Living with the sister missionary dress code changes

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Brighter skirts are just one part of the dress code change for sister missionaries, and many sisters say the changes let's them maintain their personalities. (Photo by Natalie Stoker.)
Brighter skirts are just one part of the dress code change for sister missionaries, and many sisters say the changes let’s them maintain their personalities. (Photo by Natalie Stoker.)

Nearly two years since the change in the sister missionary dress code, BYU students tell of the effects these changes have had on their work or on their work to come.

After receiving her call to Rome, Italy, Stephanie Marsh, an exercise and wellness major from Murray, said she immediately started shopping for skirts.

“Mostly all of the shopping I have done so far has been online,” Marsh said. “I am excited that we are allowed to wear brighter colors now.”

The dress code change included more bright colors and styles, as well as a change in skirt length from mid-calf to covering the knee.

“I think the biggest pro is that because we get to wear more modern things that blend well, we won’t stand out and look weird,” Marsh said.

The skirt length change makes things a bit more convenient, Marsh said.

“I guess it’s a nice thing for me because it gets pretty warm in Rome,” Marsh said. “Plus it makes it a little easier to find skirts.”

Janae Rivera, an English major from Ventura, Calif., recently returned home from her mission in Houston and said the dress code change brought a lot of blessings, but not without a few challenges.

“I think it just brought more attention to us being more normal people,” Rivera said. “Sister missionaries are in the world, but not part of the world.”

It was more than a dress code change, Rivera said; it was a change in the stereotypes of sister missionaries.

“I definitely loved the change because it helped me want to go on a mission,” Rivera said. “I had a perception of sister missionaries, and I didn’t feel like I fit that mold.”

The change has allowed sisters to maintain their individual personalities, Rivera said, and that has had lasting effects on the work.

Some sister missionaries say the dress code changes that allow for brighter skirts help improve mood and productivity. (Photo by Natalie Stoker.)
Some sister missionaries say the dress code changes that allow for brighter skirts help improve mood and productivity. (Photo by Natalie Stoker.)

“It helped me be a representative of Jesus Christ, but still be me,” Rivera said. “Sister missionaries don’t have to be boring.”

Also a teacher at the MTC, Rivera said there have been a few more challenges with modesty since the dress code change.

“There definitely is a problem with modesty that needs to be addressed,” Rivera said. “And it can turn into a fashion show instead of focusing on what’s most important.”

Rivera said the Church standards given to the sisters help keep fashions from going overboard.

“The change is good,” Rivera said. “Because if you feel good on the outside, it is easier to have a good attitude.”

Receiving her mission call to Uruguay, Victoria Talbot is ecstatic to serve while keeping her personal style.

“I definitely think it’s difficult to be fashionable as a missionary,” Talbot said. “But you can find some cute outfits, you just mix some patterns and you are good to go.”

Talbot, a dance major from Thousand Oaks, Calif., said she has been counseled to seek out clothing that reflects the message she is teaching.

“They don’t want it too fashion forward or overly trendy,” Talbot said. “They want it to be somewhat conservative.”

In her hunt for modest mission skirts, Talbot said she has turned to thrift stores and online shopping.

“My biggest recommendation is Asos.com,” Talbot said. “Me and all my sister missionary friends shop there because they have a lot of modest skirts that are cute and casual.”

With more and more sisters serving missions, many say the dress code change has helped missionaries share the gospel more effectively.

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