Here’s a link to an entertaining article on Sunday dress in the Catholic Herald. The author contrasts the Spanish and Anglo-American understanding of what many mothers used to call “church clothes.”
It wasn’t until I moved to Florida that I saw people who appeared to come to Sunday Mass directly from cleaning out the garage. Shorts, flip-flops, the free t-shirt from the blood drive, whatever. And this was a solidly middle-class or better parish. Our last bishop made a stab at addressing this issue in the diocesan magazine and the result was a flood of phone calls and mail to the effect that “he should be happy we show up at all.”
All he suggested was that we dress as well as we would “to meet with our boss.” Hey, guess who’s supposed to be at the church?
Kleider machen Leute, as the Germans say. For me, dressing well for Sunday Mass says that this event is special, even in comfort-loving America. And it is.