How Church Dresses Differ From Regular Cocktail Dresses
• September 12th, 2018
Going to church is one of the most important traditional American rituals people keep these days. Many men, women and children attend church every Sunday all over the country. And these kinds of traditions demand, among other things, a very particular dress code, both for men and women. Men are usually expected to wear a suit jacket and pants, a formal shirt, a tie and dress shoes, but pretty much every suit can do the job, so there is no way to go wrong. For women, however, the church traditions and costumes demand dresses/suits that have some very particular characteristics that set them apart from, for example, regular cocktail dresses vs formal church dresses. This is where it can get tricky, so we will show you the main differences:
1. The Chest
This one is probably the most obvious difference between a cocktail dress and a church-appropriate dress. While cocktail dresses often aim to enhance a woman’s curves, church’s rules regarding this situation are pretty strict and clear: church dresses must be conservative and not expose too much skin.
2. The Shoulders
A very interesting story lies behind this particular point. Cocktail formal dresses can very well feature a style that does not cover the shoulders, but a dress appropriate for wearing to church must usually cover them.
The story behind this point is that conservative and traditional people believe that God is actually looking down from heaven at all times, but when we are in church he focuses his attention even more; so we want to keep the level of respect on the higher and dressier ends in regards to church dresses.
This is why, while attending social events like weddings, which often require a cocktail dress instead of a more conservative one, but first start at a church before the actual party, women use a stole when their dress has no shoulders. This way, they can wear a fashionable, party appropriate dress, but be respectful to god by covering their shoulders with the stole during mass. Frequently however many women are wearing church dresses to all social gatherings.
3. The Length
It probably goes without saying that church is a serious and conservative place. While cocktail dresses come in a wide variety of lengths, from the very formal long dresses to the short, a church appropriate dress will always end below the knees or towards the lower calf. It is a catholic tradition that showing more of the legs than absolutely necessary can be considered disrespectful when in church –in the Vatican, for example, women can’t enter the city wearing shorts or short skirts.
4. The Pattern
This is a much more flexible and subjective rule that differentiates cocktail dresses from church dresses. While cocktail dresses often feature extravagant geometric, floral or animal prints for making an impression, church dresses frequently use more sober colors and solid patterns. This, naturally, depends only on personal taste, since there are lots of church dress brands that do have floral or geometric patterns. It’s up to you, however many church dresses today are made with a vibrant pop for an elegant and dressy fashionable style .
5. The Back
There are tons of incredibly beautiful back styles for cocktail dresses: with no back at all, covering only half of it, with huge bows, etc., but when it comes to church appropriate dresses many prefer to keep the back covered, all the way up to the base of the neck. The reasons for this, at this point, are pretty obvious: respect... This does not mean the back of the church dress can not be dressy, Many of these church going dresses for women have ornate detailing on the back to keep the level of dressiness on the higher end,
When it comes to dresses in general, the possibilities are so incredibly numerous, that they often seem endless. You can combine colors, fabrics, cuts, styles, patterns, garnishes and transparencies in an almost infinite manner.
Since we have discussed above many of this elements, we will now talk about a tricky one: transparencies.
A transparency in a dress is a part of it made of a different fabric, often mesh, lace or something similar, that discretely shows a part of the woman’s body that, even while being covered by fabric –as opposed to an actual “hole” in the dress-, can be seen through the dress.
The issue with transparencies in church dresses is that people frequently think is confusing: transparencies must not be very conservative and/or appropriate for the church but, at the same time, there are very renowned brands selling church dresses with transparencies. So, what’s the deal here? It’s simple: transparencies are ok as long as they are in a place that would be respectful to show overtly, without any fabric covering it –like on the forearms- and are not ok in places that you wouldn’t show at church –shoulders, back, upper part of legs or any part of the abdomen-.
7. The Fit
Finally, here is another difference that should fall under the category of common sense: the fit. While cocktail dresses are frequently designed to be flattering and almost skin tight to show the woman’s curves, a church for dress, naturally, will require a much more loose, conservative and non-provocative fit. It doesn’t necessarily have to be lose, just not incredibly tight.
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