Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Female Mormon missionaries worldwide can now wear dress slacks, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday.
The First Presidency of the Missionary Executive Council in Salt Lake City, Utah, revealed the changes for all 407 missions year-round.
"This is truly optional," Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, the Young Women general president and a member of the Missionary Executive Council, said about the attire changes. "The sisters can wear dresses, they can wear slacks, whatever will help them in their service as they're out amongst the people."
Sister missionaries in roughly half of the church's missions have been wearing dress slacks during the wet seasons as protection from mosquito-borne viral diseases, such as dengue fever, Chikungunya and Zika, since in June 2016.
"There are a lot of vector-borne diseases because of mosquitoes and ticks and fleas," Cordon said. "This helps the sisters to prevent any of those bites or at least minimizes them."
Two other reasons to wear slacks: staying warm in cold climates and ease in riding bicycles.
"Sister missionaries are amazing people," Cordon said. "We want to make sure that they're protected."
Sister missionaries must still wear skirts and dresses in the temple and during Sunday worship services, mission leadership and zone conferences, and baptismal services.
"Adjustment to the missionary dress and grooming standards have changed over time since the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in 1830 and will continue to do so in the future," Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. "As we adapt these standards, we always carefully consider the dignity of the missionary calling to represent Jesus Christ, the safety, security and health of our beloved missionaries, and the cultural sensitivities of the places where they serve."
Young women ages 19 to 39 serve for 18 months as missionary volunteers. Young men 18 to 25 serve for two years. Senior missionaries generally serve from six months up to two years.
"I say HALLELUJAH and ABOUT TIME," Kayla Bach, who returned last year from a mission in Santiago, Chile, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Facebook. "Pants are the WAY TO GO for female missionaries."