Mormon Rules on Clothing and Hair (Explained for non-Mormons)


If you were to meet a Mormon on the street, there’s a very good chance that you’d have no idea they were Mormon based on their dress and appearance.  For the most part, we dress similarly to most people; however, we are taught some things that may differ from other people in specific ways.

Mormons wear normal clothes styled like most other people.  However, devout members of the church also strive to dress in a respectful way that is not overly revealing.  Devout Mormon men and women who wear the temple garment under their normal clothes cover it with outer clothing to the knee for shorts, and covering the shoulder for shirts.

I have been a Mormon all my life, so I hope I can help to answer your question.

Mormon Clothing Rules

Again, most of the time, Mormon clothing is the same as what anyone would wear.  The only difference is that we put an extra focus on avoiding extreme or overly revealing clothing.  We are taught to be modest and appropriate in our appearance.  Most members of the church avoid clothing which is revealing as being overly tight, low-cut, or skimpy.

Right now as I write this, I’m sitting in my living room wearing basketball shorts and a Nike t-shirt.

Why Do Mormons Care About Their Dress and Appearance?

The reason we care about dressing appropriately is really just a way to show respect for our bodies.  We believe that God gave us the gift of our bodies, and that we should do our best to present our bodies appropriately.  When someone wears clothes which are extremely revealing, it communicates to those around them that their body is merely an object of sexual attraction.  The Bible says:

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? … The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”  – 1 Corinthians 3:16–17

We also believe that God does not judge us on anything as superficial as our clothing, but instead judges us on our hearts.  For this reason, the point of dressing appropriately for us is not to pass some superficial test, but instead something much deeper.  It’s about showing respect for our bodies, presenting ourselves in a way that shows our devotion to our beliefs, and to not turn our bodies into a sexualized display.

Do Mormons Wear Shorts?

Yes, Mormons wear shorts.  I personally play tennis almost every day, and it’d be pretty difficult to do so in Jeans 🙂  But even outside sports, I like to wear shorts a lot during the summer.

Not all Mormons have gone to the temple, but those who have and wear the temple undergarment will wear shorts which extend to the knee.

Mormon Rules on Hair Styles

There is a difference in the church between actual teachings of the church, and simply just the culture which exists in the church.  There are no specific “rules” for Mormon hair styles for the general membership of the church; however, members of the church are encouraged with hair styles as with all dress and appearance teachings, to simply be modest and present themselves in a respectful manner.

Thus, extreme hairstyles are a rarity among members of the church.  It’s rare that I’d see a man with long hair, or a mohawk, or hair dyed red, etc.  Again, there isn’t anything stopping people from doing so, but it’s not really something you’d see often.  The only actual teaching in the church is to be modest in our dress and appearance, which most people would interpret to mean to not have an extreme hair style.

My wife highlights her hair, I use hair gel, there are a wide variety of haircuts and styles among members of the church.  For the most part there really isn’t any difference.

One exception is for full-time missionaries.  Full-time Mormon missionaries are taught to adhere to a specific set of hair styles so that they look professional as public ministers of the church.  Male Mormon missionaries are given the following rules: “Keep your hair relatively short (not clipped too close) and evenly tapered. Extreme or faddish styles— including spiked, permed, or bleached hair or a shaved head—are not appropriate. Sideburns should reach no lower than the middle of the ear.”

Female full-time missionaries are taught to follow these rules for hair: “The style and length of your hair should be easy to manage and should not call attention to itself.”

Do Mormon Women Wear Makeup?

Yes.  My wife would freak out if she couldn’t wear makeup 🙂  I suppose men could wear makeup too, but…. well, that’d just be weird.

What Mormons Wear to Church

While most of the time we wear pretty normal clothing, we dress up for church.  Mormon women usually wear a dress or a skirt and top to church.  Mormon men wear a white shirt and tie to church, and some wear a full business suit.

The purpose for dressing up for church isn’t about being showy.  Nobody dresses in a way to call attention to themselves–it’s just about showing respect for God.  Nobody would ever be turned away from church for their clothing.  It’s not like there’s a “rule” or anything.  We just like to dress as respectfully as we can–just as someone wear for a serious business meeting.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about my religion.  Browse the rest of this blog for answers to many other common questions about Mormons.

Jim Harmer

I own an online company where I create websites which are read by millions of people. I'm a non-practicing lawyer, husband and a father of three little kiddos. My faith in Christ is the most important aspect of my life, and this blog is where I get to share my beliefs. The rest of the time, I'm riding dirt bikes or traveling the world taking pictures. I live in Star, Idaho where I attend my local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Each month, over 30,000 people come to this site to learn about the basic beliefs of my religion, and it's my privilege to share about it. The opinions expressed on this website are not necessarily those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as this blog is not an official source of church information. However, every effort is put into providing accurate information in support of the church.

20 thoughts on “Mormon Rules on Clothing and Hair (Explained for non-Mormons)

  1. I am Mormon (I am also 15 years old) but I have a hard time knowing how short our shorts can be and still be modest. Would you say that 4 or 5 inches above the knee is too short??

    1. Hi Kat, Thanks for your message. This is something you’ll have to determine for yourself. I would read the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet and then determine how you can do the BEST job of implementing those standards in your life.

  2. I found your article very helpful. I was raised Baptist but my 16 year old son has decided he wants to join the Mormon church. I have been wanting to attend with him but didn’t want to embarrass him by not being dressed rite or something. There are so many misconceptions about different religions so I just wanted to be sure.

    1. I’m glad the article was helpful. I’m certain you’d be VERY warmly received at church if you just show up on a Sunday and introduce yourself as being there for the first time. One things we love is to see new people at church.

  3. Hello, I am Mormon, but have been away from the church for about 2 years. I have an issue with the protocol of wearing a dress to church on Sundays. This is due to my lack of options ( none) which becimrs the central focus of the day and at LEAST 50 % of the time is the defining reason I skip church, despite truly enjoying time spent there and the fellowship. I have spoken to several like-minded women and have difficulty discerning IF this is really a big deal, and WHY. Please dont patronize me with dictates of modesty or ” looking nice” to honor the experience and God, as the beautiful suits and blouses I wear for business satisfy these boxes. Professional women do not often regale themselves of prairy dresses nor have the discretionary funds to afford this arbitrary and irrational dictum. Very likely I will not be in chyrch this morning for only this reason. Is this really what members prefer? I am a lovely, smart and kind nurse with much to offer in the way of thoughtful discourse and assistance to those in my ward. Triuble is, my wardrobe id 9p% scrubs and 10% high end fashion. I just dont have the income to afford the fashionable dresses I would feel comfirtable wearing out. Again, does this really matter? It seems to fly in the face of the prohibition regarding focus on wardrobe.

    1. Hi Shelly, it seems that, for some reason, you have really gotten upset about the way that most members of the church dress for Sunday services. I say just go to church in jeans and a t-shirt if that’s what will get you there. Just like how at a workplace there is a norm of how people dress, the same is true at church (and school, and pretty much anywhere else). I wouldn’t overthink it. Just go in what you have and what you want to wear. If you want to be different and don’t want to follow the norm, then that’s fine. Just go anyway. Your relationship with God is far more important than what you choose to wear to church services. Will it be out of the norm? Yes, but that’s perfectly fine.

    2. I will echo Jim’s response. I prefer to wear a dress to church. If you don’t, then don’t. No one will judge you for not being in a dress. If there is someone judging you, that’s their problem and not yours! They will have to answer to that at some point. Please don’t let someone come between you and your relationship with God. (I learn visually so I like this metaphor. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t take it literally.) Allowing someone to be between you and God allows them to be “closer” to Him than you. “Push” them out of the way and continue toward God without them.

  4. How do I know if becoming Mormon is truly right for me ? As a teenager even growing up with religion I still sin by swearing and doing other types of things. Would become Mormon be any different than being in a nondenominational church setting?

      1. I’m attending a dance with a Mormon and I’m not sure what kind of dress to wear since I myself am not Mormon. With today’s society revealing dresses are much more common and I’m not sure if it’s okay for me to go for example with my shoulders showing or to dress for something suitable for his religion. Help??

        1. It’s extremely thoughtful of you to ask this question, and shows how respectful you are of his religion. I think the best thing you could do in this situation is to simply ask him. A revealing dress may invite your date to think of you in a way that isn’t compatible with his goals or your true worth.

  5. I am Mormon, and I was wondering what hair colors are suitable for children. If a kid wanted to dye their hair, what would be considered too extreme?

    1. Wonderful to hear that you are committing to the gospel. It will be the best decision you ever make.

      I would read what the prophet has said about dress and appearance in the For the Strength of Youth, and then make your own decision as to what you should do. After all, it’s really between you and the Lord.

      Congratulations on your upcoming baptism.

  6. Ok so i’m a Mormon too, is it okay to have your ears pierced (Just a normal piercing not cartilage or anything.) And is it okay to have your hair dyed at all???

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