Now that we’ve gone over whether or not you should serve, let’s talk about how you should dress. For elders, it’s pretty simple – a couple of suits and ties, and some shorts and t-shirts for p-days. If only it were that easy for girls – there’s SO much to think about! When you receive your call, it should include information about what to bring on your mission, including clothes. To paraphrase, it says, “Dress as boring and drab as humanly possible.” Skirts/dresses must go to mid-calf. Nothing should be at all tight or form-fitting, but your clothes shouldn’t be baggy either. No bright colors or busy patterns – everything should be muted and conservative. No open-toed shoes. No wrap-around skirts, t-shirts, polo shirts, denim, or leather. Come on, you know you wanted to wear your leather dress. I was actually pretty bummed about the no denim thing – a couple of my favorite skirts were denim, and they were so comfortable! Don’t ask me what’s wrong with denim. Luckily the church has tried to get with it a bit more, releasing a new set of guidelines.
So that’s all of the stuff that you can’t wear. If there’s anything else left in your closet that might work at this point, send it through this next set of hoops:
Is it a fabric/color/pattern that will show pit stains too easily? Because you will have pit stains pretty much constantly, whether it’s from extreme heat, walking around with a heavy coat on, nerves, too tight of a shirt (I know you shouldn’t have too tight of a shirt, but sometimes you gain 30 pounds!), hustling around too fast, helping members with some sort of service project, etc.
When you bend over/crouch down, is there any crack showing? And by “crack” I obviously mean that garment seam that goes right up your crack. And let’s be honest, you can also see your real crack through the garments, and that’s not going to convert anybody. Well, not the right type of person anyway.
Does it need to be ironed? If the answer is yes, then don’t bring it. You will thank me later. Not only will you get it incredibly wrinkled throughout the course of your crazy missionary day, but you have next to NO free time to do anything, and you’re not going to want to waste it ironing all of your clothes.
Does it have to be dry cleaned? Shouldn’t have even made it through to this round – put it back in the closet.
Will it possibly show your garments, in the right position? (Since skirts/dresses half to be mid-calf or longer, this will only affect shirts/tops of dresses.) There are all kinds of clothes that cover your garments just fine in the dressing room, but when you make everyday movements you end up showing more than you realize. When you lift your arms all the way up, you might show a little stomach garment. If you’re wearing something with small cap sleeves, your garments might show when you put your arms in different positions. When you bend over, the front/top of your shirt/dress might gape open, leaving a glimpse of your garments, or even worse, your cleavage!
Will your outfit stand out too much? Keep in mind that you will be wearing each outfit over and over and OVER. You want it to blend in enough that you won’t feel like everyone notices that you’ve worn that outfit a hundred times.
Regarding footwear: Is it a stiletto? Hard to walk in? Not sturdy? A flip-flop (even a “fancy” flip-flop)? Leave it home.
If all that hasn’t made you want to give up yet, here are a few suggestions: Bring versatile pieces that you’ll be able to mix and match. Find materials that are comfortable, and stretchy, if possible. Familiarize yourself with the thrift stores in the area! It only took me a few months before I felt like I would die if I had to wear any of my items of clothing again. My companion and I ran to the nearest Goodwill and spent $30 on some new clothes. After 4-5 months we donated them and got some more. My final piece of advice is GET READY TO PUT ASIDE YOUR VANITY FOR 18 MONTHS. Just come to terms with the fact that you are not going to look cute for a year a half. In fact, you will probably look pretty frumpy and lame. But you know what? It’s okay. Truth be told, I actually felt like it helped me to be more humble, which is a great quality for a missionary. So get ready to embrace your inner Relief Society President.
P.S. Would you believe that I got in trouble for leaving my makeup at home? I thought, “Awesome, I’m going to go a whole 18 months with a wet ponytail and no makeup.” I figured we were supposed to be serving the Lord, not being vain and worldly. Turns out I was wrong. My first Sunday in the MTC we had an orientation-type fireside just for the sisters in which they informed us that we were to wear makeup and have our hair done nicely at all times. To be perfectly honest, that kind of made me feel like a piece of meat, like we were trying to convert people with our good looks. But…whatever. Rule #1: Be obedient! Luckily the MTC bookstore had makeup. *Update: Turns out that since my mission they have removed the requirement to wear makeup. They strongly suggest it, but say it is up to you.