Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may have noticed sister missionaries dressing more fashionably than they once did. New changes in clothing guidelines indicate those not of the LDS faith will also take notice.
Sister missionary dress and grooming standards were recently changed by The Church of Jesus Christ. Dresses no longer need to be mid-calf length, but must cover the knee. Bright colors, jewelry and hair accessories in moderation are now allowed. Also, nylons are not mandatory.
Debra Hutchison and her husband, Richard, returned from the Argentina Rosario Mission, where he served as mission president in 2008. Hutchison was released before the fashion rules were changed, but said she believes the change will help missionary work progress.
“I think these changes are really good,” Hutchison said. “We tried to instruct the [women] to keep up their appearance. We encouraged them to get haircuts and to look their best. These changes are good because the sisters sometimes can get to people when others cannot, and this will only facilitate that.”
Brooke Ahern, 20, a junior from Bardstown, Ky., majoring in neuroscience, and her sister, Alex Ahern, 23, a senior majoring in geology, have close ties to missionary work. Alex Ahern returned from the Utah Salt Lake City Mission last March, while Brooke Ahern is planning to go on a mission next spring. Alex Ahern was two-thirds of the way through her mission when the rules of sister missionary fashion changed.
“I remember the pictures they gave us in our call packet were outdated,” she said. “I felt like they were the same pictures as when my dad left on his mission. We all felt better about ourselves when the rule changed, because we could all personalize our outfits more. Our mission president and his wife were very concerned about us looking-old fashioned. They wanted us to be approachable.”
Brooke Ahern said she is happy about the missionary fashion changes.
“Before the fashion rules changed, I still wanted to go on a mission, but this is definitely a positive change, that we’ll be able to look more normal and feel better about ourselves,” she said. “I like a lot of color when I dress, and when I don’t do something with my looks, I don’t want to be around people. But when I feel good in what I’m wearing, then I feel more confident in myself and therefore I’m more social.”
Although both sisters agreed the change will help missionaries have better self-esteem and be more approachable, Alex Ahern gave a warning for the future of sister missionary fashion.
“I think this change is a good thing as long as the clothes stay professional, and that missionaries don’t lose sight of their calling or take their missionary work less seriously,” she said. “It’s good to have a balance of brighter, modern clothes, but still have a professional feel.”