For most people, a “garment” is just any article of clothing, but to a Mormon, it refers to a specific type of clothing. Mormon garments are a special type of underclothing worn by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have gone through the Mormon Temple to receive their Endowment, a special and sacred ceremony that teaches important truths about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some people refer to them as “Mormon underwear,” but they are called garments by members of the Church because it is a more appropriate term for articles of clothing which are considered sacred.
What Garments Are Like
Garments are articles of clothing worn under the clothes and against the skin, which take the place of other types of underwear. They cover the shoulders and go down to the knees to help maintain the Mormon Church’s standards of modesty. They are made of the same materials as other clothing (like cotton, polyester, spandex, nylon, etc.) and come in different fabric blends and several cuts for both men and women. They are almost always white, though special garments are made for military service in military-approved colors. They are not extremely different in style from other types of “full-coverage” underclothing, and most endowed Mormons find them quite comfortable. Garments are made for daily use.
What Garments Mean
The garment is symbolic of ideas and covenants in the temple, which makes it sacred and an important visual and tactile reminder of personal commitments that need to be kept daily. They are not “magical” and they don’t stop bullets (that we know of), but these garments act as a spiritual protection against temptation. They also remind their wearers to keep the covenants they made when they went to the temple, and help them to obey God.
Many other religious groups, both historically and modernly, have special clothing that they wear either ceremonially or every day. The Mormon garments can be compared to a priest’s white collar, except it is a symbol of inner commitments on the inside of the clothing. Because of the sacredness of what these garments symbolize, they are not worn outwardly or shown to others. This is not because Mormons don’t want others to participate in these sacred things, but because they should kept for when each person is prepared to receive and understand them. It is also important to protect these sacred things from ridicule.
Wearing and respecting the garments is a way for Mormons to show reverence to God. Though Mormons wear garments all the time, they still don’t wear them in the shower, during vigorous sports workouts, while swimming, or other times when underwear is usually forgone. It is important, however, not to adjust (tuck, pin, or alter) garments to fit under different styles of clothing; wardrobes should be adjusted to cover the garments.