Fashion

There’s a Monastery in Arizona? And How to Dress Appropriately

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Most people don’t realize there is a monastery in Florence, Arizona. It’s definitely an incredible place to visit, but you can’t go in your “normal” clothes. How to dress appropriately?? I’ll spill the beans below.

Quote of the day: “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

Contents:
What is a monastery?
Facts about St. Anthony’s Greek Monastery
How to dress at a monastery
Changes to our looks
Lesley’s outfit
Why consider this & how to make it fabulous?

The St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Monastery is in Florence, Arizona which is about 2 hours southeast of Sun City, where we live. We have been to Florence once before and yet never realized the monastery was there. Even though Florence is a small town, the monastery is on the outskirts and a well-hidden secret.

What is a Monastery?

In case you’ve never visited a monastery before, it’s defined as a building or group of buildings made up of living quarters and the workplaces of monks, nuns, and monastics.

Insider fact: St Anthony’s is the largest orthodox monastery in the Western Hemisphere.

St. Anthony’s Greek Monastery covers a large area of ground with 9 chapels and orchards of citrus and olive trees.

Facts About St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery

The important thing to remember is that St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery is a home and workplace for the monks. So while they do allow tourists and people to visit, there are requested rules about where to go, what to do, and how to dress at the monastery.

I’ll share some of the facts that caught our fancy:
1-It is relatively new having been built in 1995
2-The monk’s daily life is VERY busy. They pray all night long and only get a couple of hours of rest throughout the day.
3-The grounds are beautifully kept up by the monks themselves. You are not to ask them questions or talk to them as they are working.
4-Most of the chapels serve as shrines for the holy relics of the saints.
5-There are many volunteers from the nearby town that help in the bookstore and who greet visitors.
6-Visitor hours are limited from only 10:30 am until 2:30 pm seven days a week.
7-We were allowed to take photos freely except for no photos of the monks.

How to Dress at a Monastery

Because this is a spiritual place, there is a modest dress code that is expected of any visitor. In fact, if you come to visit in your street clothes, there are clothes to borrow to make sure you are dressed appropriately.
The guidelines for how to dress at this monastery are online which is how we were prepared. In fact, the greeter was very impressed that we had all the required elements.

Insider tip: All monasteries and/or spiritual places have their own dress requirements. These are not universal and not all exactly like St. Anthony’s.

Here are the important elements for respectable attire:
1-Long sleeve shirts for both men and women.
2-Long skirts or dresses for women, and long pants for men.
3-No open-toe sandals or shoes and the ankle must be covered with socks.
4-Scarves to cover the head and wrap under the chin and neck for women. Men are to have their heads uncovered in church.

As you can see, how to dress for a monastery means that all exposed skin is covered. It is in respect to be modest as this is the belief of monastic life.
The interesting thing is how you don’t feel out of place dressed this way when visiting the monastery because everyone looks like this.

Yet when we left the grounds, we definitely undressed and changed into items that made us feel more comfortable for us.

Respectable clothing and dress for a monastery

Changes to Our Looks for the Monastery Visit

While we wore outfits that we showcased on the blog last week which were extremely modest, they were still not appropriate for how to dress for a monastery visit. At least not for St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox monastery.

And let me tell you how challenging it was for all of us to try to follow the guidelines and still wear what we considered stylish outfits. It goes to show that it’s not easy to change how we dress.
In our culture, we aren’t used to covering up all of our body parts, especially in the summer.
While you may think this would be easier in the winter, you have to remember that you need to wear a long skirt or dress, and the top shouldn’t be too tight.

This is what we changed:
1-Cathie wore a modest summer look and then changed into ankle boots (her Roper style cowboy boots) along with adding her scarf over her head and around her neck.
2Charlotte’s post concentrated on covering your legs in the summer. She was all ready for our monastery visit and just had to add her scarf over her head.
3-Jodie’s outfit was all about long sleeves even in the hotter weather. I switched out my flat ballet flats to ankle booties so that my ankles were covered. You can see I had my scarf attached to my purse, and I not only put it over my head but kept it in place with a decorative magnet.

Insider tip: There are many types of scarf clips and magnets to help hold your scarf in place. Many can be found on Amazon, for example here and here.

Blue midi dress with red accents

Dress: Jostar~~ Cardigan: Charter Club~~ Shoes: Arabella~~ Purse: no label

Lesley’s Outfit

Lesley commented more than once that this was not her favorite outfit and she felt frumpy. As someone who is comfortable baring her skin in the hotter weather, she doesn’t have a lot of longer pieces to wear for this kind of scenario.

For our photos, she wore a navy midi-length dress and added pops of color with her cardigan, belt, shoes, and purse. She wore the scarf around her neck and let it create a waterfall cascade down the front of the look.

For our actual visit to the monastery, she pulled on navy socks and changed to her navy loafers so you wouldn’t notice the bottom half. Then she used her scarf as her head and neck wrap.

Flower scarf around neck

Red as an Accent Color

Anytime you are wearing a neutral foundation, it’s wonderful to add a contrasting accent color to the look.
Since navy is neutral, we realize that any color will pair with it.

Lesley’s inspiration for this outfit was the scarf since we knew we would need to use it as a head covering. She copied the colors from the scarf into the rest of the outfit.

Red purse

Why Consider This & How to Make it Fabulous

There are a couple of reasons why you might need to dress this way. If you are traveling to areas that dress more modestly, like the Middle East, then you will be prepared to think about this type of clothing.
Some churches, temples, and even beaches have strict codes for what to wear, so it’s important to research this before you go.

Insider tip: This is why a large scarf is a fabulous thing to take with you when traveling. Not only can you use it to cover up a swimsuit, keep you warm on the plane or become a wrap for an evening out, but they can also be used to cover body parts for modesty.

Even if you have to cover up in the summer, there are ways to make it look better than just something blah and frumpy.
1-Add in color. While the entire outfit doesn’t need to be full of color, it’s nice to add some accent colors. For example, Lesley brightened up her outfit with a red belt, cardigan, and purse!
2-Try your hand at print mixing. Dressing this way of showing no skin is SO different than the ways we are used to creating a chic look. Therefore, incorporating a couple of prints can be a way to make it different and fun.
3-Add in bling or sparkles. Just because you have to be covered doesn’t mean you can’t make it fun. Cathie showed us this with her blingy belt.
4-A smile is always the best accessory. Even though our clothing options play a huge part in how we feel about ourselves, a smile is even more important.

Red cardigan with blue dress

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How to dress for a monastery

Photo credit: Rob Filogomo

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