Our church was crowded last Sunday, as it always is on Easter. Sitting in the pew in front of us was a young family. The two boys, about five and ten years old, were well-behaved and well-dressed, each in tan pants, a button-down shirt, and an adorable bow tie. This reminded me of a column I wrote more than 20 years ago, about another Easter Sunday. I think it’s still relevant today:

As I waited for Mass to begin on Easter morning, I watched some of the other people who came in and sat down around us. I enjoyed seeing how nicely dressed everyone was. Even the toddlers. Even the teens.

It suddenly occurred to me that this is what people used to look like every Sunday in church. Women in dresses or nice pantsuits. Men in suits and ties, or dress slacks and a shirt with a collar. Baby girls in frilly dresses and tights with ruffled bottoms. And on Easter, people dressed up even more.

Some people would argue that church is not supposed to be a fashion show. God doesn’t care what you are wearing. What matters is what’s in your heart. That’s true, of course, but it’s also true that how we dress expresses how we feel. If we are attending a wedding or a prom, or we want to make a good impression on someone, we usually get dressed up. To do otherwise would be disrespectful—to the bride and groom, to our date, to our potential new boss.

I read an interview long ago in which an actor said he always dressed from head to toe in clothing appropriate for his role, even if they were only filming head shots that day. He said he couldn’t look, act, or sound like a lawyer, for example, if he were wearing loafers or sandals. That actor was Harrison Ford.

I’m not suggesting that we go back to the days when a suit and tie was the only acceptable office attire for men. Or that women should emulate June Cleaver, who did her housework in dresses, high heels, and pearls. Or that blue jeans should be outlawed.

But I do think that when people take the time to get dressed up, even a little bit, it changes how they act and feel—about themselves and the people around them. It inspires them to treat other people with a little more courtesy. And it inspires other people to do the same for them. Maybe the world would be a better place if we all dressed up a little more, and a little more often.

I was thinking about this as we walked across the parking lot after Mass on Easter. When we got to our car, I looked up to see my son—the one wearing clean khaki pants and a nice polo shirt—holding the car door open for me.

I rest my case.

April 8, 2024
©Betty Liedtke, 2024

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