PROVO -- Grandpa wore fedoras, dark suits and black wing tip shoes. Dad wore Rockports, 3-piece suits and London Fog coats. Today missionaries are going for the young business professional look -- brighter ties, creased khaki slacks, and in some places closed-toed sandals sans socks. White shirts and name tags remain a standard.
The LDS social circle is abuzz about the more modern and perhaps more relaxed styling for mission attire and accessories as seen on the church's website. Sisters are encouraged to be more colorful, with simple accessories including watches, bracelets and necklaces. Pantyhose and ankle-length skirts went by the wayside years ago. Sisters also get makeup tips, and elders are given instruction on three variations of knots for their ties. Hairstyles for both are suggested.
The LDS Church, after its recent and large mission changes, opted to remain mostly mum on the policy that will now allow elders to wear lime-green ties and sisters to show a little leg.
"In an updated dress and grooming standards Web page, clothing for elders now includes lighter colored suits and slacks," church spokeswoman Ruth Todd said.
Of course, all of this may not make shopping any easier. What works in Tahiti may not work in Russia. Prospective missionaries and their families should get more answers from the second letter, which includes mission-specific instructions from mission presidents.
Tyler Winn, manager of Mr. Mac at University Mall in Orem, noted he was in an evolving business. "We've always had to tweak here and there. The rules have changed a lot since the age lowered," he said. "This is a different change with khakis and close-toed sandals."
Winn says they are connected enough with the LDS Church's missionary department to get the heads up on when changes occur. They have adapted in the store to meet the needs.
One example Winn gave was the type of winter coats being purchased. "Ten years ago every missionary wore a trench coat. Now, 95 percent of them are wearing three-quarter length winter coats."
Winn said shoes are more modern with squared toes rather than rounded and they don't sell backpacks anymore. "It's 100 percent shoulder bags. Shoulder bags are very versatile."
White shirts are still the standard, but Winn sees that changing in the future too. "I've talked to missionaries going to Singapore and they can wear pastel shirts. If it happens, it's a game changer."
"The missionary style is more modern in look, fit and style," Winn added.
This is the latest in missionary fashion becoming a little less, well, frumpy. In 2010, nylons for sisters became optional and backpacks were replaced with side bags that could pass for briefcases Those bags should be big enough to carry "Preach My Gospel," pamphlets, cellphones and iPads.
Yes, we said iPads.
While dark suits aren't completely out, they are more for Sunday or special occasion attire, depending on your mission president, the weather conditions and your clothing mood of the day.
While they still may not be Prada, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, or Armani, missionary clothes are now more about presenting the proper image of the church and its connection with the modern world than wearing plain attire.
LDS President Thomas S. Monson is quoted on the elders dress and grooming page as saying, "Servants of the Lord have always counseled us to dress appropriately to show respect for our Heavenly Father and for ourselves."
To the sisters he said, "You can dress attractively without being immodest. Within the Lord's guidelines, there is room for you to be lively, vibrant and beautiful both in your dress and in your actions."
Some things, however, never change. Sisters are cautioned to not wear clothing that is too tight or too loose, that is transparent or revealing, that draws attention to any part of the body and that is casual, wrinkled, sloppy or faddish.