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Judging a man by his attire

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dmcauliffe View Drop Down
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    Posted: September/23/2014 at 8:25pm
Greetings Brethren.

As an EA of a PHA lodge, I recently had the distinct honor and pleasure of witnessing a new brother get initiated. I must be honest in saying that some of the brothers who performed the ceremony were shaky and unsure of their parts; nevertheless, seeing the process from the other side was enlightening.

Anyway, on to my main point. I had a shirt that was white with some light tannish stripes on it. It is a very nice, presentable dress shirt. I was also wearing a vest, but no jacket since this is basically a tropical area. All in all I must say I was looking sharp for the occasion. However, as soon as I got to the lodge and one of the brothers saw me, his first question was, "What's up with that vest?" This Brother is my guide (helping my cabletows and me with our proficiency) so he wasn't stern about it. I simply removed the vest. Later that evening when the rest of the brothers arrived I got several more comments about my shirt.

"You need an all-white shirt young man."
"What is that, pink?"
Etc.

Now, when I see photos of our mainstream Brothers at the Lodge, some are dressed in suits. Some are dressed in tuxes (very few). But most are dressed in casual albeit nice clothing. This is Hawaii, after all, where the standard is shorts and flip flops. Of course, the Brothers attending the lodge have more sense than to show up like they're going to the beach, but for the most part their attire is extremely casual compared to ours. Even when we have regular lodge meetings, the "casual" wear is quite formal. I showed up to my first study session at the lodge after a long work day in shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt, and I swear I could feel certain Brothers ice grilling me (sorry to use slang but there really is no other appropriate term).

So I have two questions.

1. Why do PHA Masons have such a strict dress code? Is it tradition, is it to promote unity through a common uniform, etc.? I must say we always look sharp, but I'm just wondering why we have such a formal dress code and our MS brothers do not.

2. Does the implementation of such a strict dress code take away from the actual substance of Masonry? That is, does only allowing a white shirt, black tie, black socks, etc. detract from the core lessons of the Craft? Is it unfair to judge a man based on his attire not being exactly on point -- for example, for being in a white shirt with very light tan stripes -- even if he is proficient in his work?

MS Brothers feel free to chime in. I'd like to hear from both sides.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adept? Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/23/2014 at 8:46pm
I've seen brothers come to lodge from work still in uniform, or in jeans and a work shirt, throw on an apron and take a seat. The brother being there is far more important than what he has on.   Formal wear is prefered of course ( black and white suit or tux ) although; as you already stated, color doesn't so much matter for us...as long as it is a suit. Actually... I usually remove my suit jacket for the meeting...sometimes I don't even wear a tie... I don't care for ties.

Edited by Adept? - September/23/2014 at 8:49pm
"It is humanity that creates god, and men think that god has made them in his image, because they make him in theirs."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dmcauliffe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/23/2014 at 8:59pm
Bro. Adept
Are you PHA or MS?
As for the brother being there being far more important than what he has on, I completely agree. As I said, I like the fact that my Brothers all look sharp and presentable, as it makes a great impression and signals to me that they are serious. That being said, while I enjoy the sharp external presentation, I do not vibe well with the fact that some would judge a brother based merely on the fact that he may not be dressed "properly." Of course we want to be presentable and move as one Lodge, and while the adoption of a standard dress code aides in this to a certain extent, I feel that a man's knowledge and understanding of the Craft should not be overlooked simply because he for whatever reason is dressed differently.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adept? Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/23/2014 at 9:12pm
Well, I don't like to title myself anything but a freemason...but since you asked... I am main stream AF&AM. However, I was originally entered, passed, and raised PHA in Jacksonville FL. It was only later when i moved back home to Maine that i learned that FL. Doesnt have a recognized PH lodge or grand lodge. Long story short...I took all 3 degrees again here in Maine in '08. And yes...in PHA in FL. the black and white dress code was enforced also.

Edited by Adept? - September/23/2014 at 9:14pm
"It is humanity that creates god, and men think that god has made them in his image, because they make him in theirs."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dmcauliffe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/23/2014 at 10:37pm
Yes of course, the only reason I asked was to see if there was a difference between our dress codes. To expand this topic a bit more, it seems to me that Prince Hall Masons are more...serious in their demeanor in general. Have you noticed any differences in the way PHA Masons carry themselves as opposed to MS Masons? Or in the way lodge business is conducted? Having been on both sides I'm sure your perspective is unique.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jdwalker519 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/24/2014 at 7:46am
I'm MS, from LaFayette-DuPont #19, F.A.A.M. of DC.  We prefer business casual at a minimum, and officers should be wearing tuxes, but we won't turn a brother away.  Some do indeed come straight from work...as traffic in the DC area sucks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bostonian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/24/2014 at 8:18am
In Massachusetts, we do have a dress code which is as follows:

Officers:  Tuxes and White Gloves
Members:  Suites

While I have seen some members show up without suits on, the general decorum of our lodges here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is Business Suites and Tuxes.  However, it may be said in other jurisdictions, the dress code could be more laxed.  The best thing to do is consult with the Master of your lodge or Secretary to ensure you're dressed properly.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cookslc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/24/2014 at 10:24am
Grand Lodges and lodges have different customs.  It's not right or wrong, just a different custom.  In England, it is a dark suit/morning suit and light shirt AND the appropriate tie (ties are a whole other discussion for English Masons).  

A standard suit has the benefit of removing worldly distinctions.  If we are all attired the same, we cannot tell if you labor or lecture, are mechanical or medicinal, a doctor or a dog catcher.  

I have been in a lodge where the attire was clean jeans and a shirt with a collar.  That's fine too.  We all know what the dress code is.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adept? Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/24/2014 at 12:25pm
I definitely noticed some distinct differences between the two when I first moved back to Maine.  I don't recall being tried on my ritual knowledge outside of a lodge (and only rarely inside for that matter) since I've moved home, and gone mainstream (as you, and others have put it.  I don't care to differentiate between the two.  To me there are regular masons, and clandestine masons only)  As far as being "more serious" I think they are about equal.  You have brothers who are strong in ritual knowledge and others who are not so strong on either side.  I noticed (during my initiation) that PHA is a lot more like a fraternity as it regards to ritual knowledge, and proving you really want to be there, and brotherhood.  Not so much on the mainstream side. (in my experience)  When I went through PHA we had to know the ritual verbatim... word for word.  Here in Maine (again in MY experience) If you know the working tools, and a few questions, and maybe some of the obligation... you're in.  As far as business meetings go... PHA and mainstream are pretty similar.  Although I recall enjoying the meetings more when I was in PHA.  However, I think that may be due to the fact that I was younger... most of the members of my lodge were also people I knew from my ship, or were at least in the Navy and stationed in the area.  I was new to masonry, and I was the Senior Deacon, and very active.  I'm afraid I may have strayed off topic a bit... forgive me, I seem to be having some trouble keeping my train of thought on the tracks today.  I could go on and on on this topic I imagine.  I hope this goes somewhere near the direction of an answer to your question dmcauliffe. 
"It is humanity that creates god, and men think that god has made them in his image, because they make him in theirs."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote droche Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/24/2014 at 1:52pm
Different grand lodges have different dress codes and since each GL is independent it really is their prerogative to regulate dress. Massachusetts' dress code is minimum suit jacket and tie e.g.. a blazer, Dockers and tie would be acceptable. I was never comfortable with strict dress codes as I feel it somewhat flies in the face of the philosophy that it is the internal, not the external qualities that make a man a Mason. That being said, I also feel that a member should do his best to be respectable and presentable, but if he is just coming from work or if he is in destitute circumstances I do agree that it is more important that he be there; we can go overboard with some things.

If it were up to me, I would say your dress would have been fine at your meeting,  but, well, it's not up to me.Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NobleShabba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/24/2014 at 3:50pm
Originally posted by dmcauliffe dmcauliffe wrote:

Bro. Adept
Are you PHA or MS?
...

Originally posted by Adept? Adept? wrote:

Well, I don't like to title myself anything but a freemason...but since you asked... I am main stream AF&AM. However, I was originally entered, passed, and raised PHA in Jacksonville FL. It was only later when i moved back home to Maine that i learned that FL. Doesnt have a recognized PH lodge or grand lodge. Long story short...I took all 3 degrees again here in Maine in '08. And yes...in PHA in FL. the black and white dress code was enforced also.


Love this - so short answer is, "YES!"

Edited by NobleShabba - September/24/2014 at 3:51pm
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DISCLAIMER: These are my comments, and mine alone - they do not necessarily apply to any group to which I belong!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adept? Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/24/2014 at 4:00pm
technically no... that lodge was/is clandestine. But, yes...

Edited by Adept? - September/24/2014 at 4:27pm
"It is humanity that creates god, and men think that god has made them in his image, because they make him in theirs."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dmcauliffe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/24/2014 at 10:29pm
I see what you mean when you say you don't like to differentiate between the two, but given the unique history of Prince Hall Masonry, I think it is important that we recognize that while PHA Masonry is "regular," it is still unique unto itself.

PHA is definitely very much about the fraternity aspect. Without going into detail, on my initiation night my cabletow and I were frequently reminded that this was a noble fraternity, not the Girl Scouts. We also must know all the material word for word, verbatim. In all honesty I enjoy that aspect of it because I can memorize things very very quickly, and I have seen what happens when the material is simply read. Not at all as impactful.

Bro. Adept, don't worry about straying off topic. While the original query in this post was related to dress code, I like that it has expanded to include some of the other differences (and similarities) between Prince Hall and "Mainstream." Ultimately, however, as you said, we are all Masons (except those clandestines who aren't).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dmcauliffe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/24/2014 at 10:36pm
It seems that most of the lodges to which the (MS) brothers here belong do not have a strict dress code. It seems that while business casual is recommended or suggested, it is not expected. So it would seem that the strict dress code of PHA lodges is somewhat unique to Prince Hall Masonry. That's not to say the MS brothers aren't sharp too, but it seems Prince Hall Masonry places a great deal of emphasis on outer appearance as well as internal qualities.

Thanks to the brother who shed some light on the attire of our brethren in England. That's another topic I would love to discuss, the differences between Masonry here in the US and that in the UK, or even in other countries across the world.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CanadianPaul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/25/2014 at 11:29am
In lodges here under both the GL of Scotland and the GL of Newfoundland and Labrador the dress code is tux for Officers (some of the older lodges prefer white tie and tails) and business suits for members. A smart sports jacket and dress pants are perfectly acceptable but a tie is absolutely necessary. Except for one newly-erected lodge under the GLNL which decided to introduce the custom, the wearing of a hat by the Master is unknown.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Caution1010 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/25/2014 at 12:58pm
I apologize for the hard time they were giving you. Especially in Hawaii where a lot of brothers there are military vets, you 'll find a lot of brashness in their approach. 


I can not speak for "PHA". I do know this: the way a man dresses tells a lot about him.

In general, lodges I know of enforce strict dress codes because of the solemnity of how they see the craft and of course as a grown man, you already know that how  you present yourself is how you will be perceived and received.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NewToLight84 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/25/2014 at 10:54pm
I remember before my first meeting I was going nuts trying on pants and shirts. I was worried about what to wear so much I was late...but, when I arrived I realized that the JW was wearing flip flops... It seemed inappropriate to me. But, then again I'm in Nebraska!! I think I would find it more acceptable in states and places where that's the "normal" attire....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Caution1010 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/26/2014 at 11:42am
Flip flops? No way...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dmcauliffe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/27/2014 at 3:06am
Originally posted by Caution1010 Caution1010 wrote:

I apologize for the hard time they were giving you. Especially in Hawaii where a lot of brothers there are military vets, you 'll find a lot of brashness in their approach. 


I can not speak for "PHA". I do know this: the way a man dresses tells a lot about him.

In general, lodges I know of enforce strict dress codes because of the solemnity of how they see the craft and of course as a grown man, you already know that how  you present yourself is how you will be perceived and received.


True indeed Bro. Caution. I didn't mean to imply that my Brothers are in any way overly hard on me. They are indeed still in possession of the military mentality, but to be honest I think that mentality is beneficial to me because it keeps me sharp and on point in my progression. And I feel it is all in jest; they're schooling me to the ways of the lodge and the craft. Lots of old heads too so the whole "Look here young man" thing is to he expected.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AaronSawyer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/07/2014 at 1:08pm
In Kentucky I've visited a few lodges where the brothers were wearing over-alls stained with oil and such.  I'd try to wear my best but for some country guys their best was simple things like that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anthony660 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/08/2014 at 3:09pm
I am WM of my lodge this year, I work in an environment where I wear a company polo and khaki pants. I go straight to lodge after work and sit in the East dressed like that.
I personally prefer a brother show up as he is then not show up.
Remember -"it is the internal and not the external" qualifications that we are concerned with.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rmcgehee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/09/2014 at 3:04am
I would say "show respect for yourself and Lodge then let the rest just go as BS. I know this is harsh but let's get real,we are all human first,we should not put down a Brother for how he dresses.
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