In college I had a job as a “courtesy clerk” at a Save Mart grocery store in central California. It was just a fancy name for a box boy. In a quirk of California labor laws and union rules, I had to wear a white shirt and tie to work every day. I don’t know if this is still the case today, but 40 years ago a white shirt and tie was legally considered “business attire”. The law was that an employer was required to purchase any uniform that was required for your employment. The one exception was business attire. They could force you to wear a white shirt and tie without having to buy it for you.
So after just completing two years in my mission to Chile wearing nothing but white shirts, I came home and wore white shirts and a tie for another three years. Then for another 20 years I was counselor in several bishoprics, EQ and YM Pres twice for both, and then bishop for five years. I was over the white shirt thing. 15 years ago upon release as bishop, I stopped wearing white shirts.
Blue is my preferred color, but in light of a recent announcement about LDS missionary dress, I may need to change that. According to the announcement: “in approved teaching areas, young men (commonly known as elders) may be able to wear a white or plain blue dress shirt with or without a tie.” My wearing of blue shirts is well known, and often commented on during EQ meetings, usually in jest. In fact just a day after the above announcement, I got a text from a friend in my ward that said “Now that missionaries are able to wear blue shirts you’ll have to wear a different color to stay out of the line of fire”.
So why blue? Is blue the new white? Is it because the sky is blue? It would be fun to have listened into the debate among the Q15 about what colors would be acceptable. Maybe Uchtdorf lobbied for light green, Christofferson for pink? Who was the last holdout, Oaks? Bednar? Do you think God cares if it is blue or green?
The announcement made it clear that the wearing of blue shirts “will be determined by Area Presidencies”. I wonder if after deciding that their area will allow blue shirts, a new Area President could come in and change it back to white, or are there some unpublished rules the Area Pres will follow in making the determination so they take the person preference out the the equation?
In a church where changes are generally evolutionary and not revolutionary, is this announcement much ado about nothing? Is the church just 30 years (or more) behind the times, and just catching up to Apple and Google, and leaving 1960’s IBM behind?
In the Florida Mission in 1969 we were allowed to wear blue shirts. We wore white on Sunday, but blue shirts were allowed at other times.
And for this we need a prophet and the “true church” to save us from the evil in the unsafe world out there.
Are some TBM”s shelves going to crack with realizing that the LDS institution is really focused on the wrong topics.. with all the turmoil in the world and this is what you are talking to God about?
This seems like another reasonable step along the path to a more reasonable approach to the gospel. Less uptight focus on formalities, more lightening up. Less Correlation, more do your own thing (your local LDS thing as appropriate for your ward and stake). So: two-hour church, no more Scouting, blue shirts okay, and of course no church at all (until Covid has run its course sometime in 2023). Who can argue with this? God works in mysterious ways.
I think there’s a great deal of wisdom in the move, in that it probably widens the Gospel net just a bit. I can remember teaching one guy on my mission that told us our suits made him less inclined to let us in, and that he would have been much less hesitant to do so had we been more casual. Then again, the suits can also make others more willing. I suppose some variety will only help.
Regardless of attire, I’d like the think and hope countenance would win out more often than not. I served in a country in which “stranger danger” was probably emphasized even more than in the United States. One of my most memorable experiences was walking past a playground in which a three or four year old girl suddenly ran out onto the sidewalk in front of us. She stopped, stared at us for a second, cocked her head to one side, then ran up to my companion and wrapped her arms around his legs. My companion reached down and gave her a couple of awkward pats on the back. I looked somewhat nervously to the mom, who didn’t seem to have any issues with the situation. I suppose it’s possible she had dealings with the Elders before, but wisdom would tell me not to assume they’re all exactly the same.
Why blue? Personally, it’s one of my favorite colors. It’s pleasant to look at but doesn’t scream “look at me” the way other colors do. I imagine it’s more conducive to allowing a person to look at the missionary a little more for who he is rather than what he is wearing.
I have not yet heard anyone describe this as a miracle. That’s progress.
Wake me when it’s polo shirts.
Because it was approved and recommended by a committee?
Because it still screams conservative.
When was the last time you saw a hippy in a blue dress shirt, with or without a tie.
Ok, I’m totally fine with this change. No complaints. But I’m surprised that the tie has the potential to go at the same time as the whiteness. The tie seems like a much bigger deal.
I’ll be impressed when they stop moving furniture around the room and call it change, though blue shirt is nice and their seems to be a lightening up on hard practices. I want significant doctrinal changes. Dump D&C 132, add mother in heaven in a big way, acknowledge racist teachings in scripture.
The Church makes me laugh some times. All they’ve done here is replace one set of rules (white shirt with tie) with another set (white and blue with tie optional). This would have been a great opportunity to discard the rules and simply offer some broad guidelines (“neat and clean”). The Church does not trust us to make our own decisions and judgements and frankly many active members like to be told what to do and not do. That’s LDS culture 101.
Can you imagine the reaction when the first general authority shows up at an official function in a non-white shirt? It will break the internet, as they say.
If you read men’s guides to business wear (such as Dress for Success) blue shirts are considered appropriate men’s wear on par with white shirts. Other colors are not.
In fact a number of guides note that to be the rule everywhere but Utah.