First and foremost, I have to give my bias. I hate suits. I hate the feel, look and weight of a suit. Ahhh, that was cathartic. Now that I have aired my prejudice towards suits, we can begin.
When I enter the Lodge, I wear different clothes for different events. I will first describe what I would wear for a normal business meeting. When I was not an elected officer, I would wear nice khakis or black dress pants and a tucked-in polo shirt. Now, as an elected officer, I wear a sport coat, a button up shirt and nice khakis. (When I am wearing my sport coat and khakis, I look like most of the professors I had in college.) The main reason for different attire between being an elected officer and as a brother is that in my Lodge, there is a custom that officers should wear suit coats.
During degree work, I put on a suit with a tie. For me, degree work and business meetings are two different engagements with different expectations. When I am in degree work, the ritual work should be treated with a certain amount of respect. Business meetings involve us doing the work of the Lodge and I dress for them accordingly. Wearing khakis and a button-up shirt with no tie does not degrade the work we are doing but makes men more relaxed to discuss the business of the Lodge without a filter. I have heard some brothers voice the evils of business casual as being the downfall of productivity in America, but I consider that argument to be a straw man. In Lodge, I believe we get just as much work done in a suit as we do in a tucked-in polo and khakis.
Another consideration for degree work is: do the brothers wear costumes? In my Lodge, we do wear costumes and for me, I find that I need to wear light clothes so I don’t sweat to death. For me, the degree work is built upon creating a good experience. If I am going to put on a good show, I should be comfortable. I want what I am saying to appear natural and not forced.
Lodges are built on the idea that when men meet together in Lodge, they are entering a sacred space. For some, the sacredness of the Lodge requires matching dress. For them, dressing to the nines is important including a black tuxedo, white gloves and shiny shoes. In fact, when I am installed as Master, I intend on renting a tuxedo during the installation.
Other men find Lodge to be a Fraternity that allows all men to enter regardless of station. I am a member of the second camp. For me, the most important article of clothing that a Mason wears is his apron. I think that the phrase “the clothes make the man” is entirely incorrect. Although I disagree with brothers that dress up for Lodge, I admit that I merely have a different opinion concerning taste.
For a candidate, my advice is this: ask a man from the Lodge what the appropriate dress is. One of the worst feelings in the world is going to what you think is a costume party and you get the picture.
Flixster - Share Movies
In the end, all matters of dress should be made by consensus of the Lodge. If brothers want to dress up, then they should dress up. If the brothers prefer to dress in business casual, then that norm should be followed. There is no right answer. Well, maybe one or two…