Converting Regular-Guy Shirts Into Clergy Shirts: How-To-Edition

Pigeons of my heart,
PeaceBang just received this cry for help, and she knows that YOU have answers for this young pastor. Here he speaks in his own words,

I have a kind if different question. I am a minister in a small town church in Tennessee. I am 30 and an ordained bishop with the [denomination]. This is mostly a suit and tie with the older ministers and nice shirt and dress pants/jeans for the younger. Now for the question. I would like to wear a clergy collar and was wondering if a tailor could take a regular shirt and modify the collar for the slip in kind of collar. This would mostly be worn for jail visits and other occasions where I am acting on official church business but I don’t wear a shirt and tie. There are alot of nice Christian button up shirts with a design that look nice but I would like to make them into a clergy shirt. I appreciate any help.

I’m not sure what “Christian button-up shirts” are (with designs?) but that’s not what our friend here is asking about. He wants to conversion advice. Not converting sinners into saints, but converting shirts into clericals. Readers?

18 Replies to “Converting Regular-Guy Shirts Into Clergy Shirts: How-To-Edition”

  1. You have to buy shirts that are collarless
    or have the collar taken off – then you can have the top button removed and replaced with buttonhole – a button hole is also sewn in the back of the neck — then you buy a collar with studs to go in the button holes – for the front one buy a butterfly stud.
    It is a good option for women too as you can get a shirt that fits and looks nice.

  2. Been here, done that, have a solution.

    The problem is the placket. Apart from the collar, a clergy shirt has a covered placket, and doesn’t show the buttons.

    What you need is a rabat, a kind of front-only vest, also called a shirtfront. See the bottom of

    Then you take a shirt to a tailor. Have the collar and top button removed. Stitch up the next band and have buttonholes placed where the button was removed and in the middle of the back of the next band. (Like where your neck becomes your spine.)

    You also need a clerical collar and two collar stays: front and back. I used to wear this ensemble, with a suit, when visiting or with Geneva bands and gown when preaching.

    Be warned: it’s warm.

  3. I feel your pain, my brother. I tried looking all this up earlier, with very little luck. Allegedly, this page ( has “wonderful” instructions as to converting a regular-people shirt into clericals, but I’ve yet to make heads or tails of them.

    Also, much love for Small Town, Tennessee– I’m going to Emmanuel in Johnson City.

  4. The other, simpler thing you could do, which would mimic the look of the Wippell shirt (which does not have a covered placket), is to simply get a full band collar, and wear it under the collar of a regular shirt in place of a tie. Simple, cheap, not much extra kit needed.

  5. If you’re gonna’ go through all that why not just buy the clerical shirt? they come in all sorts of styles and colors, even stripes. I haven’t seen any with “designs.” what, a fish or something?

  6. I want to know what a Christian button-up (with designs) means? I’m more interested in this than problem solving.

  7. Yes, PB, please write back to the 30 Year Old Ordained Bishop from TN and ask for links to these fab Christian shirts with designs.



  8. I use a band collar rather than a tab one, and convert any button-up shirt into a clerical shirt by sewing on one button. I attach a button to the back center of neck of the shirt, under the collar. To make it a clerical shirt, I tuck the collar inside the neck of the shirt and attach the band using the top front button to affix the center-front of the collar, and the newly sewed back button to close and affix the back of the band. In this way, I can find any shirt that accommodates my larger, er, upper body figure, and make it a clerical shirt.

  9. I do as Ann describes. The important thing is to be certain that the NECK of the shirt you begin with fits very well, and that the (band) collar you use is the same size.

    If you prefer a tab collar, I have successfully just tacked down the collar, and then made some stitches parallel to the neck that hold the tab collar up.

  10. I just reciently was ordained, and find that making a regular blouse into a clarical blouse is reasonably simple,
    1. pick out a blouse, or shirt for you guys, that is a good fit. Try to find one ladies that has a pointed collar.
    2. use a ready made, or home made tab. For a homemade tab, cut a piece of white plastic to 1″ by 7″ for a woman, and to 1&1/4 by 7 for a guy. any white plastic bottle or jug provides great plastic.
    3. Fold the collar over the “tab,” to size the channel for the tab to slide into.
    stich the collar down, press and wear.

    It is much simpler that it sounds, should take no more that about 15 min for a shirt/blouse to be modified.

    If u are a band collar user, then see the note above where you only have to sew a button in the back.

    Rev. Imhoff

  11. Could someone do a video. I am a visual learner. [Great idea! I’ll see if I can interest someone in this. – PB]

  12. I took a very fine, high quality 100% cotton, black T-shirt with a good, extra beefy quality collar.
    Then using masking tape, painted a white square with flexible latex paint. This solves both the comfort, economy and the need to hide buttons.

  13. Hi All. Also recently ordained, I’m finding it difficult to find blouses/shirts for women clergy. The main problem is, in South Africa we don’t have the fashion houses and outlets as you do in USA. And to import from the US with the Rand/dollar exchange rate would just not be a good idea. Rev Carol, thank you for your tip. And everyone else, even if I had difficulty following the idea. I too am a visual person. Blessings

  14. Intern at a couple of small churches. Large… Let’s leave it at that!
    I found some nice men’s dress shirts at a thrift store and took them to a friend that can sew.. She cut the points off of the collars and sewed the collar down leaving the front open to clip in the tab. Yes, very nice ones can be made from a Clorox bottle. The next thing I am going to try is to have button holes made to form slots to slip in the tabs in some nice turtle neck knit shirts. If the button holes are just the right size I think it work! Oh the cost for the nice dress shirts under 5 dollars. She also cuts off the cuffs to 3/4 lengths leaves and cuts off the shirt tails and hems them and volia! ladies clerical shirt for 15.00. ( I pay her 10.00 per shirt) the two button hole knit shirts will not cost as much.

  15. Pingback: Scrub Bing Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.