I think – I could be wrong – that this is the first really detailed, Church-wide dress code for elders serving missions. Earlier instructions referred to conservative suits, or dark colors, or other general requests; this one, however, prescribes specific colors and bans certain patterns or design details. It refers only to elders – there is no reference to sisters (who, during the war years, were not being called to serve as missionaries except to fill very specific needs such as stenographers and professional teachers, or to serve with their husbands in some few cases). These instructions were issued by the First Presidency (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay) in the summer of 1942.
Every missionary should realize that when he undertakes a mission, he goes as a representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and as an ambassador of our Lord. While so engaged he owes it to the cause he represents, to the people to whom he is sent, and to himself, not only to conduct himself in a manner befitting his calling, but also to make his appearance conform to his calling. He must ever bear in mind that the impression which he makes upon the people to whom he is sent in both his public and private appearances is of vital importance in his presentation of the Gospel message. In the impression he makes, clothes are an important and sometimes a determining factor.
To secure best results in relation to the foregoing matters and uniform dignity in the clothes of the missionaries, the following regulations have been adopted:
1. SUITS – Hereafter, in the Mission Home and in the mission field, all missionaries should wear dark suits of the following colors only: Black, dark grey, and dark blue. Stripe patterns are discouraged. Coats with pleated backs and partial or full belts are also discouraged.
2. SHOES – Shoes should be black.
3. SHIRTS – Shirts should be all white.
4. TIES – Ties should be modest and harmonious with suits. Solid, dark colors are preferable.
5. SOCKS – Socks should be black or grey, without bright colors, and of full length.
6. HATS – Felt hats should be dark in color – black or grey.
7. OVERCOATS – Overcoats, topcoats, and raincoats should also be dark in color – preferably black or dark grey.
8.SUMMER APPAREL– In warm weather, if suits in light weight materials of the above mentioned colors are not obtainable, white or light-colored trousers may be worn. White shirts and modest and harmonious ties should be used for summer as well as winter. In excessively hot climates, white thin suits are permissible.
If clothes of the kind specified are not obtainable in the hometown of the missionary when he receives his call, the Mission Secretary at the Church headquarters will, upon request, gladly give information as to the availability of proper attire, prices, etc.