Are Shorts Appropriate Attire in Church?

Should Shorts be Worn to a Church Service?

While reading the church bulletin, a soft, “Excuse me”, caused me to swivel my legs to let people pass by in the church pew. Imagine my surprise upon glancing up, to find my gaze, and nose, six inches from two pairs of bare, tanned, hydrated legs clad in five-inch long shorts. The legs belonged to a well-maintained, 40-something Mother and teenage Daughter.

The question arises:  are shorts appropriate attire for a church service? Take into consideration that the shorts fit well and the legs were shapely, similar to the following photo found on the web.

Event Background

This was the main Sunday church service at a large, suburban Protestant church.  It happened to be end of Vacation Bible School and most of the service participants were elementary age children showing off what they did in Camp.  Most were dressed in skirts or Dockers and polo shirts.  Several of the Camp Counselors wore longer shorts with camp t-shirts.  The Pastor wore a linen sport coat over an untucked plaid shirt and khakis.

The congregants wore summer dresses, some sleeveless, some with peekaboo shoulders, lots of cardigans–AC, pants, blouses, very few t-shirts (it’s an older crowd).  Men wore polo shirts, khakis, open-necked shirts,  a very few knee-length sports shorts.

Therefore, the short-shorts really stuck out in the crowd.


My view:  No, shorts are not appropriate at church.

Why?  I believe it is disrespectful.

I am well aware of the many aspects of appropriate dress: God doesn’t care what I wear, Bodies are beautiful, Fashion is frivolous…

I particularly appreciate this comment from Churches Grapple with Clothing

“You’re coming to see the Lord,” said Len Thompson, 65, recently retired from the Navy, and one of two men out of about 80 wearing a jacket at Mass. “What if I was going to see the Obamas? It seems skewed.”


What do I do?

As a paid-in-full, lifetime member of the Fashion Police, I do—–NOTHING.
Not even a snarky remark about, “Aren’t your legs cold?”
Why create an issue over my personal belief about shorts in church?  In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that important.  It’s also a battle I can’t win.

What I can do is encourage my family to always dress appropriately–to church, work, funerals, weddings, etc.  When my children were teenagers, the popular school attire was worn and torn from Ragstock.  I hated it.  We agreed they could wear what they wanted to school as long as it met school policy, and they would wear ‘dress-up’ clothes on occasions that were important to me, e.g., church, weddings, graduation, certain school events.


How do you feel and deal with this issue of appropriate attire?


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