Kim Kardashian isn’t the first public figure to make a visit to the grounds of the Vatican, as she joins the ranks of royals, presidents, and celebrities alike with her latest visit. But after being photographed in an off-the-shoulder white lace dress with holes in her midsection (or, as InStyle referred to them, ovary cutouts), many compare her ensembles to those who came before her, wondering what the dress code is for such an appearance.
The SKIMS mogul made a stop at the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church alongside model Kate Moss and her daughter Lila Grace Moss Hack amid Kardashian’s vacation in Italy. And while photos captured of the group show Moss and Hack wearing darker dresses with their shoulders covered by a black long sleeve shirt and blazer, Kardashian’s décolletage is noticeably bare.
Moss isn’t the only person whose look is in stark contrast to Kardashian’s. In fact, documentation of those who have visited the Vatican and met the Pope in the past — including Queen Elizabeth, Michelle Obama, Ivanka Trump, and Katy Perry — show the women in similarly modest looks. All are also in the color black, while most are accessorized with a headpiece or veil of some sort. According to records of the Vatican’s dress code, these are in line with tradition.
A visual history of the looks worn by the papal audience in the past show most women wearing a black veil of sorts along with a black dress — a decision determined by both the faith of the visitor and the type of visit. The few who have worn white include Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Queen Sofia of Spain by way of the “le privilège du blanc” which means the privilege of white, referring to Catholic royals who are allowed to wear a white dress and veil in the Pope’s presence.
According to the Vatican Museum’s website, non-black outfits are no longer restricted. However, exposed knees and shoulders remain restricted. “Entry to the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Gardens is permitted only to appropriately dressed visitors. Sleeveless and/or low-cut garments, shorts above the knee, miniskirts, and hats are not permitted,” the dress code reads. A number of tourist websites clarify that there are plastic cloaks available for purchase to those who aren’t appropriately outfitted.
Reports of Kardashian’s appearance claim that the reality star wore a long black trench coat throughout her private two-and-a-half-hour tour of the grounds. However, the black overcoat might have not been necessary after Pope Francis loosened the dress code rules. The garb seems to have been selected in homage to the tradition for those who have met with him directly in recent years.