Virtually all religions employ some sort of ritual or symbolic clothing, some only for the priesthood, and some only for special religious ceremonies. Observant Jewish men wear an undergarment called a tzitzit which has knotted tassels at the bottom representing the 623 Mosaic commandments. Although the tzitzit is worn under a shirt, the tassels normally hang out side and over the pants to show the devotion of the wearer. Jewish men who wear the undergarment, also usually wear a kipah, or yarmulke, the skullcap that also shows reverence and devotion to God. It would be appalling to most, nowadays, to hold these symbolic clothes in derision, and yet it seems to be acceptable behavior to deride the the religious clothing of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. People should ask themselves whether this is fair.
Mormons who make holy covenants in Mormon temples are participating in ordinances of the Holy Priesthood of Jesus Christ. As a symbol of those covenants they wear “the garment of the holy priesthood,” which most Mormons call, simply, “garments.” For most people who wear it, the Mormon garment takes the place of regular underwear. Those who hold their ritual clothing in derision call them “Mormon underwear.” Mormon garments are almost always white, but there are special khaki garments for church members who are in the military. Garments are worn under regular clothing. Men’s garments come in many fabrics (even thermals). The tops are cut like men’s tee shirts and the bottoms like jockey shorts, but they come to the top of the knee. Women’s tops come in a variety of fabrics and cuts. They also come in maternity and nursing styles. The necklines vary in cut, but essentially follow the bra line. Except for long-sleeved thermals, women’s tops have little cap sleeves. Bottoms come mid-thigh to knee top, to capri length to wear under long pants. Thermal bottoms can come to the ankles. The important part of temple garments is the four small embroidered symbols that represent temple covenants. The symbols remind Mormons that they have taken upon themselves the name of Christ and have promised to keep His commandments. Garments offer spiritual protection, if the wearer is true to the name of Christ. They are called by some outside the Church “Mormon magical underwear,” because at times, they have offered also physical protection. But this is not their promise nor their purpose.
Because of the cut of Mormon garments, they demand modesty on the part of the wearer. Women who have made covenants in the temple can’t wear strapless gowns or even strappy sundresses. Neither men nor women can wear short shorts. Women can’t wear mini-skirts. Mormons do remove the garment to wear athletic clothing, swimsuits, and dance costumes, but if the garment can be worn easily for an activity, worthy Mormons do wear it. They also wear garments at night while sleeping.