How to prepare for the Sanctuary Degree Service

Many chapters have strict rules about what is acceptable for ritual attire during the Sanctuary Degree Service and others take some curious liberties when it comes to clothing options. Let’s discuss what is actually appropriate so that you’re prepared for one of the most meaningful experiences you’ll have at the national convention & leadership conference.

To maintain the dignity of the ritual, proper attire is required by all in attendance. “White dress” refers to an all-white outfit, including shoes, that is not casual or considered lacking in good taste. The outfit must not have any colored trim. Off-white or cream-colored outfits are not appropriate. Hosiery may be white or neutral in color. “Nice dress” refers to an outfit that would be appropriate to wear to a religious service or a nice restaurant. Make-up and jewelry may be worn but must be minimal. Jewelry that may be distracting because of its size or noise is not permitted.

— The Ritual of Alpha Sigma Alpha

So what does that mean, exactly? Let’s break it down.

The clothes

  • Your white attire must be all-white and have no colored trim on it. Cream or off-white is not white. White with gold rope trim is not white.
  • Notice that this description does not require you to wear a dress. You can wear pants, a pants suit, a skirt suit, a skirt and a blouse or pants and a blouse.
  • Despite popular belief, there is no rule about sleeves. Your attire can be sleeved, sleeveless or spaghetti-strapped. It just has to be in good taste.
  • Your attire cannot be casual or lacking in good taste. If you are not sure what is considered casual or in good taste, then think about where you would wear this outfit in public. Would you wear it to watch a baseball game? Would you wear it to a nightclub? Then it probably is not the right outfit for the Sanctuary Degree Service.

The shoes

  • All-white shoes are required. Tan shoes are not acceptable. Mostly tan shoes with a little bit of white on them are also not acceptable. If the heel is a light tan color and it is not distracting, your all-white shoes are fine. If you are wearing a stacked heel in bright blue, then your shoes are not acceptable.
  • Notice I said shoes. Believe it or not, white socks are not shoes. Fuzzy white slippers are also not shoes. And, no, going barefoot is not an option.
  • Shoes must also comply with the “casual and in good taste” stipulation. White gym shoes are not acceptable. Flip flops are also not acceptable. Again, think about where you would wear the shoes in public. If they go with a casual or more revealing outfit, then they aren’t right for ritual.

The make-up

  • Show off your beautiful face and don’t stress about your make-up. It is not required that you come make-up free, nor is it required that you come all decked out. Do what is natural to you.
  • And, by the way, nail polish is acceptable. Really. It is.

The jewelry

  • Minimal and no distractions in the name of the game here. Badge? Yes. Dangly pearl earrings your grandmother gave you? Sure. Pretty pendant that you found at an estate sale? That’s cool. Engagement and wedding ring? Absolutely! Big, floral statement necklace in multiple colors? Save it for the banquet.


When thinking about what to pack for the ritual at convention, take a look back at these tips to answer any questions you have! For more examples on what is acceptable, visit our Convention Attire Pinterest board.


Christy Adams, Director of Collegiate Services

One response to “How to prepare for the Sanctuary Degree Service”

  1. Connie S. says:

    Great article. Saving it to take to chapter meeting.

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