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.

For ritual services that require a nice white outfit:

‘Nice white outfit’ refers to an all-white or off-white dress, shirt and skirt, or shirt and pants that is not casual or considered lacking in good taste. The outfit must not have any colored trim. Shoes may be white or skin tone dress shoes. All participants must wear shoes. Athletic shoes, flip flops, slippers or other casual shoes are not acceptable. Bare feet or only wearing socks is not acceptable. Hosiery is not required, but if a woman chooses to wear hosiery, it must be white or skin tone. Undergarments should match a member’s skin tone. White is a perfect blending of many colors and has long been used to symbolize fellowship. By wearing white members acknowledge the blending of the many cultures and backgrounds of their sisters who come together in fellowship with shared values.

Make-up, nail polish and jewelry may be worn. 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. As there are many different shades of white, off-white is also permitted but cream is not.
  • 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? If you answered yes, then it probably is not the right outfit for the Sanctuary Degree Service.

The shoes

  • Shoes may be white or skin-toned.
  • 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.

Undergarments

  • Hosiery is not required, but if a woman chooses to wear hosiery, it must be white or skin tone.
  • Undergarments should match a member’s skin tone so as to not be seen through the white outfit.

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 is the name of the game here. Badge? Yes. Dangly pearl earrings your grandmother gave you? Sure. A 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 that one for the awards banquet.

If you have questions, feel free to email asa@AlphaSIgmaAlpha.org.

Originally written in 2018 by: Christy Adams, Director of Collegiate Services

Updated in 2022 by: Krystal Slivinski, Executive Director


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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