The Demise Of Sunday Clothes

Garrick McFadden
7 min readFeb 23, 2024
Photo by John Price on Unsplash

The amount of fear and trepidation I experienced wearing my Sunday Clothes cannot be easily measured.

Let me remind you that I am the first generation of my family not to believe in spankings. I have never spanked my daughter. My parents were not so enlightened. Many offenses could trigger a spanking. One, in particular, was playing in your Sunday Clothes. Grass stains, tears, rips, missing buttons, or anything that diminished, destroyed, or devalued your Sunday Clothes was a spankable offense.

For black folk and other races, Sunday Clothes were the best clothes you owned. They were clothes reserved for church, funerals, weddings, and other special occasions that required one to dress up. My household's highest form of Sunday Clothes was your Easter Sunday outfit. My mother would purchase these prized possessions from Wards, Penny’s, Sears, or another anchor store at our local shopping mall. She would start formulating an idea of this year’s Easter aesthetic by lustily paging through one of the ubiquitous department store catalogs.

On Easter morning, my brother and I would be adorned in white or pastel clothing. My mother would coordinate our families’ outfits so that we looked like a coordinated family unit. This was the bane of my father’s existence, but he relented and did his part to maintain peace.

My mother would begin the end-of-summer ritual two weeks before school started. She would load my brother and me into our K-Car and zip us off to the mall to purchase our school clothes. This was when we would get the clothes we wanted, especially the shoes. The only caveat was that we could only wear them on the first day of school. Violating this solemn rule could and would result in a spanking.

It has been almost three decades since my mother last purchased Sunday Clothes for me. The threats of spankings still loom on my mind. The rules were clear, and the consequences were immutable.

I am reflecting on this because my daughter does not have Sunday Clothes.

She is familiar with the concept from when she was a small toddler through second grade. This is more of when a child is in a doll stage. Their parents or grandparents dress them how they feel to show them off to their friends and strangers alike.



Garrick McFadden

I am a civil-rights attorney. I write about #whiteness, #racism, #hiphop, policing & politics.