watch…Belts should be simple and should match the color of your shoes. Do not wear large belt buckles or buckles with logos or caricatures.”
- Outerwear: “Staying dry and warm while proselyting in wet and cold climates is very important. During regular proselyting activities you may add any of the following layers over your white shirt and tie as needed: Sweater, Suit coat, Rainwear, Winter coat…Coats, jackets, and sweaters should be in solid, conservative colors and be business professional in appearance. Do not wear hoodies [or] sweatshirts.”
- See the Male Missionary Dress and Grooming General Guidelines for more details.
Senior Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards
Standards for dress and groom of older missionaries are relatively the same as those for younger missionaries. For specific senior missionary dress and grooming guidelines, visit the Provo MTC website.
An Ambassador of the Lord
As a missionary, you are an ambassador, or representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. The dress and grooming guidelines websites reminds future missionaries that “as an ambassador of the Lord you are to wear professional, conservative clothing that is consistent with your sacred calling and that will clearly identify you as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” To sister missionaries, Thomas S. Monson once said, “You can dress attractively without being immodest. Within the Lord’s guidelines, there is room for you to be lively, vibrant, and beautiful both in your dress and in your actions.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminds us, “we have always been invited to present our best selves. … We should be recognizable in appearance as well as in behavior that we truly are disciples of Christ.” I pray that all LDS missionaries will do this, and that through their appearance, example, and teachings, more of God’s children will desire to follow Jesus Christ and come unto Him.