Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Missionary Dress Code, 1942

Missionary Dress Code, 1942

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 25, 2013

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.



  1. Aha! An example of rules actually loosening up on the clothing front. Thirty years later, neither of my mission suits were the “right” colors, one had a muted stripe, I think, my shoes weren’t black, my overcoat had a houndstooth pattern, in black and white, and the only hats I had were knitted hats that I wore when I was freezing in the wintertime.

    I did have some light colored trousers for the summertime. But I’m not sure that the first presidency (either in 1942 or 1974) would have approved of them.

    Comment by Mark B. — June 25, 2013 @ 7:44 am

  2. I like how they used “modest” in the dress code. :)

    Are they really suggesting summer wear of white shirts, ties, and white slacks? Would that have been a normal-looking outfit in the 40s?

    Comment by HokieKate — June 25, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

  3. …white thin suits are permissible.

    I think Pres. McKay put this one in himself, as those white suits were among his favorites!

    Comment by kevinf — June 25, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

  4. They wore them in the Pacific Islands missions, certainly. And it’s hard to even mentally picture Pres. McKay in anything lose, isn’t it?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 25, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

  5. Weren’t those suits of his cream colored?

    Comment by Mark B. — June 25, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

  6. White, cream, eggshell, ivory, linen, snow, blond, vanilla, cornsilk, powder, bone, champagne …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 25, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

  7. my favourite part.. “Ties should be modest and harmonious with suits. Solid, dark colors are preferable.”
    Back in the days Elders were all “Men in Black”. even with their ties… since it said “Ties — … Dark colors are preferable”

    Comment by Grace Kwok — June 25, 2013 @ 8:35 pm