Temple Garments

What are temple garments?

Temple garments are underclothes[1] that act as a reminder of covenants made in the temple.[2] They are white,[3] made from a variety of fabrics,[4] and have markings with spiritual significance.[5]

When were they “invented?”

According to Biblical tradition, the Lord made "garments of skins" for Adam[BIO] and Eve[BIO] after they were expelled from the Garden of Eden.[6]

The first historical record clearly referring to garments in modern times is from 1845.[7] However, Joseph Smith probably introduced them in 1842, around the same time he revealed the endowment.[8]

Who came up with the initial design?

It's unclear. There are no firsthand accounts of how Joseph Smith[BIO] arrived at the design of garments.

Did some early Church leaders teach that Jesus wears garments?

Possibly. There is one thirdhand account that claims Jesus wore garments in the First Vision.[9]There are some accounts from early Church leaders that reference Jesus and use the terms "garment" or "vesture," but it's unclear if this refers to temple garments or simply to clothing.[10][11]

Are there connections between garments and Freemasonry?

Yes. There are similarities between symbols on temple garments[12] and important Masonic symbols, including representations of the compass and square.[13]

What is the purpose of garments?

The Church Handbook states that the "garment is a reminder of covenants made in the temple. When members are faithful to their covenants and wear the garment properly throughout their lives, it also serves as a protection."[14]

Prophets and apostles have taught that the garment helps remind members of their temple covenants[15] and protect them from temptation.[16]

When we go through the temple, do we covenant to wear garments?

Apparently. The Church Handbook states that during the initiatory, members are authorized to wear garments[17] and those who receive the endowment "make a covenant to wear the temple garment throughout their lives."[18]

But do members of the Church make a specific covenant in the temple about wearing garments?


Are garments supposed to protect people from physical harm?

Maybe? Some Church leaders and members believe this,[19] although the Church has never made an official statement related to this idea.

The idea that they may offer physical protection is a traditional belief that may originate from secondhand reports about Willard Richards[BIO] being protected in Carthage Jail because he was wearing temple garments. John Taylor,[BIO] Joseph, and Hyrum[BIO] were not wearing their garments and were injured and killed.[20]

But aren’t there stories about people being saved from danger by their garments?

Yes, there are stories about people being protected from physical harm,[21] but there are also instances of Church members and leaders who were injured or killed while wearing their garments.[22]

Did everyone in the early Church wear temple garments?

No. During Joseph Smith's time, only a relatively small number of people received temple ordinances and wore garments.[23] After Joseph Smith was killed in 1844 and the Saints prepared to leave Nauvoo, more Latter-day Saints received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple and wore garments.[24]

How were they made?

Women in the Relief Society sewed garments and temple robes by hand, teaching the design to others sisters.[25]

Don't garments just control sexuality and modesty?

Yes, in some ways. Their primary purpose is to act as a reminder of the covenants made in the temple,[26] including a covenant related to the law of chastity.[27] Garments aren't designed to be particularly attractive,[28] so it's possible they discourage sexual activity.

Do you have to wear your garments all the time?

Probably. Instructions on temple garments included in temple recommend interviews state that garments should be worn "throughout life," including “for activities that can reasonably be done while wearing [them].”[29]

However, the temple interview question about wearing garments "both day and night" was updated[30] in 2020 to simply ask if temple garments were worn "as instructed in the endowment."[31]

In 2022, President Kevin W. Pearson of the Utah Area Presidency stated in a Utah Area broadcast, "we are dismayed by the casual and even cavalier way some treat their temple covenants, including the casual and inconsistent wearing of the temple garment."[32]

Did the Church ever teach that you had to wear your garments when you had sex with your spouse?

No. The Church teaches that garments may be removed for "purposes requiring the baring of body."[33]

However, this idea is sometimes found in the media or in material critical toward the Church.[34]

Do other religions have anything like temple garments?

Yes. It's not uncommon for religions to have clothing that reflects their religious tenets.[35] Sikhs[36] and Zoroastrians both wear sacred underclothing.[37] Many Orthodox Jewish men wear yarmulkes[38] and a tallit katan[39] and some Orthodox Jewish women wear wigs.[40] Some Buddhist monks wear robes.[41] Some Catholic nuns wear habits[42] and some monks wear cassocks.[43]

Is it true that you could buy temple garments at JCPenney in Utah back in the day?

Yes. Members of the Church could buy garments at many retail stores in Utah up until the 1970s.[44] By 1977, the Relief Society had acquired the exclusive rights to distribute temple garments.[45]

A vintage advertisement for both temple garments and other types of underwear.

Have the garments been changed? Could they change again?

Yes and possibly. The garment cut and style have changed many times over the last century.


Changes Made


The Church authorized the change of the garment from ankle-length to knee-length and from wrist-length to short sleeves.[46] Members were also told they could remove the collars and replace string-up attire with buttons.[47]


Garments changed from a one-piece to a two-piece.[48]


The Church discontinued certain fabrics and styles while also announcing stretch cotton garments.[49]


The women's stretch cotton garment line was extended.[50]

Were the changes because of modern fashion changes?

Yes, probably. The garments have changed over time along with general fashion trends.[51] However, the symbols in the garments have remained the same.[52]

Aren’t garments really uncomfortable, especially for women?

Some women reportedly find them uncomfortable,[53] others do not.[54]

Are you allowed to wear “regular” underwear under your garments?

Yes. In 2019, the Church clarified that it's acceptable to wear garments over regular underwear.[55] For example, women may choose to wear garment tops over bras.

Are members allowed to talk about garments with non-Latter-day Saint people?

Yes. When Mitt Romney[BIO] ran for U.S. president in 2008 and 2012, many people became curious about garments.[56] In 2014, the Church released an informational video explaining the purpose of the garments.[57]

The Facts

  • Temple garments were developed by Joseph Smith, probably in 1842.

  • Church leaders have taught that they offer spiritual and physical protection.

  • Official Church statements say garments are intended to be reminders of temple covenants.

  • The design of garments has changed over time.

  • The Church considers garments a sacred topic but does not have a prohibition against talking about them.

Our Take

The Church having specific underwear can seem uncomfortable or controlling. In media and conversation, garments can stick out as something unique (and weird) to our faith, which can feel embarrassing. Garments seem closely tied to modesty and therefore sexuality—which is deeply personal. It can seem like there’s a ban on talking about them or showing them because they're sacred.

To understand garments, it's useful to understand their symbolism. Many religions throughout the world have sacred, symbolic clothing. There is also Biblical precedent from the “garments of skins” God provided for Adam and Eve, though Joseph Smith probably introduced modern garments in 1842 along with the endowment ceremony. Temple garments reflect covenants made with God and wearing garments symbolizes a commitment to these covenants. There isn’t a prohibition against talking about temple garments with non-members, but garments are considered a sacred topic and aren't meant to be shown off.

It’s okay to have mixed feelings about garments; it’s okay to find them uncomfortable or weird. Wearing garments is meant to be a personal commitment to God, and even if the symbol of "special underwear" might seem strange, we can feel comforted that God wants us to always have a reminder of His love for us and His covenant with us.

What's Your Take?

280 characters remaining
These takes are curated for a general audience and may contain minor edits when posted.
  • Brian
    I fail to see how voluntarily participating in an ordinance and accepting the commitment to wear the garment as a reminder can be "controlling." There are plenty of comfortable materials to choose from. It feels like an undershirt and a pair of boxer briefs.
  • Shayna
    I believe the statement “modesty and therefore sexuality” ought not to connect the two. Modesty is a state of humility, an attitude of the heart, and sexuality and clothing choices ought not to be connected to it.
  • Evonne M
    A seat belt provides safety and protection while in a vehicle navigating the perils of the highway. Wearing the sacred temple garment provides safety and protection while passing through life and navigating its perils. I would feel naked and unprotected not wearing either one.
  • Jordan W.
    The simple fact that the church has changed the garment designs over the years for the sake of comfort and fashion should really give pause to anyone who thinks they're primarily about controlling church members' modesty and sexuality. I find the current fabrics pretty comfy.
  • Daniel L.
    I feel very comfortable wearing my garments. I feel lost without them. My wife is a nonmember. I showed them to her so there wouldn't be any surprises.