Can You Wear Shorts to Church?

church service

Most churches do not have a formal dress code, so it can be hard to know what is acceptable to wear at church and what isn’t. For example, can you wear shorts to church?

You cannot wear shorts to church if the church’s culture is formal, but if the church you are attending is informal, shorts are acceptable. Shorts that are especially revealing or tight should not be worn to any church regardless of the culture.

This article will answer in-depth whether or not it is inappropriate to wear shorts to church and suggest ways to check if your specific church might find shorts acceptable. It will also explain proper church clothing etiquette.

What Is Considered Appropriate To Wear To Church?

Modest clothing that is clean and in good repair is considered appropriate to wear to church. Even if the church encourages people to come as they are, you still want to wear business casual clothing. 

If you are unsure what your church’s expectations are, it is best to go with something you are positive will be appropriate until you are sure.

In recent years, church dress codes have become more and more informal, specifically in the Western Hemisphere. Wearing shorts to services in most casual churches will not be seen as inappropriate.

However, the majority of churches still expect a level of modesty in the outfits of their attendees. 

It is considered mannerly to dress humbly, with lots of coverage, during church services. Wearing shorts or other more revealing clothing items will be regarded as bad taste in some churches. 

Formal churches, such as Catholic Churches or Orthodox churches, will definitely consider wearing shorts to services unacceptable. There might be some churches that will not allow it at all and have specific dress codes. Therefore, whether or not shorts are unfit to wear at church depends entirely on the culture of that church.

Nonetheless, some shorts should never be worn to any church. These include:

  • Booty shorts/Daisy Dukes
  • Running shorts
  • Cycling shorts
  • Compression shorts
  • Boxer shorts
  • Short wrap shorts
  • Low rise shorts 
  • Boy shorts

If you are wearing shorts to church, make sure they are long shorts that still have some coverage. They should come down slightly above your knees or to your knees themselves. Shorts that reveal most of your thighs or only barely cover your butt will never be appropriate in church.

However, if you are a woman and you have thick thighs, it might be okay to wear bike shorts underneath your longer skirt or dress. This keeps your thighs from rubbing against each other and keeps you more comfortable during the service.

group of male churchgoers

How To Know If Your Church Accepts Shorts

Since different churches have different clothing expectations, it is best to determine the culture of the specific church you are attending beforehand to determine whether wearing shorts would be acceptable there.

The church’s faith often dictates the church’s dress code or expectations. For example, Pentecostal churches do not allow women to wear cosmetics or jewelry when at church. 

Research the denomination of the church you are attending to see if shorts may go against the proper attire required by that church. For a comprehensive list of church denominations and their clothing expectations, check out the What to Wear website.

You can also check the church’s website to see if shorts are allowed or not allowed, as some churches provide their dress code online for churchgoers to follow. 

If possible, you can also check the type of clothing other churchgoers wear when you attend church and decide if shorts would fit in based on the majority. If you are attending church with your family or friends, you can ask them whether they think it appropriate to wear shorts to church. 

If you feel comfortable doing so, you could also ask people in the congregation before or after service what they think. This way, you’ll be sure to figure out if wearing shorts would be met with approval or disapproval at the church you’re attending.

Before wearing shorts to service, be sure that is appropriate, as doing so when you are unsure could result in rudeness or ridicule from other churchgoers. 

Or you may feel silly and that you stand out, detracting from your quality of worship. 

Church Clothing Etiquette

Typically there is not a formal dress code in place at many churches. 

However, there are often certain expectations for what people wear to church that is considered respectful to follow. Different churches have different expectations, but there are some universal rules that most churches follow.

For many churches, it is important to come appropriately dressed out of respect and reverence. Dressing properly includes dressing with modesty and coverage in a way that does not call attention to oneself.

Some churches expect attendees to wear their very best and get dressed up. While suits, ties, and dresses are no longer the norm at most contemporary churches, they still expect goers to wear the best appropriate clothing they have to honor God.

Revealing clothes, such as spaghetti straps, sheer or low cut tops, very short shorts, and crop tops would not be respectful to wear in church. Getting too dressed up or flashy would also be seen as disrespectful in many churches, such as wearing big, eye-catching jewelry or lots of striking makeup. 

Church clothing should be clean, provide coverage, and above all, be modest. 

family walking to church

For services on Christmas and Easter, it is normal for churchgoers to come as more dressed up than usual, as these are special services. In these cases, putting a good amount of effort into your attire and wearing your best is traditional.

However, you should go to church in whatever you feel comfortable to worship fully or even attend in the first place. Most churches don’t want to turn people away with strict dress codes but accept people as they are. 

Therefore, while churches have certain clothing expectations, very few will turn people away at the door if they don’t meet those expectations. If you cannot meet proper church clothing etiquette, do not let that stop you from attending church.


Shorts are acceptable in churches that welcome informal, casual attire. They are unsuitable for churches that follow more formal, traditional clothing.

The majority of the time, it’s a good idea to go with clothing that provides a good amount of coverage. In general, shorts often do not provide sufficient coverage to be deemed acceptable at traditional churches.

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